Paved With Good Intentions Chapter 7


~Complex Context~

A week ago Jacob went to visit someone who he thought was his friend, someone whom he thought he honestly wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his life with. She was a beautiful woman and until recently was the most beautiful woman he ever knew. He was in love or at least had a deep crush on this woman. Then on one particular visit the wall came crumbling down, literally and when next he woke, this woman, his friend was gone. Her house was destroyed and her memories tainted with accusations levied against her.

Jacob wanted answers and people supplied them but none gave him an ‘honest’ one.

She was a harlot.

She was a monster.

She was a Demon.

All he heard were opinions, propaganda and dogma. People expected him to accept these things as the truth and maybe he would have if this incident had not happened after he’d spent three years in a friendship with her. No one in Everguard can claim to know her like he did and that is why he just could not accept any of their answers as the complete truth. Not the people, not the church…and not even Sigrdrífa. Angels may not lie but there is not a single person who wouldn’t be biased against someone they’ve had a death match with and Sigrdrífa’s animosity towards Eveleena was as clear as the afternoon sky.

The same can be said of Jacob because he’s only ever been told this woman was bad but his memories would tell a different tale. Maybe if he were smarter he would have been able to discern some form of deception but he was not, he was just the son of a simple shop keeper. If he wanted the truth then what he needed above all else was a different perspective on the matter and who better to give that than the people claiming to be Eveleena’s servants.

Which is why, after the initial reveal of their relationship with the woman and their intentions towards him, he didn’t kick up much of a fuss even as they were kidnapping him. So here he was, sitting in a two horse carriage layered with illusion magic with a knight and (probably not) a little girl dressed like a witch sitting across from him. Jacob had an expression of contemplation as he looked out the window. Much like the initial reveal of their intentions with him he was having a hard time digesting the information they presented to him.

Evelyn or rather Eveleena is a confirmed Demon but she wasn’t just any run of the mill Demon. Eveleena was a highborn Demon from a noble house dating back to the original ancient Demons that broke out of the underworld and came to the human realm thousands of years ago. That was more than he ever knew about Demons or monsters in general but Ysmeina, the knight, was oddly forthcoming with this information. Reason being that it was information everyone back in their home already knew and given his circumstance she felt no reason to keep it a secret.

This also included the name of their individual races.

Ysmeina the knight was a Dullahan, an undead warrior whose most notable characteristic was their detachable head. Thankfully she did not demonstrate this fact since her head was fastened onto her body via the armor she wore. The little girl beside her was a Witch and not actually little but over a century old and was able to retain her youth through magical means. Why she chose to be a 14 year old girl was a question Jacob knew better than to ask. His father did say some women were sensitive about their age and the Witch already seemed to not like him for reasons he could not fathom.

As an aside he was informed that a defining characteristic of some monster species was that they actually do appear to be prepubescent little girls which was just…unfortunate. Outside driving the cart was Caitlin who is a confirmed Succubus which wasn’t really a surprise to him given what he knew about them from sources best left unsaid. Then there was the swordswoman, Roselyn, who was a Dhampir which is a vampire human hybrid.

“Okay” Jacob finally spoke for the first time in minutes “so the daughter of a demonic noble family came to Everguard, why?”

Before the knight could speak Riseth chimed in “you don’t need to know that.”

“Okay” he hesitated “then why did she choose me?”

He didn’t understand Eveleena’s motives at all. Back when he thought she was human he barely understood why she chose to strike up a friendship with him and now he’s being told marriage was on the table, marriage? No matter how he sliced it, Jacob could hardly think of a plausible reason why a highborn Demon would pick him as a marriage partner.

“You would have to ask lady Eveleena for a clear answer to that” Ysmeina informed “though from what I understand she is quite smitten with you.”

“What does that mean?”

“Oh, for the love of” Riseth rolled her eyes “she meant Eveleena is in love with you” she stressed.

“But why?”

The Witch shrugged “beats me.”

“Grr” Jacob growled in aggravation.

“You are looking at this from the wrong perspective lord Jacob-”

“Can you please stop calling me that?”

“Very well, Jacob. You are trying to discern Lady Eveleena’s motives towards you as if she were a human, don’t. Lady Eveleena is not a human and should not be held to those standards.”

‘Then how else am I supposed to think? It’s not like I know anything about monsters.’

“Why bother tell him that?” Riseth chimed in “it’s not like he can change the way he thinks about us. I bet you’re still referring to us as monsters when you think about us.”

The pointed stare of her red eyes unnerved Jacob for the specific reason that they were coming from a woman that’s looks like a little girl.

Ysmeina scowled at her companion “stop that, he is a child.”

‘I am not a child.’

“He’s the man our mistress is going to devote her life to” Riseth rebutted “if he can’t even get used to us how is he going to react to seeing his future wife?”

“These things take time.”

“He has to learn.”

“Are you going to teach me?” Jacob interrupted gaining both of their attention “you keep saying how ignorant I am of your people and you’re right. The only things I know about you are what the church and the Order says about you.”

Riseth scoffed but Ysmeina had an interesting expression on her face as she asked “what do you believe?”

“I believe I’m not being told the truth” or the whole truth “and the only way I’m going to know the truth is if I actually talk to you.”

The two stared at him for a moment with Riseth giving him an odd look “huh.”

Ysmeina nodded to herself with a small smile “lady Eveleena chose well.”

“What?” he looked between the two.

“Most humans don’t believe that we aren’t anything like the monsters they hear about from the church” Ysmeina explained “even when the evidence is right before them.”

Riseth picked up “the way how these things go is that humans living in these dingy small towns nestled away from the war are fed Order propaganda and anti-monster sentiment to the point where getting them to believe anything other than what the church tells them is like squeezing blood from a stone.”

“It is rare that human would consider an alternative without having encountered us prior” the knight paused “or having a unique frame of mind. I see now what lady Eveleena meant.”

‘Do I even want to ask?’

“It means you’re not an ignoramus” Riseth supplied his unanswered question “which is good, means that I won’t be wasting my breath. You want to know more about us right?”

“…yes.”

“Then pay attention because this story is a long one. First of all we are not monsters, at least not in the traditional sense and we haven’t been ‘monsters’ for a thousand years now. We have evolved beyond mere primitive beasts. We are Mamono and we came into being after the rise of Lilith, our Overlord.”

Jacob straightened up and leaned forward as the Devil spun her tale. He listened intently for he had the feeling that this may be the first and only opportunity he had to gain insight into the so-called enemies of humanity.

~O~

In a now bygone era, before Lilith ascended to the throne, the world back then was governed by a barbaric system of bloodshed and slaughter. Back then monsters were bloodthirsty savages with grotesque forms whose souls were filled with hatred, rage and hunger for human flesh. Bloody battles would be held over a period of time by the most powerful monsters in a bid to prove their strength and take the throne of Monster Overlord.

Once that goal was achieved the new Overlord would bide their time gathering allies, making pacts, hatching plans, concocting schemes and raising an army for the explicit goal of conquering the world and subjugating the other races. These wars were harsh and violent affairs spread across years, decades even with the longest recorded war lasting for over a century. As the race most favored by the Goddess Erestia humans would be the main targets of the Overlord and as such would suffer the most during these wars.

In response to this the humans would pray to Erestia who in turn would intervene through selecting a champion amongst her followers and bestowing them with a special blessing. This blessing would grant the champion with immense strength and a special connection to Heaven enabling them access to potent holy magic. This individual, who went by the title of Chosen Hero, would gather powerful allies in the form of champions presented by the other races and form a party, the Hero’s Party. The hero’s party would work as representatives of their race to coordinate the joint coalition army and spearhead an assault into the heart of the Makai where the Overlord resides.

At this point the story would end in one of two ways. The hero’s party would storm the Monster Overlord’s stronghold, cut a swath through its defenses and a climactic battle would ensue. No matter what, the result of this battle would end up with the Chosen Hero slaying the Monster Overlord. Sometimes the Hero would live sometimes they wouldn’t but no matter what the Monster Overlord would be slain.

This status quo would change following the ascension of Lilith who even before she became the Overlord Lilith stood out amongst the Overlord candidates by virtue of being a Succubus. In an era where Succubi were seen as inferior monsters only good for being concubines, broodmares, second rate sorceresses and infiltrators Lilith’s level of power was quite surprising. Despite this it was actually her personality that drew the most contrast from her contemporaries.

Lilith was a self professed pacifist and hated violence though was not above using it. When she challenged the other candidates or vice versa and won instead of killing or even subjugating them through force she would use her words to convince them to join her. Even when they disagreed and refused Lilith would still spare them and let them off without further incident.

The most shocking thing about it all was just how effective her methods were in the end. In the span of a few short years most of her would-be opponents were now her willing subordinates. This resulted in Lilith being an Overlord with one of the largest number of allies and the highest amount of collective combat power.

Once she ascended the throne Lilith’s first move as the new Monster Overlord was to cast a global enchantment using the collective power of herself and her council through the special authority that came with being the Overlord. This ‘authority’ is one that grants the recognized Monster Overlord the ability to imbue their subjects (i.e. all monster races who pledge their loyalty to the Overlord) with their most central traits. For instance, if an Overlord was a conniving schemer then the monsters under their command would inherit their scheming ways.

Lilith took this a step further with her spell, imbuing all monsters across the world with not only her core personality traits but also her race’s physical traits as well. This would result in all monsters essentially becoming part succubi with the added distaste for bloodshed as well as the genuine love/care for the other races that are a staple of Lilith’s personality. The result of this action would result in the ‘post Lilith generation’ no longer being monsters but monster girls whose appearance, personalities and goals were for the most part far removed from their predecessors.

To further distance themselves from their ancestors these monster women collectively refer to themselves as Mamono. But even with this change the war with the humans still raged on and a new Chosen Hero by the name of Adam was selected by Erestia to slay Lilith. Adam did as his predecessors would and gathered a party of powerful individuals however unlike in the past they were not champions put forth by the other races. Instead they were all humans and the reason for this was due to the Elves and Dwarves pulling out of the coalition.

At the time tensions between Elves and humans were running high with a few human kingdoms encroaching on Elven territory sparking conflicts that saw the Elves reconsidering their alliance with the humans. Since Lilith was not actively targeting them they did not see Mamono as an immediate threat to their race.

As for the Dwarves Lilith was able to secure a non aggression pact with them by personally driving off the powerful Elder Dragon that had taken their ancestral stronghold as its nest due to the riches the dwarven ancestors had hoarded. Because of this the Dwarves became a largely neutral faction focusing on rebuilding their kingdom rather than fighting in the war.

The absence of the Dwarves and Elves did not significantly impact the Chosen Hero’s party since at the time the Order was at the height of its supremacy and so was easily able to compensate for their loss with powerful holy warriors and mages to support the Chosen Hero’s party.

Adam and his party journeyed to the Makai with the Order’s army as support however when faced with Lilith things took a different turn. Instead of a grand battle the Overlord would instead engage the Chosen Hero in conversation. What was said between the two could only be speculated upon but the result of their time together would end with the Chosen Hero forsaking his duty and loyalty to Erestia to instead side with Lilith.

Their union would be formed on the basis of marriage bringing an end to the antagonistic role of their titles in direct defiance of the Goddess. For the next millennia the two would work together to usher in a new era of societal and cultural development for mamono the likes of which has never been seen before. Their most notable work was the progression of mamono culture through science and the arts resulting in the current generation of being far more organized, civilized and progressive than their monster ancestors.

They also have no intrinsic animosity towards humans and in truth most of them just want to live their lives in peace.

~O~

As Riseth finished her tale of the history of monster girls or Mamono, Jacob was unashamedly gaping at her in astonishment. The way how she described it, current Mamono society was shockingly similar to human society.

After a moment of him staring at her slack jawed the Witch spoke “if you keep your mouth open like that you’ll start catching flies.”

Her words caused Jacob to abruptly shut his mouth with an audible click.

“You don’t believe me” it wasn’t a question.

Jacob nodded in affirmative, he didn’t believe her…he couldn’t believe her.

She folded her arms with an annoyed look “I don’t see why not.”

She doesn’t see why not?

Even though his knowledge on monsters was about as thin as Caitlin’s clothes his suspense of disbelief can only go so far. How could the Monster Overlord, a being able to sway the Goddess’ Chosen Hero to her side also be a pacifist who dislikes violence? Why would her first act after receiving the title of Overlord be turning the bloodthirsty monsters into monster women?

“If that is true then how come I’ve never heard of this?”

“The world is a big place and it’s not as if the church would ever actually tell people that the ‘monsters’ they’ve been fighting weren’t bloodthirsty savages that want to take their lives, corrupt their souls or whatever.”

Her response was flippant and Jacob couldn’t actually believe that the church would do such a thing. And yet he’s sitting in a carriage across from a Witch and a Dullahan and so far neither one of them have tried to corrupt or kill him.

“Why is there still a war if Mamono don’t want to fight humans?”

“Erestia.”

The single word drew a blink from the boy “th-the Goddess?”

Ysmeina picked up “regardless of our forms we are still aligned to the Dark God who is Erestia’s antithesis. Erestia will never tolerate us and so the humans who worship her will always be made to fight us on her behalf.”

“And it’s not like humans would be motivated to kill us if they find out we aren’t the monsters their goddess preaches us to be so they don’t” Riseth briefly chimed in before Ysmeina continued.

“The church deliberately keeps the true extent of the changes in Mamono a secret so as to galvanize humans into joining their war efforts in the Holy Order.”

“Don’t even get me started on the Holy Order” the Witch spat with a surprising amount of vitriol “nothing but a bunch of incompetent hypocrites high on their own sanctimonious bloodlust. They turn ignorant morons into ignorant zealots who can’t even be bothered to actually question how butchering innocent people and burning peaceful settlements equate to ‘protecting’ humanity.”

With each word the vitriol in her voice grew with the vicious expression at odds with her juvenile appearance.

“Riseth.”

“What?”

“I think he understands.”

The Witch looked to the unnerved look on Jacob’s face and visibly calmed down “whatever, I need some air.”

She left through the door shortly after despite the carriage still in motion leaving the boy alone with the armored knight.

Ysmeina sighed “I apologize for her. Riseth has had past dealings with the Order and as you can imagine they were not good encounters.”

Jacob had a morbid curiosity but he didn’t need to ask, didn’t want to ask.

“Do you have any more questions?”

He did, in fact he had even more questions than he did before but Jacob couldn’t bring himself to ask. He already had his worldview shaken by the revelation of the true nature of monsters, was he willing to question the role the church and the Holy Order had in persecuting an alleged peaceful race?

Would he jump down that rabbit hole?

The answer was simple and came to him unbidden.

“No.”

The Dullahan met his gaze but for how long Jacob was not sure for he turned away from her stare to further ruminate on what he had just learned and what his immediate future would entail.

~To Be Continued~

Up to four advance chapters available on my Patreon at: www.Patreon.com/Streggaeworks

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