Daily Life With A Lilim Chapter 25


~Cohabitation With The Odd Couple~

Natalie would admit to herself that she didn’t really expect much from her brother when he offered (read: forced) her to move in with him. At this point, they were both well aware that he wasn’t exactly a bastion of emotional support, and that included being a silent shoulder to lean on. For as long as she knew him, he didn’t handle emotional situations particularly well, and it’s only gotten worse since he started living on his own. Forced apathy and avoidance were his go-to methods of dealing with emotional pains, and she couldn’t even hold it against him.

God knows sometimes she wishes she didn’t care so much, but that’s just not the type of person she was.

Neither was her brother, to be honest, but that square blockhead was determined to force himself into that circular role. That said, it was clear to Natalie that a lot happened in Stan’s life during the time when she wasn’t in contact with him. As early as their first conversation in the hospital, she picked up on the differences between the man standing in front of her and the man she left months before. There were the obvious drastic physical changes, of course, but beyond that, Stan seemed mellower and, dare she say, more mature than she remembered.

Then there’s the fact that he now had a girlfriend, and needless to say, her curiosity was piqued. It was one of the main reasons why she didn’t really put up a fight against his demand and let herself be confined to her brother’s house for the foreseeable future, putting a pin on her travel plans. While a large part of her decision to stay with her brother hinged on curiosity, there was also apprehension, especially where his girlfriend was concerned.

Because, let’s be honest, Stan finding a girlfriend is already suspect, but finding one who looks the way Ezraphel did and who isn’t some gold-digging bitch is just improbable. But wait, there’s more! Not only does she not care for his wealth but also accepts him for who he is, is patient enough to weather his not-so-great personality, and whose continued influence has managed to essentially sand the edges off said personality.

It was too perfect; she was too perfect, and it made Natalie very suspicious about her. As the old saying goes, when something is too good to be true, it usually isn’t. At least she had that much in common with her brother, but for obvious reasons, Stan wouldn’t be in the right headspace to be critical in this situation. For all that Stan liked to vehemently decry relationships, his vitriol stems from a place of not necessarily ignorance but inexperience.

It’s easy for the Stan she remembered to brush off intimate relationships, but only because he’s never actually been confronted with one. Because, as much as she loved her brother, imagining him in a healthy intimate relationship, especially with a woman like Ezraphel, seemed more like a thought experiment than anything close to reality. But then again, reality is often stranger than fiction, and Natalie could admit that the reality right now is even more outlandish than any what-if scenarios she could think of.

With her time unfortunately cut short, Natalie wanted to make sure that her little brother wasn’t going to have a hard time without her. This meant putting on her doubting skeptic hat and big sister pants to thoroughly vet Ezraphel and make sure that there were no shenanigans.

Because Natalie would be God damned if she left her little brother in the clutches of some gold-digging bimbo bitch with great acting skills.

One week later…

“Holy shit, she’s the real deal.”

That was the conclusion Natalie came to after a week of staying at her brother’s house. Though it’s more likely to say that it was just as much Ezraphel’s house now considering that the woman undoubtedly made her mark there. Stan didn’t necessarily care for interior designs aside from his man cave and airsoft collection. Otherwise, he’s content as long as things are functional. For years, the inside of his home looked the same, which made it all the more shocking when she saw the changes.

New furniture and appliances replaced the old ones, and she knew that they weren’t the cheap stuff just by looking at them. The walls had a new coat of paint, the carpet was replaced, and so were the drapes. The most drastic change was, by far, the remodeling done to some of the rooms. Now it’s one thing to get Stan to buy new things, but getting him to pay for remodeling entire rooms?

That was an act of God, if she ever saw it.

The changes don’t stop there either, because not only did Ezraphel do all the domestic work. That meant she did all the housework—cleaning, laundry, and cooking Stan’s meals. Natalie had an initial problem with the setup, but this wasn’t something Stan forced on the woman. Ezraphel genuinely loved doing these things, to the point where she felt insulted when Natalie suggested Stan share the burden of doing some of the chores. According to her, it was her duty as a woman to maintain the house while the man provided for the family.

…that is some Stepford Wife bullshit right there, but apparently it’s a cultural thing where she’s from. And speaking of, it was never made clear to her where Ezraphel came from. Apparently, her home situation is complicated, and she didn’t want to talk about it. Natalie understood and let it go, if only because most of everything else about her checked out at that point.

What didn’t check out with Natalie was the story of how the two actually met since, knowing Stan, there was no way he actually asked her out. For the briefest moment, Natalie thought that the escort theory would be proven right. It didn’t, but once again the reality was stranger than fiction, as the two apparently met when Stan found Ezraphel passed out in his backyard.

The how and why she ended up in that situation was glossed over for the most part, but according to Ezraphel, she “did something foolish without proper preparation.”

What the hell does that even mean?

Natalie had no idea, and Ezraphel didn’t elaborate, which seemed to be a theme when it came to her background. In any case Stan ended up saving her, and according to the woman, it was love at first sight. Normally, Natalie wouldn’t believe such a thing, but Ezraphel was so damn sincere that she couldn’t believe her. Then, after a few arguments where Stan threatened to call the cops, Ezraphel managed to convince him to let her stay.

Stan did not deny this when questioned, and Natalie had to take the absurdity at face value, meaning that Ezraphel basically bribed her way into Stanley’s life using her body. This would have set off all of Natalie’s sisterly alarm bells, but the reality of the situation was a bit more complicated and damn confusing. Whatever intentions Ezraphel may or may not have started with clearly didn’t end up being nefarious as far as she could see.

Ezraphel wasn’t some gold-digging floozy, and it wasn’t just because Natalie never saw her prod Stanley for any money, but that money seemed to be an ephemeral concept to Ezraphel. She didn’t ask Stan for anything other than his attention, and the only time money came into the conversation with her was usually within the realm of needed expenses. For example they seem to have an agreement that Ezraphel only had free reign with his money when it came to buying groceries.

The reason for this was because Ezraphel had Stan on a strict diet that he wasn’t allowed to deviate from. She was in charge of his meals, and she would only have the highest-quality ingredients for maximum efficiency. Natalie can believe that, especially since the kitchen looked like something that would belong to a professional chef. Considering she makes the best damn food she’s ever eaten, there might be some truth to that.

Natalie would definitely want her last meal to be something made by her.

Moving on, the last but by far most shockingly blatant thing to convince Natalie of Ezraphel’s authenticity was just her general attitude and personality. Ezraphel was a passionate woman who wore her emotions on her sleeve and in regards to Stan she was genuinely in love. It was a fact she seemed exceedingly proud of and was very open about the intimacy of her relationship. Some might say she was too open since Natalie was sure Ezraphel would have proclaimed her love shamelessly in front of a worldwide live audience if given the chance.

Still, for all that Ezraphel has Natalie’s stamp of approval, she would be remiss to ignore the few problems she has with the woman. For instance, Ezraphel seemed reluctant to share details about her home life or what she did before getting together with Stan. There were allusions to Ezraphel being a foreigner; after all, the woman spoke with a slight yet distinct accent that sounded vaguely European, and overall, she acted like someone who wasn’t born and raised in the country.

The good news is that she wasn’t on the outs with her family, and she admitted as much during their many private conversations. When she talked about her family, it was with fondness. Her parents loved and supported her while she looked up to her older sisters as role models. Apparently she came from a large family who were well off, and on that note, Stan sarcastically commented on Ezraphel’s family being basically royalty.

That information, coupled with the way Ezraphel talked and acted, made Natalie come to the conclusion that Ezraphel might have been a rich kid from a wealthy European family who ran away from home to travel. Natalie is familiar with a few cases like this, with the only difference being that Ezraphel wasn’t frivolously spending her parents’ money and posting about her life online like an obnoxious influencer. She does neither of these things, and given her general attitude and especially her beauty, ending up with Stan might be a better-case scenario.

Still, the lack of personal information on Ezraphel’s part made her suspicious. Now normally she would have let it go, especially since Ezraphel was such a sweetheart who she was pretty sure would share whatever troubles she had when she felt comfortable. Unfortunately, Natalie very well might not live long enough for that, so for her peace of mind, she needed to know there wouldn’t be anything about Ezraphel that would come to bite Stan in the ass somewhere down the line.

In the future, if something happens to jeopardize this good thing Stan has going on, Natalie won’t be there to help him, and didn’t that thought make her feel all sorts of anxiety and depression. It also made her impatient and demanding in her quest for answers. Enough so that Stan took notice and had to take her aside to ‘politely’ ask her to get off his girlfriend’s back with the interrogations. Natalie complied, but only because she’s pretty sure Stan knows whatever secret Ezraphel is keeping and is respecting her wishes about not sharing it with others.

Natalie messed up there and decided not to pursue further answers about the woman. With that, Natalie decided to switch gears because, while she can trust Ezraphel to have Stan’s best interests at heart, all that’s left to do is ensure that her little brother doesn’t drop the ball. As much of a hat trick of an impossibility that would be since Ezraphel had the patience of a saint and the passion of a thousand horny suns. Seriously, the number of times she tried to get details of their relationship from the woman only to have her not-so-subtly allude to their sex life was frankly ludicrous.

Natalie did not need to know about her brother’s sex life—at least not above a certain threshold where she could use it to embarrass him. The way Ezraphel talks about him made it seem like Stan is a literal sex god, and, yeah, no, she did not need or want to know more about it. Ezraphel really was the perfect woman for Stan, and Natalie decided that if their relationship would experience hardships, it wouldn’t be because of him.

To that end, for the second week of her stay, she started paying closer attention to her brother. She was curious to see how he handled being in a relationship. Since he’s never been in one, the only reference she had for such a case was how he handled his other relationships, so naturally, she was utterly terrified for him. To her surprise, however, Stan was actually doing better than she expected which admittedly wasn’t a high bar in the first place.

The fact that he didn’t spend most of his time cooped up in his man cave all day every day was a win in her book. He exceeded her expectations by consistently going out with Ezraphel to do things that he didn’t need to do such as: planned dates or simple outings without a set plan. Stan seemed to be genuinely trying to move on from his shut-in ways to give Ezraphel the love and attention she so rightfully deserves.

All seems right on Stan’s end as far as how he seems to be handling the relationship, even if he can be a little grump about it sometimes. It made her curious about the whole process and growing pains involved in cultivating such a relationship. It couldn’t have been simple or easy for them to have reached this point. Invoking such a change in Stan alone should have been a long and arduous process.

Natalie wanted to know. Her curiosity was virtually insatiable with the desire. She wanted a play-by-play of every step taken to get to this point. If she wanted to, she could totally get that information from either of them. Ezraphel would be more than happy to tell of their triumphs, and it wouldn’t take long to grill Stan for any missteps, the pessimist. She wanted the details, but that wouldn’t exactly be fair since that time has passed.

She gave Stan the third degree about it, but just as he didn’t contact her to know about her medical status, neither did she contact him to know about his relationship status. For good or for ill, the most pivotal moments in either of their lives happened to them around the same time, and they both chose to keep it a secret from each other until it was nearly too late. They really are siblings, but after years of worrying, Natalie can finally be at ease because her baby brother is finally growing up.

And Natalie couldn’t be more proud of him.

~Ripping Off The Band-Aid~

It’s been two weeks since Natalie started staying with them, and it has been an experience. This wasn’t the first time she’s stayed at his place for a prolonged period, and though circumstances back then were significantly more lighthearted compared to now, he couldn’t say that the experience was great. Natalie was one of three people in the entire world whom he listens to and who could make him try things he otherwise would not do of his own volition.

Sound familiar?

Natalie herself was aware of this fact, and it made for some very uncomfortable memories the last few times she stayed at his house. As much as he loved his sister, she can be very overbearing and, dare he say, annoying when she wants to be. And as far as he knew most of the time she wants to be that overbearing and annoying.

This time, however, her current situation changed things, and while they both made attempts to keep their usual dynamic, they simply couldn’t completely get around the elephant in the room, which is her condition. At least that’s how it was for Stanley, who was not really able to properly focus without his mind drifting back to Natalie’s condition and Ezraphel’s progress in regards to it.

See Stanley wanted to accomplish two things when he invited Natalie to stay at his home. The first was that he genuinely wanted to make up for the months that he hadn’t been in contact with her. It really hit him hard that he hadn’t so much as sent a text to one of the only people he truly cared about in the world, and he wanted to make up for lost time. It’s yet another reason why he couldn’t just settle for his usual routine of locking himself in his office for most of the day even when he wasn’t dealing with Ezraphel.

So for the past two weeks, his attention has been split between spending time with Ezraphel and catching up with Natalie. He couldn’t say that the experience has been bad so far, and he’s not even being sarcastic about it either. The worst thing to happen in terms of interaction other than Natalie generally pestering him was her interrogation of Ezraphel about her home life. Ezraphel caught on to what was happening, and he sensed her distress through their bond. He’s never actually felt Ezraphel’s emotions so potently outside of sex, making it a deliberate call for help on Ezraphel’s part. Stanley had to come in and quite literally drag his sister away and ask her to get off Ezraphel’s back with the questioning.

Surprisingly it worked and he was sure Ezraphel didn’t use her magic to plant a suggestion. which was suspicious in and of itself, but hey, he wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so the matter was put to rest.

The second and more important reason for inviting her to stay with them was to give Ezraphel more of an opportunity to cuddle Natalie. Yes, she said before that she couldn’t, but through stubbornness and desperation, Stanley refused to accept it. At the very least, he knew Ezraphel to be intelligent and creative enough in her craft to be able to think of a solution to this. All she needed was time and access to the problem so she could attack it from multiple angles.

Fast forward two weeks later, and…

“I’m sorry, Stanley.”

Ezraphel is an incredibly powerful, highly intelligent, and very creative woman with a natural talent for dark sorcery. She was also very whimsical especially in her younger years. Said whims caused her to learn many types of sorcery and magecraft from individuals who are both celebrated and revered in their field. Unfortunately, she never stuck around long enough to master them, causing her to be a sort of ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ when it comes to magic. To her credit she never really needed formal mastery of magic see her through most situations. With the proper motivation her natural talents made her create miracles.

This time, however, the situation is different. Pharmacomancy is one field of sorcery where you need to have extensive knowledge of magic, medicine, and anatomy, among others, in order to utilize it to its fullest potential. As it stood, Ezraphel only knew a few intermediary healing spells at the highest level. That wasn’t going to cut it to heal something like leukemia. The fact that she’s using demonic energy to fuel her spells meant there would always be a chance for corruption though it would depend on how much energy she would need to put into the spell

In Natalie’s case where her blood carried the illness Ezraphel would need to basically cleanse Natalie’s entire circulatory system. At that stage even if Ezraphel was a certified magi-physician corruption is inevitable and might actually be the preferred course of action. But that is just one of many what-if scenarios since Ezraphel wasn’t a magic doctor by any stretch. At this time, in this situation no matter how he sees it the only way to save Natalie was to turn her into a Mamono. Deep down Stanley already figured this to be the case but he just wouldn’t be able to reconcile with himself unless he explored all other options with due consideration.

So now that he recognized the solution, all that was left to do was to tell Natalie about it.

And that right there is the main reason why Stanley wanted Ezraphel to find an alternate solution. There were so many reasons why he didn’t want Natalie to go down that inevitable route. For one, there was the timing, with them having only recently gotten through that whole ordeal with Amelia not too long ago. Then there is the fact that Natalie was his sister and someone he was the closest to until Ezraphel dropped into his life.

The thought of his sister becoming a Mamono and all the shenanigans she might get into because of it made Stanley both physically and mentally ill. And that’s not even mentioning all the other ways she might become a pain in the ass. The past two weeks alone might not have been terrible due to a combination of factors, but there were more than a few times where he felt the need to brace the nearest wall and drive his head into it repeatedly until something breaks.

Yet for all the possible and potential trouble she could cause him as a Mamono, all thoughts of such are swept away by the current situation. As he left his office to re-up on some snacks he caught Natalie taking a nap on the couch. She does that from time to time and it wasn’t the first time he caught her like this but there was just something about her in that moment that demanded his attention. So against all reason he approached her position on the couch and simply stared at her.

Natalie’s symptoms weren’t too obvious to someone outside the medical field but with Stanley’s enhanced senses however, comparing Natalie as she currently is to the version of her from his memories, the contrast was rather stark. She was always on the slim side but seemed to have lost even more weight. Her hair seemed less vibrant and her skin was a shade paler making the weird red spots and bruising (that occur on a semi-regular basis) more apparent to his eyes. She seemed overall more lethargic, prone to taking naps that were fitful six times out of ten, and then there was the excessive sweating in an air-conditioned house.

After however many minutes he ended up standing there, it finally clicked in his head that Natalie was dying. Bit by bit, every single day, her body and health were deteriorating, and it pained him to see her like this. Despite this, he had hesitated for days, using all manner of excuses or just willfully ignoring the issue and procrastinating to the point where even Ezraphel, loyal, patient, and trusting of him, started to give him looks.

Standing here now, looking at her sleeping form, he was finally reminded of what exactly was at stake here.

As Natalie began to shift and stir, the hesitance resurfaced, causing him to walk away. He didn’t leave her alone, however, instead going to the refrigerator to get her something to drink. So when Natalie opened her bleary eyes, taking a moment to reorient herself, the first thing she saw was him.

“Here,” he said, holding out a bottle of water.

Natalie raised a brow “were you just standing there waiting for me to wake up with a bottle in your hand? I hope you weren’t watching me sleep,” she joked.

He had a smart comeback ready for her, but it died at the tip of his tongue when she reached out for the bottle.

“You’re bleeding,” he noticed.

Natalie winced and attempted to retract her hand; however, quick as a snake, Stanley grabbed her wrist before she could.

The cut was along her finger and behind a band-aid ‘what the fuck?’

“Hey!” Her voice caused him to look into her displeased brown eyes

“When the hell did this happen?”

“Probably when I was helping Ez in the kitchen,” she answered.

“That was two days ago, Nat.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“…”

“…you mind letting go of my hand?” he complied and at his pointed look, she waved him off. “it’s just another symptom, Stan; don’t worry about it.”

“…”

Sighing Natalie got to her feet “I need to take care of this.”

As she made to walk by him, Stan grasped her hand and said, “after you’re done, we need to talk.”

Natalie blinked, but whatever snarky or sarcastic comment she had died on her tongue at the expression on his face.

Natalie nodded slowly “alright.”

He let her go and watched her leave and for a long moment he silently watched the area where she was last seen.

Then he broke the silence “that cut, you didn’t forget to heal it, did you?”

Behind him, Ezraphel had an expression of discomfort as she fidgeted in place, yet she said nothing.

“As a matter of fact, she still has those bruises from way back when.”

Ezraphel may not have been able to cure cancer, but she can certainly mitigate some of the symptoms with what she knows about pharmacotherapy. At some point, however, she stopped, and he had a pretty good idea why.

“Was this your way of getting me to finally do something?”

“I’m sorry.”

He shook his head “don’t…just…next time you catch doing something as stupid as this, can you nix the subtlety and just smack me upside the head?”

“Are you sure?”

“The stakes are way too fucking high right now for me to be screwing around Ez.”

“If that is what you wish.”

“Good.”

Later…

Natalie returned with a water bottle in hand, finding Stanley and Ezraphel waiting for her in the living room. Even if she didn’t already feel the tension in the air, just the grave expressions on their faces said that the conversation they were about to have would be something serious.

“Take a seat.”

“Whoa, what’s all this about? Is this an intervention?” She tried to joke, yet Stanley’s answer only served to make her attempt fall even flatter than it already did.

“Something like that,” he replied.

At that, Natalie lost her smile and sat on the couch, ‘well, that’s not foreboding.’

The tension caused her to be that aware of her mouth feeling dry, so she worked on opening the bottle to take a sip.

Meanwhile, Stanley was busy silently psyching himself up.

Note that when relaying information deemed too outlandish for the average person, it’s important for the speaker to not only prepare themselves but also the recipient as well. The reason for this being that the speaker needed adequate preparation time to get the recipient in a certain state of mind to accept their words with any degree of seriousness or consideration.

“So Ezraphel is a Succubus princess from another dimension who fell from a portal into my backyard.”

Stanley did not make any such preparations, yet his proclamation did not elicit the kind of reaction he was expecting, especially since he caught Natalie mid-sip of her bottled water. She did not do something as over-the-top as a spit take or anything similar. As a matter of fact, she seemingly didn’t react at all, aside from making her sip from the bottle extra long. So long, in fact, that there was a stretch of awkward silence as she did so, after which she silently corked the bottle and placed it on the coffee table.

Then she pinned him with the most intense glare he’s only ever seen at specific points in his life. It just so happened that these ‘specific points’ were circumstances where she was royally pissed off at him for one reason or another.

It was at this moment that Stanley knew he had fucked up.

“Are you fucking with me right now?” Natalie asked with all the barely concealed anger of someone who was very close to strangling someone. Homer-style

“I’m not fucking with you.”

“Is this a bit?” She continued plowing through his words while getting increasingly more agitated. “Did you start doing tasteless bullshit ‘prank’ content while I wasn’t looking?”

“This isn’t a fucking joke!” Stan snapped, feeling more insulted about the accusation than he probably should be.

Natalie stared, then got to her feet “well, you picked a really fucking bad time to have a psychotic break, Stan!”

As the siblings devolved into heated bickering that seemed destined to escalate, Ezraphel stood in the corner of the room. Having been alerted to the emotions roiling off Natalie the moment Stanley made his confession and figuring that if she was anything like her brother (which she was in many aspects), she didn’t want to be in the line of fire for what was about to happen. So Ezraphel wisely decided to gain some more distance from the oncoming confrontation and ensured her safety with some magical aid.

Unfortunately for the disguised Lilim, she underestimated the human’s perception, as the subtle spell was broken when Natalie suddenly snapped her attention to her.

“You!” the word practically snarled, saw Lilim suddenly under the scrutiny of the other woman.

Ezraphel, not expecting the sudden address, momentarily froze like a deer caught in headlights. “Eh?”

“Is this you!?” Natalie demanded.

In that moment, Natalie reminded Ezraphel of Stanley so much that she let out an “EEP!”

“I swear to God, Ezraphel, if you messed with my brother’s head.” Natalie growled and made to advance on Lilim, looking as if she were about to pull a Brady and choke a bitch, only for her to be held back by Stanley.

“Knock it off!”

“Out of the way, Stan!”

She made to shove him away; however, rather than be moved, Stan moved behind her, wrapped his hands behind her in a bear hug, and bodily lifted her as if she were an oversized toddler.

“Ahh, what the fuck!?”

“Would you calm the fuck down?”

She didn’t seem to acknowledge his words as she continued to struggle “how the hell are you doing this!?”

“Put me down!”

At this point, Stanley realized that this wasn’t working and so looked to Ezraphel, who was also at a loss for words.

“Ez, do the thing!”

Once again, Ezraphel started. It took a moment for her to understand what ‘the thing’ was that he wanted her to do, and she naturally hesitated.

“Are you sure?”

“She’s not going to listen to us anyway,” he said, keeping her back, “unless you want to deal with-HRK!”

Any further words were cut off as Natalie’s twisted her body enough to swing her arms around and get Stanley in a headlock.

“If you don’t put me down in the next five seconds be prepared for the worst noogie of your goddamn life Stan!”

“For fucks sake do the fucking thing Ez!” Stanley yelled out with a tinge of panic.

Before anything more can be said, both siblings are suddenly enveloped by a bright violet light. They turned to Ezraphel’s, whose form and the very corner where she stood were consumed by the light. As he felt Natalie’s grip around his neck slacken, Stanley carefully lowered his sister down to her feet with a bemused expression. Natalie, for her part, could only stare in abject shock as a dark silhouette seemingly stepped out of the light, revealing itself to be the true form of Ezraphel in all her glory.

At this point, Stanley made his way to get partially in front of the woman in order to explain. However, before either he or Ezraphel can get a word in, Natalie once again surprises both with her reaction. Because after a hard, long stare at Lilim, Natalie’s wide eyes rolled in the back of her head, and she wordlessly collapsed like a puppet with its string cut. Luckily, Stanley was close enough and fast enough to catch her before her body could hit the floor.

For a long time, the room was silent, with Stanley, at a genuine loss for words, looking down at his unconscious sister before wordlessly setting her back on the couch.

As for Ezraphel…

*SMACK*

“Ow! Da Fuq!?”

With a hand on the back of his head where Ezraphel smacked him, Stanley whirled around with a scowl, ready to lay all manner of curses, only to be confronted with the looming figure of his girlfriend with her arms crossed and a shockingly pointed glare of disapproval on her face. The look she gave him actually made him flinch as he realized exactly what the smack upside his head was for.

“Yeah, okay, I deserve that,” he admitted with the kind of self-loathing of a man who realized just how much he fucked up.

~Dropping Bombs~

“Ugh”

Natalie woke up to the familiar feel of the oddly comfortable couch on her back and her brother hovering nearby with a bottle of water in hand. Almost immediately, she got a sense of déjà vu and furrowed her brows as she sat up.

“How are you feeling?” Stanley asked while holding out a bottle.

She accepted the bottle and pondered the question before coming to a stark realization. The minor aches, pains, and general discomfort she thought insignificant at the time were gone.

So in answering his question, she stated, “I feel pretty good, actually.”

It turns out all she needed was a good power nap to work those kinks out.

“Great,” Stanley nodded, “I wouldn’t want you to faint again.”

‘Faint?’

“What?”

In response, Stanley simply said, “Ez, get out here.”

Then, from out of the kitchen, Ezraphel came, except she was no longer the blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman Natalie had come to befriend and appreciate. Now she was the white-haired, red-eyed, bat-winged, horned, and spaded-tail demon girl who was a veritable stranger to her. Once again, Natalie found herself staring with a sense of déjà vu as the memories came back.

“Oh,” she began, “that was real.”

“Yeah.”

Natalie swallowed “I was really hoping that was just some cancer-induced fever dream.”

“You know I can empathize with needing to take a minute to let this sink in, but I really need to get this explanation thing going here, sis.”

Natalie tore her gaze away to glare at her brother “you don’t get to drop this bomb and try to rush me, Stan.”

“Alright fine,” he said while raising his hands in surrender before giving her a pointed glare “I mean, it’s not like one of us is dying or anything.”

Natalie almost flinched at that, but before she could get any deeper into yet another argument, Ezraphel, who had been standing just a few feet behind him, suddenly lashed out with her tail.

*Smack*

“Ow!” Stanley whirled around while rubbing the back of his head “what!?”

For her part, Ezraphel simply gave him a deep frown of disapproval and said, “stop antagonizing her Stanley.”

“I’m not antagonizing her.”

“Yes, you are.” Natalie piped up, causing Stanley to give a side-eyed glare.

The same went for Ezraphel as well, and Natalie instinctively stiffened as those mesmerizingly deep red eyes bore into her.

“The same goes for you, Natalie,” the woman demon lightly admonished before glancing at the two of them “honestly, if both of you cannot even exchange a few words without devolving into a meaningless quarrel then it really will be too late.”

“Alright, I get it” Stanley huffed with crossed arms, looking every bit at the petulant child “I promise to be good and explain what’s going on.”

Ezraphel nodded and turned to Natalie with a meaningful gaze “and you Natalie?”

When Natalie found herself under the scrutiny of the demon woman, she nodded “yeah, I promise to listen and let him finish explaining.”

Ezraphel nodded “good, now I have to go prepare dinner. Both of you play nice,” she frowned “and I don’t want to hear any shouting or swearing while I’m in the kitchen.”

The “or else” went unsaid, and frankly, Ezraphel looked terrifying enough to Natalie that she didn’t want to fuck around and find out. As for Stanley, having become desensitized to her antics, he simply had his head in his palm.

“Just go already,” he groaned.

Ezraphel did so, but before she left, she snuck in a few pecks on the cheek, much to Stanley’s chagrin, though to Natalie, it was a token effort of resistance if nothing else.

Natalie watched the other woman leave before turning to Stanley and saying, “mom is going to have a field day with her.”

Stanley cringed in response, ‘not if I have anything to say about it.’

“I hope you don’t think you can keep her a secret forever.”

“I don’t want mom to know about Ez.”

“About her being your girlfriend or about her being… you know.”

“…yes.”

“Well, we both know that’s not going to happen.”

This time, he scowled, “which part?”

“I’ll let your imagination run wild on that one little brother.”

Stanley scoffed in response and mumbled something unintelligible while glancing off to the side at nothing in particular.

After a beat of silence, Natalie broke with a question “so…Succubus princess from another dimension, huh?”

He sighed, already tired of the conversation “yeah.”

Natalie too felt tired, and for once, it had nothing to do with the leukemia “Jesus Christ Stan.”

“Why do I feel like you think this is my fault?”

“Isn’t it?”

“I didn’t fucking summon her, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“…”

“You were actually thinking that?” he said in mild disbelief.

“Why else would she be here?”

He opened his mouth to say something likely disparaging, but thought better of it at the last second and held his silence.

“You know that was a joke, right?”

“…yeah.”

“So it is your fault she’s here.”

“Technically,” he edged before scowling, “I didn’t summon her; she just came here looking for me.”

“Why?”

Translation: “what did you do?”

At that, he chuckled darkly ” fuckle your seatbelt, Nat, because I am about to tell you a tale.”

And so Stanley proceeded to give an abridged version of events, starting from the day he spent an entire night playing videogames and shitposting until the literal crack of dawn, where he went to get some sleep only to be woken up by the sound of something hitting his roof. He told her of their early trials, the distrust, the worry, the threats, and also of the triumphs, compromise, and evolution of their relationship to what it is today.

Intermingled with the retelling of the past year of his life was information on what exactly Ezraphel is, where she came from, what she is capable of, and what she wants to accomplish. This information also included the fact that Ezraphel and her world are eerily similar to a piece of fictitious media that, in itself, is a part of a niche genre that is primarily found in East Asian countries.

So basically, hentai.

If Natalie was being honest, she could have gone without knowing that last part. She made sure to inform him of this and in response, the little bastard replied with an empathic stare that screamed “I don’t give a shit” with the absolute implication that he wanted her to share his misery. And so Natalie was burdened with the knowledge that her brother’s girlfriend (and Natalie’s sister-in-law in all but name) is not only a princess of a foreign empire that hails from a place that is for all intents a high fantasy alternate dimension populated by lewd versions of the typical tropes of that au but that she herself is a powerful sex demon with reality-bending magical abilities and the whose people are currently at war with the humans of that dimension and are known to routinely and aggressively assault, brainwash, and supplant humans.

And the kicker is that they do this all without maliciousness and purely with the intention of saving humanity and making their world a better place where both species can live and thrive together. He then directed her to the wiki page of the fictitious media that this fantasy world is based on. Once she got past the cringe of reading what is essentially niche fetish pornography and immersed herself in the lore, Natalie was not at all reassured of Mamono’s intentions. She supposed they meant well, but their tactics leave a lot to be desired.

That’s not even going into their overall culture and general disposition. At least now she knows why almost every other conversation with Ezraphel centered on her relationship keeps veering into sexual territory. It turns out it wasn’t so much Ezraphel’s quirkiness as it was literally what counts for normal conversation amongst her people. By the end of it all, some time had passed, and Natalie was splayed out on the couch with her palms rubbing into her eyeballs, trying to recover from staring at her phone screen.

“I hate you so much right now, Stan,” she groaned.

“On the upside, Ez is…cool now.”

Natalie paused and glanced at him “why did you hesitate just now?”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s still an insatiable nympho, and there might have been an incident where she subconsciously corrupted the fiancée of a friend of mine,” he added in a mutter.

Natalie, however, caught that one and jolted upwards, wide-eyed “wait, WHAT!?”

“BUT,” he powered through, “that incident was resolved, and we’re working through our issues!”

“No-no-no, run that by me again” Natalie spoke loudly while making a rewinding motion with her hand. “Ezraphel did what now?”

It took Natalie much time to squeeze the information from him, but with great reluctance, Stanley explained the incident that occurred during their outing with his friends. To say that Natalie’s confidence in their relationship was rattled would be an understatement.

“And you say she’s ‘cool’ now?”

“Yes,” and this time he said it with all the confidence of a man who knows what he’s talking about.

With such confidence and trust on display, even Natalie couldn’t find it in her to dispute him, so she acquiesced.

“Alright then.”

This actually caught him off guard, as he was expecting her to put up more of a fight.

“That’s it?”

“Yep.”

“You’re just going to take my word for it?”

“Look, Stan, I figure at this point either you have a handle on her or she has a handle on herself. Either way, if neither of you didn’t, then I figure the global situation would be a lot different if what you and that wiki site say are true.”

She’s not wrong, and even Stanley, of all people, knew that much to be true.

Natalie sighed before smirking “I guess the only question now is when you’re planning to have the wedding-HMPH!”

It was barely a moment after the word left her mouth that Stanley, in truly superhuman feet of speed, practically teleported the distance between them and clamped a hand over her mouth.

Do not say that word,” Stanley hissed with gritted teeth and a manic glare in his eyes.

Natalie wanted to ask why as well as give him an earful for covering her mouth when they were interrupted.

“Hey…”

It wasn’t so much the voice as it was the feeling of being stared at that got their attention. In unison, the siblings turned to find Ezraphel standing at the doorway leading to the kitchen.

‘When did she get there?’ Natalie wondered to herself with some trepidation.

It wasn’t as if the doorway was in their blind spot; she should have noticed even when talking to Stan, yet she didn’t. One moment there was no one, and the next Ezraphel was standing right there.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” Stanley said, backing away from Natalie.

“It didn’t look like anything. You two weren’t fighting, were you?”

“We were talking, and Nat said something stupid, so I shut her up.”

In response, Ezraphel’s eyes narrowed “what were you talking about?”

“Catching her up on the incident with Amelia,” he answered.

“Ah,” with that, Ezraphel’s body language changed: “speaking of Amelia, I forgot to mention she wants me to accompany her in a few weeks time to discuss some details of her wedding.”

Stanley turned away from her “cool.”

Ezraphel gained an unreadable expression as she began to leave, only to turn back as if remembering something “oh, I’m just about finished with dinner, so you can sit by the table if you wish.”

“Okay.”

In response, Ezraphel hummed and finally left, though her gaze lingered on him the entire time. For a while, there was silence as Natalie looked between Stanley and where his girlfriend left. Only an idiot or someone who is socially inept wouldn’t figure out what was going on, and Natalie was neither of these.

“You know-”

“Shut up.”

“I think she’s trying to tell you something,” she continued unabated.

“I know.”

“Are you even planning on popping the question at some point?”

“We’re already married in all the ways that count.”

“Yeah, but not in the way that counts for people outside your circle,” Natalie said “do you even refer to her as your wife?”

He didn’t meet her eyes as he answered “we got bigger things to worry about right now.”

“I’m pretty sure to her it’s a big deal.”

“Yeah, well, as much as I’d like to do the damn thing and get it over with Ez is gonna want to make it a big thing.”

“Worried about the cost?”

“Yes,” he said immediately, “but more than that Ez doesn’t exactly have the credentials for all that anyway.”

“What do you…” Natalie trailed off before coming to the realization “oh.”

“Yeah” he grunted.

Technically, Ezraphel is an illegal alien and does not exist on any database. She didn’t have any kind of official identification, documents or birth certificate so she wouldn’t be able to get married. Or rather, her marriage wouldn’t be recognized in the legal sense.

Natalie was brought out of her thoughts by Stanley’s next words, “not that it matters right now since there’s a more immediate concern.”

“What’s that?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Ezraphel can solve your uh, cancer situation.”

Natalie was taken aback.

She wanted to say something, either to express her doubts about his claim, make an angry retort about accepting her situation for what it is, or articulate her worry about him clinging onto false hope. In the end, she did not act on any of the three immediate choices for a retort, and instead she swallowed. Her mouth suddenly felt dry enough that she almost took a swig from the water bottle. She didn’t, which was unfortunate because her next word was interrupted by a cough, causing her to clear her throat before starting over.

“F-for real?”

“I wouldn’t jerk you around with this, Nat,” he said with the utmost seriousness, “and there’s a catch.”

“What’s the catch?”

“Ez is going to have to explain that part,” he answered before leaving the room.

As he exited the room, Natalie was left to ponder his words. It was a good thing she was already seated because she felt absolutely drained in that moment and would have likely collapsed. For a long moment, her mouth worked with no sound for a moment before her lips pursed. As her mind raced, she lost track of time until…

“Natalie?”

The woman blinked and looked to find the inhuman visage of Ezraphel once again standing by the doorway, having seemingly appeared out of thin air yet again.

“O-oh, hey Ez.”

“We’ve set up dinner.”

‘Already?’ She wanted to say, but a glance at the clock hanging on the nearby wall made her realize just how long she’s been sitting there.

“Right,” she said, standing up and finishing her bottled water.

For her part, Ezraphel did not immediately leave “Stanley informed me that he explained everything to you.”

“He did,” Natalie answered, then added with a rueful smirk, “though something tells me he’s leaving out some stuff.”

Ezraphel matched her smirk with a smile “of that, I have no doubt. I am willing to further discuss things after dinner.”

Natalie’s smirk turned into a grin “hell, let’s talk about it while we eat.”

Natalie hadn’t forgotten about the series of events that led to her fainting in the middle of the living room. In retrospect, she blamed his pissy attempts as much as her condition.

‘He deserves to squirm for a bit after that crap he pulled earlier,’ she thought with a gleam in her eye.

At that, Ezraphel giggled, “well, we should not keep him waiting now.”

“Yeah…” Natalie paused for a moment, a bit unsure of herself, before taking the dive to ask her directly, “can you actually cure my leukemia?”

The question gave Ezraphel pause as she regarded her, and Natalie felt a pit in her gut as she shook her head. “I cannot cure your affliction. Unfortunately, I do not possess a great enough expertise in Pharmacomancy to do such a thing.”

Natalie had no idea what Pharmacomancy was exactly but understood the context and felt disappointed with the answer.

“Oh…”

She perked up when Ezraphel continued “I can, however, make it so that your illness becomes a non-factor.”

As she spoke, Natalie felt those red eyes staring directly into her soul, causing her to swallow thickly.

“H-how?”

“By turning you into a Mamono.”

~CYOA~

Dinner turned out to be a rather lighthearted affair, despite the nuclear bomb that was dropped and the reveal of Ezraphel’s true nature as an inhuman interdimensional traveler cohabitating with her younger brother. The fact that she chose to stay in her inhuman form should have made for at least a bit of awkwardness, but Natalie just couldn’t find it in herself to pay attention to that.

Actually, she didn’t want to think about any of that right now; too many things happened at once, and she wanted to not waste her attention dwelling on them. Besides, thinking about stressful topics makes her lose her appetite, and the last thing she wanted was to waste the delicious meal she had prepared.

It helped that Ezraphel indulged Natalie in some playful teasing at Stanley’s expense by regaling her with the retelling of some early moments in their relationship that he omitted for one reason or another. Really, she had no idea why he wouldn’t tell her that his first day with Ezraphel involved him running away to camp out in his room, then returning strapped with some airsoft guns to threaten her with.

The look on Natalie’s face conveyed to him that she was never going to let him live this down.

It didn’t take long into Ezraphel and Natalie’s discussion before Stanley decided he was done being the proverbial punching bag for the two women and clapped back with embarrassing stories of his own about Ezraphel. The monster woman now found herself the recipient of a few raised eyebrows that made her pale skin turn almost as red as a tomato. Things didn’t go that well when it came to Natalie, however, as the woman had skin thicker than his and more ammunition as the older sibling.

Despite fighting an uphill battle the entire time, Stanley gave as good as he got. Eventually, the tone did shift from exposing embarrassing moments to just retelling stories. None of them really knew when it changed, but no one tried to stop it since the overall atmosphere was nice. They managed to turn a roasting session at each other’s expense into something much more productive, and she was all for it.

Throughout the conversation, Natalie got to witness her brother at his most relaxed and carefree. It turns out he had a few positive things to say about both women and could make jokes about the situation without it being at their expense. He was being a big ol’ softy, but she didn’t call him out on it. They were having a good time, and most importantly, Stanley seemed genuinely happy. She knew this because he no longer kept up his resting bitch-face façade.

She’s seen him get like this a few times over the course of her two-week stay. The first time she witnessed it, it gave her pause. As someone who grew up with and helped raise him, Natalie didn’t like a lot of things about Stanley’s lifestyle choices. No one wanted to see their younger sibling become a closed-off shut-in with a grumpy attitude and no social life. In Natalie’s opinion, one of the worst things to happen to Stanley was the loss of his optimism.

Speaking of Stanley, after a lull in the conversation, he suddenly spoke up, earning looks from both women.

“I’ll get the dishes.”

“Are you feeling alright, Stan?” Natalie questioned.

He frowned “what’s that supposed to mean?”

“You never do any of the chores.”

Ezraphel also nodded “it is quite suspicious, Stanley.”

Stanley looked between the two of them with a deadpan expression before rolling his eyes. “Alright, you got me. I was using the dishes as an excuse to give you two some privacy so Ez can explain how she’s going to solve your cancer problem.”

“You mean turning me into a Mamono?”

“She already told you,” he muttered.

“Yeah.”

At her reply, his lips pursed, “are you okay with that?”

“I mean, it’s either that or dying,” she said, shaking her head with a wry smile “not really much of a choice there.”

Stanley looked decidedly uncomfortable “we really did try to find another way.”

“I bet,” Natalie muttered, though it was more absentminded than anything.

She too looked uncomfortable, and while she wanted to infer more about the process of elimination they went through before arriving at their decision, she hesitated. And with her hesitance came a brief stretch of awkward silence until…

*CLAP*

The siblings were jolted by the sudden loudness and turned to the Lilim while belatedly realizing that the table was cleared of its contents. Now that Ezraphel had both their attention, she stood up, and her height has never been more noticeable than it was now as she loomed over them. Combined with the aesthetics of her true form and the intimidation factor is ramped up, even if she didn’t mean it to.

“None of that now,” the Lilim chastised lightly, “we will have further discussions on how to proceed in the living room.” Her gaze went to Stanley, “all of us.”

Stanley grumbled something but acquiesced by heading to the living room. Natalie followed suit, with Ezraphel bringing up the rear. Natalie took a seat on the single-seater couch while the couple sat on the three-seater, with Ezraphel making sure to stick close to Stanley. Natalie is pretty sure she would have sat on his lap if not for the seriousness of the discussion.

Speaking of which…

“So, how is this going to go down?” She asked, feeling a thrill of jitteriness that she attempted to cover with a smile, “Are you going to use your magic to turn me into a sexy monster girl like you?”

“Ugh.” Stanley pinched the bridge of his nose with a groan.

“It’s not quite so simple, I’m afraid,” Ezraphel informed. “Due to the nature of your specific illness, your options are rather limited.”

Natalie blinked. “I have options?”

“Of course, there are many Mamono, and I have the ability to convert you into most of them. Although with the illness affecting your blood, you will still find yourself in a similar position as you are right now.”

“Huh, so you guys aren’t immune to cancer then?”

Ezraphel made a so-so gesture “Mamono generally don’t contract human illnesses for the most part. Should we do, it is believed that the symptoms of the illness will be severely diminished especially if the Mamono in question is married.”

“How diminished are we talking?”

“Depending on circumstance it can range from a cumbersome annoyance to barely an inconvenience.”

“I see..”

“Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional” Ezraphel informed interrupted, “I am unsure of whether there are exceptions to this. Though what I can be certain of is that there is a specific type of Mamono for which all mortal illnesses will become a non-factor as I’ve mentioned.”

“What type is that?”

“The undead type.”

Ezraphel’s words made Natalie recoiled in her seat, “undead, as in zombies?”

“Zombies are a rather common type of undead but far from the only one.”

“Look at the wiki,” Stanley informed me, “you should know what you’re in for anyway.”

“What’ll I be in for?” Natalie questioned her as if she never even thought to ask.

“Generally speaking, there are certain personal and lifestyle changes to be expected in becoming a Mamono.”

“I can imagine,” Natalie muttered while giving Ezraphel a once-over.

It made Ezraphel add “appearances aside, of course.”

Natalie pursed her lips “are you talking about the horniness?”

“…among other things.”

“It’s all in the wiki,” Stanley reiterated, resting his elbow on the armrest and his fist on his cheek while decidedly not looking at his sister.

“Please Stanley I’d rather explain it to her.”

Even as she says this, Natalie went ahead to browse the MGE wiki, specifically the undead category.

‘She wasn’t kidding about there being more.’

A full list of Mamono names, including Zombies and…

“Wait, can you turn me into a ghost?”

“Hell no!” Stanley snapped.

“I can,” Ezraphel answered in a measured tone.

“You’re not becoming a ghost, Nat.”

Natalie rolled her eyes “I wasn’t planning on it; I was just curious.”

Considering this was going to define her future from here on out, Natalie felt obligated to do her due diligence and so went through the entire list. For obvious reasons, however, she inferred on Ezraphel’s knowledge to extrapolate on the information provided in the wiki. A wiki that reads like it was written by a terminally online pervert weirdo with an eclectic set of fetishes. The worst part is that, according to Ezraphel, while the wiki had several problems with generalization it didn’t necessarily get things wrong. To the contrary it got enough right to be, for all intents and purposes, accurate for the most part.

Natalie knew that it was either this or death, but for fuck’s sake! Her dignity as a woman wasn’t worth the trade-off for some of this shit. Her only saving grace is that the information presented is based on an actual in-lore encyclopedia written by a literal wandering scholar. According to her brother’s speculation, that means it is subject to biases (no matter what the author says otherwise) and might actually have been co-opted by into becoming one big propaganda piece.

Ezraphel tentatively supported this claim, citing the hyper-focus on sexualizing Mamono and reinforcing conservative family values oddly enough. It also glosses over or makes light of the negative aspects of each Mamono or straight up gas lights readers into believing said negative traits to be to their benefit. In the end, it’s an encyclopedia, so of course it wouldn’t have an in-depth analysis of each individual Mamono. That’s where Ezraphel came in, and frankly, she was the saving grace of this entire venture.

Her explanations managed to patch the holes left by the wiki’s information as well as give her a better picture of Mamono themselves. It turns out there are layers to them outside of a generalized/targeted description from an encyclopedia. With the relevant information at hand, she managed to narrow down her options to-

Jesus tap-dancing Christ, Nat, just pick Wight already!” Stanley suddenly exclaimed, earning a glare from Natalie.

Ezraphel gave a disapproving look “Stanley, we shouldn’t pressure her.”

“Oh, please, we all know what the smart choice is here,” he said, looking at his sister “none of the Ghost types are viable for obvious reasons, and most of the rest either have a debilitating weakness or a too-weird quirk that wouldn’t be worth it. A Wight is literally the only Mamono that’ll have the least impact on your lifestyle.”

As much as she hated to admit it, he had a point. Of all the Mamonos listed, she narrowed her choices down to Pharaoh, Ghoul, Vampire, Lich, and Wight. Ezraphel couldn’t turn her into a Pharaoh because they are technically servants of the Sun God, and she can’t convert humans into Mamono, specifically created through divine means. Ghouls had an oral fixation quirk that Natalie did not want to deal with. As for Vampires, the irony of having a blood disease and becoming a blood sucking fiend was not lost on her, but she liked to actually enjoy daytime without feeling like she still had leukemia.

In the end, it all came down to the Lich or the Wight. As Stanley mentioned, becoming a Wight would have the lowest impact on her current lifestyle. Contrary to what the encyclopedia dictates, Wights didn’t necessarily have any inherent personality quirks. Ezraphel has met Wights who weren’t pretentious highborns or acted like them, and from what Natalie was told, they seem like well-adjusted people. Post transformation, all she’d really need was a cosmetic spell to keep up her human appearance, and barring the typical Mamono lewdness, she would virtually be the same person.

Compared to that, what did Lich offer?

And as if answering both that and Stanley’s words, Natalie said, “yeah, but if I become a Lich, I can do magic.”

“Yeah and you’d have the emotional range of a baked potato.”

“What do you mean?”

“Liches have magically suppressed emotions that can only be seen through by their husband… or something.”

Natalie blinked, ‘what?’ She looked to Ezraphel.

For her part, Ezraphel went on to explain, “Liches have the ability to separate their soul from their body and store it in a vessel called a ‘phylactery.’ The ritual allows them to retain their higher thought process and make critical analyses even in the throes of intense, all-consuming pleasure.”

She did remember reading about that on the wiki, but “it didn’t say anything about suppressed emotions.”

“A side effect of the soul transference process,” Ezraphel informed, “though for them it’s a deliberate choice given how obsessed they are with magical research, analysis, and data collection. They need to have a calm personality and a clear head at all times, even during sex.”

“Oh,” Natalie frowned as she thought about it “so technically, if I want to keep my emotions the way they are, all I have to do is not port my soul into a phylactery.”

“That is correct.”

Natalie grinned and turned to her brother, whose eyes were glued to the phone screen, yes shifting as he read what she assumed to be Lich’s biography. Eventually, he clicked his tongue in aggravation and glared at her.

In response, she merely raised an eyebrow “what? No rebuttal?”

In response Stanley glared “you can say you won’t put your soul in a phylactery, but that means you won’t practice sex magic, which is fucking impossible because, let me tell you, as a Mamono, you’re going to be naturally drawn to doing that shit. I don’t know if Ezraphel has seen a case of a normal person becoming a Lich, so you might not be obsessed with magic from the jump to go that far, but I’m sure it’ll make for one of those addictive hobbies you lose yourself in, and with you being undead, I’m betting one day you’ll realize you missed a couple days and your sleep cycle is all fucked up.”

“Speaking from experience?” Natalie couldn’t help but quip, though it was obviously a rhetorical question.

Natalie knew damn well the answer to that already. Not that Stanley took the bait showing how serious he is right now.

“There’s no way you’re going to avoid researching sex magic as a Mamono. It’s a fucking slippery slope, and Liches have a tendency to use their bodies as ‘research material’ so you’ll just end up doing the soul transfer at some point anyway.”

Natalie opened her mouth to refute his claim because, as a self-admitted pessimist, of course he would look at it with the worst-case scenario in mind. Yet whatever refute she had petered out in the face of his surety. Then it dawned on her that Natalie really didn’t know what she was talking about. She could make a lot of claims with surety in the moment, but in the end, she wouldn’t know if she could walk the walk until after her transformation.

“What are the chances of that happening?” Natalie questioned.

Ezraphel, who had been pouting before, blinked at being put on the spot before adopting a thoughtful expression.

Then she answered, “I’ve never known a Lich to not be entrenched in some manner of magical research to the point of obsession or close enough to one.”

Her words made Natalie cringe “in that case, I think I’ll pass on becoming Lich then. Magic ain’t worth that mess.”

Her words elicited two responses from the couple. The tension seemed to lessen around Stanley, while Ezraphel gave her a rather curious look.

It caused Natalie to ask “why are you looking at me like that?”

“Nothing, I just expected you to be more…resolute in being able to wield magic.”

“I mean, the only reason why I even mentioned it was because I thought it would make for a cool hobby” she informed the other woman “it’s not like I’m out here trying to become a witch or whatever.”

She heard Stanley mutter something along the lines of “thank fucking God” but chose to ignore him.

“A hobby?” Ezraphel repeated.

“You know, like a cool thing everyone’s heard about at one point but don’t learn it because of reasons?”

“You truly are Stanley’s sister.”

“I don’t know whether I should be offended by that.”

“It is a compliment, for he too does not care for power for power’s sake.”

Natalie raised a brow as she regarded him “really? You took a pass on magic?”

Stanley’s response is immediate, “hell no! I’m learning that shit” then he added “and its not for the reason why you think.”

‘So it not because you’re weeb nerd?’

Interesting and from the side eye glance he gave Ezraphel she could tell there’s a story there.

‘Gonna pester him about that later.’

For now she brought her attention back to Ezraphel who spoke “regardless, I am fortunate to inform you that you will still be able to learn magic even as a Wight.”

“Really?”

“Yes, they may not be renowned for it, but Wights do have an aptitude for the arcane and even possess magical abilities inherent to them.”

“Eh, I might just pass on that if it’s going to become a hassle.”

If Natalie were being honest, had her life not been on the line and if death wasn’t the only other option, she would have passed on becoming a Mamono altogether. It seemed like too much of a bother, and the whole being subservient to and/or dependent on men and their semen thing is a huge turn-off.

All the other perks, such as the ‘stat boosts’, according to her brother, like being physically stronger, faster, and virtually immune to all human diseases, didn’t matter to her. Even immortality didn’t necessarily appeal to her much. Sure Natalie wanted to live a long life but in the constraints of a normal human. More than that Natalie wanted to live her best life, especially now that she was being granted a literal second chance, and she couldn’t do that while being borderline obsessed with sex and magic.

With sex, she was sometimes down for a good time with a cute guy but would never want to be a nympho. She would also probably want to find the right guy to start a family with at some point, but that’s still far off in the future. As for magic, she couldn’t even envision herself taking it seriously, let alone becoming obsessed with it to the point of porting her soul to another vessel so she could experiment on herself.

That reminds her that with everything they’ve been talking about, it nearly escaped Natalie, just how absurd the conversation has gotten. Like, there are actual people out there who are so obsessed with something that they would literally mess with their souls. That feels like a line that should never be crossed and just felt all kinds of wrong to her sensibilities.

“Oh” Ezraphel’s sudden shift in tone brought her out of her thoughts “you don’t want to learn magic anymore?”

“No, I’d still be interested.”

If for nothing else than the novelty of it.

“I just don’t want to do something I’ll regret you know.”

“You won’t; I will make sure of it,”  Lilim said resolutely.

What can Natalie say to that except “cool…cool-cool-cool.”

Just then Stanley stood up and began to walk away, “whelp, have fun with that. I’m out.”

“What? You’re just leaving?”

“Sorry if I don’t want to see my sister turn into a hentai monster girl.”

“You call me that after this, and I’ll magic blast your ass across the walls.”

In response, he flipped her off over the shoulder.

Ignoring her brother for the time being, Natalie turned to Ezraphel and asked, “now what?”

“It would be for the best if you were unconscious for what comes next.”

“Eh?”

As Natalie looked on questioningly, her gaze became drawn to her deep red eyes, which were now glowing.

“Sleep.”

The sound of Ezraphel’s voice echoed in her mind, creating a wave of lethargy that washed over her body.

‘Not again.’

For the second time that day, Natalie fainted.

~To Be Continued~

Author’s Notes: If you want to support me or for advance chapters check out my Patreon at www.Patreon.com/Streggaeworks

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