As the sun slowly slipped down towards the horizon, the forest shadows grew long. As daylight dimmed and twilight approached, a pair of crimson eyes opened. A fearsome apex predator stirred from her slumber, ready to start the hunt again. Flakes of dried blood crumbled and fell off her shoulders as she flexed her claws and stretched her arms out lazily. The forest around her went eerily silent.
A large, claw-sized black-shell-click, too stupid to know any better landed against a nearby tree. A burst of leaves and dirt were thrown into the air. A blur of white skin and black hair moved past the tree. Both the insect, and a splintered chunk of wood it was standing on vanished in an instant. Lilizath skidded to a stop a few feet away and swallowed her crunchy breakfast.
The insect wasn’t much, but it was a good start for the day. It had been 27 days since she emerged from the charred ruins of what was once a tower, and she was settling into a routine. Hunting, moving, and occasionally sleeping.
She discovered sleeping four days after her escape. At the time, she didn’t know why she felt so weak and exhausted, but she figured it out when she stumped upon a sleeping big-brown-growl-claw, resting in a cave. After she killed and ate it, she decided to try mimicking its behaviour, falling asleep in its former den. It worked amazingly well, and she felt much better afterwards.
She enjoyed watching and learning about things as she ate them. As far as she could figure out, all her meals needed to eat and sleep regularly. She needed sleep, just like most of the things she ate, but they slept every night. She tried following their example, but it was hard to fall asleep, and she felt lethargic when she woke up. She settled into a routine of sleeping once every two days instead and that turned out to suit her physiology much better.
Eating was different for her too. She’d felt hungry after losing her arm, when she needed the energy to heal, but once she ate a few dozen meals in the wilderness, she didn’t feel hungry anymore. She still found the act of eating to be pleasurable though. There was no such thing as too much food, and she didn’t know when she was going to need the extra energy to regrow a missing limb or spine again. Her eating habits raised some serious questions though, specifically, she often wondered where all that food went.
From what she understood of the world, the food had to go somewhere. That rule applied quite firmly to animals. With a bit of observation and her keen sense of smell, she quickly discovered the connection between animal food and animal poop. Apparently, that logic didn’t apply to her. She had a butt, she checked very carefully, and she was absolutely sure it was there, but it was apparently just for show. The food went into her body, but nothing ever came out.
She was starting to notice an interesting change in her body though, an unexpected side effect of eating two or three times her body weight on a daily basis. After 27 days of eating things, she was heavier than she was before. She wasn’t sure at first, because it was hard to notice. Her body was exactly the same size, and she felt just as light as always, but by this point it was obvious that something was going on. Her footprints were noticeably deeper, sudden changes in direction while running tore up the ground more than it did before, and things she climbed on seemed a lot more fragile.
At this point, despite her size, she was heavier and stronger than even the largest creatures she’d encountered in the forest so far. Animal claws and fangs could still tear up her skin and draw blood, but they couldn’t dig in as deeply as before. Her new denser muscles were very hard to pierce and chew through. She was mightier than before; Father would be proud if he knew.
Lilizath decided to start walking again. Over the last 27 days, she’d been following the sun during the day, and a specific group of stars during the night. They were her favorite ones, the ones that sparkled the most and felt the most beautiful to her. Her path probably wasn’t a perfectly straight line, but it was mostly consistent, and she never passed by the same place twice. She was going somewhere… she just hadn’t arrived there yet.
So far, it was just forest, forest, and more forest.
Since leaving the recently destroyed tower, she’d found nothing but empty wilderness. Nothing in this forest was as dangerous as those armored men. There were some predators of course, the big-grey-fur-growl-bites were the most dangerous creatures she’d come across. They were big, Lilizath was only as tall as their shoulders, and they attacked in a large group while surrounding their prey. They also had a nasty habit of dragging her to the ground and tearing her face off if she wasn’t careful around them. The first few days in the woods were nerve wracking, but now that she gained some extra mass and strength, even the big-grey-fur-growl-bites were easy to conquer. At this point, forest predators were simply meals that delivered themselves to her. She felt quite safe here.
Safe, but bored.
The gluttonous part of her was happy to eat and wander forever, but the rest of her was starting to feel somewhat unfulfilled by this feral lifestyle. The part of her that she had in common with Father screamed out for a challenge, something stronger than a mere animal to fight. The lazy part of her wanted her to stop wandering around so much and find somewhere cozy to rest.
Another part of her wanted her to find humans, ones that smelled nice like that comfortable man from before, and… cuddle with them? smell their hair? tear off their clothes and lick their abs? She didn’t really know where these weird urges were coming from, none of them made any practical sense. Even so, it was a pretty strong craving, like being hungry, but not food-hungry. It likely had something to do with that squishy part between her legs that the succubus was talking about. It seemed to drool when she was hungry-but-not-food-hungry. She’d have to capture a live human to experiment with at some point, if she ever found one.
Lilizath heard an animal shuffling around nearby and chose to keep walking and ignore it. She was bored of just chasing and eating things. She had to hurry up and find humans as quickly as possible. There must be more of them somewhere. She needed to find strong and cunning humans to kill, and comfortable attractive humans to keep alive and lick or whatever. That was the only solution to her current malaise.
The demoness let out a sigh, and quickly stepped to the side, to allow the black-fur-pounce-claw that tried to ambush her from behind to pass by her shoulder. She watched the pounce-claw land in front of her and turn around. It snarled at her. It was a little bit smaller than the orange pounce-claws, but a little bit better at hiding and ambushing. All pounce-claws regardless of color tasted good, so this interruption wasn’t the worst thing ever, but she was still annoyed. She was busy moping about humans, and she didn’t want another boring fight right now.
The pounce-claw pounced again, and the demoness shifted a foot back to brace herself. She lazily reached out to the flying predator with an open hand and accepted the offered meal. If Lilizath was a human, the pounce-claw might have knocked her down with its weight, but the demon wasn’t human. She barely moved as the creature impaled itself on her hand. Four clawed fingertips dug into the surprised animal’s throat, and Lilizath closed her hand around the skull, twisted around, and casually flipped it over her shoulder, smashing it against the forest floor.
Lilizath looked down at the corpse and frowned. It had a broken neck, but she didn’t mange to cleanly rip this one’s head off like she’d been intending. She was still plenty strong, so this was a mental problem. This whole boredom thing must have been affecting her more than she realized. Her sour mood was starting to dull her vicious killing instincts.
Devouring two hundred pounds of meat helped improve her mood at least.
The sun finished setting and a well-fed Lilizath picked up the pace. Nighttime was the best time. She had perfect night vision. Everything was as clear in the dark as it was in the light. The only thing missing was color. Not even the black-fur-pounce-claws could boast the same. That, combined with her powerful sense of smell and sensitive hearing, meant that she could find unsuspecting snacks quite easily in the darkness.
This time, she chose to ignore the snacks, and burst out into a full run. If she travelled far enough, she’d find human-tracks eventually and they would probably be easy to follow. From what she remembered of the armored men, humans didn’t seem like stealthy creatures.
After four hours of crashing through the underbrush like a charging horns-impaler, she stopped to take a break and catch her breath. She found a fallen tree and took a seat. The rotten wood crumbled under her body weight, but it managed to support her once she let herself sink into the log a bit.
She looked up at the night sky again, her favorite thing to look at. She could feel the scratches covering her legs and chest healing. By the time she saw the thorny bushes it was too late to stop, so she just charged through them. She had enough food energy to spare, healing a scratch or two wasn’t even a noticeable inconvenience.
Lilizath relaxed and watched the stars for a few more minutes. In the silence of the night, with nothing else to distract her, the demoness heard a faint sound.
A scream. Terror and pain. That was a very human sound.
The demon’s eyes went wide, and she scrambled to her feet. The sound was quite a distance away, but it was unmistakeable. No animal sounded like that. She charged off into the underbrush again with a grin on her face.
Bushes, brambles and even some smaller trees were smashed apart as Lilizath stampeded through the forest. The underbrush didn’t even slow her down as she homed in towards the source of the sound in a perfectly straight line.
It only took a few minutes of running at her full speed before she saw a tiny flickering fire in the distance. In the dark of night, the fire was like a shining beacon to the demon girl’s sensitive eyes. Animals didn’t use fire, so this was a human.
It could be another demon too she supposed, her kind was fond of fire, but she couldn’t feel any demonic magical auras nearby. The one and only magical aura she sensed was definitely not demonic in nature. It wasn’t… thirsty enough, and it was too… honest? Magical auras were hard to describe with words.
Lilizath could solve the magical mystery later. Fire was evidence of a human presence, that was all she needed to know. She charged towards the flickering firelight, only slowing down once she got closer.
The screams were quite loud now. The screaming voice sounded more like Nixxildraz the succubus’ voice than the voice of the humans she’d encountered. There were deeper voices too, ones that sounded like she expected humans to sound like. These men were talking in their human nonsense language, but she could understand that they were laughing and enjoying themselves at the expense of their screaming victim.
Lilizath smiled when she recognized what was happening. Sadism! Pleasure gained by inflicting pain on another. How demonic of them! This was apparently a trait these humans had in common with her kind. She still had to be cautious though. Just because they had some demonic traits didn’t mean they would be friendly to their fellow monster. She didn’t want to just stumble into a camp full of inquisitors and get cut apart with those horrible Demonbane weapons again.
She crept towards the campsite, keeping herself light on her feet despite her weight. She was balancing on the balls of her feet, staying aware of leaves and twigs, keeping her body low to the ground and shrouded by shadow. It was just like stalking her unsuspecting prey before the kill, something she practiced quite a bit over the last few days. She crept up close enough to see.
Yep, they were humans. Lilizath counted quickly. 12 humans, lightly armored with exposed faces and throats, various weapons at their hips, none of them glowing. Two victim-humans, bound with rope, tied to the side of a wooden… thing with round things. A third victim was there, the screaming one, unbound but surrounded by the others. The victim was alive, mostly uninjured, but it was screaming like it was dying. The others seemed to be tearing the victim’s clothes off.
Oh… that was interesting.
Lilizath squeezed one of her own breasts for comparison. The victim looked like her. Well… not exactly, she didn’t have horns or claws, but she had breasts. The sensitive squishy thing that the succubus called a weapon might be similar too, but the angle was awkward, and it was hard to get a good look at the victim’s anatomy from where the demon was hiding.
Was it possible? She’d looked at a few human bodies in detail while she ate them, but they were pretty well cooked thanks to Father’s hellfire. Even so, Lilizath was pretty sure none of them had breasts. Their squishy bits had burned away too, but what few traces were left behind seemed quite different to the demoness’ own set of squishy bits. Still, if humans could look like this too… Perhaps Lilizath’s anatomy was closer to that of a human than she’d realized. It was certainly a plausible theory, there were male and female animals after all, she’d eaten plenty of both. It would make sense if there were male and female humans as well.
Lilizath watched the men hit the screaming woman until she gave up and stopped struggling. They finished taking off her clothes, and one of the men started taking his own clothes off too. Lilizath got a full view of the male human’s squishy bits, undamaged by fire. Yep… very different, worth investigating closely in the future. She watched the victim’s despairing face, what was going to happen? The victim seemed to know, but Lilizath could only guess. This could be interesting…
Oh wait, what if they mutilated the victim’s body? Lilizath needed to investigate this screaming human up close before the men did too much damage to her. She had to confirm her theory. She might have to interrupt the fun, or at least get close enough to watch it happen with a better angle.
Revealing herself was almost certainly going to lead to a fight. The only other humans she’d met attacked her without provocation, so these ones might do that too. She was stronger than before, and these men didn’t have armor or Demonbane weapons, so she had a decent chance of winning if they attacked. If they proved to be too much, then she could always run off into the woods and hide. It’s not like she was cornered this time.
With her decision made, Lilizath straightened herself up and openly walked towards the campsite. She was going to see how these humans reacted to her.