Amelia’s parents taught her not to lie, and she didn’t. She was an honest and straightforward girl, and she didn’t think that there was anything particularly special about that.
She worked for the village blacksmith. She ran the shop, accepted the orders and handled the money. It was a simple job and a simple life, but she’d always felt like she had a higher calling. Even so, she would have never dreamed that one day she’d be declared a Saintess.
Two weeks ago, she was a normal girl. Sure, she’d always been an honest girl, but now she was Honesty itself. She was hand-picked by a literal goddess. Verita, the goddess of Truth, named her as her champion. She was the Chosen of Truth.
She wasn’t ready for this at all, it was happening too fast for her. After all the drastic changes, and frantic preparation, she was desperately missing her former boring life. Some part of her wished that this was all a big misunderstanding. But there was no mistake, she was Chosen. That was the Truth.
She was going to be whisked away from her quiet little life in a tiny farming village, to be sent to the imperial capital of Dursten to study. That was the plan at least. Four people left the village alongside her yesterday… but now only two of them were still alive.
The bandits probably didn’t know who they were kidnapping, by some cruel twist of fate they decided to attack the Saintess’ caravan. Sir Thomas, a knight from the capital, assigned to be her protector, fell in battle against the bandits. Acolyte Joffery, a friendly old man, and a fellow servant of Verita who first told Amelia who she was, was stabbed through the heart, even though he surrendered.
The bandits killed the men and took the women. Amelia feared the worst, and when they grabbed Danica and started tearing off her clothes… she realized the worst was about to happen to them. It was going to happen to Danica first, but it would soon be her turn. She wasn’t strong, she couldn’t fight back against this horrible fate. She could only hope that, once the bandits were… satisfied, they’d let the girls go. She wasn’t optimistic about that, these were cruel, cruel men.
And then, a monster walked out of the forest.
She looked like a young woman with horns, but she moved like a living nightmare, a whirlwind of sharp claws that shredded flesh. She was death and horror incarnate and killed with merciless efficiency. Without speaking a single word, without making any demands, she walked out of the darkness and butchered the entire bandit camp without warning.
These were the men who killed Sir Thomas, a Holy Knight of Verita and a veteran soldier. He was a man who spent his entire adult life mastering the sword. He took quite a few of them down with him, but even he was eventually overwhelmed by the bandits’ numbers and strength. This monster killed those same bandits in seconds, and she made it look effortless.
At first, Amelia was hopeful, maybe this was a nice demon, here to rescue her. She stepped in right before Danica was about to be deflowered, that was almost divinely good timing. Perhaps she was sent by the goddess herself, a strange new champion to protect her chosen. That hope didn’t last long. After killing the men, the monster picked up where the rapists left off, and resumed Danica’s torment.
Why? Was this also the will of the Goddess? She didn’t know.
Danica had been her friend since childhood. She was an intelligent, sweet, and sensitive girl who liked to read. She had a passion for magic, and had been teaching herself spells out of a book but had little success without a proper teacher. Poor Danica didn’t deserve this cruelty. Mercifully, the demon eventually grew bored of molesting Danica’s body, but unfortunately, she decided to torture the poor girl instead.
To Amelia, it sounded like a normal language, but she knew that the goddess’ gifts were protecting her mind from its effects. The Saintess saw how the voice affected her friends. When the infernal tongue was spoken by a human, it often made other nearby humans feel uncomfortable, like an itch inside their skull. When spoken from the mouth of a lesser demon, it was deeply unsettling, and listening for too long would result in a rather severe headache. When spoken by a greater demon, the pain and mental anguish was extreme. Every word the demon spoke was pure, agonizing, torture.
Amelia had never experienced it for herself, but she’d heard about it and the effect was horrifying to watch. Almost immediately after the first words left the demon’s lips, Danica completely broke down. Tanya, the village delinquent and the toughest girl Amelia had ever met, weathered the pain at first, but even she started crying once the demon spoke to her directly. This was a very powerful demon indeed.
Amelia didn’t want anyone else to die, she needed to stop this, but she was powerless. The goddess of Truth was not the goddess of calling down lightning bolts or smiting evil with rays of holy light or anything like that.
Eyes that saw the Truth, ears that heard the Truth, and a tongue that spoke the Truth. Those were the gifts. Amelia’s options were limited. Her gifts let her speak and understand any language, because the Truth is an absolute that transcends language, and her ears could tell Truth from falsehood when she heard it. She had other abilities too, but they were even less useful in this situation.
Talking was pretty much the only thing she could do. So, she did that. She begged the demon for mercy, and surprisingly, the demon listened.
It stopped abusing Amelia’s friends and it acted like it didn’t even know it was torturing them. It asked questions. It was surprised to learn that rape was wrong, and it listened to the Saintess when she told her not to do it anymore. Then, the demon offered her a deal. She’d spare their lives and set them free if she could travel with them. The demon didn’t want their souls, or a sacrifice in blood, or the desecration of a holy site… it only wanted to learn, and it even promised, in a roundabout way, not to kill any innocents.
Two weeks ago, Amelia would not have believed the demon. She wasn’t stupid enough to trust a demon’s word. ‘Everybody’ knew they were cunning, deceitful, and cruel. If you made a deal with a demon and if you trusted them, you deserved it when they inevitably stabbed you in the back.
But she would have been wrong because the demon was telling the Truth. She was completely sincere, and she meant every word she said. There was not even the tiniest shred of deceit in her heart, something that even the most devout worshippers of Verita struggle to achieve. From Verita’s perspective, this murder-happy demon was almost worthy of reverence.
Amelia rubbed her tender wrists. She was free now, and she wasn’t going to be raped tonight. Amelia smiled and sighed with relief as she watched the blood-soaked monster viciously devour a human body in front of her. It was a horrifying sight, but it was far less horrifying than what would have happened if she hadn’t shown up.
Amelia looked to her friend, Tanya. Just like Danica, she was following her friend to the capital. Ever since she was young, she always aspired to be a knight. Now, she specifically wanted to be Holy Knight of Verita, and a member of Amelia’s personal guard. The Saintess had the authority to make a Knight into a Holy Knight, that part was no issue. She just had to take advantage of her influence, pull a few strings, and try to make Tanya into a regular knight first.
Tanya had been freed by the demon as well, and she looked confused. She didn’t hear about the deal. She couldn’t speak infernal after all. Technically, neither could Amelia, the goddess’ gift handled it for her, merely translating her common-tongue thoughts into demonic-tongue words.
Tanya looked around, getting her bearings, and then she started sizing up the demon with a telltale glint in her eye. Tanya was her childhood friend, so Amelia knew her well enough to recognize the ‘Tanya is about to pick an ill-advised fight’ expression on her face. Her tomboyish friend had a bad habit of starting fights with strong people she couldn’t beat, and limping home covered in bruises. The delinquent caught sight of a sword lying discarded on the ground and grinned slyly. No Tanya, that was a bad idea, a very bad idea.
“Don’t even think about it,” Amelia hissed. “I made a deal with her. We’re safe for now, but no matter what… don’t start a fight with her. Don’t challenge her or make any aggressive movements at all. She could easily kill you if she wanted to.”
Amelia ignored Tanya’s dirty look. She climbed to her shaky feet and looked at her other friend. Danica was lying on her side, hugging her knees with a pleading look on her face. She saw that Amelia had been set free, but she didn’t dare move. The demon was right behind her, loudly tearing apart a human body.
“H-help,” she whimpered.
“It’s ok now, she won’t attack,” The Saintess smiled and calmly started walking to her friend.
“What are you doing?” Tanya whispered, horrified by Amelia’s lack of caution. Amelia ignored her.
The demon was happily eating her meal, but she looked up as Amelia approached. Terrifying crimson eyes fell on Amelia’s body. There was something overwhelming about being in the presence of a greater demon. It was different than just seeing a pale human with horns and claws. The creature radiated an aura that sent shivers down Amelia’s spine. Here was something unnatural, a vicious killing machine, a perfect predator, but it was ok, Amelia knew she was safe.
Well… if Amelia was being honest with herself, which she obviously had to be, part of her doubted the Truth. She said it was safe. She literally could not lie, it was physically impossible, if she tried the words wouldn’t come out. It came with the whole sainthood package. Danica didn’t believe her though, and honestly, part of her didn’t really believe herself either. That same part of her wanted to curl up into a ball and hide, just like her friend.
She couldn’t let herself do that. She wasn’t Amelia Voss, the friendly girl who sold plows to farmers and axes to woodsmen, she was Saintess Amelia Voss, Chosen of Truth. Complete honesty also meant complete trust. The Saintess would disgrace her patron if she refused to believe the Truth when she heard it. She had to believe, with all her heart, that the monster had no desire to kill her.
And it was True. Sure enough, the monster didn’t attack. She watched Amelia approach with childlike curiosity. The demon watched Amelia reach down to her friend and grab her by the hand. Amelia forced herself to relax, to trust.
“It’s ok Dani, you’re more-or-less safe now. You’re not in any immediate danger at least, so just follow me. Let’s get you some clothes.” Amelia gave her friend a reassuring smile, urging her to trust as well.
Amelia helped Danica to her feet and walked her back to the cart. No demons attacked them. When Danica’s hand safely touched the wood of their cart, she was on the verge of tears. Amelia hugged her, letting the relieved girl bury her face in her chest.
“Amelia…” Tanya spoke through clenched teeth. Her voice was tense.
Amelia kept Danica’s relieved face buried in her chest, making sure she couldn’t see. Not telling her friend that a blood-soaked murderbeast was right behind her, looming over her shoulder, wasn’t technically dishonest. Staying silent wasn’t against the rules. Yes, the demon followed her to the cart, but she wasn’t specifically hiding this fact, she was simply choosing a more appropriate time talk about it.
“She is very afraid of you,” said Amelia softly, speaking Infernal, “Please give her space. It’s hard to make her feel better with you standing so close.”
Danica went stiff in Amelia’s arms. The words were coming from a human mouth, so they shouldn’t have been painful, but Danica obviously realized who Amelia was talking to. The monster shrugged and walked back to her meal.
With a bit of distance created again, Amelia let go of her traumatized friend. Danica quickly looked around and saw that the demon was a safe distance away.
“Holy shit that was scary,” said Tanya, who had been holding her breath, watching the whole scene.
“Yes, even if I know she doesn’t intend to hurt us, she scares the crap out of me too,” Amelia admitted.
Amelia rummaged through the cart. After they attacked the caravan, the bandits took the entire cart, the donkey, and the three women as their loot. Geronimo, the donkey, and the cart seemed to be intact. The bandits had been too preoccupied with the kidnapped women at the time to dive into their stuff. After a few seconds, Amelia found a new clean dress inside Danica’s luggage. The old one was too shredded to bother recovering.
“Here we go.” she said cheerfully, handing the dress over to Danica.
Tanya hesitantly approached the Saintess, “Amelia… you said you made a deal? What was the deal?”
Amelia coughed nervously, “I promised she could follow us if she didn’t hurt any innocents. The demon will be joining us on our trip for a while.”
“You promised what?” Tanya shouted, the shock visible on her face.
Danica stayed silent, but the horrified look on her face made her opinion clear. A short distance away, a startled demon suddenly sprang to her feet, hearing the shout, and wondering who was attacking.
Amelia smiled at the demon, and spoke in Infernal, “I just told them about our deal and they’re a bit surprised.”
The Saintess turned to her friends, and spoke cheerfully in common, “Okay then! Let’s get the cart ready. We can take some supplies from the bandits too. They clearly won’t be needing them anymore. I think we’ll all start feeling a bit better once we get away from this camp.”
The three girls loaded up their cart with salvaged provisions and a small stash of gold they found while picking through the camp, deliberately ignoring the nightmarish carnage on the forest floor around them. The demon sat nearby, happily devouring some unlucky lowlife’s head.
Amelia helped Danica into the cart, buried the traumatized girl in a pile of blankets and clothes, and allowed her to sleep. There was no question that she was done for the day. The task of preparing the cart and Geronimo, the donkey, for travel fell to Tanya. Normally, that would lead to whining from the delinquent, she hated animals, but she didn’t complain this time. She greatly preferred her task to the one Amelia gave herself.
The Saintess walked up to the demon with a friendly smile.
“Hello,” Amelia said, in infernal.
The monster made eye contact, nodded in acknowledgement, and kept eating.
“We’re getting the cart ready, and then we’re planning on leaving the camp and travelling east along the road.”
“I’ll eat, then follow,” said the demon, she looked up, and pointed, “Is that a cart?”
The Saintess head turned to follow the gesture, “Uuh… yes, that’s our cart.”
The demon nodded and continued eating. Amelia looked down at the girl’s naked bloodstained body. Amelia would offer her something to wear, but she didn’t seem to be the least bit concerned about modesty. Did demons even wear clothes? It didn’t matter, there were more important things to worry about.
“Do you have a name?” asked Amelia.
There was an awkward pause as the demon took another bite of… was it somebody’s shoulder? Amelia tried not to think about it.
“My name is Amelia,” the Saintess volunteered, and pointed to the others, “The black haired one is Tanya, and the brown haired one is Danica.”
The demon looked at her and nodded silently.
“What’s your name?” Amelia finally asked.
Lilizath, daughter of Z’Kraugh? That was strange. Despite her recently acquired divine gifts, Amelia was no expert on gods, demons, or magic. Over the last week, she’d been given a crash course on the subject by Acolyte Joffery. She was struggling to remember everything he said, but she knew that demons were creatures created from the raw chaotic energies of the hellish Abyss and given shape by the Demon Lords. They weren’t born or hatched or anything, she didn’t think demons could have parents.
“Who is Z’Kraugh?” she asked.
“Father,” the demon replied nonchalantly, “Big, very strong, clothed in hellfire, Archfiend. He gave me a name.”
Archfiend. That tiny little word was buried in that sentence, spoken so casually as if it wasn’t a big deal. The word sent chills down Amelia’s spine.
Lesser demons, like imps, lesser succubi, and slashers, weren’t easy to handle, but they could at least be controlled by a skilled enough mage. If they became unbound, free of their summoner’s control, they were dangerous, but not so powerful that a typical squad of town guardsmen couldn’t handle them.
Greater demons, like hell knights, shining ones, and mind eaters were bad news. They were extremely powerful, and devilishly cunning. Summoning one and attempting to bind it was unreliable and almost suicidally dangerous. Unbound greater demons were the stuff of nightmares, the subject of stories told around campfires to scare children. Amelia strongly suspected that Lilizath belonged in this category.
But then there was Archfiends. One could technically call them a species of greater demon, but they were truly in a class all on their own. Outside of the seven demon lords themselves, they were, by far, the most powerful inhabitants of the Abyss. If a mage managed to somehow successfully call one of those legendary horrors into the world, then they would be able to witness a walking cataclysm reduce armies to ash and cities to rubble.
“Y-your father is an Archfiend?”
“I guess? He said I was created from his essence.”
“So, are you an Archfiend too?” Amelia’s voice trailed off. Oh Goddess above… what did she just agree to?
The demoness scratched her head and shrugged, “I don’t know, maybe?”
“You don’t know what kind of demon you are? Are you a different type of wrath demon?” That was surprising. Amelia thought demons knew more about themselves than that.
Lilizath held up her claws, and tapped them against her horns, “My claws and horns came from Father, I know that much. His are very similar to mine. But he was a lot bigger than me. If I’m an Archfiend, then I’m a very small one, I think I’m only part Archfiend.” The monster stopped to think, tapping a claw against her chin, “Wait, what do you mean by wrath demon?”
Amelia was uncertain, her current knowledge of demons was spotty at best. From what she’d heard during her rushed lessons, every demon belonged to one of the seven demonic aspects, with each aspect being the domain of one of the seven Demon Lords. They were the seven deadly sins of man: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride.
A demon’s aspect was determined by which demon lord created them, and it affected their natural behaviours. A lust demon would pursue their own pleasure at the expense of others or use their sexuality to manipulate others, a gluttony demon simply devoured everything in its path, a greed demon would steal and hoard wealth or knowledge, and so on… Archfiends were obviously demons of Wrath, craving battle above all else. Lilizath certainly fought like she was a wrath demon.
Amelia explained what she knew to Lilizath, but she made sure to point out that she wasn’t entirely confident in her knowledge. The demon wrinkled her brow and considered the words.
“I don’t know which of those aspects I belong to. I don’t remember being created by a demon lord. It might be wrath, it’s true that I enjoy fighting, like Father, but that’s only one of the things I like. I like eating, talking to you, sleeping on top of comfy humans, watching the stars, and plenty of other things too. If battle was all I craved, then I wouldn’t have bothered to untie you.”
Amelia thought about it as she watched the demon eat. She realized something fairly obvious, “How many people have you just eaten?”
The demoness seemed confused by the question, “Seven, so far. Why? If you want to leave you can go, I know what you smell like, I can follow your scent after I finish.”
“You plan on eating all of them?” Demon biology was different, to say the least. Amelia honestly had no idea how this slender young lady could fit a dozen dead bodies inside her stomach. She should have exploded at least… six dead bodies ago. That behaviour seemed very… gluttonous.
“Gluttony demon?” Amelia suggested.
“Maybe? I eat a lot and I always have room to eat more. But again, I like more than just eating and fighting.”
She was right, there goes that theory.
“What is a succubus?” the demon asked.
“A succubus? They’re a lust demon. They uuh… have sex with people, feed on their energy,” Amelia felt herself blush.
“I think I’m a succubus too. That’s what the other succubus said.”
“Yes, she was invisible.”
“Uuh… okay. Maybe we can ask somebody about your aspect,” said Amelia. “Once we reach a large enough town, we can probably find a demonologist who will know more on the subject than me.”
The demon took a bite, and shrugged, “-uman language -irst,” she said, with her mouth full.
Amelia looked confused, Lilizath swallowed, “Teach me the human language first. I want to understand what you humans talk about. Finding out what kind of demon I am is less important. For now, I am me, that’s all that really matters.”
“Ok, I can try to teach you the common tongue. Where should we start?”
“I have things to say to the others, start there, teach me the words, what they mean, and how to say them.”
The demon explained what she wanted to say, and Amelia tried her best to teach her.
Tanya squeezed back into her chainmail shirt. Those rapey bastards took off her armor when they captured her, but she managed to find it again, tucked away in one of the corners of the camp.
She fastened her belt and felt the reassuring weight of her sword at her side again. It wasn’t a very good sword, it was cheap and there was probably a better one buried in the blood-soaked mud somewhere, but she didn’t plan on looting the bandits for more than just their gold. This had been a horrible fucking experience and she didn’t want to keep any souvenirs that would remind her of it. She just wanted to move on, and let things go back to normal.
That would be hard. She was pissed off. Pissed off at the rapists, pissed off at that negligent idiot of an Acolyte that didn’t arrange for more than a single knight to protect their caravan, but she was mostly pissed off at herself. She’d failed in her duties as her best friend’s sworn protector. A young Amelia befriended an antisocial troublemaker that hated the world when nobody else would go near her and Tanya owed her for that. Amelia pulled her out of the darkness. She probably ended up saving her life. Tanya swore an oath to protect her friend, and she failed in that task almost immediately.
She’d been overpowered and humiliated. The men toyed with her, didn’t take her seriously, didn’t bother to kill her. Her sword was knocked out of her hand, and she was thrown to the ground. She was captured. Tanya was no innocent maiden; she knew all too well what was about to happen to her. She knew their type, they were going to make it hurt, there were going to be bruises in some very tender places by the morning, but she could handle it. She’d been through worse.
She knew she wasn’t ready to watch that shit happen to Amelia though. Tanya would gladly receive an extra share of abuse, and she would even thank the bastards when they were done with her, if it meant sparing her friend from their cruelty as well. As far as Tanya knew, her innocent friend hadn’t even had a real boyfriend yet. Tanya didn’t want to watch the sparkle in Amelia’s eyes die away.
She glanced at the demon, chatting happily with Amelia. Tanya was obviously happy the rapists were dead, and that they died before they had a chance to force their dicks inside her friends, but now there was a new problem…
This was ridiculous. It was going to follow them. Amelia seemed to trust that creature.
Tanya could have tolerated Amelia befriending a normal human murderer or three, but this was too fucking reckless, even for an idealist like her. This was a fucking demon! An unbound and uncontrolled greater demon. There it was, sitting right next to Amelia, ready to snuff out her life the instant it got annoyed or bored with her.
Amelia wasn’t a good judge of character. She was always too innocent and trusting. When they were kids, Tanya made it her mission to make sure her only friend didn’t go through the same shit she had to go through. Watching out for her was hard work, Tanya had to beat the shit out of more than a few assholes who abused her trust and tried to take advantage of her. Tanya’s instincts were telling her that this demon would almost certainly turn out to be one of those assholes. The only reason Tanya wasn’t charging at that monster with a sword in her hand was because of Amelia’s mysterious new truthy-powers.
Tanya didn’t know how it worked, but her best friend basically became immune to bullshit. Amelia could tell if somebody was lying with the absolute certainty that only a divine gift could provide. That first week after she was Chosen had been very awkward. Amelia innocently asked some very inconvenient questions and Tanya was suddenly not able to properly lie to her about it anymore. She had been forced to come clean about a lot of shit from her past that she hadn’t wanted her friend to know. The girl’s powers almost worked too well. Tanya couldn’t even lie to herself without triggering her friend’s new abilities.
Tanya still hadn’t gotten used to the new Amelia, but that gift was real. If Amelia trusted this demon, it was because the demon honestly thought that it would not betray her. Or, perhaps it was just that the demon was sharp enough to fool Verita’s divine lie detector. Tanya rested her hand on the pommel of her sword. If that demon betrayed Amelia, or hurt her in any way, then it didn’t matter how strong it was, it would find Tanya’s sword in its throat.
The pair continued chatting as the demon finished the last of the human bodies. It must have eaten something like a dozen people, and somehow that didn’t faze her friend at all. Tanya had to give Amelia credit for that, she had some guts, she certainly wasn’t a child anymore. She had grown up a lot since she started working for the blacksmith. The conversation ended as Amelia and the demon stood up. Tanya watched them warily as they both walked up to her.
“Lily wants to say something.” her friend explained.
The demon opened her mouth and spoke. This time, Tanya didn’t feel a searing pain inside her skull, and the voice didn’t conjure up vivid flashbacks from an extremely unpleasant childhood. It was just a normal voice, struggling with the words a bit, but speaking the common tongue.
“You are not a threat,” the demon said, “and your meat is not needed. I will not attack you unless you force me to.”
Tanya blinked. Not a threat? She was armed, and she knew how to handle herself. She’d never been formally trained, but she was experienced as fuck! She’d been getting into fights her entire life. She was fucking amazing with her fists, elbows, knees, and better with the sword then any of these poor dead bastards lying around her. She only lost against them because she was outnumbered.
“What if I am a threat?” Tanya said, tapping the hilt of her sword.
The demon noticed the tapping, but only looked confused. Amelia whispered something into her ear, and the demon nodded.
She walked away and kicked around the blood soaked debris until she found a dagger buried in the mud. She walked back to Tanya, blade in hand.
Oh fuck, oh fuck. She’d done it again. Her mouth had said something that the rest of her couldn’t back up. This time… it wouldn’t be bruises or a broken arm. This bitch had claws, and Tanya wasn’t completely confident in her chances of winning a direct one-on-one fight with a demon. She was so stupid. Why did she have to open her big mouth?
Tanya was ready to draw her sword and die with dignity, but the demon stopped in front of her. She turned to the side and kept eye contact as she lined the dagger up with her own heart. Tanya’s eyes went wide, and her jaw dropped as the demon stabbed herself. The tip pierced her skin but stopped at the bone. Instead of piercing further, the dagger itself wobbled and bowed in the middle before it snapped, sending a glittering shard of broken blade spinning off into the woods somewhere.
The demon hadn’t even blinked. Continuing her demonstration, she lined the remaining half of the broken dagger up with her throat. This time, there was no bone to stop the blade from sinking into her flesh. The dulled dagger pierced into her windpipe, all the way to the hilt.
A smile crept onto the demon’s face as she pulled the dagger out. A single spurt of black blood leaked out of the open wound. Tanya nervously watched the normally-lethal injury heal itself in front of her eyes. After only a few seconds, it was impossible to see any trace of the damage on her skin. Having proven her point, the demon casually tossed the broken dagger away.
“Not a threat.” she repeated with a smug grin. Tanya got the message. Her sword was useless, she was useless, the demon could do whatever it wanted to them, and all of them were completely at her mercy.
Her stomach tied itself in a knot. Fuck.
Amelia had been watching the demonstration too, and she seemed impressed by the monster’s resilience. Didn’t she realize the horror of the situation?
The demon leaned over, bringing her man-eating jaws up to Amelia’s ear. Tanya couldn’t hear anything but the faintest whisper, but even that small trace of sound made her shiver. She watched her friend’s reaction to whatever the demon was saying, it was clearly making her uncomfortable. The demon stepped back, and Amelia cleared her throat awkwardly.
“Lily wanted me to tell you that if you attack her with the sword, she’ll rip your arm off. But she made a point of saying that, since you’re my friend, she would try to do it without killing you, if possible.”
Amelia gave Tanya a tense, awkward, smile.
“Please don’t try it, Tanya. You’re important to me and I don’t want you to die, ok?”
Tanya knew that Amelia was right, her words made sense, but the stupid, stubborn part of herself couldn’t accept it. “You’re not showing a lot of faith in your protector, Amy.”
Amelia leaned over and gave her a hug.
“You’re strong Tanya, strong enough to become a knight some day, but…” Amelia broke the hug, gripped Tanya’s shoulders firmly, and looked her dead in the eye, “Lily didn’t lie when she said she didn’t want to attack us. I understand how you feel, but even if was possible for you to defeat her, keep in mind that I also made her a Promise. I can’t go back on my word. Like it or not, this is the path we’re going to follow. It’s going to be… a difficult path, but I still need you as my sworn protector while we follow it. Don’t pick a fight with Lily, ok?”
Tanya slumped her shoulders, “ok” she said quietly.
It was finally time to leave this cursed place. Tanya and her best friend climbed into the cart. The demon declined to follow. She kept her distance, intending to walk behind the cart instead of riding on it. That was a mercy, Danica wasn’t doing so well, and Tanya was worried she might break completely if she had to share an enclosed space with ‘Lily’ for too long.
The donkey, Tanya forgot his name, pulled the cart through the narrow hidden pathway in the woods, heading back to the road.