Well… that went surprisingly well. Much better than she expected at least. The humans didn’t run away or try to kill her. They were actually doing what they said they would.
As the sun rose, Lilizath continued to follow behind the agonizingly slow-moving cart. It was a decent idea, the cart. Whoever built this contraption was clever. It allowed the three women to rest while they travelled, and it allowed them to carry a hoard of food, clothes, and books with them at the same time. The slowness was an issue, but it could probably be solved if Lilizath herself pulled the cart instead of the grey-fur-lazy creature. She considered suggesting that idea to the humans, but she was content to keep her distance and quietly observe for now. The humans tensed up when the demon got near, and she wanted to watch how they behaved around each other in a natural environment.
Danica seemed to be asleep for now. Lilizath still hadn’t had a chance to tell her that she wasn’t interested in eating her, but that could wait until later. She still didn’t understand why being stripped naked and touched harmlessly was such a big issue, but she could clearly see that Danica’s reaction to it was genuine. Lilizath didn’t want to break the overly fragile human, and it was obvious to the demon that the girl was going to need a bit of quiet time to recover.
Amelia rode in the cart too. She sat next Danica for the first few hours of travel, watching over her protectively, but now she was curled up next to the cowardly brunette, fast asleep. Amelia was the only human Lilizath had met so far that didn’t seem to be scared of her. The petite human was nervous around her at first, but after a short conversation, Amelia seemed to have lost that fear completely.
Lilizath, or ‘Lily’, as Amelia started calling her, knew that satisfying her desires meant seeking out and interacting with humans. She expected to have a violent relationship with them, to take what she wanted from them by force. Seeing a human relax, and genuinely let her guard down in the demon’s presence, that was something that she’d considered to be impossible. It felt good to be trusted. It satisfied a desire that Lily didn’t even know she had. Sure, the others were still scared of her, but at least Amelia understood that Lily wouldn’t attack her arbitrarily. Lily was trusted and she had no desire to ruin that. She wanted this warm fuzzy feeling to continue.
Tanya was the only one of the three that was awake. She was sitting at the front of the cart, directing the grey-fur-lazy creature. Lily’s interactions with Tanya were interesting. She liked Tanya. She was a very demonlike human. She was strong, suicidally aggressive and she smelled really good. Lily had a strange urge to wrestle her to the ground, pin her arms, and torment her by gently teasing a sharp claw over her vulnerable squirming body.
The only thing that stopped her from acting on the urge was Amelia’s haphazard warning about not touching someone without their permission. Lily didn’t understand it yet, but Danica’s distressed state proved it was true. Some touching seemed to be allowed, Lily closely watched the girls hug each other, and that involved pressing their chests together. Breasts were touched. Lily didn’t know what was acceptable, was it ok because of the clothes? because hands weren’t used? She needed to ask Amelia to clarify the touching/no-touching rules at some point.
Lily sighed as she watched Tanya from behind. In retrospect, Lily shouldn’t have threatened to rip off her arm. That was not a good way to convince the angry girl to let Lily claim her as a toy. She’d followed her instincts and made that threat without thinking. What she really meant to say was that she wasn’t going to let herself be killed, and that Tanya couldn’t take advantage of their agreement to attack her without risk of retaliation.
The threat didn’t really need to be made. Sure, if Tanya got her hands on a Demonbane weapon and attacked her, then yes, her arm would be gone, along with the rest of her body. Against a normal sword, like the one she wore on her hip, the demon could risk subduing her gently. With a normal sword, Tanya would have to hack at Lily for hours before she ran out of stored energy and lost the ability to regenerate. As Lily told her before, Tanya was truly ‘not a threat’.
The cart continued to follow the road until it reached a creek. The thin stream of water cut across the road, passing underneath a short wooden bridge. Tanya directed the grey-fur-lazy to stop and climbed down from her seat on the cart. She yawned, dug through the cart, and grabbed a bag full of lazy-creature food. Apparently, it was time for a rest stop.
The grey-fur-lazy really was lazy. It had only been pulling the cart for a few hours and it was already tired? How feeble.
The demon wanted to watch the feeding process, but the grey-fur-lazy made noises and tried to escape when Lily got too close. Yes, yes, she was scary, even the cart-pulling animal seemed to think so. While she enjoyed terrorizing the humans and watching them squirm around her, she was starting to get bored with it.
Hmm… should Lily warn Tanya?
She seemed to be a fighter, so she could probably handle it herself. There were only five of them, and these weren’t even the big ones. Still, Lily would be quite upset if either Tanya or Amelia died. The demon started walking closer, ready to step in if Tanya got overwhelmed.
There was a growl. Tanya turned around, caught off guard. A small grey-fur-growl-bite, only as tall as Lily’s hips, burst out of the woods and charged towards the human. Tanya reached for her sword, but the animal closed the distance before she could draw it. She screamed in pain as its fangs clamped down on her leg. The beast tugged at her, dragged her to the ground, and a second predator followed the first, lunging towards Tanya’s face.
Nope, she couldn’t handle it on her own.
Lily leapt into action, charging towards the creatures as fast as she could. She crossed the distance in a blur and a high speed demonic foot connected with the creature that was going for Tanya’s face. There was a crunch, and the beast’s body crumpled and flew away, colliding with a tree on the opposite side of the creek and sloughing off into a misshapen heap on the forest floor.
The other predator let go of Tanya’s leg, ready to attack the new aggressor. Two sets of clawed fingertips sunk their way into either side of its neck and hooked around the back of its skull. It received a knee to the face, which caused a savage cracking sound. The demon pinned its stunned body to the ground with her foot, and she pulled at the beast’s head until she heard a tearing sound. The demon straightened up and let go of the severed head which hit the ground with a dull thump.
Another beast was already charging out of the woods and Tanya finally decided to stop being useless. Ignoring her shredded leg, she grit her teeth, scrambled to her feet, and managed to draw her sword before the attacking creature reached her. Lily decided to leave this one to her and go for the two remaining growl-bites that were trying to sneak up on the others. The recently awoken, and extremely disoriented pair of women were still sitting in the cart, not fully aware of their surroundings.
Lily leaped over the side of the cart, landing in between the two startled girls. The wood cracked and Lily’s left foot punched through the floor of the cart. The demon lost her balance, teetering forward and her momentum carried her over the cart’s opposite side. She landed awkwardly on the gravelly road, flat on her back, with two growling beasts looming over her, one on either side of her.
Lily growled back at them, and the beasts lunged at her.
Lily felt one set of jaws close around her face, and a second set of jaws dig into her side. The demon abandoned hope of an easy clean fight. As the beast tore at her face, she thrashed around blindly in the chaos, kicking, smashing, and digging her claws into anything and everything that felt squishy enough to be an animal.
Monstrous fangs raked across her face and sunk deeply into her eye. The other set of jaws tore free from her side, ripping out a chunk of demon flesh before biting into her again. Lily roared with the fury of an Archfiend. The delicious pain only sharpened her murderous instincts further. Her claws tore away at the beasts with unrestrained demonic fury.
She managed to catch one of them with her flailing legs, pinning it between her thighs. The beast’s fangs continued the tear at her belly, but the damage it could do was limited without the ability to twist its head and tear the flesh away. The second set of fangs, still digging into her eye socket, stopped moving, the beast finally succumbing to its injuries.
Lily pried the dead animal off her face, reached down between her legs, and stabbed into the remaining beast with both her claws. The demon screamed and snarled, raking her claws across its body. Her feral growls twisted into sadistic laughter as Lily shredded the beast beyond recognition, continuing long after it was dead. When her rage and battle-lust finally simmered down, she looked at the bloody meat pulp between her claws with her one remaining eye. Yep, it was dead for sure. She flopped back down onto her back, panting heavily, and staring up into the sky.
The battle was over. The world was silent. Her open wounds were throbbing with pain and itching as her body desperately tried to regrow all the flesh that had been torn away. Ouch. Fighting off an attack while defending three humans at the same time was a challenge. She lost one eye, but at least the beasts didn’t get both of them. Complex organs like eyes took a lot longer to regrow than simple skin and muscle. She’d made a mistake with the cart; she’d forgotten how heavy she was compared to a normal human and it had cost her. The last time she’d been hurt this badly was at least 16 or 17 days ago.
A shock of blonde hair, and a pair of sparkling blue eyes poked out over the edge of the cart, looking down on Lily.
“A-are you okay?” Amelia asked.
The corner of Lily’s mouth curled into a grin. Yes! She was better than okay! The beasts managed to actually inflict some damage! It was a savage and brutal battle, with her life on the line. She hadn’t gotten this worked up in weeks! Without bothering to wait for her wounds to close, the demon leapt to her feet and reached her arms to the sky in triumph.
“That was a good battle!” she cackled, in mind-destroyingly loud Infernal.
Danica, still in the cart, fell over and collapsed into a quivering ball. Tanya, standing on the other side of the cart next to the beast she killed, dropped her sword and fell to her knees with her hands over her ears. Amelia stayed where she was, her look of concern turned into a look of annoyance. Oh. Whoops.
“Sorry,” the embarrassed demon whispered to the human.
Lily’s lips curled back into a grin. The euphoria of battle was still washing over her, and mere embarrassment could not spoil the feeling. She burst into maniacal laugher and ran off into the forest with her claws spread wide. She couldn’t contain herself. Leaves and wood splinters scattered into the air as Lily revelled in the satisfying feeling of tearing the forest apart with her claws.
The demon rampaged around the nearby woods in a cheerfully murderous frenzy, only returning occasionally to steal another wolf carcass and drag it away into the gloom of the trees for reasons unknown. Eating while running, Amelia assumed.
Amelia and Danica ignored the monster and carried the injured Tanya into the cart. They laid her down on top of some blankets. Amelia removed her boot, and rolled up the injured warrior’s pant leg, baring the horrible bite wound for inspection. It was pretty bad. The wolf’s fangs punctured deep into her calf and tore up the flesh when it pulled Tanya to the ground.
Amelia cringed. “You fought like this?”
“Don’t worry,” the exhausted fighter replied, “It barely even hurts. It’s not like a little nibble on my leg is going to slow me down. This will heal up in no time.”
Amelia chose not to confront her about the blatant lie, “We should be able to find you a healer in town. We’re pretty close now. If we hurry, we can probably get you there before nightfall, can you hold out that long?”
“It’s fine,” Tanya spoke icily and narrowed her eyes. “Just get me some water to clean it and something to wrap it with, then I’m good.”
Amelia followed the dishonest girl’s orders. She was right about the need to bandage the wound at least. She helped Tanya pour some clean drinking water over the wound and tore some strips of cloth from her least-favorite night shirt, one that was starting to get kind of old and ratty anyway. Tanya interrupted Amelia’s attempt at wrapping the wound partway through, taking over and rewrapping everything more tightly.
Right. Tanya got into a lot of fights. A lot of fights. Amelia should have realized that her friend would be an expert at dressing her own injuries by now. With the leg wrapped, Tanya sat up and reached for her sword.
Amelia slapped her hand, “Nope, lie back down.”
“What if there are more wolves, or bandits?”
“We’ll feed them to the demon,” Amelia said, “You haven’t even slept yet, have you?”
“You shouldn’t trust her so easily.”
“She hasn’t done anything bad yet. She even helped us with the wolves,” said Amelia.
Tanya glowered at her friend. Amelia knew Tanya well enough to see the shame hidden behind the anger.
“You did a good job on that one,” Amelia pointed at the wolf. “If they didn’t surprise you, you could have probably taken on two or three of them.”
“Not five?” Tanya glared at Amelia murderously. Well, that attempt to console Tanya backfired. Tanya was strong, but not that strong, and Amelia couldn’t lie to protect her feelings. The delinquent muttered to herself quietly, “…first the fucking bandits and now…”
“Even Sir Thomas would have struggled to kill an entire pack of wolves by himself. They’re smart, and they use teamwork.” Amelia tried again, “You’re strong by human standards but don’t compare yourself to Lily, you’ll only make yourself miserable. Even a lesser demon is stronger and tougher than any human. Without magic equipment or spells to make up the difference, us humans can’t compete on their level.”
Tanya stared at her injured leg in shame. Amelia leaned over to hug her.
“In any case, I’m the Saintess, and you’re the Saintess’ protector. Technically, I’m your boss, so if I have to order to you to get some rest, then I will. I need my protector to be healthy.”
Amelia gently pushed down on Tanya’s shoulders, and guided her back down. The delinquent obeyed her but gave her a sour look.
The Saintess noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. She looked over her shoulder and saw a horrible terrifying monster standing right behind her, still smiling like a lunatic. Lily’s eye was back. She was completely healed, in fact. And also dripping wet for some reason. The monster girl must have gone for a swim at some point during her gleeful rampage.
“You’re looking refreshed,” said Amelia.
The demon nodded, and crept up to the side of the cart, looking down at Tanya. “She’s still hurt?” she whispered into Amelia’s ear.
“Yep, from the wolf bite, humans don’t heal as fast as you do. Not without using healing magic, at least.”
“Magic her then. She’s no fun if she’s broken.”
“I can’t use magic… I was supposed to learn but… things happened. We’ll find her a healer in town.” Amelia pointed up the road, “we’ll be there by the end of the day.”
The demon nodded. She stared down at Tanya with a strange glint in her eye, “I want to sleep on her,” said the demon.
Amelia kept her face blank, as she processed what she just heard, “On Tanya? Like, as a pillow?”
The demon nodded, “I slept on a man once. He was very comfy, but then the armored men killed him, and then I had to eat his body because they stabbed me through the spine and Tanya looks just as comfy as he did when he was alive, so I want to sleep on her too.”
Amelia massaged her forehead as she tried to unpack that sentence. The demon didn’t wait for her. With Amelia successfully distracted, the naked demon slowly crept over the side of the wagon. The wood creaked, but she stepped carefully and shifted her weight very slowly. She crept over to the injured warrior.
Tanya looked at her friend nervously, as the demon crept up to her, “Amelia? what-”
“She wants to cuddle, Tanya.” Amelia said, as the demon laid herself down next to Tanya.
“What? No. Tell her no.” It was already too late for Tanya. The demon wrapped an arm and a leg around her, and squeezed her like a living, complaining, hug pillow.
Amelia was about to intervene, but then a slightly sadistic smile spread on her face, “You know, Tanya… if you’re have trouble trusting Lily… you two might just need some time to bond.”
“Don’t you fucking dare,” said Tanya, in the most murderous tone she could muster. The delinquent tried to squirm free from the demon’s grasp, but her gentle grip was as unyielding as rope. Lily wasn’t letting go, and Tanya was stuck.
“Amelia,” said Tanya in a pleading voice, “this isn’t funny anymore.”
Amelia watched the ferocious hellbeast nestle her head into Tanya’s chest and close her eyes with a relaxed smile on her face. “Sorry Tanya,” she said, with a giggle, “it’s a little bit funny. I’ll step in if she gets too weird. Have a good rest you two.”
Amelia maneuvered to the front of the cart, getting ready to hit the road again. Lily let out a relaxed sigh. Tanya groaned.