Lily kneeled over the dead body of the succubus, shovelling shredded flesh and crushed bone into her mouth.
There was itching and tingling all over her body as flesh grew over her recently exposed bones. This might have been the worst damage she’d received in a single fight so far. Worse than the inquisitors even. That succubus’ magic had been incredibly powerful.
As she continued to eat, the feeling of starvation didn’t subside. Lily’s sense of hunger was tied to the mana stored inside her body, and all the magical energy she gained by eating was being used to regenerate her missing flesh.
She flexed her new muscles and her bones felt unusually heavy, which meant her new muscles were lighter and weaker than before. Her regeneration was mostly subconscious, but it was surprisingly smart. It seemed her body recognized it was starving and was prioritizing ‘completeness’ over restoring her previous muscle density.
Unfortunately, once her body healed, she would almost certainly be a lot lighter than she was before. She guessed that she'd weighed about seven Amelias before… Hopefully she’d only lose one or two Amelias worth of weight, but that was awfully optimistic given how much flesh she lost.
Lily paused her meal and took a deep breath, slumping her shoulders. This succubus had really messed her up.
She’d been stupid, she realized. She’d grown complacent. She was vastly more powerful than any human she’d met, outside of the inquisitors at least. She’d gotten used to that and acted like she was unkillable. She wasn’t strong… humans were weak. She should have known that another demon would be a powerful potential threat, and she’d obviously underestimated the danger of this one.
Not only that, but she walked right into the succubus’ trap. Really? Having sex with a sex demon? That was like walking into the mouth of a gluttony demon. Even if she was ignorant of sex until today, and she didn’t know the exact mechanics of how succubi fed until now, she should have still realized that allowing one between her legs wouldn’t turn out well.
Lily finished scooping up the last of the shredded succubus meat splattered against the ground in front of her. She then started on the succubus’ legs and arms which were still mostly intact, though completely severed from the rest of the body.
As Lily was working on the last remaining limb, the left leg, she heard a popping sound as her hearing returned. She heard the lovely sound of the chewing and tearing of bloody flesh, but the night was silent otherwise. Her sense of smell returned shortly after her hearing, and the spicy pungent aroma of demon blood soaked into her nostrils.
She ate the last bite of leg, finishing all the succubus meat, but she was nowhere near fully healed. Her eyes hadn’t even started to regrow, and the muscles that had regrown felt tender. Running a clawed hand over them was slightly painful, and she felt a bumpy texture to the flesh. She realized that she’d regrown a layer of muscle, but no skin to cover it yet. The healing returned to its previous slow rate, and she felt the mass being drained out of her bones and older muscles again. She needed to find more meat.
With hearing and scent restored, she sniffed through the blood saturated air to find another source of food. She’d prefer to find an animal to kill if possible, but unfortunately, the only scent she found was human. Lily sighed. She was half-healed, losing mass through starvation, and she still didn’t have eyes. Human would do, she didn’t have the luxury of being picky right now.
The human scent was coming from beneath the floorboards, in the house’s cellar. She didn’t remember seeing stairs or a trap door when she still had eyes. Not a problem, she could make her own pathway down. Lily scraped her claws against the blood drenched and already damaged wood. After a few minutes of digging, she fell through the floor and landed on a patch of cool moist dirt in the house’s cellar.
The demon stood and heard a muffled scream, a male voice with a gag of some kind in his mouth. She took a step and tripped, nearly falling over. A loop of tattered cloth was wrapped around her legs. Lily reached down… Ahh it was Tanya’s dress. The top half disintegrated when her chest did, and the bottom half wouldn’t stay up without it. Lily carefully stepped out of the fabric loop and kicked it aside with her foot. She preferred being naked anyway.
She walked up to the source of the sound without tripping again, but this time she bumped into a wall of metal bars. She felt around and found the edges of the mystery object. It was a large cube shaped metal cage and the voice was coming from inside. His words were unintelligible thanks to the gag, but the terror in his tone was obvious. It was for a good reason of course, Lily was going to eat him after all.
One set of bars rattled more than the others, so she assumed that it was the cage’s door. Lily braced herself with her foot and pulled. The metal creaked and finally snapped, allowing the cage to swing open.
The screaming voice intensified as the demon walked closer. She gently reached out a claw and felt the trembling human’s outline. He had broad shoulders and a distinct lack of breasts. Lily confirmed he was indeed male thanks to Candy’s hasty rambling lecture on humanoid sexual dimorphism. His arms were bound together behind him with iron manacles connected behind the cage bars, keeping him secure.
He smelled absolutely terrible, like he hadn’t bathed in weeks and had been forced to use his own clothes as a toilet. Candy must have been negligent in taking care of her human prisoner. There was a strip of cloth wrapped around his head, digging into his mouth. Lily gently cut through the fabric with her claw tip.
“Please… please don’t hurt me,” the man whimpered.
Lily turned his head sideways, pinning him against the cage side, and pressed her claw against his temple to end his life as cleanly and painlessly as possible. She hated the idea of breaking her promise to Amelia. She would lose the human’s trust, and she would probably end up alone again. She’d either be alone or dead, those were the options… This was truly a disaster.
“I’m sorry,” said Lily, speaking Common, “I don’t want to kill you, but I’m hungry.”
She didn’t know why she spoke to him. He would be dead soon, telling him why wouldn’t be much of a consolation for him. It still made her feel better to say those words out loud though. She was really saying it for her own sake, not his.
“Don’t eat me, I don’t taste good. I promise!” pleaded the man.
“Even covered in shit you probably still taste better than the succubus…” Lily muttered under her breath, before raising her voice to a speaking volume, “I need meat, you are meat, sorry.”
“Don’t eat me please. I’ll give you meat. Not human meat, but almost as good. Cow, pig. Pig tastes almost like human,” the man desperately begged.
Lily sniffed the air skeptically, “I don’t smell anything.”
“Not here. Another place. Lots of meat.”
Lily sighed. She wasn’t in a trusting mood after the succubus encounter. If she ate him, there was a guarantee that she would get a nourishing meal. If she believed him, he could lure her into a trap, or find some other way to escape, leaving her stranded without anything to eat.
“I’m very hard to kill and I know what you smell like,” Lily said. “If you lie to me, you’re going to wish I killed you here. I will find you and I will eat you alive, starting from the toes and working my way up. You probably won’t die until I reach your thighs.”
“Yes. I won’t betray you. I promise.”
Ugh. This snivelling little thing didn’t fill her with a lot of confidence. He wasn’t attacking her though. Eating him would be breaking her promise to Amelia, no question. If he was telling the truth, she might be able to return to Amelia alive, without betraying her. It was worth taking the chance.
She gripped the man’s manacles and tore the chains apart. She actually had to work at them a bit, tugging and yanking before the metal chain split apart. She kept her displeasure from showing on her skinless, eyeless face. That proved it, she’d gotten weaker.
“Go on. Take me to this ‘other place’ of yours,” said Lily.
The man stood and started walking. Lily followed his unpleasantly strong scent and the sound of his footsteps. When she focused on it, her magical perception felt him too. He was giving off a faint magical aura, definitely human, not demonic. It was only slightly weaker than Amelia’s magical aura, though it felt more chaotic and uncertain than sparkly or honest. Magical auras were hard to describe with words.
The man led her to a set of stairs in the side of the cellar that led directly outside through a wooden door. Apparently, the cellar and the house had separate entrances. At least, they did before Lily connected them via a hole in the floor. The man led her down an alleyway of some kind.
“Uh… Are you friend of Canth’chry?” the man asked as he walked.
“No. She attacked me so I killed her and ate her.”
“Ah, so that’s why she hasn’t tried to stop us.” The man’s voice was nervous.
The pair continued walking in silence, after a few more minutes, the man spoke again, “Uuh… where is your master?”
“The one who summoned you? The one who gives you orders under the geas?”
“I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.”
“No actually, I don’t,” Lily spoke with a warning tone to her voice that made the man flinch.
“All demons are summoned with a geas, it’s part of the ritual.” the man quickly explained. “It’s a magical compulsion that you can’t disobey. Usually it’s something like ‘Follow my orders,’ or ‘Don’t attack people without my permission,’ that sort of thing. For Candy it was ‘Don’t harm your master and follow his orders’ which, I’ll admit, turned out to be a bad choice in this case, especially once she put the gag in my mouth so I couldn't order her to free me.”
Lily took a moment to think about it, “Nope, I don’t have one.”
“Wait…” the man’s footsteps slowed down a bit, “Are you unbound?”
“Yes, that sounds familiar. Father said I was unbound.”
“I see,” there was a nervous gulp, “so you killed your previous master?”
“No,” Lily replied, “I don’t think I ever had one.”
“That’s not pos-” the man cut himself off, “I mean sure, you’re right, sorry.”
Lily didn’t have Amelia’s gift, but even she could notice the insincerity in the man’s voice. So, Lily couldn’t be a demon hybrid, and she couldn’t be summoned without a master and a summoning geas. According to this man and his succubus, Lily was impossible.
The rest of the walk continued in tense silence. The man decided not to talk anymore, and Lily could tell he was trembling slightly. After a few minutes, the man stopped walking abruptly, “We’re here,” he said.
Lily inhaled and smelled a large amount of raw meat nearby. It was coming from somewhere to the right, “Here?” she asked, pointing towards the scent.
“Yes. This is the meat place, there’s lots to eat inside. Can I leave please?”
“If you’re not lying…” Lily warned.
The demon girl felt along the wall until she found a door. It was large and sat on rollers. She pried apart the padlock and slid the door open sideways. The scent of delicious meat filled her nose.
Lily walked a short distance inside, reached out, and felt an animal corpse, hanging from someplace above. It was cold, so it wasn’t freshly killed. It was also missing skin and its belly had been cut open. It seemed all the guts had been removed too, but the bones and muscle were still there at least. She leaned in and took a bite. Glorious!
The man’s footsteps were already growing distant. He was running away in a full sprint. Lily didn’t care, she got what she wanted. She could eat and heal, nothing else mattered right now. She continued eating the hanging meat and her full regeneration returned. She felt her muscle and skin begin to grow back again. This meat was far less potent than the succubus had been, but it certainly tasted better.
After the first hanging meat, the last bits of muscle that hadn’t grown back did so, and a large portion of her skin returned too. After the second hanging meat, her skin was completely restored, and she felt two squishy, slightly deflated orbs in her eye sockets. Halfway through the third hanging meat, a blindingly bright flash filled her vision, and slowly dimmed until she could see the details of the room around her. Yay! Eyes!
Her shiny new eyes lit up with joy. She’d been led to a room full of glorious bloody treasure. She’d only eaten two and a half hanging meats, but there were at least twenty in here. She dug into the other half of the cow she’d been eating with enthusiasm. She’d have to hurry and eat these before the sun came up.
Midway through cow number five, Lily’s meal was interrupted by a shout of alarm. She turned to see a man in armor standing in the doorway she’d left open, holding a torch and wearing an expression of horror on his face.
He wore the same uniform as the guards that led Amelia into town and lost against Tanya in the sparring match. The man had a sword and a spear, but Lily didn’t see the Demonbane glow. They could still be silver, she reminded herself. This was a bad time to make another stupid mistake.
The alarmed guard pulled out a small piece of metal, held it to his mouth, and blew into it. A loud, shrill, whistling sound shattered the silence of the night. Ugh! Many humans would have heard that noise. She had to get away from here.
Was this a kill-human? She watched the man get into a fighting stance and point his spear at her. He clearly intended to fight her. This was an obvious threat. It seemed like this qualified as an attack. The metal tip of the spear didn’t feel ‘wrong’ to her senses though, so it probably wasn’t silver. Maybe she could try to subdue this one without killing him.
The cow-blood soaked demon dropped the remaining half of her meal and lunged towards the spearman. He angled his spear to catch Lily’s charge, but at the last moment, the demon dodged and grabbed the spear’s shaft, giving it a sudden hard yank. The man who was still gripping it stumbled forwards and Lily’s knee caught him in the stomach.
He flew out of the ‘meat place’ and landed in the middle of the road outside, rolling several times before coming to a stop. He groaned, rolled over, and threw up. Lily smiled. She didn’t kill him. Amelia would be happy.
The demon casually discarded the guard’s spear she was holding, stepped out into the street, and heard distant footsteps approaching from all sides. That meant every direction was equally good. She chose to run in the direction of the fancy people’s mansion.
She sprinted down the street at full speed, a few seconds into her run, she encountered two guards that were approaching the source of the whistle sound. The street was wide, and the two men were surprised to see the demon. She didn’t even need to disable them. She just ran past them before they even had time to raise their spears or draw their swords. They tried to chase her, but they couldn’t run as fast as she could. They also ran out of stamina after less than a minute of continuous sprinting. After turning a few corners and weaving through the streets, she escaped them easily.
When Lily was certain that no more guards were able to see her, she ducked into an alley and crouched in the shadows, catching her breath. She listened to the sounds. There was a lot more activity now. Several human voices were audible in the distance, somewhere near the ‘meat place’ building. None of the voices were getting closer to her though. She’d lost her pursuers.
She walked the rest of the way to the mansion carefully, once again, hiding in the shadows. No guards or other humans spotted her as she reached the edge of the mansion grounds. She climbed over the gate to the mansion, and quietly walked back up to the front entrance.
As she reached the front door, she heard voices inside the mansion and heavy running footsteps. A few seconds later, the door opened, and ten guards piled out into the yard, standing in semicircle formation, spears at the ready. An eleventh guard stood in the middle. This was the older one Amelia had been talking to directly, the one with the red cloth on his back. He held a single handed sword and shield. The sword wasn’t glowing, but it definitely felt wrong. Silver.
“Surrender now, demon. You’re under arrest,” the leader shouted.
Under arrest… what did that mean again? Well whatever. Lily knew what surrendering meant, and she had no intention of submitting to an insect like him.
“No,” said Lily coldly, flexing her claws menacingly.
“You’re going to come with us one way or the other,” the man pulled out a pair of wrong feeling manacles, also silver, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
Ah. They wanted to capture her. They wanted to separate her and Amelia… Her and Tanya… Even Danica… That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
“You will not take my humans away from me,” Lily warned. “Get out of my way or die.”
The silver wielding man handed the manacles to one of the other guards, who dropped his weapons and got them ready. The leader readied his sword and got into a fighting stance. That was probably enough of a warning to satisfy Amelia. She’d get to eat eleven delicious humans tonight, guilt-free. What a treat!
Like the bandit camp, there were a lot of humans here, but unlike the bandit camp, she had to worry about a silver sword. Luckily, she now knew that humans had an easily exploitable weakness.
“Out of my way!” Lily roared in devastatingly loud Infernal. Her fiendish voice pierced the silence of the night, echoing through the empty streets.
Two of the nearby men fainted immediately. Others fell to their knees while remaining conscious. The older human holding the sword was staggered, but he was the only one that managed to remain standing. Lily took this opportunity, and charged towards him, claws bared.
The man recovered fast, but by that point Lily had already closed the distance. The man brought his shield up, only barely escaping his death. Instead of impaling him through the heart, Lily’s claw embedded itself in his shield. The man twisted his body and Lily’s momentum carried her forwards, sending her careening through the wooden front door of the mansion.
The door exploded into splinters and the demon flew into the entrance hall. She tore a series of deep gouges in the floor as she skidded to a halt, digging her claws into the floorboards for grip. The man stepped inside the doorway, sword at the ready, and Lily discarded the shield she’d pried off his arm, throwing it down the hall behind her. She lined herself up for the next charge, she’d get him this time.
“Stop!” came a voice from the stairs behind her. It was Amelia’s voice.
Lily stopped, but kept her claws bared, and her eyes focused on the man. She was willing to humor Amelia’s request, but she wasn’t stupid enough to let her guard down. She was ready to react in an instant. Amelia’s footsteps were behind her, quickly descending the stairs. Lily watched the guard’s eyes, trying to see where he was going to attack. He might try for Amelia too, but Lily was prepared to defend the tiny human from this man if needed.
Amelia stepped between the demon and the guard. She faced Lily, walked between her bared claws without fear, and wrapped her arms around the demon’s neck, hugging her. Lily didn’t return the hug. She kept her claws free, ready to defend them both from the man.
“Please stop fighting,” Amelia said into Lily’s ear.
“He attacked,” Lily whispered back.
“He was trying to intimidate you, not kill you. I told him not to do it, but he didn’t listen.”
“He’s slower and dumber than Tanya, I can kill him easily.”
Lily kept her eyes trained on the guard. He continued to stand where he was, holding his sword ready. The chainmail and cloth gambeson would help protect him against a raking slash of her claws, but they would do very little to stop her fingertips from piercing through if she stabbed him. The silver weapon was still a bit concerning, but if she fought carefully and deliberately, like she did with Tanya, she could overcome this little challenge. It would be far easier than the succubus.
“Probably, but please don’t. It’s not too late to solve this with words. You only need claws and swords if words fail.” said Amelia.
Lily didn’t like that idea. The succubus used words as a weapon, and she nearly killed Lily with them. If Candy would have attacked Lily directly, then Lily wouldn’t have had to fight her when she was drained of energy and unable to regenerate. After tonight’s harrowing experience, she wasn’t ready to fight against another opponent with words. She liked her claws. Claws were reliable.
“I don’t trust him, and I don’t trust words. I’ve heard too many words tonight.”
“You don’t have to trust him, but can you trust me?” Amelia asked. She stepped back and looked Lily in the eyes, “I can protect you.”
Amelia’s gaze was calm and reassuring. Lily felt like she could trust her, but she’d been wrong before. Well, perhaps there was no harm in trying. Lily could always poke through her own eardrums again if the guard tried to use magic words or something similar on her.
“Fine,” Lily said, with a sigh.
“Ok, let’s go relax upstairs, I’ll handle the talking later.”
Amelia stepped back from the hug, reached out a hand, and grabbed Lily’s claw tip. She gently led the demon up the stairs, speaking to the guard as she did so.
“Don’t go anywhere. You and I are going to have a talk after this,” she said in a cold voice. The man looked angry, but he made no move to prevent Amelia from taking Lily upstairs.
Amelia led Lily to her room, getting the attention of a nervous looking maid who followed her too.
“You can have a nice boiling bath to relax and wash off some of that blood. I hope none of that is human blood… The Lord and Lady Montagne sent for the guard when you triggered their alarm ward by climbing the fence. The guards are very worried about what you did while you were outside the mansion. Once you’re nice and comfy, could you please tell me everything that happened after you left tonight?”
They reached the room, the maid filled the bathtub, and Amelia set the fire rune to ‘scalding.’ The demon settled into the water. Ahh yes… this was definitely what she needed after a night like this. Lily started telling Amelia everything that happened.