As the stargazing-fun-interrupter led Amelia outside, Lily grinned. This was her chance to escape the boring!
The demon crept upstairs towards the sleeping humans. She wasn’t supposed to do this anymore… and that made it more fun. It added an element of danger. Who should she look at first? Danica? Mostly-Naked-Tanya? Or man?
Josie was obviously on the menu for later. Lily had a lot of pent up sexual frustration to vent so that unfortunate little maid was in for quite the night. She suspected Josie wouldn’t mind that very much. Despite her words to the contrary, the demon was fairly certain that the little maid was a willing victim, so Amelia shouldn’t have any issues about it.
Well, Josie was most likely willing, Lily didn’t know for sure, but she also didn’t really care that much. Even if this broke some sort of Amelia-rule, the blushing blonde couldn’t be mad if she didn’t find out about it… Sadly, according to the old grandfather clock in the main hall, it wasn’t quite eleven-o-clock yet. Josie was still working so Lily had to amuse herself with something else until then.
Lily decided to start her sneaky fun by inspecting Danica’s ‘mushroom statue’ again. She understood exactly what it was for now. Maybe she could borrow it for the night and try it out on herself. Lily couldn’t penetrate herself with her claws after all. Well, she could, but it would hurt, and being hurt was no fun if she was in control of it. Victim-Lily needed a proper tormentor.
When she snuck over to Danica’s door, she heard two voices inside the room. Danica and Caiden were panting heavily on the other side of the door. Lily heard lewd moans from Danica, and she smirked knowingly. It sounded like they were having fun in there… Lily was tempted to watch, but they’d notice her for sure if she tried to creep inside.
Lily decided to go into Tanya’s room instead. Tanya’s delicious toned body was more fun to look at anyway. It was still early in the night and Tanya wouldn’t be in a very deep sleep yet. It should still be easy to peek at her though. Hopefully she decided to wear nearly nothing to bed again. Lily smiled lewdly, opened the door carefully, and crept inside.
Tanya boobs! Glorious! Tanya was sleeping on her back again, in only her panties, completely exposed aside from her left leg which was still partially underneath the balled up covers. Even though the succubus had tried to kill her, Lily genuinely appreciated the sex lesson she got. The demon licked her lips. Now that Lily knew what she could do with it, she gained a whole new appreciation for Tanya’s-
A massive surge of magical power came from the sky above. It was overwhelmingly powerful, at least as strong as Father’s hellfire, perhaps even stronger. An instant later, the sky lit up with an eerie green glow.
The aura was moving, getting closer. Tanya!
Lily exploded into action. She lunged across the room, diving towards Tanya with her claws extended. She scooped up the sexy woman, along with half a shredded mattress’ worth of feathers and threw herself towards the window.
Glass shards, fragments of wood, and accidental feathers sparkled in the night as a blurred figure launched herself and her pet human skyward out of the second story window at a nearly-lethal velocity. They sailed through the sky as the ball of fire behind them grew brighter. Lily saw the tree, a lovely old oak planted in the garden. Unfortunately, they were going to hit it. She twisted herself in midair, facing away from the tree trunk, shielding Tanya with her back.
Lily’s skull and spine collided with the thick tree branch, and she felt a small shockwave travel through her body. The force travelled from bone to bone, with her entire skeleton bending and flexing just enough to dissipate the energy of the impact. Lily’s vision went blurry for a second, but the tree branch lost the battle against the demon. The meteoric monster only slowed down slightly, and the branch exploded into splinters, severing itself from the trunk.
Lily bounced twice and skidded to a stop on her back, carving a deep trench in the garden soil. The, now fully unconscious, Tanya was still pressed against her chest. Lily sat up, and her eyes focused just in time to watch the enormous green fireball strike the centre of the mansion. It was no good, Lily didn’t jump far enough, they were still too close to escape the blast. The explosive wall of emerald flames took only an instant to reach them. The oak tree was entirely vaporized before the branch even reached the ground. There was only time for one last thought…
The shockwave struck Tanya squarely in the back and crushed her against the demon that held her. Lily felt the delicate human ribs in her chest crack. The eldritch fire that followed immediately behind the blast wave was more than hot enough to vaporize Tanya’s flesh and bones. The white-hot fire enveloped them for only a second, but that was all the time it needed.
When the cataclysm was over, Lily stared with disbelief at the glowing crater for several seconds. Her outstretched palm trembled as the demon caught her breath. She felt drained, completely exhausted, like she had been running for hours without rest.
Lily looked down at Tanya. Broken ribs, broken ankles from where they hit a wall on the way out the window, several shallow slices along her back from glass shards… but no burns at all.
Tanya was alive but unconscious, which was probably a good thing for now, considering how much humans tended to scream when Lily broke their ribs. They were sitting on a small tuft of grass. The only grass. The last surviving patch of plant life on the entire estate ground was teardrop shaped, only a few feet in diameter. The flames had neatly split in half and joined back together behind them.
Lilizath VekxZ’Kraugh. Daughter of Z’Kraugh. Father was fire’s master, and his daughter inherited his fire too. Instinct and desperation forced her to reach out and claim a portion of the massive wall of fire for herself. She redirected it around her and her human… It was pure reflex. She didn’t even know she could do that.
Lily still had one human. One human, alive and only slightly broken. One human was still infinitely better than zero humans. Lily loosened her grip on Tanya and scooted her lower half closer until the demon girl was cradling her last precious human in a protective embrace. Following a strange impulse, she kissed Tanya gently on the forehead. She had to keep this one safe… she didn’t want to be alone again.
Amelia kneeled, staring blankly at the devastation. She wanted it to be a nightmare, but it wasn’t. Once again, her gifts destroyed her hopes. What she was seeing was no nightmare, no hallucination, it was True.
Patricia, the sole surviving maid, wept quietly. Her usual confidence was replaced by a mask of despair. Right… she lived here. This was her home, her family, her friends, her everything. This was where she’d belonged, and now she was alone, cast adrift in a hostile world without anyone to help her. Amelia was happy she was alive, but Patricia herself probably wasn’t.
Tanya… Danica… Lily might have survived at least… she’d be… buried somewhere probably. That was a small mercy. Even though everyone was alive a week ago, looking forward to a bright future, her two best friends… and her mentor were all dead now.
At least Amelia wouldn’t be completely alone. Hopefully Lily wouldn’t abandon her, Amelia needed somebody there, even a monster. She couldn’t handle this on her own. Amelia could feel her own tears trying to worm their way out too, but she held them down. This was not the time. She could have a proper breakdown later, in private.
So why did Amelia survive when nobody else did? Oh right.
She looked over at the corpse. The old man hadn’t moved fast enough, and his old bones were too brittle to withstand the blast wave. He suffocated on his own blood when his ribs pierced his lungs. Amelia didn’t even know his name. She pushed the feelings down again and grabbed the letter that somehow managed to survive the blast unscathed.
There were a thousand things she should be doing right now, and none of them involved reading her mail, but she needed this. She needed a nice simple thing to distract her so she could stop thinking about the horrible Truth for a minute. Amelia broke the wax seal and opened the letter.
Saintess Amelia Voss,
I would offer my condolences in person, but I died ten years ago, shortly after arranging for this letter’s delivery. Lott, Goddess of Fate, has allowed me to share words with you and I beg you to listen.
A catastrophe approaches on a continental scale. All heroes and all armies must band together to weather this breaking storm. Divided, all shall fall. You must be the glue that binds them together in a new Crusade.
For now, seek the Truth as you would anyway and gather powerful allies. The gods are on your side, as are their Chosen. I regret I cannot offer my personal might, but my successor will seek you out.
Seek the guidance of the lost Dweller in the Dark. She knows the way to Kair Tarost. Without her guidance when the times comes, hope will be lost in the darkness.
Your survival will be noticed. When Death returns to greet you, make sure to introduce yourself politely.
A kind heart, honest words, and powerful allies are not enough. You must have individual power to survive. Go now, claim the black book from the ashes, and keep it hidden. Study the words well, the gods will forgive your blasphemy, but understand that the secrets within the tome must not be shared with other mortals.
Ythragon, former Chosen of Fate (deceased)
Amelia slowly put down the letter and looked up at the sky. She took a deep breath and thrust out her middle finger. She aimed specifically at Lott’s constellation.
“Fuck you!” she spat, “You save me, but not Danica or Tanya? Was that part of your plan too? They needed to die?”
What a fucker… they could have sent the letter five minutes earlier and given the three of them enough time to flee.
“Heh,” Patricia let out an exhausted half-chuckle, and raised her own middle finger to the sky.
The human and the elf let their middle fingers slowly descend as they kneeled in silence. Amelia tried to wipe the tears out of her eyes. She took another deep breath. This was not the time to have a breakdown. She had to… had to do something. It didn’t matter what.
Amelia looked down at the emotionally drained dark elf. Dark elves were a subterranean species, native to the expansive, and now abandoned, cave systems beneath the Wyrmspine Mountains. Lily had a penchant for lurking in the shadows as well, but the dark elves literally lived in total darkness. There was a lost dweller in the dark right here with her, flipping off the gods. Coincidence? Unlikely.
That begged the question, should she do as the letter said? or should she ignore it. Lott was a fucker, but would the goddess have a plan in mind for any choice Amelia made? Did Lott already know what Amelia would choose to do before she even made her decision? Ugh!
Amelia turned to the dark elf, “You don’t happen to know the way to Kair Tarost, do you?“
Patricia looked like Amelia slapped her. Her violet skin seemed to lose color and turn a bit greyer than usual, “Why the fuck would you ask me something like that?”
That was a stronger reaction than Amelia expected, “The letter I got was from the Chosen of Fate, words of prophecy. I’m supposed to gather allies for some reason, and it said that the ‘lost dweller in the dark knows the way to Kair Tarost.’”
“Do you even know what the fuck Kair Tarost is?”
“No,” Amelia admitted.
“You don’t want to go there.”
“I might have to.”
“So that’s why I survived? Some sort of destiny bullshit?” Patricia laughed bitterly at the desolation before her. Her voice dwindled into a barely perceptible murmur, “…yeah I guess I deserve this...”
Patricia’s eyes glazed over, lost in her own little world of misery. Amelia picked herself up, wobbling slightly, and her eyes reluctantly went to the smoking crater. She didn’t want to look, but she had to. There might be survivors… miracles happen?
The Saintess wandered in a dreamlike daze towards the crater, the long walk through what was once a garden felt agonizingly slow. Flakes of ash fell like snow around her, and her boots left imprints in the ground. Patricia followed after her in a daze, but Amelia barely noticed. The two stunned women reached the edge of the crater and stopped.
Nothing. Not even skeletons. Amelia wouldn’t even be able to bury her friends. Where was Lily? Was the fire too hot even for her? Amelia took a step back, and nearly tripped when she stepped on something hard, buried in the ash. She reached down, and picked up a plain, unadorned, black book, one that somehow survived the cataclysm when even the trees didn’t.
“A book?” Patricia looked at the object skeptically. And then her eyes suddenly went wide, “Is that a… No. Destroy that thing immediately. First Kair Tarost and now… I see where this is going, and I don’t like it. If Lott’s telling you to… She’s wrong. No. Do not mess with that shit.”
“What do you mean?” Amelia asked nervously.
Patricia was frantic, breathing heavily, eyes wide with genuine terror as she looked at the book.
“You’re playing with powers you do not understand. That’s a Black Book, I’ve seen one before. This book was personally written by the demon lords,” Patricia lunged forward and grabbed Amelia by the collar, “It’s a powerful demonic artifact that should never have left the Abyss,” she hissed. “It has knowledge not meant for mortal eyes.”
“I’ve already made a pact with a free demon,” Amelia forced a smile, “I doubt that a little bit more blasphemy will make things worse.”
Despite Amelia’s attempt at levity, Patricia’s severe face didn’t change. Amelia started second guessing the wisdom of following Lott’s guidance.
“You want to know what killed the dark elves? Destroyed an entire fucking civilization?”
Patricia pointed at the book accusingly.
“Right… uuh,” Amelia looked at the book in a whole new light. She held it a bit more gingerly now.
Amelia closely examined at the black tome. It really didn’t look that bad. It was a plain black book. The cover was blank, no skulls, demonic runes, fire, or malevolent glowing light. She traced a finger along the edge. The book was not written on paper, but on a leathery vellum of some kind. Amelia’s imagination said human skin, but she had no reason to believe that other than spooky demon stereotypes. It was more likely demon skin, honestly. Demons were plentiful in the Abyss, flesh and blood humans were not.
Lott said she should read it… Carefully, Amelia turned the book open to a random page. Patricia ducked away and covered her eyes.
As soon as Amelia looked at the words on the page, the infernal text burrowed into her mind, making her eyes water, and leaving purple after-images on her retinas. This book was attacking her, actively trying to scramble her mortal brain and drive her to madness. It felt like the words on the page were trying to tear her brain out through her eyeballs.
Just like with demon speech, the goddess’ gift seemed to protect her from the worst of this effect. Reading the book was merely painful rather than lethal. Verita’s gift apparently translated written words for her too because she understood the Infernal runic writing.
In the end, all that is created will turn to dust. Embrace the futility of creation…
Yep. That felt pretty demonic. Amelia snapped the book shut and rubbed her eyes. That was enough for now. She tucked the evil book away inside her robes and shuddered. The few words she read left a lingering slimy feeling behind, like she’d just emerged from a bathtub full of snails. This was probably going to be a difficult book to read. Why did she have to read this again?
“I’ve closed the book, Patricia.”
The dark elf untucked her head from between her legs. She looked at Amelia with astonishment, “You survived?”
“Yeah?” Amelia said. Patricia looked impressed… too impressed. Was looking at the book really that dangerous? Patricia’s eyes changed, focusing on something in the distance, just over Amelia’s shoulder.
“What’s that?” the elf asked, pointing.
Amelia turned to look, but whatever Patricia was pointing at was lost in the dark gloom. “I don’t see it.”
“Of course you don’t, you don’t have darkvision.” Patricia said, with the tiniest hint of smugness, “There’s somebody there, a survivor!”
Patricia took off running towards the person she saw, and Amelia chased after her. After running a short distance, Patricia slowed down to a normal walk. Amelia didn’t, because she could finally see who it was.
Two red eyes looked up at Amelia, dimly reflecting the faint glow from the fire and the stars. Lily was sitting on a patch of grass. The only patch of grass, and she was cradling…
Amelia ran towards the pair and dove towards them to embrace them both in a big hug…
“Urgh!” Lily’s open palm caught Amelia in the gut, abruptly halting her hug attempt.
“She’s hurt,” Lily warned. “Gentle.”
“Right,” Amelia contained herself again. She moved around and hugged Lily from behind, “I’m glad you’re both alive.”
“Glad you’re alive too,” said Lily. The demon leaned back into the hug, nuzzling her head up against Amelia. “I didn’t want any of you to die.”
A small pit of dread appeared in Amelia’s stomach, “Is Danica…” Amelia couldn’t finish saying the question out loud.
“Dead. I was only able to save this one.”
Amelia sank a little bit, leaning her weight on Lily. As she wrapped the two girls up in a group hug, she was torn between joy and grief. Lily and Tanya were alive, and Amelia should be happy because she thought they were dead until now… but finding out that Danica was dead for sure killed that joy a bit.
Amelia looked up at Patricia, standing nearby, watching the reunion with tearful eyes. She smiled bitterly, “I’m happy for you,” she said.
“No you’re not,” Amelia replied, “But it’s okay, I understand. I’m sorry we didn’t find any other survivors.”
Patricia stood silently, fighting back her tears. Finally, she had to look away from the reunion and stare into the fiery crater again. Amelia let go of Lily and got back on her feet, “Tanya needs a healer, the fact that she’s still unconscious worries me. There’s clearly more to her injuries than what we can see on the surface. We should hurry to the temple. Patricia, if you have nowhere else to go, you’re welcome to come with us. We could all share a room at an inn once Tanya is healed.”
Patricia laughed wryly, “Yeah sure, I’m apparently destined to join your suicide pact anyway. Let’s all die together, side by side, screaming in agony like some sort of gods-forsaken fucked-up choir.”
Amelia gave the elf a concerned look. Patricia honestly thought that going to Kair Tarost, wherever that was, was going to be a suicide mission. “I don’t know about you, but I plan on surviving.”
“Yeah? Good luck with that,” Patricia replied, with a sardonic grin.
Amelia was curious but decided not to pry any further, Tanya was more important now. She gestured towards the road, partially concealed under the ash. Lily picked up Tanya, ignoring her weight as if she was a sack of feathers. The demon was being uncharacteristically careful with her, wary of making any of Tanya’s damage worse accidentally. Patricia stopped Lily for a moment, undid her maid apron, and fastened it over Tanya’s nearly nude body. It was still rather indecent, but it covered the bits, and it was better than nothing.
“Thank you,” said Amelia. Patricia shrugged, as if to say it was no big deal.
Lily carefully carried Tanya across the scorched landscape with Amelia following. Patricia remained behind, intent on searching every corner of the estate grounds, desperate to find more survivors. She told Amelia to go on without her. She’d meet the Saintess outside the temple when she was done.
By the time Amelia reached the road along the estate’s outskirts, a squad of guards had arrived. The damage was mostly limited to the estate grounds itself, but quite a few nearby houses were struck as well. The guards were searching through the burning and collapsed houses, pulling out survivors.
A small squad of men saw the girls. Amelia said something to the guard and got a sympathetic nod in return. The guard seemed to understand, even though Amelia couldn’t remember what she had just said.
The Temple of the Pantheon was an impressive building. It was nearly the size of the… former Montagne mansion and it was visible from quite a distance away.
It was one of the few buildings in town made entirely of stone, and the only one to be constructed almost entirely out of large white limestone blocks. They were imported at great expense from the dwarven quarries along the outskirts the Wyrmspine Mountains.
The dwarven city state of Stoneglen had a monopoly on these quarries thanks to an ancient contract they signed with the Wyrmspine Fellowship of Dragons. There was some sort of provision in that millennium-old agreement that allowed the Stoneglen dwarves exclusive mining rights for construction grade stone from the mountains. Even a thousand years later, the dragons were very keen on keeping their word, and for obvious reasons, nobody was willing to argue with a creature that measured their weight in tons.
Amelia tried to remember the other ridiculous provisions of that contract… Apparently one provision on that contract stated that the dragons no longer had the right to demand the sacrifice of a young virgin, and that only the elderly and infirm were eligible as living sacrifices. Amelia found that amusing since sapient sacrifices went out of fashion centuries ago. Apparently the new, modern dragons were more conscious of their image, and content to only demand livestock or gold as tribute from the nearby towns.
Danica was dead. Gone. Never going to see her smile again.
Joffrey had been old, and Sir Thomas was a professional soldier. Their deaths were tragic, but Amelia was able to accept their fate and move on. But Danica? She was a kind, gentle, and perhaps slightly lewd village girl who liked to read. She didn’t deserve to die. She was so young too…
Nope, she didn’t want to think about that. Amelia tried to shake the bad thoughts out of her head again. She desperately tried to remember some other interesting trivia about dragons but couldn’t think of anything. Oh well, by this point they’d arrived at their destination anyway.
It looked even bigger up close. A row of white limestone columns held the roof aloft and framed the temple’s entrance. The massive doors were open, an invitation for all who wished to petition the gods or buy the services of a divine mage. Amelia was slightly ashamed that, despite being in the town for several days, she hadn’t even visited the temple yet.
In the larger cities like Dursten, there would be a dedicated temple for each of the gods. In smaller towns like Befield, there was usually only one temple, and the different acolytes and clerics, each serving different gods, shared a large common space with individual alcoves dedicated to each of the deities. The fact that Befield even had a temple this size was amazing. Amelia’s hometown of Greenvale only had a small outdoor space set aside for prayer and other divine rituals.
This was the home of Damien the healer, and of Acolyte Joffrey, while he had been alive. Including Damien, there were three full time healers living inside, and they were obviously quite busy at the moment. Amelia could see a flurry of activity around the entrance, guards carrying moaning victims inside. It seemed Tanya wasn’t the only one injured by the fireball.
Amelia trailed behind listlessly as Lily started carrying Tanya up the steps. Lily was a demon… Amelia suddenly panicked. She ran after Lily and placed an arm on her shoulder to stop her.
“Wait Lily, temples are consecrated ground, blessed by the gods. There’s a divine enchantment against demons, undead, and other types of dark magic here. I don’t know what will happen if you try to enter, but it probably won’t be good.”
Lily hesitated for a moment… but only for a moment. Despite Amelia’s warning, she confidently marched up the stairs to the entrance. At the threshold of the temple’s door, Lily froze for a second, and shuddered. Then, she continued through the door with Tanya still in her arms.
“Feels gross…” she mumbled.
Amelia stared at the demon in shock. Lily didn’t explode, or melt, or whatever was supposed to happen. Amelia couldn’t even fairly call herself a beginner at magic, but even she could feel the faint traces of a divine aura in the building. There was an enchantment in place, and it was divine in nature. Lily was powerful, but surely, she couldn’t be powerful enough to ignore divine magic, could she?
Amelia was surprised Lily could enter the temple, and she wasn’t the only one. Several acolytes stared at Lily in horror as the demon walked by. One of the novice acolytes noticed Tanya. He nervously led Amelia and the demon to a large open space where injured people were laid across the floor. The novice placed a folded blanket on the ground next to the other injured people, and Lily gently placed Tanya down on top.
Four guards were in the room, keeping the peace. They nervously watched the demon. Lily watched them back, alert and ready to spring into action to protect Tanya from any assailant. The guards looked to Amelia for advice.
“Don’t try to interfere, she’s too dangerous. I’ll talk her down if she does something weird,” she said.
Amelia walked over to her oldest friend and her demon companion. Lily turned her gaze from the guards and looked up at Amelia.
“Tanya’s hurt. Where is the healer?” Lily asked.
Amelia looked around. She spotted three people in white robes hovering over the injured. There was Damien, from before. The man from the guard barracks whose name Amelia never learned, and an older woman, with silver hair tied up in a bun, who Amelia hadn’t met before. The older woman wore the golden trimmed robes of a High Cleric, meaning that, not only was she a Cleric, a powerful divine mage, but she was also the person in charge of the temple. All three of them were busy casting healing spells on other injured people.
“They’re busy helping others,” said Amelia, “we have to wait our turn.”
Lily looked where Amelia had been looking. She sat down on the stone floor next to Tanya’s head, and gently brushed the unconscious woman’s hair aside.
“She’s still asleep. Her heartbeat is getting slower. She’s dying…” the demon sounded nervous, fearful even. This was the first time she’d seen Lily this unsettled.
“She’ll be okay for a bit, there are others who are in more immediate danger. Don’t worry, Tanya will get the healing she needs. We just need to be patient, okay?” Amelia did her best to make her voice sound as reassuring as possible and it seemed to work, Lily calmed down.
Lily sat and waited patiently.
Lily continued waiting…
Lily started tapping a finger-claw against the stone floor…
Lily waited some more, and looked around, watching the healers work…
Not even five minutes after laying Tanya down, Lily climbed to her feet and started walking over to Damien. A panicked Amelia scrambled to follow her.
“Wait Lily, we have to wait…” Amelia called out as she chased after the demon.
Lily ignored her. She reached Damien and forcefully pulled him off of the unfortunate burn victim he was working on.
“Heal Tanya,” Lily demanded. Her voice sounded cold and carried an unusually sinister edge. Amelia shuddered, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end.
“Wait Lily,” Amelia pleaded, “You can’t just-”
Lily turned, looked into Amelia’s eyes, and the Saintess’ voice was cut off. It suddenly felt very hard to breathe.
This wasn’t Lily… Lily wasn’t there anymore. In her place was an unbound greater demon issuing a murderous ultimatum. Lily’s kindness and curiosity were gone, the crimson eyes that watched Amelia were cold and merciless, willing to kill without hesitation to get what she wanted. This was True murderous intent. Damien’s life was genuinely in danger.
Damien didn’t know any better. “Wait your turn,” he said curtly.
“Heal my human first,” there was barely audible growl mixed in with demon’s voice, a subtle hint of savagery, a promise of impending violence.
Damien protested. “Look, I’m not going to just- Aagh!”
Damien screamed as Lily squeezed her clawed hand into his shoulder.
“Heal her!” the demon roared, her voice reverberating through the stone chamber. Her demonic voice spoke in the common tongue, but the wrathful voice almost sounded as twisted and terrible as Infernal. All heads turned to watch her.
Five sharp dagger points slowly pushed their way through the healer’s agonized flesh. Damien’s white robe soaked up the blood, and a growing patch of redness spread outwards from under Lily’s hand.
“Lily stop!” Amelia pleaded, “You’re going too far!”
The demon ignored her and continued to press her claws further into the man’s shoulder. The monster stared into his eyes, not with hatred, but with hunger. The creature grinned sadistically, betraying an inhuman lust for blood and violence that had always been there, simmering under the surface, looking for an excuse to be unleashed. She was like a bow, drawn back and ready to fire, just barely holding herself back from murdering the man. It would be so easy for her to just let go. Amelia was certain that the only reason Damien was still alive was because Lily still wanted something from him.
Amelia didn’t know what to do. Lily had never acted out like this before. She’d always listened and followed Amelia’s directions, acting almost like a human. It was only now that Amelia realized the danger, she was powerless. She was powerless to stop Lily from murdering everyone here if the demon wanted to. Everything was out of control and it was Amelia’s fault, she let this happen.
Lily leaned in and spoke gently into Damien’s ear, “If you allow another one of my humans to die, I will tear your arms and legs from their sockets and gouge your eyes out… Your screams will echo through these halls. And then after I’m done playing with you, I’ll do the same thing to every single one of these worthless bags of meat that you’ve been trying so hard to save. I will bathe myself in human blood, take my pleasure from their suffering, and devour their bodies when I’m done. Do you understand me? Am I making myself clear?” Lily’s voice sounded lustful, almost moaning as she seductively described the atrocities she was intending to inflict on these innocent people. She was genuinely looking forward to carrying out her threat.
Suddenly, Lily squeezed down hard, sinking her claws deeper and crunching into the bone. Damien screamed out in pain, louder than before. Lily’s lustful expression twisted into rage again.
“If Tanya dies none of you will survive my wrath! Fix her! Fix her now!” Lily’s roar echoed through the silent halls. Nobody moved. Both the victims and those tending to them were all frozen in terror.
It wasn’t a bluff. Lily genuinely intended to carry out her threat.
“She… She’s serious…” Amelia quietly whimpered, trying again to hold back her tears. This was a disaster. Everything was falling apart. Danica…
“I’ll heal her,” came a kind elderly voice from the other side of the room.
The serene old woman walked up to Damien, Amelia, and the monster. A silver amulet of Sylene, the Goddess of Death and Rebirth hung around her neck.
“I am Edith, High Cleric of this temple,” she said to the demon. “I will heal your friend now if you release Damien.”
Lily glared at her with skepticism, but she eventually released her grip and pulled her claws out of the whimpering Damien, who immediately scurried away and began healing himself. The elderly woman walked over to the unconscious Tanya, and gracefully kneeled next to her. Lily walked closer to watch. Edith took Tanya’s hand, and the flash of healing magic shone brightly. It was incredible. Even with her novice magical senses, Amelia could still feel the difference in power between this woman’s magic and Damien’s. Amelia wished she could wield magic like this someday.
Tanya’s entire body was flooded with magic, glowing with a warm golden radiance. With a grotesque crunch, Tanya’s shattered ankles and ribs shifted back into position and mended themselves together. Her wounds seemed to heal as fast as Lily’s regeneration, maybe even faster.
Only seconds after the woman began, the glow faded. “I’ve finished,” she said, but Tanya remained unconscious.
Lily gave the healer a suspicious glare. “Why is she still sleeping?”
“Her body is healed, but her brain was damaged,” the woman calmly explained, “A damaged brain is like a book with pages torn out. I put new pages in, but nobody has written on them yet. She will sleep until her soul finishes rewriting the missing pages.”
“I tried to protect her head… I was careful…” Lily spoke through clenched teeth. The fury seemed to cool, and she stared at Tanya’s unconscious body with unfocused eyes. The quiet dripping of demon blood hitting stone was the only sound that penetrated the tense silence of the hall. Amelia glanced down at Lily’s tightly clenched fists. She was stabbing herself in the palm with her own claws, and barely seemed to notice.
“She will fully recover, I would expect her to wake up sometime tomorrow. Bring her somewhere safe and let her rest,” the elderly woman said in a reassuring tone, slowly climbing to her feet.
Lily’s terrible wrath flared up again, she turned her monstrous glare to the healer, “She better… if she doesn’t wake up-”
Lily’s threat fell on deaf ears. The elderly woman walked past the demon and approached Amelia, “It is an honor to meet you, Your Eminence.” she said.
Amelia bowed her head politely, “Thank you for healing her,” she said. “I’m very sorry about-”
“Please leave,” the elderly woman interrupted her.
“What?” Amelia blinked at Edith in surprise.
“Take your demon and get out of my temple. Never bring her back here.” The kindness and patience in Edith’s voice was gone. She spoke with ice cold seriousness.
“R-right” Amelia stammered, “Sorry again…”
The Saintess turned to the demon, “Come on Lily, we need to go. Now.”
Lily picked up the unconscious Tanya again and the two of them hurried out of the temple. That could have gone better, Amelia thought to herself.