Tanya pulled the chain and watched the water swirl and disappear.
“Fucking magical…” she muttered.
Running water… what a crazy concept. Tanya made the mistake of asking Patricia how it worked, and the dark elf yammered on for half an hour. After ten minutes, Tanya just tuned her out and stared at her kissable lips as she talked. Elves were… elves were great. Thankfully, she didn’t think Patricia noticed her lurid stare.
Still, she learned the basics. It wasn’t just a water creation rune. Apparently, that took too much mana to use regularly. There wasn’t enough ambient mana around for the rune to draw from. Instead there was a series of mana-efficient filtering and pumping runes. The water came from a cistern in the cellar and was pumped up through pipes to the various faucets and toilets. Then, the water was used and sent to the first filter, which separated the water from the… non-water. The non-water went into a second tank that was collected periodically to be used for fertilizer. The water then went through a cleansing rune to remove all the poisons and diseases. When the water level in the main reservoir got low, that was when it used the water creation rune, fueled by a slowly replenishing mana storage rune, to top itself up.
Tanya had to admit it was a clever system. It was expensive and overly complicated, but it worked well enough. And it was a lot more pleasant to use than a chamber pot or an outhouse. Just for fun, Tanya pulled the chain again, and watched the water swirl through the toilet bowl. That was not going to get boring anytime soon. Yeah, these were going to become popular with all the rich nobs.
Once she was finished amusing herself, Tanya made her way back to her shared room. Inside, was Patricia, sitting on her bed, lost in focus. She was doing the same thing she’d been doing ever since she gave up on finding her blasphemy book. She spent the last four hours conjuring a small ball of green flame, no bigger than her fingertip, and dismissing it, over and over. Tanya wasn’t sure what she was doing exactly, but she guessed this was a mage’s version of doing pushups.
Tanya saw out the window, it was good and dark outside now, about two hours after sunset.
“Hey Patty, I’m gonna go out for a bit,” said Tanya.
“Don’t call me Patty,” the elf replied, without taking her eyes of her fire, “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know yet, Patty-cakes. I’ll just wander around and see if anyone wants to give me money.”
Patty-cakes dismissed her fire and looked at Tanya with an eyebrow raised, “Your big idea for quick money was begging for coin? At night?”
“Not begging exactly,” Tanya replied with a grin.
“Whoring yourself then?”
“Eww no,” Tanya said with a shudder.
Patty-cakes took a few more seconds to figure it out, “Mugging people?”
“Don’t worry, Patty-cakes, I won’t go after nice people. I won’t be mugging anyone… I’ll just be defending myself.”
“That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever-”
“See you later, Patty-cakes,” Tanya said quickly, before walking out of the room.
“Don’t fucking call me-” Tanya heard the elf say before the door closed.
Tanya made her way down the stairs, into the main tavern, and out the front door. Truthfully, she knew that playing rape-bait to a bunch of shady potentially armed thugs and kicking their assess was an objectively bad idea. She wasn’t really trying to make money right now, she just really wanted to get in a fight. She was tired of feeling weak and useless and planned on venting her frustration on some unfortunate lowlifes.
Much to her disappointment, she wasn’t accosted right away. This was probably the biggest town this side of the mountains, but it wasn’t a big city with a proper slum, it was a pleasant little town with a well staffed city guard. Tanya decided to wander in the direction of the town’s shittiest corner, which honestly wasn’t even that shitty. Hopefully she’d find some shady buggers there.
Along the way, Tanya had to consciously revert back to her old way of walking. Nowadays, she usually walked with a straight back, confident gait, and relaxed shoulders. Tanya consciously shortened her steps, hunched down, and tucked her arms in, making herself look small and scared. The pants, and the short hair worked against her, but she managed to make herself look like a pathetic victim again, and not a confident woman able to defend herself.
It took almost two hours of wandering before someone took the bait.
“Hey little girl,” came a sleazy voice from behind. “Where are you going so late at night?”
“N-Nowhere…” Tanya whimpered nervously, trying to hide her smile.
As she turned, she scanned her surroundings. There was one on the street, and two hiding in the alleys, watching. The men looked… well they looked like thugs. One of the alleyway guys had a decent looking set of chain mail that Tanya was going to take. The other two just had some shitty leather armor. Both Chainmail and Street Guy had shortswords. That was disappointing, she preferred weapons with some reach. She hadn’t seen what weapon the other alleyway guy had. Hopefully he had something worth stealing.
“Why don’t you come with me, sweetheart. I’ll walk you home.” Street Guy said with a predatory grin.
“Really?” Tanya said, as meekly as possible, “O-Okay then…”
Chainmail was trying to sneak up behind her, and he was doing a really shit job of it. The other alleyway guy was staying where he was. Tanya reached out nervously to take Street Guy’s hand…
Face hit cobblestone.
Street Guy was upside down and unconscious before he even knew what happened. Tanya let go of her grapple on his arm and turned to face a dumbfounded Chainmail Guy. Before he could draw his sword, Tanya’s steel toed boot reached the side of his head. Chainmail guy’s limp body rolled into the middle of the street. Tanya bent down, drawing Street Guy’s short sword and searched around for the third guy.
He was nowhere to be found. That was a bit unnerving. He was probably running off to get his friends.
Tanya quickly patted down the two unconscious men, grabbing two disappointingly small coin purses. She probably wouldn’t have time to strip the armor off Chainmail Guy, so she settled for the swords and their scabbards.
Tanya heard running footsteps from the alleyway where the third guy had been hiding. That was fast. She should probably run. The smart thing to do right now would be to run. The fucking bandits, the patronizing town guards, the fireball murderer that killed Danica… Fuck this! She wasn’t going to be pushed around.
Gripping a shortsword in each hand, she dove into an alcove along the side of the street, watching the alley exit. One man came running out, then two, then three… It was at this point Tanya realized that she’d been stupid again. There were a lot of assholes coming. She’d pissed off some sort of gang. By the time the last guy emerged from the alley, she counted eight guys altogether.
They didn’t see Tanya right away, running to help their fallen comrades first. Tanya picked the biggest and strongest looking guy, waited for him to stop to check his allies, and threw her spare shortsword at his head. The blade embedded itself deep into the side of his skull.
She had their attention now. Tanya’s next target was the guy furthest from the center of the group. She’d fight from the outside in, being careful not to get surrounded.
She charged towards her thug of choice. He was conveniently armed with a bastard sword. It was shorter than a longsword but had a grip long enough to be used with two hands. She dodged the bastard sword bastard’s counter-attack and sunk her blade into his throat. She grabbed onto his sword’s guard, and kicked the man hard in the chest, knocking him down and prying the sword out of his hands.
She jumped back a step, dodging the next-closest man’s swing, and quickly brought her new sword around with both hands. He parried the blow. Another thug came up beside him. Tanya took a step back, trying bait the men into coming at her one at a time. It worked. One guy separated from the pack, and Tanya cleanly countered his strike, severing his arm.
Two down… six to g-
Tanya felt something strike her legs. Bolas, two balls connected with a length of rope, thrown from somewhere out of sight, wrapped around her legs and bound her ankles together. Fuck! Tanya lunged back, dodging the oncoming sword swing, but with her feet tangled, she tripped and fell backwards.
Tanya hit the ground, landing flat on her back. Before she could roll away, a heavy boot stomped down on her chest, knocking the wind out of her lungs. A second kick to the side of her ribs followed the first, and soon a rain of blows fell upon Tanya’s prone body. At some point, the sword was knocked from her hand. Tanya curled up, trying to protect her head and core.
Eventually the men paused their beating. Tanya’s vision was blurry, but she looked up to see four angry faces staring down at her with cruel grins. Two of the men were apparently off to the side, watching their wounded friend with the missing arm bleed out.
This wasn’t part of the plan. Tanya’s body was agony, and she felt too weak to fight back. She hoped they hadn’t broken anything, but it was hard to tell.
“Fuck,” she groaned.
“Now you’ve gone and done it, girlie,” said one of the thugs.
“You killed our brothers,” said another.
“You’re gonna regret this,” said a third. “If you were a good girl, we might have been gentle with you.”
Tanya grinned at the men and with a sudden surge of strength, pulled a leg free from the bolas’s grip. Her heavy boot found its way to mister ‘we might have been gentle’s’ crotch. The man howled with pain, grabbed his nuts, and stepped back.
“How’s that for gentle? Asshole!” Tanya shouted.
“Bitch!” one of the other men shouted.
Tanya received another stomp on her chest. It hurt like fuck, but her grin didn’t go away. She was still in less pain than the guy she kicked.
“You don’t know what you’re in for, slut,” one of the angry thugs growled.
“I do, and you’re nothing special,” Tanya said, hiding her fear. “It’ll take more than a couple stomps and a few tiny dicks to break me.”
Another vicious kick landed against Tanya’s side. She clenched her jaw, refusing to give these donkey-fuckers the pleasure of hearing her cry out in pain.
“We’re gonna rape ya, but not with our dicks,” One of the men, one that had been quiet so far but had an unsettling look in his eye, held his weapon in front of Tanya’s face. It was a morning star, a large steel ball on the end of a shaft, larger than a fist, covered with hideous spikes. “This is going to be your lover tonight.”
Tanya swallowed her fear, clenched her jaw, and stared back defiantly. Okay, that was a scary threat. The worst part was he probably wasn’t bluffing. These men weren’t content to just hurt and humiliate her, she was going to die.
One of the men raised his boot for another stomp, but before he could bring his foot down, Tanya’s vision went blue. Bright light seared her eyes. The cone of flame swirling above her prone body was painful to be near, and Tanya could barely hear the men’s screams inside the roaring conflagration.
The jet of flame vanished only seconds later. Tanya blinked her eyes until the purple spots disappeared from her vision. The men were gone, replaced by smouldering husks sizzling on the ground next to her. There was a scream of terror coming from down the street. Tanya saw the backside of one of the thugs, a sole survivor, fleeing the scene. Tanya heard a sharp crackling sound from behind, and a blinding arc of lightning struck the man’s back. A loud snap echoed through the empty street. The man collapsed like a ragdoll, dying instantly. Steam escaped out of the dead body’s open mouth.
Tanya turned, searching for the lightning’s source. She saw the silhouette of a maid walking calmly down the street. The only sound in the suddenly-still night air was the clicking of high heeled shoes. With the moonlight behind her, the maid was only visible in silhouette. Her ponytail swished behind her head, and two long knife-edged ears poked out from the sides. Her face was featureless other than two glowing blue eyes, piercing through the darkness.
Fuck, Patricia looked intimidating.
“Let me guess, are you going to tell me that I shouldn’t have interfered? That you had it handled?” Patricia said, once she got close. The monster-maid’s face was blank and unreadable.
“No, I’m a stubborn asshole, but I know when I’m wrong. I did a stupid, and I would have ended up raped or worse if you hadn’t shown up. Thanks for interfering. I owe you one.”
Patricia’s face was still mostly blank, but Tanya thought she could see the tiniest hint of a smile on her face.
“Let’s search the bodies before the guards arrive,” Patricia said, offering Tanya a hand up to her feet.
The two women picked over the bodies, grabbing all the non-flammable loot they could find.
“…And my name is Patricia, not Patty-cakes.”
Lilizath leaned against the tree trunk, watching the stars while lazily eating the last wolf in the wolf pack she slaughtered.
She’d been putting a lot of effort into hunting. She’d eaten something like forty Amelias worth of meat over the last six hours. That was probably a new daily record. She was almost certain to gain back some mass after all this hunting. It was always hard to tell how much of a change there was though. She never felt any heavier or lighter after gaining weight. She needed to find some sort of reference to compare herself to. It wasn’t like she could use Amelia anymore…
She’d been running at her full speed while hunting, so she’d put a considerable amount of distance between herself and the town. The further she travelled, the less temptation there was to turn back.
As Lilizath stared at the wolf’s tail, she debated whether or not to eat it. There was some meat there, but it was mostly hair. Hair gave a nearly negligible amount of energy, and it didn’t taste very good… The demon sighed, it was still food, every little bit counted. Every meal was strength and energy, one step further away from death. She took a big bite out of the hairy tail.
A high pitched feminine scream of terror broke the silence of the night. Lilizath didn’t care.
“Stupid humans,” the demon grumbled.
A few seconds later, there was another scream. This one was lower in pitch, masculine. Lilizath very definitely didn’t care.
“Stupid humans,” the demon grumbled again, slightly louder.
After a minute of ominous silence, Lilizath rolled her eyes and sighed. Those screams were close. She might as well go see what all the fuss was about. If nothing else, it could mean another snack for her. It would surely taste better than wolf tail.
The demon refused to run at her full speed, the stupid victim-humans would just have to wait for her. She jogged moderately quickly towards the source of the sound. As she got closer, she noticed a magical aura ahead of her. It wasn’t especially powerful, but it was, without a doubt, demonic. Now that was interesting…
She picked up her speed slightly, and quickly converged on the source of the aura. The demon was male, but about the size of Amelia. In other words, he was tiny. He was short, and skinny, with bright red skin, a bald head, and sharp facial features. There were a pair of short, stubby horns on his head, jutting out from the side. He didn’t look especially dangerous, but his fingertips did end in sharp claws. They were shorter than Lilizath’s claws, but still looked like they could do damage. The demon was also carrying a weapon, a spear with a haft of pale bone, and a bladed head of jagged black obsidian.
The demon didn’t notice her. He was busy chasing two small humans. These were human-spawn, juveniles past their screechy larval stage, but not yet fully adult. Amelia would call one of them an adolescent, and the other a child. There was a boy and a girl, holding hands, and running away together. The younger girl was slowing the older boy down. If the boy didn’t leave her behind, she was going to get them both killed. Stupid humans…
Lilizath hesitated, trying to decide what to do. This demon was her kind… but the last time she met a demon, it didn’t turn out well. She could save the humans… but humans were stupid. Amelia had always been very protective of the little humans though. She always watched Lilizath more closely when the little ones were present. She valued their lives more, for some reason.
The snarling red demon quickly closed the distance to the human-spawn. He charged towards them and leapt, raising his spear into the air and aiming it down towards the fleeing children. Right before the pouncing demon reached his target, a pale clawed hand caught him around the foot, snatching him out of the air.
Getting a firm grip with both claws on the demon’s leg, Lilizath twisted her body and swung the demon around by his foot. She swung him in a wide arc, gaining speed before swinging him into a tree like an angry snarling axe. The demon’s head disappeared. It was replaced by an inky splatter of demon blood against the tree trunk and surrounding foliage. Lilizath let go of the demon’s headless body, allowing it to roll away before striking another tree trunk and coming to a stop.
The two human-spawn didn’t stop running. In their eyes, Lilizath was probably even scarier than the red demon that was chasing them. She couldn't fault them for assuming she was hostile. Her black dress was in tatters, and she was drenched head to toe in thick layer of sticky red blood, freshly squeezed from the victims of this evening's hunt.
If Lilizath was feeling nice, she might’ve just allowed them to run off. But Lilizath wasn’t feeling nice right now. She was going to play a game to see how strong that boy’s desire to survive was. Was he a stupid human like Amelia, or a smart human?
Lilizath tore up the ground as she accelerated to her full speed. She blurred past the trees and caught up to the human-spawn in mere seconds. She wrapped a clawed hand around the fleeing girl’s throat and snatched her away. The human girl let out an awkward squawking noise as her flight was abruptly halted. The girl desperately held onto the boy’s hand, but the sudden stop pulled them apart.
The boy, feeling the girl’s sudden absence, skidded to a halt and spun around. Lily grinned at him sadistically, still holding the girl by her throat.
“Milly! Let her go you monster!” The boy shouted bravely.
“No,” Lilizath replied flatly.
Ignoring the boy, Lilizath picked up the girl, and started walking away. She kept a claw wrapped around her throat, but her second claw wrapped around her hips, taking up her weight so the girl didn’t choke to death.
“Let her go!” The boy shouted again. The little human sounded angry.
Lilizath felt a weak little kick to the back of her leg. The demon maintained her sinister grin and laughed at his attempt. She spun around to face the boy again, hugging the girl from behind and further staining the girl's dress with wolf blood. She kept a gentle pressure on the girl’s blood smeared throat. It was a light enough grip that the girl could still breathe, but firm enough that the girl wouldn’t be able to comfortably speak.
“You’re free to go,” the demon said. “I only want to eat her. You can still live if you run away.”
The defiant boy tried to kick the demon again, to no effect.
“I’m a strong demon, not like that weakling who was chasing you,” Lilizath explained. “You have no hope of defeating me.”
“Let my sister go!” The boy shouted, tears in his eyes. Lilizath continued to smile. She was enjoying this game.
“Go on, leave,” she said. “If you go now, I’ll kill her quickly and painlessly. If you take too long to go, I’ll kill her slowly, and it’s going to hurt a lot. She’ll be screaming for hours. Do you want that? Do you want to watch your sister suffer?”
“Please… let her go,” the boy broke down crying.
“No,” Lilizath replied, with a cold smile on her face.
The boy hesitated for a few seconds, before quietly saying, “Take me instead.”
Lilizath gave the human-spawn a skeptical stare, “You would offer to die for her? You value her life more highly than your own?”
“I... Mom told me to protect her. I'll trade my life if I have to… yes,” the boy said, nervously.
“You’re older, you can move faster. There are predators in this forest. If you escaped on your own, you’d have a higher chance of surviving than her,” Lilizath said, gesturing to the girl.
“Please let me take her place,” the boy begged again.
“That’s just stupid,” Lilizath said, exasperated. “You have a choice between one of you dying, and both of you dying, yet you are choosing for both of you to die.”
The boy stared at the ground silently, but didn’t move.
Lilizath sighed, “Stupid humans.”
The demon released the pressure on the little girl’s throat and scooped her up again. She carried the girl over to a tree and sat down cross legged, leaning against the trunk, forcing the girl to sit on her lap. She kept a firm hold of the terrified girl’s neck but didn’t press against her throat anymore. She wiped her other clawed hand on the girl's dress and gently pet the tiny shivering creature’s head.
“I won’t eat her,” Lilizath said.
The tear filled boy looked up at her with disbelief, “You… you’ll let me take her place?”
“Nah, I won't eat you either. I'm done with that game." said Lilizath, with a dismissive hand wave, "It's so weird... this one’s so small.”
The boy looked confused, “But you’re not… Then… does that mean you’re letting us go?”
“You can go if you want,” the demon said. “She’s still mine though.”
The boy stared at the demon with newly regained horror on his face. Before he could ask the obvious question Lilizath explained.
“I’ll let her go eventually, once I’m bored of her. You can wait for me to get bored of her if you want. I don’t care.”
Lilizath continued gently petting the little girl. She was so weird. She was like a human… but smaller. Tiny! A small human. Adorable!
The boy nervously sat in front of them, watching the blood soaked nightmare gently pet his kidnapped sister.
Lilizath leaned in to smell the girl’s hair. The smell was boring, the sweat didn’t smell that interesting either. Adults smelled better for some reason.
“Please don’t eat me,” the girl whimpered.
“I already said I wasn’t going to eat you,” Lilizath whispered gently. “You're a dumb little girl, aren't you?”
The girl whimpered instead of answering the question.
The boy stared at the demon and the girl nervously. He bit his lip, as if working up the courage to ask something. Lilizath waited for him. It took a few minutes, but he finally spoke.
“Why did you attack us?”
“Because I wanted to play with you and your sister,” Lilizath replied.
“No, I mean… the village. Why did you attack our village?”
Lilizath raised an eyebrow, “I didn’t-”
There was a screeching howl in the distance. Another little red demon, just like the one she killed before, announced its presence. The stupid creature threw away any chance he had of a surprise attack.
Lilizath placed her palms over the girl’s ears, and spoke infernal, “Go away, these are mine.”
The boy sitting in front of her screamed in pain, covered his ears, and writhed on the ground in agony. Whoops. At least the girl was okay.
“Murderdeath Killrip!” the strange red demon screeched insanely, before charging towards Lilizath, holding his spear.
Lilizath gently picked up and placed the girl on the ground beside her. She stood and casually walked to intercept the screeching simpleton. The red demon continued his mindless charge, holding his spear out in front of him.
Once the demon closed the distance, Lilizath dodged the spear tip, and grabbed the demon’s arm. Maintaining a bone-crunchingly firm grip on his forearm, Lilizath kicked him squarely in the chest. There was a dull popping sound as the demon’s shoulder dislocated.
The screeching demon screeched slightly louder as Lilizath yanked on the dislocated arm and pulled him off his feet. He tripped forwards, and Lilizath placed her foot on his back, pinning him to the ground. With her grip still on the demon’s arm, she pulled hard until his limb tore off completely. The thoroughly disarmed demon howled and thrashed in agony.
This was a demon… right? His blood was black, and he had the right sort of magical aura. That succubus was one tough bitch. She was strong, and her magic was incredibly powerful. But this guy? He was barely stronger than a human. The only difference Lilizath was able to notice was that he didn’t go into shock from having his arm ripped off. He continued to struggle, attempting to kill her despite his wound. Even so, he wasn’t even strong enough to squirm out from under her foot. Lilizath leaned down, and pierced his neck with her claws, severing the spine and putting the pathetic wretch out of his misery.
Lilizath grabbed the demon’s body, and the body of the previous demon she killed, and dragged them back to the tree she was sitting against before. As expected, the two human-spawn were gone. That was encouraging, they weren’t completely stupid.
Lilizath sniffed the air and caught the girl’s scent immediately. They must have run for it at the first opportunity because they made it a decent distance. It took her almost fifteen whole seconds to catch up to them.
Lilizath gently carried the screaming and begging little girl back to her tree. Her pleading brother followed behind her. She sat the terrified girl down between her crossed legs and began to eat the two demons she killed.
Ugh. Lilizath forgot the sheer magnitude of awfulness that was demon flesh. She thought she was ready, but she wasn’t. It was horrible and revolting, beyond even the most rotten and decayed corpse. Her instincts rebelled against this horrible act of cannibalism. But… the demons were incredibly rich in mana. They weren’t delicious, but they were certainly nutritious. She was more than willing to suffer the nasty taste if it meant gaining a big boost to strength and mass.
The two human-spawn watched her cannibalize her fellow demons with horrified stares.
“Want some?” Lilizath asked, passing a severed arm to the little girl. The little girl fainted immediately.
“Guess not,” the demon mumbled, before taking another bite.