This story is about a demon. Let’s call him R. Not his name, of course. A demon’s name, his true name, holds power. They’re usually a little twitchy about letting you know what it is.
So I guess I should start with how I knew R’s name. That actually began much earlier.
Year 339 FW, Frontlands
Me and some other wild guides had signed up for a demon hunt. Big group. Big demon. Powerful, I mean. This demon had set himself above a town, declared itself lord, the town its flock. Lots of people died. So the duke hires an army of wild guides and we all go demon hunting. Probably nearly fifty of us.
Guides came from all around. I had good fortune of falling in with one of the best. He didn’t look like much, a somewhat older, normal shaped human, of generally ill temper. But his use of energy was masterful. Literally. He had actually faced, and mastered, this demon a time before.
There were four of us in our little subgroup. That crotchety old mage was our boss, and we had to put up with all his moods. Two others of our group had already opted out and left. But I really needed the pay for this job, so I had to grit my teeth and stick with it.
The encounter, as it is, begins. The guide in charge gives us roles for the attack. Our small army storms the gates. We’re near the back and are supposed to be support.
The palace gates open, a matching army of daylight-darklings pour out, both sides take some losses, them more than us so all is good, and we all fall back and entrench for nightfall.
It’s getting into dusk. We’re out walking patrol on a forested hillside, our little group. It’s the kind of forest where the trees stick up like thin green sticks, but too dense to see much past your own arm’s reach.
Our master mage has lead us down from the hill’s top ridge line into the forested side, marching like he’s on a silent mission while gesturing in an exaggerated way at various trip hazards we need to step over.
Just as I’m wondering all over again why I’m here and if the price of a demon prince is worth it, that prince itself steps out from between the trees next to us.
The demon says hello. Our master mage says a complicated word, it starts with R. The demon prince winces and says nothing. I realize I’ve just heard its name.
The two of them then discuss matters for a while. Not like friends, but longtime tolerable acquaintances. How are you doing, what have you been up to? The mage says the demon needs to pack up and leave. He makes it clear that the alternative is the demon’s name gets given to the whole army.
The demon just gives up and accepts.
And that more or less ends the conflict. There was no attack that night. The darklings and demons that could fade away did, the rest slipped off through back gates of the manner and disappeared into the woods.
Our master mage had held onto the true name of a demon prince, ya know? And he’d kept it a secret.
There had been some kind of vow, he told us. The demon had sworn to stay away from humans for a certain number of years, and in exchange the mage had kept the name a secret. The years weren’t up, but I guess the demon had decided to test it. Well, now three more of us knew its name as a result. If it hadn’t backed down, a whole lot more would have.
That old mage died a year or so later. Seemed natural, but you never know. I have no way to check on the others from my group.
But one thing I really remember from the whole encounter was its eyes. R, I mean. Its eyes were red. Not glowing, just red. So beautiful. Dapper, in a black suit, like an old lord of the manner for reals. Black fox features around intense red eyes that looked right inside me and promised to be okay with whatever secret sins I wanted to confess.
Okay, fast forward a handful of years.
Year 343 FW, Frontlands
I was on my own, not working this job with anyone. Some sorceress was terrorizing a small outer edge town, and a pretty big bounty was up for anyone who could take her down.
To me it sounded like she was using demon magic, so I went chasing a rumor of a demon den a day or so down the road, to see if there was a connection.
I found the den. The guys in the guild hall had said it was a couple low-level demon dogs as guards, kobolds most folk call them. So probably a lowish-level demon beyond.
Well, they were right about the guard dogs anyway. But the demon prince in the back of the cave was anything but low. Any guide who challenged it would normally be in the cook pot.
Just my own luck that this particular demon prince is one I had met before and walked away with their name in some corner of my brain.
Even better yet would be if I could remember what that name was.
“Hello, R” I say, bluffing for time while I struggle to bring the rest of the demon’s name to mind. I am absolutely certain it started with R.
“Hello, T” they reply. Interesting. I’m absolutely sure my name was never said during our first encounter.
I smile, my best game face. “I had to see your gorgeous eyes again.” The rest of the demon’s name comes to mind then and that really does put me in a better negotiating position. I step closer.
We talk for a while. The demon lord has some really good insights on the sorcerer situation. They smell nice too. Exotic. Like spices. Cloves. Such soft fur.
The sorceress was not using demon magic, they explain, she was harvesting other humans for their power. She had a group of mind-slaves who fed her energy all day long. That’s how she was so strong. It sounded much like demon magic to me, but I wasn’t going to quibble with an expert.
I want to make a deal with R. I’m feeling pretty ballsy by then. His balls and mine, I’m sure, as we’d gotten out of our clothes and the androgynous foxlike form had turned out to be male. We’d been pretty seriously making out in between bouts of awkward talk.
I mean, demons are good at shaping your emotions and all, but it really felt like he was as much into me as I was into him. And Celes knows, I was into him.
I ask his help on fighting this sorceress. I had his name, I could command him, but I didn’t want to. So instead we make a vow: he’d help me invisibly from the shadows and I’d keep his name and his presence a secret.
We make love, he’s as gentle or rough as I want him to be, and more intuitive than anyone I’ve ever held.
Ultimately we resume our talk.
Teleport is what we decide would be best. Demons are only half on our plane anyway, that’s how they can teleport around. They can also carry other people. But he’d have to be touching me to teleport me, which meant secrecy wouldn’t be possible. Unless…
“Blood” he suggests. I look puzzled but not put off. Unwrapping an arm, he finds one of my hands and moves it to his shoulder. There he drags my fingers through his soft, thick, chest fur. I’m still confused.
“If you have a little of my blood in you, I could move you without touching you. It wouldn’t take much, just a taste for a few hours.”
I flex my claws a little, just enough to dig down to his skin as he again drags my fingers through the fur of his chest, just below his shoulder. He smiles encouragingly and presses into my claws.
The choice is still mine though. With a deep breath I flex my claws more and break skin. I drag down his inside shoulder, making several short deep scratches before my courage fails and I draw back my claws.
Dark red blood beads through his fur. R smiles beautifully and guides my head in, and I lick gently.
It’s like fire. Not burning fire, but a warm comforting fire on a cold day. I can feel it all the way down my throat and settle into the core of my belly.
We test it then.
It takes a couple tries, but we get a signaling down, just some simple, meaningless hand gestures I could make. R would stay invisible nearby and when I made a sign we’d teleport.
We work out signs for destinations meaning “over there where I’m pointing”, “somewhere safe”, and “back where I just came from”.
My newfound teleport magic in hand, I head back toward the town. With R jumping us, travel takes only minutes to cover the same distance I’d spent a day doing on the way out.
His blood is like a drug that’s slowly rolling over me. I can feel it batting at my consciousness, and it’s hitting harder with every umpteenth swing.
I feel mostly like me, but lights sparkle, smells are deeper, everything is exciting and my senses are running on full. I feel unbelievably alive and strong.
It’s night, of course. When we reach the city we follow the sound of alarm towards a fire, a town house belching thick smoke and bright flames. Glowing bright as a star in my eyes, the sorceress herself wanders nearby, strolling as if amused, unnoticed, through the mayhem of the town folk, except for a group of five mindless people trailing in her wake.
She indeed has her mind slaves. I could watch the lux flowing from them to her as she pulled on their life energy. Poor people, just innocent town folk she had claimed for herself.
Well, I throw a blast of lux to invite her into a nearby empty tower, and we start to fight.
It doesn’t go well, I admit. Even teleporting around, her defenses are just impermeable. I couldn’t get a blast of water, fire, nor energy raw through her shields. Attacking her choir was as worthless as her. Hell, I attack physically too and kick her right off the edge of the top floor of the tower. She just gently floats back up onto the deck, humming a child’s song like it’s one great game.
I signal R to get me out. He does. He takes me to a big room two levels down in the tower.
I have a thought then. I ask, could I carry someone while he teleports me? He says yes.
The sorceress and her choir are heading our way. By the time they evaporate the door and come in the room, I’m ready for them.
I jump across the room. Her shields keep damage from harming her or her slaves, but I could still grab them. I tackle the closest choirboy and signal R to jump me away. We appear with the sap still wrapped in my arms. Rooms separated, walls between him and the sorceress, I feel the shield fall off him like spilling water, and I grin. It’s not a nice grin. It’s full of teeth and I’m always happy in a dirty sort of way any time I can show someone this grin.
“Fireball” I whisper as I cast, and leave a charred hole through the center of his chest. Probably a rougher than I needed to be, but something has drowned my ability to care. I signal to return.
I take another of the mindless drones. I definitely had the lady’s attention now. She casts her attacks at me as R ripples me and my next victim away. I leave the man with a charred stump where the bulk of his head used to be and signal to return.
Third choir member is a woman. I leave her body smoking on top the other two. Return.
The sorceress is weaker now, but has clued in. A rune net slides around the room as we land. Okay, R probably isn’t taking me out with a fourth zombie. Let’s see if I can face her directly now.
She rallies her strength and brings her full fury to whelm against me. But the demon blood and the rush of death combined, I’m not even in my own head. I laugh. Some part of me objectively observes me laughing out loud, abhored. Then I truename R.
He appears in a clap of thunder, a ring of runes, and an explosion of shadows. Damn he makes a fine entrance.
He wraps me in his power. The sorceress’s attack falls like a gentle breeze. Then we reach out and sever the bond to her remaining two mind slaves. The sorceress is crushed then, she literally collapses to the ground as if under a great weight as their minds are pulled from hers.
With merely a thought my demon asks, I consent, and he consumes her. He touches the sides of her head, and her body withers to a desiccated husk in seconds.
The two mind slaves don’t survive their mental separation either.
R and I wrap around each other then. It was just us left, we’d won the fight, and the light from the burning city outside the window seems celebratory.
I apologize for having used his name. He seems unconcerned, as nobody left alive had heard it. I try to not hear a threat in that.
So he goes on to say I’m the only one of those four of us from that castle several years back who was in fact still around and breathing. The old mage’s vow was still held, but only through me.
I consider it. I could command him to leave me safe. I realize I don’t have it in me to do so.
I know there’s more than a solid chance he’s going to devour me on the spot for this. But somehow, I look into those amazing red eyes and know on some level this demon and I are meant to forgive each other.
I command that he be free of the power of his name and all the vows I hold through it.
He looks at me. There’s definite hunger there. The city burns below us, smoke and firelight for mood.
But he smiles his beautiful smile, his fangs visible in the flickering glow. My sex gets harder than it already had been, if such a thing were possible. We come together then. We literally rip each other’s clothes off and go at all our favorite positions. He even teaches me a new one.
When I come to my senses, it’s day, and I’m alone in the woods.
I’m wearing nothing. Not a bit of anything do I own. I have a splitting headache and find I’m totally covered with claw marks, scratches, and even a few bites. I smell like sex, the really messy kind.
I find an ice cold creek to wash in, then head downhill until I find a road. After a little while someone comes by.
Better yet, they help me, rather than fight me off like some daylight darkling.
I make it to the guildhall in the city where my sigils and my story get enough sympathy for a private room to heal in, all bills added to the debt on my guild account.
Apparently two days had passed between the fight and waking up along the road.
I have absolutely no memory of those days.
I went back to his cave, but it was empty. There was a single kobold in front, and inside he’d left in a little pile of coin about a fifth of the value on the sorceress’s bounty.
Really sweet of him, truly. I sure had no way to show I was part of the take.
Kinda drove home the point that I owed him one.