Outer Demon (Nightgaunt)
A minor note before you begin. I paste my word docs into pastebin - if there's a way to do this while retaining their formatting, please let me know. I bring this up because italics are important in this story; they distinguish telepathy. I went through this and edited in asterisks to create italics manually, so I may have missed a few.
Also, you can read my stories on Literotica, TouchFluffyTail, Archive of Our Own, and Hentai Foundry, all under the same username, if you would prefer to read it on any of those sites. I do not have any formatting issues there.
He could hear the sounds of their drunken revelry, even at this distance.
Their arrogance sickened him, but Joshua's stomach couldn't find a way to tighten itself into an even more complicated knot. Hatred and revulsion washed into his mouth, tasting of ash and bile. His fingers curled into a fist as he shifted his gaze upwards to the night sky.
He saw the full moon through the branches of the pine forest, its face peering down at him with mute curiosity. On any other night, he would have welcomed the light it provided, but tonight, it was a curse. Not because he bought into the villagers' idle superstitions about demons and specters prowling about when the pale light was at its strongest, but because tonight, he was the prey, not the hunter.
But the light of the full moon hadn't mattered, thankfully. Cloaked in the misty night air, Joshua used the low pockets of fog to infiltrate to the edge of the marauders' camp. The arrogant fools hadn't even bothered maintaining a sentry, utterly convinced of their invincibility. However, while Joshua had managed to sneak all the way up to the edge of their camp, he was a single man with a longbow, and the marauder camp held a dozen thugs, each with steel weapons and armor. He knew he didn't stand a chance of defeating them alone, but who else was going to assist his rescue mission? The town militia?
He snorted. The militia of Brunswick rallied to deal with ornery schoolchildren and the occasional sighting of a wolf or mountain lion, too far into the safety of the Republic's borders to worry about things such as roving slavers or the war with the monsters. So the marauders were fools, yes, but they weren't wrong. The people of Brunswick - or at least, the ones left after the raid - posed no threat to them.
Joshua clenched his fingers into his longbow, making their tips turn white from the pressure. Hatred spiked in his mind again, contorting his face into a grimace.
He should have tried harder! He had been urging the mayor to take the town's militia more seriously for the better part of a year. The Republic was losing the war with the monsters, their borders were shrinking as a result, and the land was rife with those who sought to abuse the chaos.
The people of Brunswick were not as safe as they thought they were. If only he had been more persuasive, more persistent!
"Then...Esther, she wouldn't have been..." Joshua croaked, muttering to himself. Heat built up in the corner of his eyes, but he took in a sharp breath through his nose and stomped the feelings back down. No, he couldn't allow hatred to take over, be it directed at himself or the marauders. He had to come up with a plan.
He reviewed the layout of their camp. It was just a ways off the road that cut through the forest, being centered in a clearing that was surrounded by a ring of pine trees and ferns. They had seven tents set up in a haphazard, irregular fashion along the western edge of the clearing. A large bonfire crackled at the center of their camp. The slave cages - and the abducted villagers within them - were at the northern end of the camp, each cage being a wheeled contraption just barely big enough to hold three adults. And with the slave cages were the horses that pulled them, resting nearby. Eleven of the twelve men were drinking and guffawing around the bonfire, leaving just one unaccounted for. A lightweight who was forced to retire early, perhaps?
...there were no good options. Joshua was confident that he could approach the camp from any angle, even make it to the slave cages undetected, but they were locked, and he wasn't certain which slaver held the keys. It would have been tremendously lucky if it was the missing twelfth man, but there was no way to know which tent he was in. And drunk or not, the slavers wouldn't miss Joshua poking around at the entrances of their tents.
He unslung his longbow, gripping it in his left hand, running his fingers over the smooth, dark wood. It was a fine piece of fletching. It was without a doubt, his greatest creation - precise, sturdy, and reliable. Perhaps he could use it pick off two or three of them from the woods...but then what? The life-or-death adrenaline rush would sober the rest, and he could not fight nine armed men by himself. Joshua was just a hunter, not some divine hero of the Order.
Perhaps piety was the answer? Joshua knelt down, inclined his head, and splayed the fingers of his free hand against his chest in a gesture of servitude.
"Divine Aeris," he muttered. "I know that I am a stranger to you. I am not a devout man of faith, and you have no reason to help me. But the people that these monsters have taken are not strangers to you. They love you. They trust you, and they place their faith in you. Even now, I am certain that they remain calm, awaiting your salvation. I beg of you, Divine Aeris, give me the strength that I lack, so that I may carry out your benevolence. Lend me the power to rescue your faithful!"
An owl hooted in the distance.
Joshua swallowed his saliva as uncertainty boiled up within his knotted stomach.
"If I am unworthy," he continued, "then send someone else! It need not be one of your valkyries, or one of your chosen heroes! A rider from the capital, a passing stranger, the town priest! Anyone, please!"
"Please," he begged, voice choking with emotion. His chest and eyes felt like they held hot coals behind them. The spikes of hatred in his mind that had taken over as his heartbeat became weaker and more irregular.
He couldn't do anything. Nobody was going to help him. Nobody was going to save the captured townsfolk, nobody was going to save his sister...
"Damn it all!" he hissed, pounding his fist against the trunk of a pine tree with too much force. A flash of pain tore through his hand, fading into a dull, throbbing ache.
A particularly loud set of hoots and cheers drew his attention back to the marauders' camp. Joshua's brow furrowed, his eyes flaring with fury so terrible that they threatened to ignite a forest fire with a simple glance.
A fire! Could that work?
Joshua pressed his hands against his pockets and toolbelt, quickly searching himself. Was it...yes! He still had his infinite firelighter, a magical bauble that his father had left him. With this, he had a new option. He couldn't defeat all of the marauders, and he couldn't free the slaves without the keys.
But what if used fire? The marauders would have to go to sleep eventually. If they found the sense to post a sentry, he could easily pick off one drunk and drowsy man from a distance. Then he could trap the rest in their tents, and burn them alive. A horrific end, but the vermin deserved no less.
It wasn't a great plan, but it was all Joshua had. He was alone, and the gods did not seem interested in weaving a miracle. There was a good chance he would fail, a strong likelihood that he would die. But Esther was all the family that he had left. If he lost her, too...
Joshua firmly shook the thoughts away, for they would do him no good. He had made up his mind - a surprise fire attack was the way to go.
"Might as well creep a bit closer, then," he muttered to himself. "Gonna need to be absolutely certain when they've gone to sleep."
Joshua crept towards the camp while crouching low to the ground, bow held in one hand. He treaded gently, being well-accustomed to silently stalking his prey. His boots deftly avoided twigs and leaves, even though he was certain that the marauders couldn't possibly hear the sounds.
You just never take that kind of a chance.
His ears tingled, chilly in the cool, misty air. He utilized his sense of sound to its utmost - every time the wind brushed through the pine branches, every time a fern rustled in the distance, Joshua paused and altered his course. He couldn't be certain where that twelfth marauder was. Perhaps he was the one member of the group who had the wisdom to realize that they needed a sentry.
But if the twelfth was out here in the forest with Joshua, the man was outmatched. Ironically, it would be his caution that assured his death.
Joshua paused again. He heard something moving - the sound of a creaking branch. The branch shook up and down, rustling its leaves. Definitely not an owl - they didn't have the force to shake a branch like that. So what in the world was that?
The sound of rushing air reached his ears like a faint whistle. He turned in the direction of the sound, and then-
A powerful force grabbed both of his shoulders and yanked him backwards! Had the twelfth managed to get behind him?!
Joshua flailed and tried to kick back at his attacker, but a sickening lurch in his stomach revealed that whatever was holding on to him was not dragging him backwards, but upwards.
Cold air rushed around him, scraping at his face as he rose higher and higher into the air. Pine branches brushed against him, leaving sticky scrapes on him. Joshua opened his mouth and tried to scream - illogical, he knew, but sheer animal panic had overtaken him. But before he could make even a squeak, something cool and slimy slapped against his cheek and stretched across his mouth.
Higher and higher he rose, barely aware of how high he was being taken as he struggled against his airborne assailant. Joshua shouted into his gag, trying to bite at whatever covered his mouth, but the substance simply squished under his teeth. Another cool, slimy thing slapped against his forehead and stretched to cover both of his eyes, stripping him of his vision.
His captor was doing something to him, but his panicking mind couldn't discern what it was. A heat spread through his body, as if his heart had become a warm ember. His limbs went slack, sapped of the strength to struggle. As his vision went dark, so did his mind, and Joshua fell into unconsciousness.
His mind stirred back to consciousness. Joshua was in a void, deprived of light and sensation. Whispers drifted across his mind, memories floated up like bubbles. His shoulders ached from his captor's mistreatment of them, and a deep exhaustion had cradled into the back of his skull.
What had happened to him? Whatever his captor had used to blind and gag him were gone. And for that matter, where was his captor?
Joshua opened his eyes, not expecting to see anything. But the moon provided for him, bathing the area in enough light to glance around. He was on the floor, leaning against a rocky wall at the mouth of a cave. He tilted his head to his left, towards the forest. The tips of the pine trees jutted out, forming a sea of green as far as the eye could see. This cave was obviously quite high up, so he concluded that he must have been taken to the hills to the east. With the full moon still high overhead, not more than an hour could have passed. Wispy clouds of mist drifted across the sky, briefly concealing the moon before moving on.
"You are awake."
His head snapped to the right. Against the opposite wall of the cave, a dark figure stood, leaning against the wall. Joshua stared at the figure for several seconds, but blinked and shook his head. Their side of the cave was concealed from the moonlight, and the figure remained shrouded in darkness. A buzz started to drone in the back of Joshua's mind, as if a bee had flown inside his ear.
The sounds of dripping water echoed from somewhere deeper in the cave. Plip, plip, plip.
"You are not in danger," the figure assured. A monotone, feminine voice. Was this his captor? Or had she rescued him from whatever had taken him into the sky?
"Who are you?" Joshua demanded. "Step into the light."
The figure hesitated. Joshua grimaced and tried to ignore the increasing buzzing inside his head. The hairs on his body were standing on end, anxious.
Something was wrong.
"You are not in danger," the woman repeated. "I will not hurt you. Please do not scream."
The woman stepped into the moonlight, causing the buzzing in Joshua's head to grow into a grating screech.
The woman had a black body. Not dark-skinned, but utterly black, as if her very being devoured light. Joshua could not tell if the blackness was her skin or her clothing, for it wrapped around her body like a suit. If the blackness was meant to be clothing, it did a poor job of it. The suit pressed against her very tightly, accentuating her impossibly perfect body. Her pillowy, ample breasts strained against the suit. Further down, the suit curled around her wide hips, and pressed against her shapely legs. On anyone else, he might have found these features immensely attractive, chalking the strange suit up to the woman's exhibitionist quirks.
But her beauty only highlighted her impossibility.
The woman - if she even was one - had wings. Her bat-like wings grew from behind her shoulders, their membranes made from the same black substance that her suit was, both of them tipped with a number of dark, purple spikes. Her wings curled up behind her in their resting position, but Joshua could tell that they were muscular and powerful. Fully extended, they would give her a wingspan of at least six feet.
His eyes drifted towards her head, the only part of her body that was not covered by the dark suit. The black material ran up to her neck, exposing only her face. Long strands of obsidian colored hair that fell to the back of her neck covered much of the right side of her face. Her bangs, which fell from her forehead to her nose, held a single ribbon of purple hair that was the same color as her wingtips. Only a sliver of her face was visible - revealing her left eye and part of her mouth. Her skin was light and unnaturally pale, practically a brighter shade of gray. Her mouth was flat, her expression unreadable.
Her exposed eye blinked at him. She had a purple iris, the same color as her hair.
A pair of horns just about half a foot long jutted out from the sides of her head. They curled up and back down again, making an arch that ended in a purple tip. A swaying motion from behind her legs brought his attention to her tail, a long and slender thing that originated from somewhere behind her waist. It reached down to the floor, curling itself around her left leg like a snake. And like her wings and horns, it ended in a purple tip.
Plip, plip, plip...
Joshua's jaw dropped as he came upon a realization. The dripping sounds that he had heard were not, in fact, water.
They were coming from her.
The blackness covering the woman's body - it was moving! Ripples undulated through her suit, and it seemed to squirm around and move of its own accord. Drips of the black ooze fell off of her, splashing onto the cave floor. The dark ooze moved slowly, thick like molasses. Every part of her that had a purple tip - her horns, her tail, her wings, and even her fingers, he noticed - oozed as well. But that substance was dark purple, and seemed considerably less viscous, flowing more freely from her body. It was the drops of the purple substance that made the splashing sounds, falling into small puddles of purple slime on the cave floor and echoing throughout the cave.
She simply stood there, looking down at him. The moonlight reflected onto her purple parts and puddles of ooze, making them gleam faintly. She was an impossibility - Joshua's mind could not comprehend her, so he stared blankly at her.
Joshua blinked at her. She blinked back.
Somewhere far in the distance, an owl hooted again.
"Are you well?" she asked, breaking the silence. She had a soft voice, not much stronger than a murmur, and it lacked any trace of genuine concern. "I am certain that I did not injure you."
The...the thing was talking to him. It was talking!
Joshua's expression cracked. Half of his face curled up in an insane grin, the other froze in abject terror, and he began to croak out a hoarse laughter.
"Heh," he muttered. "Hah...ahaha. Hahaha!"
The thing could talk!
Joshua's laughter grew louder. He slapped a palm against his face, shaking his head in disbelief. So, the elder's tales weren't just idle superstition. Demons really did prowl the woods during the full moon! Whatever this creature in front of him was proved that.
Joshua had never seen a monster before. He knew of them, of course, seeing as his country was currently fighting a war with them. He had even seen sketches of them, detailed profiles about the various species, that warned him how to avoid them and gave advice on their weak points. The soldiers and priests of the Divine Order were always happy to hand out lectures and reading material whenever they passed through Brunswick, warning of the corrupting influence of the monsters.
But...this? Even among the most convoluted species of monster he had read about, this was just...insane! She was impossible!
But as impossible as she was, she was real, standing in front of and looking at him with expressionless eyes.
The thing took a step towards him, eyebrow narrowing as she examined his body for obvious wounds. Joshua's face twisted in panic, his hands scrabbling against the cave floor as he pushed himself backwards. He collided into the cave wall, sending another stab of pain into his shoulders.
"Please do not be alarmed," she said. "You may accidentally cut your hands if you do that."
"Get away!" he cried. He turned his body to face the mouth of the cave, and pushed himself upwards with his hands, moving to run away.
"You must not," the thing said, louder and more firm than before, her voice still devoid of emotion. Her hand shot out and gripped Joshua's wrist, holding him tightly and pulling him back towards her.
"I do not want to hurt you," she said again. "Please just-"
"Let me go!" he shouted, tugging hard and trying to shake her free. He had to escape while he still could! Her grip on his wrist tightened to an uncomfortable level, making him wince and struggle that much harder.
"Help!" he gasped. Joshua inhaled a huge gulp of air, intending to yell for help as loud as he could. Of course, the only people around to save him from this creature would just as soon enslave him, but he was far beyond the point of rational thought.
"Someo-" he managed to get out, before the thing gave him a strong tug backwards, wrapping her hand around his mouth and silencing his scream.
"Stop," she said calmly. "They will hear you."
Of course they were going to hear him! That's what he wanted! Someone would hear him, and someone would save him from this monster!
Joshua flailed in her grasp. She wrapped her other arm around his stomach, pulling him into her with a backwards hug. He struck his elbow back hard into her gut, hoping to knock the wind out of her, but the black slime covering her body absorbed the force of his blow. It stuck to him like tar, making it difficult to pull his elbow back.
"I am trying to-" the thing tried to explain, but Joshua didn't care. He bit down on the hand covering his mouth, using as much strength as he could muster to bring a vicious bite down on the thing's fingertips. But to his shock, his teeth traveled through her fingertips and connected again, not encountering any solid flesh or bone. Drops of her purple slime fell into his mouth and onto his tongue. And the creature - she moaned, right into his ears. The sensuality of her sound gave him pause for a moment, before he shook her hand out of his mouth and spat out the slime. Minuscule drops lingered on his tongue, sizzling his taste buds with an inexplicable flavor.
"Stop," the creature said. "If you do not, I-"
Joshua pitched forward and crouched down, trying to throw her over his shoulder. But the motion only sent her into his back, her suit of ooze making her stick to him. Two hard points pressed against his back, making him briefly pause again.
"Just listen to me," she pleaded. "I do not want it to be like this."
The weight of the creature made getting back to his feet difficult. Joshua ignored her words and threw his head back, trying to headbutt her. Her head wasn't covered in that slime...he figured that if he could hit her chin or her face hard enough, that might force her to reel back and give him a chance to break free.
But Joshua had aimed rather poorly, and his head collided near her collarbone. Her ooze absorbed the impact and stuck to him like glue. He writhed and struggled to break free, but her body was like quicksand. The more he struggled, the more he brushed against her, becoming entangled in even more of her substance. Throughout his assault, the creature endured passively, occasionally letting out a sharp breath or a soft moan, coaxed out from his struggling.
His flailing covered him in more and more of her sticky substance, until he found it nearly impossible to move any of his limbs at all. Even so, he continued to thrash, gritting his teeth and flexing his muscles. His struggling brought him lower and lower, until his head eventually rested against her generous chest. His gaze brushed against hers for a moment, locking eyes with her as she cradled his head like a mother cradled her child. Her visible eye stared at him with a terrifying intensity, wide open.
"Fine," she muttered, not breaking eye contact. "Please do not hate me."
Gripping his head with both of her hands, she held him still. Her grip was carefully measured, resting right on the border of discomfort. She didn't use enough force to hurt him, but the power in her hands spoke volumes of her true strength.
She leaned forward and brought her face down to his, pressing her lips against his.
A sweet, calming sensation spilled into Joshua, and his struggling ceased. Her movement pushed his head into her breasts, her black ooze spreading to the upper half of his face. The substance quickly expanded and grew over him, blinding him and leaving him with only the sensations of her touches. The last time he had been blinded like this, he felt as if he was suffocating alone in a dark and endless void. But now, the unexpected gentleness of her kiss guided him through the darkness. Her kiss guided him, pulling him along through a void that no one but her could ever hope to navigate.
Darkness wrapping around him in a comfortable embrace, he fell backwards onto her, floating with her on a gentle ocean current. The whispers returned to his mind, but they were no longer sinister, incomprehensible things. She was soothing him, reassuring him. Somehow, she was inside his mind, sending her feelings to him.
Safe, the whispers said. Safe. You are safe.
He should have struggled, should have resisted whatever trickery this monster was using, but...her whispers drained his will to fight. Inexplicably, he felt like he could believe her. These whispers were her honest feelings - he understood now that she truly did not wish to hurt him. He even felt her guilt, her discomfort at having been forced to abduct him in the first place. And he felt...a rising heat. Long-dormant predatory instincts rising to the surface of her mind, aroused by his struggling. She didn't want to hurt him, he understood that now. But her lust for him, her yearning for more of the pleasure that he had given her?
It was terrifying.
Her desire spilled into his mind and began to inflame his own. Her tongue - fleshy, but slimy like the rest of her - dipped into his mouth, exchanging her saliva with his, the taste of her substance sending fireworks through his brain. She was sweet, and hot - the warmth of her affections coursed through his body as the ooze covering him began to move around.
She pulled back and broke the kiss. Awkwardly shuffling backwards without letting go of him, she guided them both down into a sitting position. She lay against the wall of the cave, pulling him into her lap. Lifting her feet, she placed them on the interior of his legs and pushed, spreading his legs further apart.
"W-wait," he breathed.
"I can not," she explained, reaching one hand around his waist and giving the growing stiffness in his pants a gentle squeeze. Gasping at the sensation as she rubbed him through his pants, her fingers began pinching and kneading him, making him grow harder still.
"I can not stop now," she apologized. "I tried...tried to warn you. You would not let me."
Wrapping her free hand around Joshua's other side and splaying her fingers along his chest, she pressed them into him and began making circular motions. The act itself shouldn't have felt as good as it did, but it seemed to incite the black substance coating his body. Squirming across him as if it were alive, the slime began undulating and massaging him through his shirt.
Joshua let out a whimper, which turned into a drawn-out moan. Taking the sound as an invitation to continue, she used her wingtips to poke and push his arms upwards. Following her prompt, Joshua mindlessly raised his arms. She manipulated him like a marionette, literally ripping his shirt off of him and casting the tattered remains aside.
He felt naked, not due to the loss of his shirt, but to the loss of her ooze that covered it. As the cold night air brushed against him, he shivered, feeling cruelly deprived of sensation. Tilting his head towards hers, she kissed him again, sending more fireworks through him. As they kissed, she began rubbing her hand all across his chest, lavishing his toned body with her massage. Spreading across his chest, her slime crept over his muscles and swiftly coated his torso entirely. Now, his upper half was like hers - covered in a tight, black layer of ooze that squirmed around and massaged its wearer.
Withdrawing the layer of ooze covering his eyes, she broke the kiss and pulled back. Meeting her gaze, Joshua found himself unable to pull his eyes away. From his position, he could see under her drooping bangs, and looked into both of her eyes. Now glowing a faint purple, her irises shone with a soft and soothing light, one that contrasted the burning intensity of the lust behind her gaze. Joshua found that her eyes held a wondrous depth of beauty, one that he did not want to look away from. Likening the sensation to that sense of wonder one experienced when looking up at a sparkling ocean of stars in a clear night sky, he let out a soft breath as the two stared at each other.
She blinked, and the moment passed. Joshua felt a pang of loss, wanting to simply admire her eyes a bit longer. But her substance was creeping down his torso with a mind of its own, crawling towards his groin and drooling more ooze with eager anticipation.
"Full...moon," she managed to explain in between increasingly heavy breaths. "Instincts too strong...can't resist..."
Groaning again as her slime slipped past his hips, Joshua opened his mouth to try and say something, but she gripped his head and kissed him again, far more passionately than before. Her tongue darting into his mouth and wrestling with his, she slavered the insides of his mouth with her sticky saliva, sending the sensations of her taste careening through his entire body.
His body had become so relaxed by her bizarre massage, he no longer had the strength to tense his muscles and resist her. Even if he could have struggled, Joshua didn't know if he even wanted to. Being coated in her substance was oddly comforting, like wrapping oneself in a warm blanket for the night.
At some point, she had apparently stripped him of his pants and smallclothes. Joshua's stiff member sprung free, pointing up hard into the air and begging for attention. Maintaining their kiss, she used the purple tip of her tail to oblige him. Flicking the tip of her tail up and down his shaft like a tongue, she lovingly coated his manhood in her ooze in a matter of seconds. Once it was sufficiently coated, she wrapped her tail around him, constricting his shaft like a snake enveloping its prey. She began to jerk her coiled tail up and down, dragging the ooze coating his dick along for the ride. The enhanced friction was unlike anything Joshua had ever experienced, making him moan deeply into her mouth. Increasing the speed of her tongue, she eagerly lapped up his pleasure, as if she could taste it.
Maybe she really could, if that earlier mind-whispering trick was anything to go by.
The creeping massage down his calves and over his heels told him that she had stripped him of his socks and boots, now. He was now entirely naked, and like her, completely encased in dark ooze, save for his head. No longer being capable of telling one sensation apart from another, his brain was melting into a pile of blissful mush. The stroking of her tail on his cock made a deliciously lewd squelching sound as she silently urged him to grow even harder for her. The massaging of the ooze coating him was reaching deeper and deeper into his body, relaxing him to the point where he feared he would drift off and miss the rest. She gave a gentle suck on his lips and tongue, and he realized that every time he tasted her substance, it somehow seemed even more delicious than before.
To hell with it. He couldn't stop her, might as well join her.
Using his tongue to duel with hers, he finally began to return her affections, taking a more active role. Cooing happily into his mouth, she rewarded him by giving his dick a firm squeeze with her tail, and began to increase the speed of her stroking.
It was too much for him. Heat and pressure built up, his traitorous body eager to contribute to the sticky mess it was in. As if sensing his impending orgasm with a sixth sense, she pulled him into her more tightly, adding even more of her substance to his body. Her tail briefly uncoiled from Joshua, causing him to groan his disapproval into her mouth. The sudden lack of sensation was far too cruel!
But she stretched her tail towards his sack, lovingly brushing the purple tip of her tail against it and coating it completely in a matter of seconds. Then she returned her tail to his manhood, giving it another affectionate squeeze before starting to pump him again. The slime coating his balls moved of their own accord, gently squeezing and rolling them, bringing his pleasure up to delirious levels. All the while, she kept up her assault inside his mouth, leaking more and more ooze for him to eagerly slurp up.
Joshua was too delirious with pleasure to be aware of it, but his body was not as impermeable to her substance as he might have thought. Drops of her slime, far too small for the naked eye to see, were seeping into his body's exterior and coating his very cells, massaging him from the inside out.
The pleasure was maddening - he could no longer tell where he began and where she ended. They were simply a mass of sticky, gooey pleasure.
She gave his sack and his shaft a simultaneous squeeze, urging him towards his climax, which they both knew would lead to her own.
Her endless onslaught of pleasure finally sent him soaring over the edge. Joshua struggled to hold back, desperate to make the pleasure last just a bit longer, but his lover was merciless, and only increased the speed and intensity of her stroking.
Seed surged through him and erupted from him like a volcano. Sticky white rushed out and mingled with oozing black, mixing together and staining each other. Joshua cried out into her mouth, bucking his hips upwards and thrusting his cock deeper into her slime. His body was so relaxed that he could not even accomplish that, but his lover sensed his desires and met them. She massaged his pulsing shaft, gently rolling his sack around and teasing out even more of his essence.
Her substance devoured his essence with a voracious appetite. The taste of him - the energy contained in his seed - filled her with bliss, skyrocketing her into her own orgasm. She shuddered from the force of it, her ooze writhing and flowing even more freely onto him, coating even his head. He was entirely coated in her ooze, save for his eyes and mouth. From head to toe, he was draped in delicious, pulsing ooze that sung to him, begging him to give her more.
Even as he began to wind down, she continued to squeeze and stroke him, making sure that he had been fully drained. He arched his back with colossal effort, and with one last gasping shudder, fell backwards, utterly exhausted. His lips were still locked with hers as her slime spread over the remainder of his head, bathing him in a shower of gentle, sticky kisses.
All of his thoughts and fears had been melted away, leaving only a deep sense of comfort. As her ooze slipped over his face and darkness overtook him once more, he fell into a blissful sleep, awash on the bed of their mutual pleasure.
Plip, plip, plip...
When Joshua awoke, the world was no longer dark. He felt warm and deeply comfortable, having to force his eyes open with sheer willpower, like peeling himself out of bed after a cold night in winter. He recognized that he was lying on his back on the cave floor, but he didn't feel uncomfortable at all. Groaning, he sat up and turned his neck towards the mouth of the cave.
The moon had peaked and was beginning to fall towards the horizon, but only about an hour had passed since...whatever the demon had done with him.
It occurred to him that he didn't even know her name. Did she even have one?
"Welcome back," her voice greeted. Her tone was still almost entirely monotone, but he swore that he could hear a hint of affection in there. "Did you sleep well?"
Looking to the right, he saw the demon, standing with her back to the wall of the opposite side of the cave. Bizarrely, she was no longer coated in her black suit, and was fully nude, revealing her pale body. Her arms were crossed under her breasts, which were just as large as their outline had suggested earlier. Curiously, her nipples were pink - he had expected them to be purple, fitting the theme of the rest of her body. Her tail had snaked around her leg again, spiraling from her thigh to her knee. The purple tips of her horns and her tail still seemed to be covered in slime, but no longer dripped onto the floor. The demon's exposed eye continued to faintly glow, and the corner of her lip was curled ever-so-slightly upwards.
Strange that he could see in the dark so well. Another of her magical tricks, perhaps.
Joshua stood up, surprised at how...limber, he felt. He had been lying on cold, hard stone for the better part of an hour. Why wasn't his back killing him? Realizing that he no longer felt the soreness in his shoulders form when the demon had abducted him, he experimentally placed one of his hands behind his back and rubbed his left shoulder. He recoiled when he felt a familiar, sticky substance. He withdrew his hand and looked down at his fingers, expecting to see a smudge of her ooze that had lingered after her massage.
The buzzing in the back of his mind from returned.
It wasn't that his back was covered in dark ooze. It was his finger - no, his entire hand! He was still wrapped in her dark substance! But...how? She had withdrawn away from him!
He patted himself down, feeling his chest, his buttocks, his knees. Everywhere he felt returned the same slimy sensations. He stepped out into the moonlight, illuminating himself, and looked down.
The buzzing turned into a grating screech, and his eyes grew as wide as saucers. It wasn't that he was still covered in her ooze.
He was the ooze. It dripped and fell from him, now being produced from his own body.
Plip, plip, plip, the puddle of his ooze said. You're a monster, now.
"Hah?" he breathed, brain struggling to catch up. Joshua stuck out his index finger and pressed it against his chest. It sunk into his own slime - and kept going. He stopped as he reached his knuckle, trembling. He had not encountered his chest, or anything solid at all. It was as...as if he no longer had a solid body...
Plip, plip, the ooze affirmed. That's right.
"Are you alright?" the demon asked. "How are you feeling?"
The screeching in his mind now echoed throughout his entire body. Trembling, dark fingers curled themselves into an amorphous fist. The first time he had experienced this cacophony of sensation, this incessant screeching, the feeling had been born from fear.
This one was different. It was born from fury.
His eyes snapped to hers. He closed the distance between them with two, powerful strides. This was her fault!
"Joshua?" she asked, more than a hint of uncertainty in her voice. "Are you-"
His hand shot out and wrapped around her throat. He lifted her into the air - too furious to be surprised at his newfound strength - and pinned her against the wall.
"You," he growled. "What did you do?"
She let out a pitiful sound and tried to say something, but the ferocity of his glare killed the words in her throat.
"What did you do to me?!" Joshua demanded, tightening his grip. He didn't care if anyone heard him. Let the slavers come! Let anyone try and stop him, and see what happened when they did!
"I-" she croaked. Whatever she had done to him, she had made him powerful. Far more powerful than he had ever been as a human. Pinned against the wall like she was, she looked...vulnerable.
Her face flushing from the lack of oxygen, tears began to well up in her eyes as she struggled to find her words.
"Trying to...h-help," she stammered.
"Help?!" he roared. "Help who? How does turning me into...this, help anyone? Huh?!"
Her eyes tried to convey what her words could not. She looked at him desperately, arms hanging limply at her sides.
Just what the hell was wrong with her? Why was she not fighting back? What kind of monster rapes and transforms someone, then allows her victim to strangle her?
"H-help," she croaked. "Y-you...and Esther..."
The mention of his sister's name startled him, and he released his grip. The demon fell to her knees, gasping for breath and clutching her throat.
Another layer of impossibilities to add to the mix. Not only did this demon claim to want to help him, she apparently already knew of both him and his younger sister.
"How do you know her name? Or my name, for that matter?" he asked. His voice was firm, but lacked the hostility and rage from before. If this demon had already known about him...it had plenty of chances to kill him and his sister over the past months, or even years. So if she really wasn't a threat, he had to at least hear her out.
No...no, it couldn't be. Could it? Was...was this the hero that Divine Aeris had sent? Some sort of dark angel?
No, that was just...impossible. No matter how he tried to look at her, there was no way a creature so strange could be of divine origin. Besides, he had never heard a tale of an angel raping a man and transforming him into one of her own kind.
"Look," she coughed, her breath not having fully returned to her. Her chest heaved as she took in breaths of air, making her breasts sway alluringly.
"Look at me," she continued. "You...know me..."
Joshua frowned and stared down at her face. He would know for certain if he had ever encountered a creature as bizarre as her before.
"Your face does seem vaguely familiar," he admitted. "But I've never met you in my life."
Still massaging her throat with one hand, she reached the other around to the back of her head. She grasped a handful of her hair and held it out behind her in a mock ponytail. He stared at her for a moment, still not understanding.
And then Joshua's jaw dropped to the floor and shattered into a thousand pieces.
"No," he muttered. "You're...are you...Julie?"
"Yes," the demon nodded. "I am Julie, the herbalist's apprentice. Julie, the odd girl who lives in Brunswick. Julie, your neighbor of two years."
"That's...not possible," Joshua said. "Julie...I've known her for years! Y-you...you're not Julie! You're a monster with her face! Or..."
In the books and pamphlets he had read about the monsters, he had learned that many of the monsters had ways to transform human women into more of their own kind. Had that happened to Julie? Was she a victim in this, too?
"I am a monster," she nodded again. "But I am Julie, and I have always been Julie."
"I don't believe you."
"It is the truth," the demon said, getting back to her feet.
"Prove it," he demanded, folding his arms. "There's one thing I can think of that only Julie and myself would know. She told it to me when my sister was unconscious from fever, lying on her bed. What did she tell me?"
"I feared that she would die," the demon said. "My master had recommended crushed shadowcat fang as a reliever for pain, and after she had left, I told you that I suspected it would do little to stifle the actual fever."
Joshua stared at her, never breaking from eye contact.
"I told you of wildcress," the demon said. "And chamomile, and other herbs from the forest. We went out into the forest, together...I showed you what the plants looked like...then we returned, and I brewed them into a tea. You held the cup to Esther's lips, feeding her a trickle of the liquid. And I told you...that I would do whatever it took to save her. For if the village were to lose her, it would be as if the brightest star in the sky had suddenly vanished."
It was true, then.
"You..." Joshua broke eye contact and hung his head low. "You...really are Julie."
"Yes," she nodded. "I am."
"But...what are you?" he asked, raising his head again. "The wings...and the tail, and the...ooze. You always looked like a normal human!"
"I can change my own appearance," she explained. "I can hide my features and appear like a human. But...I am a monster. A type of monster called a nightgaunt."
"Were you always like this?" Joshua asked. "Were you born a human?"
"I was born a nightgaunt," Julie answered, shaking her head. "I appear to you now as my true self."
"Is Julie even your real name?"
"It is an abbreviation," she admitted. "But one I am quite comfortable with. My full name is...complicated. I may share it with you later, if you wish."
"Why?" Joshua asked. "Just...why?"
"Why what?" Julie blinked at him.
"What do you mean, why what?!" Joshua blurted. "Why did you hide among a human village? Why did you save my sister from her fever? Why did you kidnap me? Why did you turn me into this?"
"Because I wanted to," she said simply. "And because I had to."
Taking a deep breath, Julie continued. "I am a nightgaunt. My species of monster cannot express themselves very well. This is why I sound monotone and look expressionless."
"You don't sound anywhere near as monotone as before," he countered.
"Your new form has vastly improved senses of sight and sound," she nodded. "Please let me explain, without interrupting."
"As I was saying..." Julie brushed her thighs and shoulders off. "Nightgaunts are a rare species of monster. It is not surprising that your books and pamphlets do not mention us. As for your questions...I lived in Brunswick because I desired to experience many things that I otherwise could not."
"Meaning?" Joshua prompted.
"I wanted to learn a trade," Julie explained. "I wanted to make a friend. I wanted to live amongst strangers. I wanted to live near humans. I wanted to discover love. I wanted to find a husband."
He blinked at her.
"As for your second question...why do you ask this?" Julie asked. "Was it wrong to want to save your sister's life?"
"Uh," Joshua mumbled, running a hand over the back of his head. "No, not really..."
"But," Joshua sighed. "I'm guessing that those pamphlets and books had more than a little misinformation in them, huh?"
"Yes," Julie nodded. "Many humans see monsters as evil, malevolent creatures, even though they have never met one."
"And since you're clearly not," Joshua started. "Why didn't you reveal yourself to the town? People have known you for years."
"What was your reaction when you first saw me?" she countered, turning her head away to hide her face. "To scream. To run in terror."
"Right," he winced. "I'm, uh, sorry for not hearing you out."
"I am sorry as well," Julie said. "I did not want to force you. But you..."
"Is that why you kidnapped me?" he frowned. "For a romp in the woods?"
"Yes," she nodded. Then she shook her head. "No. It...had to happen. But I did not want it to happen like it did."
"It had to happen?" Joshua repeated incredulously. "Are you not aware that almost a dozen people just got carted off by a bunch of slavers? Do you think we have time for a quick fuck in the woods?!"
"Of course I am aware!" she protested, wings unfurling a little. "That's why I did it!"
"Okay," Joshua sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I must be missing something here, because I'm not following this at all. You kidnap me, rape me, turn me into a monster, and all of that has to happen because of the slaver attack? Explain, please?"
"I said that I wanted to come to live amongst the humans to learn a trade," Julie repeated. "To make a friend. To-"
"Yes, yes," Joshua huffed, waving her along. "To find love and get married, I heard the first time. How is that relevant?"
"Because I succeeded at every one of those things," Julie said plainly, as if that explained anything.
Joshua slapped a palm against his face and groaned. "Look, just pretend like I'm a toddler or something who doesn't know the slightest thing about monsters or 'nightgaunts'. I think you're taking some crucial information for granted here, and I don't know it."
"I learned the trade of herbalism," Julie explained. "I made a friend of your sister. I lived among strangers, who were also humans. And I fell in love...with you."
Her cheeks flushed, but she kept her eyes trained on Joshua's.
"I fell in love with you," she repeated. "But I was too scared to tell you. I was too afraid that you would hate me."
"You...love me?" he repeated. "And, wait wait wait, you befriended my sister? When did this happen? Does she know about your secret?"
"About a month after she recovered from the fever," Julie nodded. "So about seven months ago. She...saw me, one night."
"She saw you doing what?"
"Flying," Julie explained. "Keeping my true form hidden makes me need to stretch my wings. Esther saw me when I was taking off one night. And the next morning, she approached me and asked if I was the one that she saw. I...did not know what to say to her. And she just smiled at me."
Yeah, that sounded like Esther. She had endless, unquestioning love and support for any who needed it. Joshua often wondered if their mother had been part angel. Not that he would have known, never having had the chance to meet her.
And...boy, was he starting to feel like the real monster here. She had fallen in love with him, and what was the first thing he had done when he saw her real form? Scream and run away in terror.
...wait, why was he feeling sorry for her? She had robbed him of his humanity! She had mentioned that she had succeeded at all of her goals - that would mean that she considered him her 'husband', then. Oh, how wonderfully happy for her!
"Right, my sister is wonderful," he grumbled. "And how does this relate to you kidnapping me? Or turning me into this?"
Julie gripped her arm with her other hand and looked away.
"I am sorry," she said. "I know it is not what you wanted. And I really did not want to do things this way, but I could not think of any other way to save everyone."
"So I needed to become a monster, and by extension your 'husband', in order for some plan of yours to save everyone to work," he concluded. "And that plan is...?"
"I-" Julie opened her mouth but closed it again, sighing. "Even if I just tell you right now, you will not believe me and are just going to ask how it is possible."
He couldn't deny that.
"So I need to give you a quick history lesson first," she explained. Seeing him roll his eyes, she continued. "It is relevant, I promise. You are not going to understand without it."
"Fine," he sighed. "Just make it quick. If you really do have a plan, the slavers aren't going to be sleeping forever."
"I know," she nodded. She took a deep breath, and began to speak. "The nightgaunts are unique. We were not present when the world first came into being. Instead, we were created - designed by the old masters."
"Old masters?" Joshua blinked, then held up a hand. "Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt."
"It is fine. Explaining the old masters would take far too much time, so just understand that they are very old, and very powerful monsters. Powerful enough to create multiple species of their own design, to serve their needs. The nightgaunts were created as their personal soldiers. We were very powerful, and were intelligent enough to carry out our orders, but we had no true self-awareness. We were their mindless slaves."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Joshua frowned. "I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
"This was eons ago," Julie explained, shaking her head. "And I was born to mortal parents, not created. I have never known the old masters, nor have I ever visited the Abyss. By your calendar, I am only a few months older than you."
Well, that was reassuring. Joshua wasn't certain how he would have felt if Julie ended up being a thousand years old, or something.
"The old masters were not stingy when it came to creating their personal soldiers," Julie explained. "We have no hold over magic, but nightgaunts have tremendous physical power. Even today, we can hold our own against the strongest monsters and heroes. But...not on our own. Are you familiar with the Demon Lord and her influence?"
"A succubus whose influence affected all monsters," Joshua summarized. "The books say that much."
"Correct," Julie nodded. "All monsters now have the instincts of a succubus inside them. Making them desire decidedly non-lethal interaction with humans, in other words."
He almost snorted. Decidedly non-lethal interaction, sure...that was one way to put it...
"And I truly mean all monsters," Julie continued. "Her magic reached even the Abyss, transforming the servants of chaos. The nightgaunts, the shoggoths, the mindflayers...even the old masters themselves were helpless to her influence. Drastically different as they were, they were still monsters, and could not resist the will of the Demon Lord. To summarize, the nightgaunts and the other creatures of chaos gained sapience when Lilith became the Demon Lord. And with that sapience came the freedom to choose our masters. But the succubus nature that Lilith instilled in us comes at a certain cost."
"I'm following you," Joshua nodded.
"Nightgaunts can no longer access their full power on their own," Julie nodded. "We can not use the same powers we once had - not until we bond with a human man and claim him as our husband. And that is why I had to kidnap you. The only way for us to save everyone was to join together."
"Riiight," he nodded. "So, let me see if I've got this straight. Nightgaunts used to be really powerful, but then the Demon Lord took over. She changed something about you, and now your species can't access their powers without a husband. Meaning...I'm the key to unlocking your true strength, or something?"
"Yes," she nodded. "You...you are taking this better than I expected."
"Sorry," he shrugged. "This is just too crazy. You could tell me anything and I would just nod along. My brain has given up on trying to process any of this."
"Further conversation is unnecessary, anyway," Julie said, giving a shrug of her own. "And our time is limited. We should practice merging at once."
"So...what?" Joshua asked, tilting his head to the side. "What am I meant to do here?"
Julie stepped forward and outstretched her arms. She fully unfurled her wings, making her shadow far larger.
"Embrace me," she said softly. "Let your new instincts take over."
Joshua's brain was too overwhelmed to advise hesitation anymore. Stepping forward, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in for a hug. She shivered as her naked body made contact with his ooze, and her nipples began to harden and poke against his chest. Leaning her head onto his shoulder, she gently nuzzled herself against him.
"Why are you naked?" he asked, bringing his head down to nuzzle her neck. They started to gently sway back and forth, as if they were dancing.
It was beyond strange. They were acting like...well, a real married couple.
"When a nightgaunt transforms her husband into the ideal form for her mate," Julie explained, turning her cheek so as not to mumble into his shoulder, "she loses the ability to produce her own substance."
"Say what now?" Joshua blinked, pulling his head back while still maintaining the hug.
Julie looked up at him and offered a weak smile. "It is true. Only you have that power, now."
"Any other powers I should be aware of?"
"As I mentioned earlier, your vision and hearing is much improved," she nodded. "Your physical strength and endurance will have changed dramatically, as well."
"Good to hear," he sighed, dripping with sarcasm. Julie didn't seem to pick up on it, however. She just kept nuzzling herself into his shoulder, swaying with him.
He rubbed his arms up he back, affectionately squeezing her shoulders.
Why...did he care? Was this affection he felt for her genuine? Or was his new form conditioned to desire her, bound under some kind of invisible spell?
"This is nice," she sighed, contently leaning against his chest once more. "But we can not stand around forever."
Julie stretched her wings around him and interlocked them, using them to pull Joshua closer to her.
"Coat me," she said softly. "Cover me."
Inclining her head upwards, she kissed him. The earlier fervor of her insane lust was gone, now replaced by a warm, gentle love. Whereas earlier she had been a raging inferno, the sensations she offered him now were like a comfortable campfire. Rubbing her wings along Joshua's back, Julie coated them in his substance, then withdrew them to smear his ooze over her back, sighing affectionately at the feeling of it.
"Incredible," she cooed, pulling back from the kiss. "How can it feel so different?"
He smiled and took the hint, and began to rub his hands across her back. Somehow, he could feel her with his new substance, although he didn't yet know how to make it move according to his will. He was content to let it spread over her automatically.
Joshua still had some deep reservations about his new form, but he certainly loved the effect it had on Julie. The way she squirmed, the way her hard nipples pressed against him even as her breasts were coated by his creeping ooze, the way she offered breathy moans into his ear...it appealed to his primitive instincts, inviting licentious thoughts into his mind. The dull screeching of unintelligible madness had become clear, and it promised him pleasure beyond his wildest imaginations.
He wanted more of her.
Grinning, he reached down and gave her ass cheeks a firm squeeze, kneading his substance over them. She gasped and stood up on her tiptoes, before leaning back down and smiling demurely at him. Gods, now that lit a fire in him!
He squeezed her again, delighting in the way her body submitted to his. She offered no resistance to his creeping slime, and freely moaned and gasped for him, letting him know how well he was doing.
At some point, darkness overcame Joshua, stripping him of his vision. Once again, his world was nothing but sensation - but this time, he was the aggressor. Somehow, he could feel himself spreading around Julie, feel his ooze press against her breasts, her hips, and her ass. He could even taste her, his substance lapping and slurping at her flesh, tickling her and making her giggle.
He had no face, but he grinned all the same. This...this was insane! An hour ago, he was a simple hunter. Now, he was some kind of demonic slime monster, currently spreading his consciousness all over his new 'wife'.
And he was loving it.
Joshua blinked, suddenly becoming aware that he had eyes again.
"You did it," Julie purred.
Wait, where was he? From his viewpoint, he seemed to be clinging to her shoulders - Julie's head was tilted back, her exposed eye gleaming at him in the moonlight. Her tone and expression seemed so open now - love and adoration poured out of her, matching the volume of ooze that he had coated her with.
"Look into my eyes," she pleaded. "Can you see it? Can you see how wonderful you've become?"
It pained him to look into her eyes without meeting her gaze, but he did as she suggested, and focused on his reflection.
A large, pink oval blinked back at him, glowing brightly. Wait, was that was his eye? Given the tilted angle of Julie's head, he could only see half of his new face. A sliver of pink was grinning at him from beneath his eye - his mouth? It seemed to glow, as well. Apparently his new form had some kind of bioluminescence.
Something moving in the corner of his vision drew his attention.
Julie, your wings! Joshua exclaimed. Or at least, he thought he did. His new form didn't seem to be actually capable of speech, but Julie seemed to understand him all the same. How she discerned his thoughts from a mass black ooze and glowing pink, he didn't know.
Her wings had grown in size. The design was still bat-like, but the membrane had grown thicker, and her wingspan must have now been at least eight feet. Most noticeably, however, was the change to her wingtips. They no longer had a row of simple, purple spikes on the top, but one, massive protrusion, with five curved segments. Each of the segments jutted outward, creating a strong resemblance to a claw, or a nearly-clenched fist. Furthermore, each of the segments were made of the same black ooze as the rest of him, their tips dripping a violet liquid.
"Those are no longer my wings," Julie sighed happily.
Turning his head towards her, Joshua met her loving gaze, taking in her growing smile. To anyone else, the expression would have been so subtle that it was unnoticeable, but he longer had the eyes of a human. He could the bliss behind her expression as easily as he saw the difference between night and day.
Not your wings?
"Try moving them," Julie suggested.
He didn't understand how he could, but he tried anyway. Joshua closed his eyes, and imagined curling the fingers of his left hand into a fist.
And the claw-shaped protrusion on her left wing responded accordingly, clenching into a fist. Wait a second...five protrusions that followed his movements?
They really weren't Julie's wings! They were his arms! And the claws that topped them were his hands!
"Yes," Julie cooed. "That is you...is it not lovely? Are you not perfect?"
By the gods, his hands were massive! A single one was large enough to reach from Julie's shoulders all the way to her abdomen!
Well, there was one thing that he had to try right away. Julie hummed in anticipation, following his thought process.
Reaching his monstrous hands around her, he firmly gripped Julie's breasts, pinching and kneading them with his fingers. The actions drove his ooze that was already coating her further against her skin, making her gasp and shudder in delight. He unconsciously willed the slime coating her waist to rise up like tentacles, slapping against her wrists and binding them to her hips.
I can do that?!
Oh, this was fun.
"You-" Julie started, but was interrupted when he shifted the slime covering her nipples, making her break out into a long moan.
"You see," she giggled softly. "It comes to you so easily. We are a perfect match."
Maybe, he admitted. But we don't have time to play around.
To her dismay, he released her breasts and wrists, and moved his hands to rest on her shoulders.
"Yes," Julie nodded, serious again. "You are right. Try making a fist, and hit the cave wall with all of your might."
Won't that hurt?
Joshua clenched a fist, flexing his fingers experimentally.
"What is there to hurt?" she countered. "You have no flesh to bruise, no bones to break."
I guess that's true.
Joshua drew back his fist and slammed it into the wall with all the strength he could muster. His blow carried far more force than he could ever call upon as a human, and the impact made a rumbling sound that sent up a puff of dust, scattering small pebbles.
And there was no pain whatsoever.
Joshua's pink sliver of a mouth curled up in a vicious grin. If his fists were strong enough to dent rock, then he could knock an armored knight clean off his feet. A band of drunken thugs? Dealing with them would be trivial.
"Do not get overconfident," Julie said firmly, chastising his thought process. "We are strong, but we are not invincible."
About that. Are we going to fight like this? Aren't you a bit vulnerable?
His ooze could obviously blunt the force of impacts, but it would do little to stop piercing attacks, like spears or arrows. And while he might have been made entirely of ooze, his 'mount' was not.
"We will not fight in this exact form," she admitted. "I know what to do more than you do, so just let me lead you...like a dance, okay?"
You said you could never access this power without a husband. How do you know what to do if it's your first time using it, as well?
"Instinct," she shrugged. "Any my mother instructed me on how to act when this day finally came."
I'll follow your lead, then. So what's our plan? Sneak into their camp and smash their skulls in while they're asleep?
"Absolutely not," she snapped. "We will not kill anyone."
Julie, they enslave and sell people for fun. They're vermin. Did you know? My original plan was to burn them alive while they slept, and I wouldn't have lost a wink of sleep over it.
"That is a reckless claim," Julie said coldly. "You do not mean it."
He wanted to make a snide remark, but restrained himself. It was true, he was no soldier. The only lives that Joshua had ever taken were those of deer and rabbits, wolves and mountain lions. Could he say with confidence that he could burn men alive, slaver filth or not, without an ounce of hesitation?
Fine, he mentally sighed. Then how do you want to proceed, if we can't kill any of them?
"We will restrain them," Julie said. "Knock them unconscious, pin them to the ground with your ooze. It will be an easy matter to incapacitate them with our combined strengths."
I don't like the thought of using it on anyone other than you.
"Neither do I, but remember that this is for the sake of everyone in those cages."
Julie cocked her head backwards and gave him a serious look.
"We will not bring them death," she nodded. "You already know what we will bring them."
Pain, Joshua grinned. Terror.
"Justice," she finished.
The two walked out of the cave as one. They leaped off of the rocky cliff and fell towards the waiting pine forest below. Extending his wing-arms, Joshua slowed their fall. They landed onto the ground with a fierce impact, but Joshua's slime absorbed all of the force, sending ripples of motion up Julie's black-covered legs.
"Stuck the landing," she said proudly. "Now, let us begin."
As she had claimed, Julie instinctively knew what to do, and began to shift their combined form into something new...
Oh, this is good, Joshua laughed. He no longer had a face - neither did Julie, for that matter - but he knew that they could understand each other.
Again, you understand so easily, Julie sighed happily. Our compatibility is wonderful.
Their new form took off, prowling towards the marauder's campsite. The slavers wouldn't know what hit them.
Yawning groggily, one of the slavers reached a hand behind his back to scratch his stiff shoulders. Of course he had the luck to draw the short straw, having to stay up and serve as the first sentry while the others slept their drunken asses off.
"Bah," he spat, smoothing his boot around in the dirt. "Bunch of fuckin' lightweights. Bet they won't even wake up when it's their turn."
Well, it wasn't like they didn't have cause to celebrate. The raid on Brunswick went perfectly, and their merry little gang had made off with ten defenseless saps. Good stock, too. The men looked healthy enough for years of hard labor, and some of the women were pretty good-looking, good enough to fetch a fine price in the dark elf slave markets. He wouldn't have minded having a sample, but...well, the last time someone in his group had tried to have a slave girl for himself, the boss nearly beat him to death. Nobody was going to be spoiling the merchandise on his watch.
"Oh well," he sighed, crossing his arms. "Just gonna have to get a whore once we're back in town."
He trained his eyes out over the forest. Seriously, what was the point? Did the boss actually think anyone was going to try something? Those villagers were pathetically vulnerable. If they couldn't defend themselves in their own damn town, what were they going to do now?
"There are dangers besides the villagers," he muttered, mimicking his boss's tone with a healthy dose of venom. "Wolves and shadowcats are still a threat, blah blah blah. Oh wow, I'm so smart and such a great fuckin' leader. Which bastard should I beat within an inch of death next? That'll really inspire the troops..."
He spat onto the forest floor again. His boss was a piece of shit, but so was everyone else. And he did get them out of that situation in D'Artagnan. Seriously, what were those Tenebrae cunts thinking? Exclusively taking monsters as prisoners? Obviously, they weren't as strong as they thought they were, seeing how the monsters had broken out and claimed the port town as a staging post.
A rustling in the ferns.
He lazily turned his eyes towards the source of the noise, expecting a squirrel to dash out.
He barely had time to scream as a black mass collided with him, knocking him onto his back. Massive force collided with his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. As he gasped, something slipped over his eyes and into his mouth, and he gave one last muffled scream before his consciousness faded.
A quadrupedal creature composed of a semisolid black mass pinned the man down until it was sure that he was incapacitated.
The creature had a sleek, muscular body, similar to a jungle panther. It was about the size of a horse. Its head had no eyes or distinguishing features, sporting only a pair of purple-tipped horns and a mouth, which was curled up in a vicious grin. Its long tail bobbed in the air behind it, awaiting its moment. The creature's wings sprouted out from its shoulders like a pair of arms, extending several feet to each side with its claw-like protrusions extended, ready to be smashed down upon foes.
It was ready to fight.
They heard him, Julie warned. Get ready.
Two men stumbled out of their tents, wiping the sleep from their eyes with scowls on their faces. What the bloody hell was that scream they had-
They froze when they saw Julie and Joshua's bestial form, invisible eyes glaring at them with terrible menace.
Let's go, Joshua declared, moving his shared body forward and charging at them.
One of the men must have been too drunk to react in time, or he was simply too confused by the insane creature that was rushing at him.
"Wha?" he blinked, grunting as the creature slammed one of its wing-fists into him, sending him crashing backwards into his tent and knocking it over.
"Attacker!" the other man shouted, stumbling out of the way and drawing a viciously sharp, steel scimitar. "Attacker in the camp!"
Shouts and groans stirred in the other tents as the other slavers heard the cry.
The man pointed his scimitar at the creature, the sharp point trembling as he quivered with fear. His eyes were wide-open, revealing the horror in his expression. And yet he was prepared to fight.
How brave, Joshua snarled, charging at the slaver. He rose his left wing-arm high, preparing to bring his enormous fist down upon the man. The slaver yelped and dodged to the side with a roll - which was exactly what Joshua wanted.
Joshua slammed his arm down into the ground and used it to pivot and change direction, throwing all of his force around and body-slamming the man with a shoulder barge. The man grunted with pain and collided into the collapsed tent, and lay still.
Joshua laughed madly, delighted at how easily he scattered the vermin like toys. Such power he had!
Do not lose control of yourself, Julie reminded him. There are still nine more.
Shouts ran out, and the camp was filled with the sounds of more weapons being drawn.
"Thirty gold pieces to whichever man brings me the beast's head!" a fierce voice shouted.
A screaming man charged at them, a silver-tipped spear held parallel with the ground in front of him. Not good - that could easily pierce their body.
Then we just won't get hit, Joshua snorted, turning to face the charging man. He waited for a second, allowing the slaver to close the distance. Then he quickly swung his body to the right, using the momentum to swing his powerful tail out. His tail collided with the slaver's legs, knocking the man onto his feet and sending the spear clattering uselessly to the ground. Joshua turned around again and brought his wing-fist down onto the man's face, coating his face with a dark ooze, rendering him blind and useless.
Pathetic, Joshua sneered. Pathetic!
There are more, Julie warned, her mental voice calm and steady.
Two more men were charging at them. One from their left, and another from the right. And further back, towards the southern edge of the camp, a third slaver was nocking an arrow onto a longbow. The left man held a massive two-handed broadsword, while the right held a sword and a shield.
Take the left one first, Julie advised.
Joshua snarled his consent and charged towards the slaver with the broadsword.
"Die, demon!" the man shouted, hefting the bulky weapon over his shoulder and preparing to bring it down. He never got the chance, for Joshua's left wing-fist reached down and grabbed his arms, picking the man up like a cat playing with a mouse. Joshua's face twisted into an eager grin, and he violently pitched to the side, throwing the screaming slaver at the man with the sword and shield. The two men collided, and he heard the satisfying crunch of bones breaking against metal.
Vermin, Joshua grinned. Vermin. Vermin! You're all vermin!
He slammed both of his wing-fists down onto the ground and let out a loud hiss, practically a roar. The sound echoed through the forest, bounced around by the pine branches. His very face split apart, spraying drops of black spittle and revealing the rows of sharp teeth in his new mouth. Violet ooze began to drip from his claws as he fell deeper into rage, urged on by bloodlust.
Another man that was preparing to charge at them with a battle-axe clutched his head in terror, dropping the axe and falling onto his rear.
Joshua, no! Julie shouted, wrestling with his mind. Contain yourself! We cannot afford to lose control!
Joshua's malevolent grin stared down the archer at the southern edge of the camp, whose hands were shaking so badly that he could not even finish nocking the arrow.
They should die. They should all die!
"Hah!" a voice cried. Joshua felt something fall on top of him, several sharp pinpricks of pain rushing into his body. While the rest of the camp had pissed themselves and fallen over in fear, the leader of the marauders had moved around to Joshua's backside, and threw himself on top of him, mounting his back. The man swore at the demonic creature, thrusting his dagger into its back again and again.
Joshua slammed his wing-fists into the ground and bucked himself forward, trying to throw the man off his shoulders, but his grip did not relent. With an annoyed hiss, Joshua thrashed his body to and fro, furiously trying to shake him off. The slaver did not let go, using all of his strength to hold on. It did mean that he no longer had the opportunity to stab him, however.
Allow me, Julie insisted, reaching their shared tail around to the back of their body. In the blink of an eye, she coiled the tail around the marauder leader's stomach, constricting him like a snake surrounding its prey. The man gasped as he felt his ribcage creak in protest, and his grip slackened for just a moment. The dagger slipped through his fingers and fell onto the forest floor.
It was all the opportunity that Julie needed, using her flexible tail to rip the man off of her back and slam him onto the ground. Joshua glared at the man as he coughed and tried to get up. The leader failed and collapsed back onto the ground, one arm outstretched, fingers grasping for the dagger that he had lost.
"Guess the rumors are true," he laughed painfully, wincing at the motions. "Go on then, monster..."
Hatred burned through Joshua's body, filling his veins with fire. This wretch beneath him was the real monster! He ruined lives for profit! He would have taken everything from him!
Joshua's fingers clenched. Violet ooze fell onto the wounded marauder's leather armor in slow drips.
No, Julie insisted. I will not let you do this.
He deserves it!
He deserves justice, and this is not it. You are not a killer.
Joshua hesitated, fist held in the air.
And then he let out another roaring hiss, spraying drops of black spittle right into the slaver's face. Joshua brought his fist down hard, using enough force to make a small crater in the dirt.
Blinking, the marauder leader turned his head and looked to his right, where Joshua's fist had landed.
"Ah?" he mumbled, not understanding.
A massive, demonic hand covered his face and enveloped him in ooze, incapacitating him.
Thank you, Julie said. You knew that you would regret it if you had killed him.
Talk later, Joshua snarled. Five left!
Two of the slavers had collapsed into puddles of their own urine, rocking back and forth and gibbering incomprehensibly. One other stood tall, still holding his weapon, and the last two...were running away. Running in the wrong direction, Joshua noted. If they continued south, they were going to run right back into Brunswick.
He could hunt them down in a moment. First, he had to deal with the one that still had the will to fight.
The final slaver eyed him warily, holding a halberd at a low angle. Silver tip gleaming in the moonlight, the weapon shone with lethal promise.
Joshua approached him at an angle, circling around the man. He let his wings fall to the ground, dragging along behind him and covering his body like a cloak. The slaver with the halberd grit his teeth, but stood his ground, maintaining a firm grip on the shaft of his weapon. He turned as Joshua did, never allowing his back to face the enemy.
Joshua completed a circle around the slaver and moved to begin another.
The fleeing pair are getting farther away, Julie reminded him.
The last slaver clearly wasn't going to lose his nerve anytime soon. This man used his fear as an edge, using it to keep himself sharp and his weapon steady. He did not allow his fear to break him, as the others did.
If he hadn't been a despicable slaver, Joshua might have had a shred of respect for the man.
Unfurling his wings, Joshua lowered his body to the ground. The last man adjusted his combat stance, but Joshua did not move to charge at him. Instead, he slowly drew his wings back, raising them high into the air...
And then he thrust them forward again, projecting a powerful blast of air at the man. It wasn't strong enough to knock him off his feet, but it threw him off balance, the tip of his weapon turning away as the man fought to regain his balance. Joshua took the opportunity to charge forward and swept at him with his right fist, knocking him to the ground like a pile of blocks. Pressing his fists against his face, he covered the slaver in ooze and removed him from the fight. He repeated the process for the two men who were insanely babbling to themselves, too far gone to even notice his approach. They offered little resistance as he thrust them into darkness, seeming to welcome the reprieve of unconsciousness.
Let me take over, Julie suggested. I will hunt down the final two. You rest.
Agreeing without a word, he relinquished control, suddenly feeling weary. Julie took off to the south, bounding around fallen trees and nimbly stalking her prey.
Gods, he was tired. Even having given control to Julie, he could still feel the soreness in their mutual body. His back and shoulders were especially painful, aches of pain pulsing and sending unpleasant ripples throughout his mind.
Are we going to have a bunch of stab wounds when we turn back?
No, Julie answered, leaping over a large rock. He could hear their prey, now. They were not managing their stamina very well. From the sounds of their ragged breathing, they had already stopped to catch their breath.
Joshua's nonexistent eyes were beginning to droop, exhaustion dragging them down. Gods, he had never felt so tired in his life. He...he wanted to sleep...
We cannot maintain this form for much longer, Julie said, aware of his fading strength. I will end this quickly.
Julie pitched her arms forward and planted them on the ground, using them to spring up and propel herself forward. With a mighty flap of her wings, she flew forward, landing with a thundering impact right in front of the two slavers. One of them let out a shrill scream, falling onto his rear and scrambling backwards. The other took off in a sprint for the other direction, back towards the campsite.
Oh, please, Julie huffed. Reaching out, she pinned the first man down and silenced him with the ooze.
Joshua groaned tiredly. She felt her own strength beginning to wane, as well, beginning to feel just how heavily draining her combat form truly was. They had perhaps two minutes left in this form, at most.
She glanced up at the man running in terror. In the past, that might have encouraged her predatory instincts, the succubus nature instilled in her, to chase after him and pounce him for some fun. But even with the full moon affecting her, she felt no such drive, not even a twitch.
Her mouth curled up in a gentle smile, knowing that she would never be bothered by such thoughts again.
The final slaver had exhausted himself, slowing to a desperate crawl as he inched away from her. Julie came up behind him and flicked him with a single finger, knocking him over. He was too tired to even struggle as she covered him with the ooze.
Her breaths were growing heavier, but she couldn't stop now. There was still one thing she had to do before she could rest.
The men and women inside the slaves cages huddled together, scared out of their minds. The same creature that had just wiped out the entire camp was now standing before them. Shoulders heaving, its head bobbed up and down as it panted for breath, dripping violet ooze onto the floor.
Were they to share the same fate? Covered in some unknown substance and rendered unconscious? What did the creature plan to do with them?
Stepping forward, the creature extended its massive claws and gripped the iron bars of one of the slave cages..and began to pull. With brute force, it bent the metal to its will, causing the iron bars to groan and buckle under the pressure. The bars snapped with a loud clank, and popped out of their sockets, creating a hole in the cage just wide enough for a person to wriggle through.
Esther blinked, looking at the creature carefully. She was scared, of course, just like everyone else. But...this creature didn't seem like it wanted to hurt them. Even before, she had noticed how the creature avoided killing anyone, even when it had the chief slaver pinned beneath it. And...it seemed to be in pain.
The creature stumbled over to the cage that she was in, the second of four. She did not flinch as the creature ripped the bars apart, watching its arms falling to the ground, weak from overexertion.
Her eyes gliding over the purple tips of the creature's horns and tail, Esther paused. She knew these colors. As the creature panted, she inched forward, and slipped through the new hole in the cage.
"Get back!" another girl in the cage cried. "It's going to-"
"No," Esther said calmly. "It's okay." Holding her arm out, she cautiously approached the black monster.
The exhausted creature tilted its head up to look at the approaching girl. It had no eyes, but she knew it could see her.
"Julie," Esther said, offering a soft smile. "That's you, isn't it?"
The creature gave a weak nod.
"I knew it," Esther smiled. "You came to save us. Thank you, Julie."
"But you can rest now," Esther assured her. "We can just find the keys. Save your strength."
She reached her hand out to pat Julie's head, but the black ooze coating her began to ripple and contract, making Esther recoil. The mass of Julie's new form shrunk into itself, shifting and bubbling as it reorganized itself. She tried to stand up, supporting herself with one arm, but no longer had the strength. She fell back down as her body became an indistinguishable blob of black ooze.
Slowly, the ooze condensed and withdrew, revealing not one, but two distinct shapes lying unconscious in the dark goo. Julie, she recognized, although she blushed when her eyes brushed against her naked backside. And lying beneath her, equally naked, was a man...
"Oh," she gasped, hand flying to her mouth as she turned away. "Oh, merciful Aeris, I really did not need to see that..."
Recovering quickly, Esther coughed and turned her back to the new couple. No one else had left their cages yet, eyes transfixed on the man and woman that had been a single monster just a moment ago.
"Everyone!" she cried, bringing her hands together to her mouth to amplify her shout. "We're safe now! These two saved us!"
Many pairs of eyes flickered towards her. These...were their saviors?
"Let's not linger!" Esther cheered, clapping her hands together. "If your cage is open, step out! Come on now, we need to gather up the people who threw us in here!"
Tentative steps as people inched out of the cages. Nervous, uncertain looks. Esther linked her fingers together and offered everyone her most reassuring smile.
Two of the freed men crouched over and examined one of the incapacitated slavers. They prodded their boots into the man's ribcage, but he did not react.
"Could you two search them for the cage keys, please?" Esther asked, and the two men nodded, moving out to pat down the rest of the unconscious slavers.
"And could someone please find a blanket to cover these two?" she sighed, her blush returning.
Groaning blearily, Joshua awoke and blinked the darkness out of his eyes. Muffled pain echoed throughout his entire body, and his head was awash with exhaustion and foggy memory.
"Welcome back," a gentle voice greeted.
"Ngh," he replied, leaning up and looking around.
He was lying on the forest floor, in the middle of the marauder campsite. And his sister was looking down at him.
"Esther?" he blinked. "Does that mean we won?"
"Yep," she nodded, offering her gentle smile. Gods, was that a welcome sight! Joshua glanced over his younger sibling, checking her for signs of distress. Thankfully, she seemed to have only a few minor cuts and bruises.
"I'm fine," she said neutrally. "None of us have serious injuries. We're rounding up the slavers that you...slimed, and we found the keys for the other cages. Everyone should be free in a moment. But I'm more worried about you two!"
"Julie!" he gasped. "Where is she? What happened?"
"She's right next to you," his sister giggled.
Turning over, he saw Julie's head - noticeably lacking her horns - poking out of a green blanket that covered the rest of her body. Her eyes were closed, but her chest was rising and falling at a steady pace.
"We collapsed," Joshua realized. "I didn't realize...how draining that was..."
Joshua glanced down at his own chest. He was wrapped in a blanket, too. But...wait! He...he looked human again! There wasn't so much as a single drop of ooze on him!
"The fuck?" he muttered.
"I'll say," Esther nodded sagely. "I guess Julie finally made her move, huh?"
"Uh..." Joshua's eyes darted away. "Yeah. I...guess so. You...saw us, huh?"
"Unfortunately," she sighed. "But you did save everyone's lives, so...I guess that's a small price to pay."
Joshua glanced upwards. The moon had sunken beyond the treeline, and the first rays of the sun were cresting over the other edge of the horizon. They...they had really done it. They had saved everyone. Even the slavers!
"Nn," Julie stirred, eyes opening and glancing around. She sat up, clutching her blanket to her chest. "Joshua? Esther?"
"Good morning," Esther giggled. "You did it, Julie."
"Ah." Julie's cheeks flushed, and her voice returned to a monotone. "I see. That's...good."
An uncomfortable silence fell between the three of them, broken up by the distant sounds of hooting owls and rustling leaves. Two of the freed men returned to the camp, carrying an unconscious slaver by his arms and feet. They swung their cargo backwards, and chucked him onto a growing pile of the defeated marauders.
"That's ten," one of them sighed. "Not sure where the last two are."
"South," Julie and Joshua replied simultaneously, sharing a glance with each other. They blinked at each other, and the corners of their lips twitched up a little.
"Well," Esther sighed, pushing herself to her feet. "I have a mountain of questions, but you two need to rest."
"We should help-" Julie started.
"Nope," Esther frowned, crossing her arms and looking down at the older woman with a firm gaze. "You're going to stay right there and rest."
Julie hesitated for a moment, then nodded. Esther's stern expression broke into an excited grin.
"We've been cooped up in there all day," she said, crossing her arms above her head. "We're all eager to stretch our legs, you know? Now, you two just rest there. We'll throw these sacks o' crap into their own damn cages, tie them up, and bring em' back to town with us. I'll go see if I can find you some more blankets."
With a wave, she left, leaving the pair to look at each other.
"Well," Joshua hummed, "I guess we did it."
"Yes," Julie nodded.
The silence threatened to turn awkward. Joshua's eyes avoided hers as he searched for something to say.
"Thank you," he eventually decided on. "For...stopping me. It...would have been a mistake. To kill them."
"You are welcome," she smiled. "I am glad that we succeeded."
"So..." Joshua coughed. "Now what?"
"I don't know," Julie said, lying back down. "But the stars are beautiful, tonight. Let's just watch them for a while."
He cocked his head upwards. There it was - that sense of wonder had felt earlier, looking at Julie's eyes. He smiled and lay back, crossing his arms behind him and cradling his head. There was a lot to think about. What was his relationship with Julie going to be from now on? How was the town going to react when everyone learned that a monster had been living among them for years? How would they react when they learned that the same monster was responsible for saving everyone's lives?
How was his own life going to change? He may have looked like a normal human at the moment, but he knew that was a monster to the core, now. He could feel the potential power inside him, exhausted as he was. Once he recovered from all this, he knew that he could shift his form again - if he wished to. Did he wish to?
He wasn't sure. Sure, being a rampaging monster was fun, but it was terrifying. He had almost lost himself!
And...doing whatever he had done with Julie, back in the cave. That was great fun, but...
He stifled a sigh. All of these thoughts could wait. He had earned this moment of respite; the time for reflection would come later. His eyes drifted upwards, tracing out the familiar constellations.
...the stars really were beautiful.
Not long after, everyone returned to town, the slavers waking up inside their own cages. Esther held the door open to her home for her brother, giggling as Julie stumbled after him. The pair went to the far bedroom - Joshua's - and immediately collapsed onto the bed and fell asleep on top of each other, far too exhausted to be concerned about their nudity.
Many hours after that, Joshua woke up alone. A pile of clean clothing was waiting for him on the edge of his bed, which he changed into. Having clothes on again felt...redundant. His entire body could change to meet his whims, now, so what use were clothes? Recalling his sister's mortified expression from earlier, he decided that it would be best to comply, at least for her sake. Besides, he wasn't quite ready to go full nudist.
But where was Julie? And for that matter, how long had he slept? Was it even the same day?
Dressed in a clean, olive-green shirt, he pressed his bedroom door opened and glanced around. Something from the kitchen smelled appetizing - cooked meat?
His stomach grumbled, as if on cue. Gods, how long had it been since he had eaten?
Flexing his shoulders, he stepped into the kitchen. He felt surprisingly good, even if there were still a few dull aches in his back.
"There's hero number two," his sister greeted without looking up, her attention concentrated on preparing some kind of stew in a cooking pot. "Sleep well?"
"Shockingly well," he admitted.
Julie was in the kitchen, as well, sitting at their small dining table. She was still in her human guise, her tail, horns, and wings all absent. She was dressed in a simple black sweater and skirt, her usual clothing when she pretended to be human. She must have gone and fetched it from her room in the herbalist's attic. However, she had not tied her hair up in her usual ponytail, leaving it hanging freely.
Julie offered him a nod and a small smile, which he returned. She looked good as a human. He had always thought that she was rather pretty, but now...
He had to force himself to look away. There were still things he needed to address before he could think about her like that.
"How long were we out?" he asked. "What happened to the marauders?"
"About eight hours," Julie answered softly. "A group of the villagers are escorting the slavers north in their own cages, to a military fort. The army can deal with them, after that."
"I'm surprised that people went for that," Joshua admitted. "I thought the village would be out for blood."
"Oh, they were," Esther hummed, stirring the stew with a wooden ladle. "But I managed to convince the elder to talk them down. In the end, they settled for a few thrown tomatoes and a couple kicks in the ribs."
"They deserve worse," Joshua said, moving to sit down across from Julie.
"That's not a good way to think, brother," Esther chided. "But they're going to get their fair share of punishment. If the military doesn't hang them, they'll likely be thrown in the labor camps. That's good, I think. Make 'em contribute to the world that they tried to spoil, right?"
"I guess," he shrugged, dropping the issue. "What else? How did the town react when they learned about Julie?"
"They haven't learned about it," Esther corrected. "Not yet. I had all the freed prisoners swear not to talk about it until tonight."
"Why tonight?" he asked.
"The town is going to celebrate," Julie explained. "And you and I are the guests of honor. I am...going to reveal my secret, tonight."
Esther stuck a spoon into the stew and blew on it gently, taking an experimental taste. Nodding with satisfaction, she turned her attention towards the pair for a moment.
"So when did you two, um...hook up?" she asked, tilting her head.
Joshua's lips tightened, and he said nothing.
"Um," Julie mumbled, fidgeting with her fingers and interlocking them, "I do not...know if we have."
"Huh?" Esther blinked. "But you told me that you've had your eyes on Josh for months! And you had to have married him by now, right? Didn't you say you couldn't use your powers without a husband?"
"Um, I..." Julie stuttered. "It is, um...that is-"
"It's complicated," Joshua interrupted.
Esther blinked at them, then her face curled up into a wince.
"Ooh..." she cringed. "Um, you know, I think the stew needs to simmer for a minute, I think I'll go take a quick walk..."
She slipped out of the kitchen before either of them could say a word.
The kitchen was silent for a minute, filled only with the sound of the bubbling pot of stew. Where to even start with this?
"Joshua?" Julie asked, head hung low. "Do you...hate me?"
"Look," he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I just...need some time. To process all of this, you know? This is the first chance I've had to actually sit down and think for hours."
Julie's eyes shone up at him. Joshua drifted into her gaze briefly, then darted away.
"I promise that I don't hate you," he said, shaking his head. "I just...I can't be around you right now. I need to go think. Alone."
Her eyes trembled, as she looked him, body frozen. Gods, he almost broke right there.
He wanted to rush over, to embrace her and assure her that it was all okay, but he couldn't. Not yet.
"Okay," she breathed, bobbing her head in a nod. "Do you want...should I leave?"
"No, stay and help Esther if you want," he said. "I'm going to go for a walk."
Joshua moved to exit his home, but paused and gripped the door frame.
"I'll..." he started. He glanced back, but avoided making eye contact with her. "I'll come back soon, alright?"
"Bye," he added, shutting the door before she could get a word in.
Joshua sighed once more, and started moving. He didn't know where he was going yet, but he knew where he would end up.
Joshua stuck to the outskirts of Brunswick, not wanting to be near people who would make him deal with their questions and curious looks. Wandering around with his hands in his pockets, he sighed intermittently, and occasionally paused to kick some dust around. Every time he did so, he silently cursed himself. He said he had come out here to think, so why wasn't he?
His brain wasn't cooperating.
He wasn't certain how long he wandered around, but it couldn't have been more than an hour. And in the end, his predictions proved correct - he ended up at the roof of the town library. The library was a large, red-brick building that saw a lot of traffic from the populace of Brunswick. For a little village in the middle of the forest, it certainly had an above-average library, stocked with hundreds of almanacs, novels, and educational books.
Thing was, nobody ever came to the roof. Joshua never understood why, it was a perfectly suitable place to read. Perhaps it was because the stairs to the roof were partially hidden by the bookcases? Anyway, seeing as how nobody ever came there, the building's owners had decided to convert the garden into a roof. Nowadays, it was lined with plant pots and garden boxes, full of herbs, flowers, and easy-to-grow vegetables.
It was comfortable up here. The air flowed more freely on the roof of the three-story building, creating a soothing atmosphere. Crouching down on the roof, the plants poking out over his head - it was like a miniature forest. It was a microcosm that mimicked the safety that Brunswick offered, an oasis in the middle of the woods. And while the actual forest was also a nice place, it had a few too many dangerous predators for him to completely zone out and relax in.
As Joshua lay down in-between the garden boxes, eyes shaded from the sun's rays, his mind finally allowed itself to wander. And of course, the topic of the day was Julie.
Julie...just how did he feel about her? What did he feel for her?
She had kidnapped him. She had raped him, turned him into a monster. Whatever else he might have felt, he couldn't just ignore that.
"Might as well go over it piece by piece," he sighed, blowing a strand of hair out of his face.
She had kidnapped him, yes. But she had done so because she thought he was about to get himself killed. And he couldn't deny that his original plan of a fire attack had a high chance of failure. So really, there was a strong possibility that she had saved his life.
Okay, he could let the whole kidnapping thing go, at least. This wasn't so hard...
The next part was more difficult. He understood now that Julie had already been in love with him, and her succubus nature had been inflamed by the effects of the full moon. She had tried to hold her desires back, but ultimately failed. She had even apologized for forcing herself on him! But in a way, she had used sex to sedate him, preventing him from fleeing into the woods and running into the slaver camp or a stray wolf. Again, a potentially life saving action.
He still felt terrible for acting the way he did towards someone that loved him. But...could he really be blamed for reacting the way he did? Surely, if they traded places, and she thought that he was a terrible monster planning to do something unspeakable, wouldn't she have screamed and tried to run?
He couldn't say.
But the truth of the matter was, in order to unlock her full powers, he would have had to have sex with her and be turned into a monster, one way or another, right? Now he understood what Julie had meant when she claimed that it had to happen.
And then there was that matter. By monster standards, Julie and himself were a married couple, now. Meaning that she considered him to be her husband. But when Esther had asked about that, Julie seemed uncertain and hesitant.
"So..." Joshua muttered. "She knows that I'm not certain about her, and was trying to be considerate."
Joshua sighed and sat up, holding out his hands and examining the swirls and lines on his palms. Concentrating intently on his right hand, he willed his power to the surface, and his hand dissolved into a black sludge. He turned his goo-hand back and forth, bringing it close to his eye for examination.
His hand didn't feel any different. It was like the goo was just an alternate form of his flesh, now. Or was his flesh an alternate form of the ooze?
He used his left index finger to scoop up a bit of his ooze, watching it slip off of him. It felt to the floor in slow drips.
Plip, plip, plip.
Joshua had heard a lot of terrible things about monsters. Warnings from books, rumors from travelers, tales from passing soldiers. But what did he actually know about monsters? He had only met one, and she was nothing like what he had expected. She was kind, intelligent, and even gentle.
Realistically, were there any downsides to being a monster? Had he lost something irreplaceable? The Divine Order monks and inquisitors would have said yes, they would have said that he was sick, corrupted. But Joshua didn't feel ill. On the contrary, he had never felt more alive!
His mind flashed back to the memory of his time in the cave before, making him grin. Yeah, that was definitely a convincing reason to accept it all.
He let out a long whistle, letting himself fall onto his back and cradling his head in his arms.
"So, Josh," he chuckled. "Let's recap. You are now a monster made of slime, but you can be human too, apparently. Perks of being a monster include incredible strength, enhanced senses, and amazing sex. And the downsides...? Well, I guess I can't go flaunting my true self around. If I'm a monster, people are going to assume that I'm a horrible, vicious beast."
"Like I did," he sighed, his humor evaporating.
Alright, that was a pretty significant downside. He would have to stay well away from Divine Order personnel in the future. If they learned about him, they might try to kill him.
Fluffy, white clouds were lazily drifting by overhead. Joshua quieted his mind for a while, simply watching them pass. The sky was beginning to grow a bit darker...it would be evening, soon. That meant the celebration wasn't far off.
He heard footsteps approaching from behind the garden box. He had a feeling that he already knew who it was.
"I thought I'd find you here," Esther smiled wryly, moving to lay down next to him.
"Est," he greeted.
"That's me," she sighed. "You know, I came here to try and help you out, but it looks like you've already sorted through your thoughts."
"I think so," he admitted. "I'll go and find Julie soon."
"That's probably for the best," Esther said. "She seemed pretty down when I came back in."
She turned her head and glared at her brother. "You didn't say something cruel to her, did you?"
"Not that I'm aware of," he blinked. "Hey, Est."
"Tell me how you learned about Julie."
"Oh, that?" His sister rolled her head back and cradled her head, mimicking his own position. "That was...I don't know, six, seven months ago? I was laying in the grass outside, stargazing."
"I thought I told you to stop doing that," he frowned. "You're going to get sick."
"I dress warmly," she huffed. "Besides, it's not like you're any better. You go out into the forest at night, that's way worse."
"I'm a hunter," he countered. "You're a village girl."
"Julie's a girl, too."
"Julie's a monster."
"So are you," Est frowned, raising an eyebrow at her brother.
"How do you feel about that?" he asked, eyes trained on the clouds.
"Why?" she asked. "Do you want me to feel different? Are you no longer my brother?"
Joshua let out a long sigh, but his lips curled upwards.
"You really do have the heart of an angel, Est."
"So I've been told," she giggled. "Anyway, I saw a dark flash that night. Like a bird flew overhead, but way bigger. And for a second...she was illuminated by the moon. I...saw her face, but I couldn't place it right away. The next day, I was walking by the herbalist's shop, and saw Julie through the window. She happened to look up at that moment, and I put two and two together when I saw that expressionless face of hers."
"Short story shortened," Esther sighed, "we became friends. Started meeting up more and more often. She told me what monsters were really like. One day, she told me that she thought she was in love with you."
"When was that?"
"Almost four months ago," she explained. "But she's apparently had her eye on you for longer than that."
Esther turned her head and looked at her brother seriously, waiting for him to meet her eyes.
"Julie's a good girl," she said firmly. "If anyone here actually has the heart of an angel, it's her, monster or not. So you better make her happy, you got it?"
Joshua blinked at her. His sister rarely looked so serious.
Laughter rose up in his throat. It was a slow chuckle at first, which simmered into a hearty snicker.
"What's so funny?" she glared. Oh, if looks could kill, his sister would be a basilisk!
"It's not that," he cried, sitting up and wiping moisture from his eyes. "It's just...how do you always know the right thing to say?"
"It's my talent," she said seriously. "I have to do something to make sure I'm not 'just a village girl', as you so kindly put it."
"Sorry," he laughed. "Sorry, yeah. You're right, as always."
Standing up, he twisted his upper body around, stretching out his arms. He felt...free. The proverbial weight on his shoulders was gone.
He placed his hands on his hips, nodding confidently.
"You're off, then?" Est asked, still lying on the floor.
"Yep," he grinned. "Need to go set things right."
"Now there's the brother I know," she smiled.
"I owe you one, Est."
"You owe me a dozen," she corrected. When he frowned at her in confusion, she continued.
"I had to see you naked, under my also naked best friend," she frowned, raising an unimpressed eyebrow. "A dozen cookies. You have two days."
"Understood," he chuckled. "I'll do my best not to disappoint."
With that, he walked towards the edge of the roof, and stepped up, placing his foot on the raised lip of the roof.
"Hey!" Est shouted, scrambling to her feet. "What are-"
Joshua laughed and walked off the roof, hearing his sister gasp from behind him. The air rushed past him, and a second later...
Thud! His legs collided with the ground. Ripples tore up through his body, but there was no pain whatsoever, the force of the impact completely absorbed. So, he actually was still made of goo, even in his human form!
"Amazing!" he grinned. He would have to experiment a lot more in the coming days!
Holding his head to the sky, he laughed heartily at the insanity of it all. What fun this was going to be!
Est dashed to the lip of the roof, gripping it and peering over, scowling when she saw her perfectly intact brother laughing his head off.
"Three dozen!" she shouted, glaring daggers at him. "For nearly giving me a heart attack!"
"Sure!" he replied. Still chuckling to himself, he waved goodbye to her and started to walk off.
"Jeez," Est let out a breath, holding a hand over her chest to still her heart. She sat back down onto the roof, placing her hands behind her to support herself. She turned her eyes to the sky - soon, it would be dark enough for the first stars to feel comfortable. She couldn't see them now, but they were still there, of course.
"Thank you," she said, smiling in gratitude. "For giving us Julie."
Opening the door to his home, he saw Julie idling on the kitchen table, sitting in a chair and resting her head on her chin. Her eyes raised when she saw him, and her mouth opened, but she hesitated and closed it again.
"I-" she started. "Um-"
"It's fine," he assured her, dismissing her uncertainty with a wave and giving her a warm smile. He pulled up a chair and sat next to her at the table. "Mind if I go first?"
"Go ahead," she nodded.
"I did some thinking," Joshua started. "I've realized that, Julie, everything you've done...even before last night, you've done everything for someone else. Saving my sister from fever. Intercepting me before I could attack the marauders on my own, making me...this, so we could save everyone. It's all been for someone else."
Glowing like a warm ember, his smile grew.
"Anyone who's that selfless can't possibly be called a monster," he chuckled. "So...I won't say that I forgive you, because you haven't done anything wrong. Not really. So...I accept."
"You accept?" she blinked.
"You," he laughed. "I accept you. And I'm...willing to give this a shot. Us, I mean."
"Really?" she asked excitedly. Her hands rushed to her face, her fingertips spreading out to cover her blush.
Damn, she was adorable.
"Do you really mean that?" she asked.
"Yeah," he nodded. "I don't know much about monsters, Julie. Or nightgaunts, or demon lords...honestly, I don't know much else other than hunting and looking out for my sister. Hell, I don't even know that much about you!"
"But I want to," he quickly added. "Get to know you. To learn about you...who you are, what you like."
Plip, plip, plip, went Julie's tears, splashing onto the table with a sound too faint for anyone to hear.
"Julie?" he asked. "You okay?"
She let her hands fall, revealing her tear-stained expression.
"Yes," she cried, rushing over to embrace Joshua. Wrapping her arms around him, she pulled him in for a tight hug, nuzzling her head into his shoulder. "I have never been this happy before!"
"It is kind of scary," she laughed, turning her head to look up at him. "How good it feels to be like this."
Joshua smiled and said nothing, accepting her embrace and rubbing his hands along her upper back. She was delightfully warm. Feeling her so close, like this...hah. She said that she didn't possess any magic, but that clearly wasn't true.
"Tell me two things," Joshua said softly, gently pulling away from the embrace.
"Of course," she nodded enthusiastically. "Anything."
He looked at her earnestly. Eyes shining with joy, she eagerly returned his gaze.
"Why did you fall in love with me?" he asked. "And when?"
"I have always thought that you were handsome," she blushed, locking her fingers behind her waist. She began to sway back and forth, ever-so-slightly. "Even when I first arrived. But it was around the time when I befriended Esther that I started...finding myself unable to look away from you."
He placed his chin between his thumb and index finger, nodding along as she explained.
"You said that everything I did was for someone else," she smiled, looking to the side. "I think that is true of you, too. Seeing how intense you were when it came to your sister's recovery from the fever, how you dived into the darkest parts of the forest without any hesitation...it...it sparked something within me. I do not really understand how to explain it."
"I think my father used an expression like this," she frowned, trying to recall the memory. "That it was one of those things that you can read and hear about, but you never truly understand it until you see it for yourself?"
"Makes sense," he nodded. "So what did you suddenly understand?"
"I do not really know," she admitted. "I think it might be too simple to say that I suddenly grasped the concept of love, of caring for someone else like that."
"Had you never encountered love before?" he frowned.
"My parents are wonderful people who love each other and their children very much," she said, shaking her head. "I am sorry that I can not find the words to explain the feeling. But I continued to look at you, and I felt like I was getting a better understanding of myself. Of monsters...of everything."
"My mother always told me," she continued. "That I would just know. I would know which human would be the right partner for me. I never understood what she meant..."
Julie locked her fingers together and placed them in her lap, looking down and smiling.
"It was your sister," she explained. "She was the one who helped me understand my feelings."
"Ah," Joshua said, snapping his fingers. "So you explained your thoughts to her, and she figured that you were in love with me?"
"Yes," Julie nodded. "I thought I was sick, at first! I even tried taking medicine!"
She gripped her arm and looked away with an embarrassed grimace. "But my remedies ending up making me actually sick..."
"I guess you were literally lovesick," he mused.
"I still do not understand everything," she admitted. "About why I love you."
"I'm no philosopher," Joshua said, "but nobody ever fully understands love, right? That's kind of appealing wonder of it, right?"
"Yes," she beamed. "I think so too."
The room fell silent for a time. Looking into each other's eyes with all of the nauseatingly pure love of a new couple, they sighed happily, content to stare at each other for eternity, if the world would allow it. But alas, it would not, and Joshua's stomach grumbled loudly, reminding the pair that they were both quite hungry.
"We should probably get going soon," Julie giggled. "The town square should be prepared by now."
"But, wait!" she exclaimed, snapping her fingers. "You said there were two things you wanted to know?"
"Oh yeah," Joshua nodded. "Last night, you said that Julie was just an abbreviation. What's your full name?"
Her expression darkened instantly.
"It is complicated," she sighed. "And long. You will not be able to pronounce it on your first try."
"It can't be that bad," he said, swatting her reluctance away. "Come on, try me."
"There is one other thing," Julie blushed. "You should know that...to a nightgaunt, revealing one's full name is an important matter. A symbolic one."
"Oh," he exclaimed. "Sorry, I didn't know. Is there some kind of ceremony involved, or something?"
"Well...not really, but I suppose a human might consider it to be." Locking her fingers together again, Julie began to fidget nervously. The blush on her cheeks grew stronger, making her pale skin develop a bright patch of violet.
"It's something that's supposed to be reserved," she explained. "Only for a husband and his wife..."
"Oh," Joshua muttered. "I see."
"B-but, marriage means different things to humans and monsters!" Julie backpedaled. "So, we do not have to do that, if you are not comfortable with the idea! I mean, I do not-"
He held up his index finger and pressed it against her lips, silencing her without a word. She held her balled hands in front of her, her expression trembling nervously. Joshua's expression was blank and unreadable, mimicking Julie's own style. Then his lips curled upward, and he stepped forward, wrapping her in a warm embrace.
"Julie," he sighed. "One way or another, I know that you're going to be a part of my life, now. So...I'm okay with it."
"J-Joshua?" she squeaked.
"I don't really get it either," he laughed. "But remember what you said last night? That we were a perfect match?"
Pulling their bodies closer together, they began to sway back and forth, moving to the rhythm of some unheard song.
"Thing is," he continued. "I was thinking about that, earlier. And...when we were connected...I dunno. I felt like I understood you on some primal level. I mean, we were part of a single body at one point, right? For something that crazy to work...our minds had to be connected in some way, right?"
"Yes," she said into his shoulder. "You are right."
"Mhm," he continued. "I remember feeling this weird sensation. When I was...on your back, I guess, I could barely pull my eyes away from you. I somehow knew that your feelings were genuine. And I just...wanted you. And now, I kind of feel the same thing."
"I mean," he coughed. "Not exactly the same. That was...madness. Burning, insanely intense. This is...different. It's comfortable. Looking at you makes me feel warm. I just want...to be near you."
"I want to make you happy," he concluded. "So if I'm your husband, now...sure. Count me in."
Letting out an excited, squeaky noise, Julie hugged him so tightly that it almost hurt.
"My head," she giggled. "Now it is on fire, too! I am so happy, I think I will go crazy!"
"Is there anything wrong with that?" he chuckled. "I'm fine with going crazy, but only if you go with me."
"Okay," she giggled, pushing herself back a little. "Then, are you ready for your first taste of real madness?"
"Ooh," he laughed. "Sounds sinister."
Winking at him, Julie brought her lips to her husband's head, and spoke into his ear, soft as a feather: "My full name is..."
"...Jul'leKhoi'ali'azk," she whispered.
Hearing the syllables sent tingles shivering down his spine. Her true name spoke volumes - it spoke of the stars, of the Abyss, of the deep love pouring out from her heart. It held everything that she embodied - and the name captured her identity perfectly.
"Wow," he shivered. "That...you weren't kidding. That was really something!"
"There is great power in names," she smiled coyly.
"Jul'le..." he started, losing track within a second. "Sorry. I'll get it soon enough, though, I promise!"
Leaning forward, she inclined her head and planted a brief kiss upon his lips.
"I will do something special for you, once you can say it without any mistakes," she purred.
"Quite the incentive," he grinned. Gods, this woman really knew how to rile him up! Rising heat began to stir across his body, making Joshua acutely aware of a burning desire to make his affections known.
"I want you," he growled. "I want to take you...to coat you..."
Inclining his head downwards, he leaned in and nibbled on her neck, her earlobe. Shudders of pleasure coursed through Julie, and she let out the softest, briefest of moans.
Oh, this wasn't good. If she made more sounds like that, he really wasn't going to be able to stop himself.
"I want you to embrace me," Julie said. Her tone was needy, bordering on a whine. "But we do not have time right now."
"I know," he sighed. "We have to go be heroes, or some such nonsense."
"Do not say that," she chided. "I am going to reveal to everyone that I am a monster, remember? Some may not take kindly to that. They may even react with hostility."
"Let them try," he growled, protectively clutching her. "I'm not going to let anyone lay so much as a finger on you."
"My hero," she smiled. "Although, that brings up a valid question."
"What's that?" he asked.
"What do you want to do?" Julie asked, tilting her head to the side. "About...your own nature, now. And about us. What do you want to reveal?"
"Might as well reveal everything," he sighed. "Keeping the fact that I'm a monster secret wouldn't last for very long; someone would see us eventually. And besides, lying to everyone would just give them a valid reason to hate us."
"Let us not reveal everything," Julie suggested. "Suppose we skip over the part explaining how we change forms. That...is far too intimate for me to feel comfortable explaining."
"Agreed," Joshua laughed. "I wasn't really keen on revealing that, in the first place."
Eyes darting to the side, Joshua's expression shifted into one of deep contemplation.
"Let's change their impression," he said after a moment, nodding seriously. "Let's show everyone that monsters aren't evil."
"I am with you every step of the way," Julie said. "But...please step in if I start faltering? I am still not sure what I will say to everyone...what if they hate me?"
"Just say the truth," he shrugged, flashing a grin. "Show people who you really are."
"I just do not know-" she said, looking away.
Outstretching his hand, he gently squeezed her shoulder. She gave a little yelp as he brought her eyes back to his.
"They'll accept you," he promised. "Brunswick is full of good people. Trust me, okay?"
Taking a deep breath, Julie closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she nodded confidently.
"Okay," she smiled. "I trust you."
"Then let's get going!" Joshua laughed. "There's a party in our honor, after all!"
The whole town had gathered in the town square. Dozens of tables lined the cobbled street in a U shape, with two enormous tables at the center of the U practically overflowing with the mouthwatering bounty of the village. Roast rabbits, wild game stew, baked potatoes, pumpkin pie...Brunswick village may have been small, but its inhabitants really knew how to cook up a storm when the occasion called for it.
Nobody had begun eating yet; it seemed they were waiting for the announcement to occur first. The village elder, a wizened old man using a knobbed staff to support his hunched body, was waiting in front of the town hall, along with all ten of the people that had been rescued from the slavers. Esther spotted the approaching Julie and Joshua, and waved them over with an excited shout. The whole town turned to look at their two heroes, a few of the townsfolk sending cheers and claps their way. Julie turned and returned their attention with an earnest wave, doing her best to offer a convincing smile. The end result was a bizarre trembling of her lips that earned her more than a few confused looks.
Squeezing Julie's shoulder to reassure her, Joshua laughed and exchanged greetings with the townsfolk, taking over for her. After stopping to exchange a few words with some of the crowd, the pair arrived at the assembled group in front of the town hall. A small stage had been prepared for the occasion, featuring the same podium that the village elder used to give his monthly speeches. The elder approached them, nodding sagely.
"Young miss Esther here," he started, gesturing to girl behind him, "has informed me of the situation. Are you prepared, miss Julie? Or do you require additional time?"
"I am ready, Elder," Julie nodded. "Thank you."
"And you, Master Kraus?" the elder asked. Joshua held back his smile. No one else in the entire village called him by his last name. It was kind of endearing, how stubborn the elder when it came to people's names. Once he had decided on one, that was the end of it.
"I am ready as well, Elder," Joshua answered.
"Very good, very good," he repeated, stepping onto the stage. So short was his stature, that he was barely able to see over the top of the podium. He used a block of wood already prepared under the podium to elevate himself, reaching a more reasonable height. Then he brought his staff down upon the wood of the stage in two, firm motions. The sound made a loud thwap, thwap, that carried throughout the murmurings of the assembled crowd. He cleared his throat, and began to speak. Despite the man's small stature, he carried a powerful air of authority about him.
"Everyone, grant me your attention," he said. "It is nearly time for our celebration to begin. Tonight, let us openly express our joy - let us rejoice! For we have been granted a miracle, and our lost sheep have been returned to us. Tonight, my friends, let us eat, drink, and be merry. But before that...let us give thanks to the two that made this miracle possible!"
The elder gestured towards Julie and Joshua, then stepped off the podium and moved to the side. The pair took their cue and advanced, taking his place on the stage. A rising peal of applause accompanied them as they took their positions, and a few people cheered and whistled, overjoyed to have their friends and family back. Joshua nodded at his wife, silently indicating for her to go first. Composing herself as the applause died down, she took one last deep breath, and nodded to herself.
"Thank you, everyone," she began in her usual, calm monotone. "I am deeply glad to have been able to reunite you with your friends, your partners, and your children. And I am deeply fortunate to be a part of this community. I would like to thank all of you for welcoming me so openly...I have grown to care very deeply for Brunswick and its people."
Knowing that she couldn't deliver a convincing smile, Julie settled for a nod, pausing briefly as she cast her eyes out over the audience, making eye contact with as many people as she could.
"But I have a confession to make," she admitted. "For I have been lying to you all."
Confused murmurs spread throughout the crowd. Julie held up a hand, urging them to stop.
She swallowed. She could feel the weight of their eyes.
It was now or never.
"The truth is," she started, "that I have been lying to you all since I first arrived here, two years ago. Everyone, the truth is that I am not a human. I am a monster that has been hiding among you."
To accentuate her point, she released the power that was concealing her horns, allowing them to sprout back out of her head. Brushing her hair out of her face, she allowed the crowd a moment to digest her words.
"What? What did she say?"
"Julie is a monster?"
"That can't be right!"
"Bah, I always knew there was something weird about her."
"Why did she lie, though?"
"Honestly, I'm not surprised."
"Aren't monsters supposed to be evil?"
"She has horns?"
"Why would a monster save people?"
"She wasn't a spy or something?"
Joshua stepped in, clearing his throat and speaking up.
"Everyone," he started, "try and think about what we actually knew about monsters. Have any of you ever actually met one?"
Nobody in the crowd raised their hand. Of course they hadn't - they were safe, far away from the war with the monsters. Right?
"Ignore the Order propaganda for a minute," he urged. "Without their books, their pamphlets, and their sermons, how much did we actually know about monsters? Pretty much nothing, right?"
The crowd offered vague murmurs of consent.
"Well," Joshua continued. "Here's the first monster that all of us have ever met! And what has she done for us?"
"She saved my sister from becoming a slave!" a woman shouted.
"And my son," a gruff man replied.
"And my wife!" another man echoed.
"That's right!" Joshua shouted. "And even before the slaver attack, Julie was a genuine part of Brunswick! She had a trade, she had friends! Does that sound like the kind of monster that you thought you knew?"
The crowd muttered uncertainties. Some people seemed willing to accept her - others needed more encouragement.
"Monsters aren't evil!" Joshua cried. Turning to the group of ten people behind them, he beckoned for them to step forward. They advanced in shuffling steps, coming up behind him.
"Jason," he urged, approaching one of the men in the line. "You inspected all of the defeated slavers. Tell everyone, did Julie kill any of them? Did she even give them any serious wounds?"
"It's true," Jason sighed, stepping up and addressing the crowd. "It's true! When I first saw her, I thought that we were surely all dead. She tossed those bastards around like they were toys! I swear, I've never seen a stronger creature in my life!"
"Anyway," he continued. "She coulda killed those damn bastards. Had one pinned beneath her - coulda squished his head like a pancake. But...she didn't. The worst that any of them got was a couple'a broken bones."
"Sarah," Joshua continued, addressing a blonde woman in the line, knowing that he still needed to press the attack. "You were in the first cage to be freed. What happened? You were terrified, right?"
"It's true," Sarah nodded. "When I saw this horrible, black thing - no offense, Jules, - I thought I was going to be eaten. But, she didn't hurt any of us! She grabbed the cages with her bare hands and tore them apart! She saved us!"
The village elder nodded and stepped forward, cracking his staff against the stage again.
"I would implore all of you to reflect on your understanding of miss Julie," he said. "Has she ever acted in a manner that would deserve our mistrust? I think you will find that she has not."
"Julie's still a hero!" someone shouted. "Monster or not!"
"Mom, doesn't she look cool?"
"I still can't believe this..."
"Yeah, Julie is a good person!"
"Why did you hide?" asked a stern, elderly voice. Julie turned and recognized a face in the crowd - her master, the herbalist that she studied under and lived with. The crowd quieted, allowing the woman to repeat her question.
"Why did you hide this?" the herbalist repeated. "Did you not trust us?"
"Of course I trusted you," Julie explained. "I was...afraid. I was afraid that everyone would hate me if they learned the truth."
"You should have told me," the herbalist sighed. Then, she straightened her posture and looked over the crowd with a stern gaze. "Even as a monster, my apprentice is an intelligent and honest woman, and one of outstanding moral character. I will personally vouch for her."
"I am sorry, everyone," Julie said, her heart swelling with warmth at her master's display of confidence. "I wish I could have told you sooner...I wish I had not lied to you."
"She saved my son's life," the gruff man from earlier repeated with a shrug. "I don't give a damn what some kook in a robe says. Her actions speak for her, and that's what we've always respected in Brunswick."
"Hear, hear," the village elder nodded. "Everyone, let's voice our appreciation! Three cheers for Julie, I say!"
"Hip hip-" Joshua started.
Hurray! the crowd shouted back.
He grinned, allowing the elder to take over the next cheers. He glanced at his wife, her exposed eye fluttering back to look at him.
No one else could see it, but she was wearing the warmest smile that he had ever seen.
With that out of the way, the celebrations began. The festivities held everything you could want from a small town faire. There was more than enough food for everyone to eat their fill, and the sounds of clinking glasses and clattering plates filled the air, joined with the sounds of dozens of pleasant dinner conversations. The blacksmith brought out his guitar, strumming a few notes for the townsfolk to dance to. His wife joined him soon after, adding her harmonica to the mix. The population of Brunswick ate, laughed, drank, danced, and sung the night away in merriment. Some were calm, others raucous, but all were filled with joy, and welcomed their new neighbor - Julie, the nightgaunt - into the fold.
For his part, Joshua was content to sit with his sister and his wife for most of the evening. They ate in comfortable quiet, sharing a few jokes and thinking about their plans for the future.
"You forgot to reveal that you got married," Esther frowned, fidgeting with her fork. "Some people are still going to be wondering why two people came out of the goo monster that saved them."
"The mood wasn't right," Joshua sighed. "I didn't forget. I just didn't think it was the appropriate moment, is all."
"I agree," Julie nodded. "We can simply wait until the next town meeting. I think the news should go over much more smoothly, then."
"I suppose that makes sense," Esther sighed. "Still, how disappointing! Everyone was cheering and shouting for Julie, and you barely said anything after that, Josh!"
"He did not need to," Julie sighed. "I knew."
The couple looked at each other, smiling their affections for each other.
"Gross," Esther blanched. "Keep it behind closed doors, please. But hey, random thought..."
"What's on your mind, Est?" her brother asked, struggling to avoid rolling his eyes. Julie took a spoonful of soup from her bowl, bringing it up to her lips and blowing air to cool it off.
"Can nightgaunts turn human women into other nightgaunts?" Esther asked neutrally.
Julie froze up, sending a few drops of the soup spilling over the edge of the spoon.
"Yes," Julie answered. "Why do-"
"Just curious," Esther said, shaking her head. "Seriously. I've got no plans to run off and become a monster. And even if I did, you better believe that it wouldn't involve the two of you! Seeing the two of you naked once was more than enough for me, thanks."
"Right," Joshua frowned. "Can we just...never mention that again? Ever?"
"I would like that as well," Julie sighed.
"Well," Esther said, stretching out and getting up from the table. "I think I'll go and talk with some friends of mine. But before I go..."
Esther leaned across the table, gesturing for Julie to meet her halfway. She complied, and Esther whispered something into her ear.
"Are you sure?" Julie frowned. "You do not have to-"
"What, are you kidding me?" Esther frowned. "You saying you don't want to?"
"No, I-" Julie cut herself off, cheeks beginning to flare violet. Then she looked down at the table, wearing a meek expression.
"Thank you, Esther," she added.
"Yep," the younger girl sighed. "Alright, I'll see you two later."
As she departed, Joshua turned to his wife.
"What'd she tell you?" he asked.
"That is for me to know," Julie smiled. "And you to find out."
Joshua and Julie eventually made their way home, their minds sloshing with the sensations of mild inebriation. They hadn't had that much alcohol during the celebrations, just the right amount to feel comfortably warm and bubbly inside. Brunswick cider really had a knack for drawing that feeling out, they realized.
"You know," Joshua said, closing his home's door behind him, "maybe tomorrow you should pay a visit to the tailor. Now that you don't need to hide, you could probably have your clothes adjusted to fit your wings and tail."
"I think I shall," Julie nodded. "It will be nice to let my horns and tail out. But did I not already tell you? I no longer have wings."
"Say what?" he blinked. "You had to permanently give up your wings, too?"
"But," Joshua frowned, "doesn't that mean you can never fly again?"
"No, silly," Julie giggled. "I can still fly. But only with you."
"Ah, right," he said. "We should try that, soon. Flying sounds like a lot of fun."
"It is a wonderful experience," Julie nodded. "I very much wish to share it with you."
"I'm looking forward to it."
Joshua glanced around his home, listening intently and frowning.
"Where's Est?" he asked. "Didn't she come home before us?"
Julie locked her hands behind her waist, swaying side to side and smiling demurely. Tilting his head curiously, he awaited her explanation.
"Remember when your sister whispered something to me?" she asked. "It was about this. She wanted to swap rooms for the night."
"Meaning she's sleeping in your bed at the herbalist's place?" he blinked, scratching an itch on the back of his head.
"Yes," Julie nodded. "She wanted us to have the house to ourselves for the night."
"Looking for an escape route," Joshua chuckled. "I really need to get her something nice, tomorrow."
"I would like to get her something, as well," Julie nodded. "What do you think she would like?"
"Let's worry about that tomorrow," he said.
Lips curling up in a mischievous smile, Joshua closed the gap with his wife and locked his arms around her, pulling her close.
"Because," he grinned. "I have more immediate needs."
"And what could that be?" she giggled.
Joshua said nothing, squeezing her gently with his arms before lowering his head to hers, placing his mouth right next to her ear.
"You," he whispered.
She hummed in anticipation, angling her face towards his and pressing her lips against him. Realizing that it was the first time that he had kissed her in his new body, Joshua found that he could taste her. Her sweet lips were soft, warm, and delightfully feminine. They held their kiss for a few moments, offering each other their love. Eventually, Julie broke the kiss and pressed her hands against her husband's chest, pushing him backwards.
"I have been waiting for this all night," she cooed. "May I take your clothes off?"
"With pleasure," he grinned.
Leaning forward, Julie planted one more brief kiss on his lips. Reaching her hands across his chest, she pushed up at his arms, instructing him to lift them. He did so, and she tugged his shirt off, folded it, and tossed it onto the dinner table. Running her hands across her husband's muscles, she sighed happily, tracing her fingertips across the ridges of his chest and arms.
"This is a nice form for you, as well," she said, gazing at him longingly.
"I don't recall having quite so much muscle mass," he admitted. "Or feeling quite so tall."
Glancing at himself, Joshua confirmed what he had suspected before. His chest was definitely bigger than before, with more defined muscles. His shoulders were broader, his legs thicker, and it seemed he had grown an inch or two taller.
"Your body has changed," Julie nodded. "This is how I saw you, before. And now it is your true self."
"You really thought I looked like this?" Joshua blinked. "I'm flattered."
"I hope that you will show me just how grateful you are," she purred.
"I plan to," he grinned.
Joshua brought his hands to Julie's chest, giving her breasts a gentle squeeze as he began to play with her.
"Nngh," Julie groaned, shoulders tensing at his touch. "J-Joshua..."
"Come on," he said, letting go of her breasts and taking her hand. "Bedroom."
"Yes," she said enthusiastically. "Please."
Joshua practically pushed her into the bedroom, grappling with her and tugging her sweater over her head, casting it aside. Julie undid her own bra, letting it fall to the floor without a second thought.
"Joshua," she whined. "I have waited for this for so long..."
"Let your tail out," he grinned, hiking down her skirt and panties with a single motion. "I want to see you."
Joshua's bedroom was dark, not having any windows for moonlight to filter through. But with his enhanced vision, he could make her out with perfect clarity. His grin grew even wider as her tail sprouted from above her buttocks, stretching out and elongating itself. Once it was finished growing, he took the tip of her tail between his fingers, pinching it gently and rubbing his fingers along it. Julie moaned softly, stepping towards him and pressing herself into him. Her stiffening nipples poked into his bare chest, inciting him further.
Gods, he really just couldn't stop grinning!
"J-Joshua," she panted, crossing her arms around him. "It is cold...please, keep me warm..."
"Gladly," he chuckled, quickly undoing his own pants and undergarments before moving onto his boots and socks. Julie took the opportunity to undo her own footwear, and now the pair were both completely naked. Joshua felt the chill of the winter air as well, but the growing heat inside of him was far stronger.
There was no denying it now. Already, his skin was darkening and becoming more fluid as he unconsciously changed forms. He was a monster, now, and his monstrous instincts were demanding that he take what he wanted.
"I want you," he growled, reaching down and firmly grabbing her ass cheeks. His body rapidly lost solidity, and he fully shifted into his ooze form, his lust quite literally dripping from him.
"Yes!" she squeaked. "I want you, too. Please, Joshua, I have waited so long for this! Please do not make me wait any longer!"
Kneading the soft flesh of her ass, he began to coat her with his dark substance. The slime that compose his torso spread out on his own, crossing between them and rapidly covering his wife's chest, already beginning to squeeze and massage her of its own accord. Squirming, Julie let out a shuddering breath, then looked up into her husband's eyes.
"Please coat me," she said softly. "Please take me, and make me yours."
Her words were fuel to his lust, sending a flare of heat through him, which she immediately felt as his slime began to squeeze her more firmly and spread across her more quickly. Joshua was rapidly losing his human silhouette as he transferred himself onto her body, but his grin somehow grew even wider.
"I'm not going to be gentle," he promised, glowing pink ovals appearing where his eyes used to be.
Cheeks flushed heavily violet, she gazed at him lovingly as he spread himself across her.
"I do not want you to be," she whispered.
That was it! That was the final piece of kindling Joshua needed, and his mind erupted, maniacal lust surging forth from his mind into hers. The ooze on her shoulders rippled, and Joshua's arms burst outwards, wings fully extending. His fingertips extended outward, flexing themselves and making a show of their strength. He commanded his substance coating Julie's hips to stretch out, and formed two tentacles. Slipping upwards, they wrapped around his wife's wrists and yanked them behind her waist. Then the tentacles bound themselves together, effectively binding Julie's hands and rendering her utterly defenseless.
An observer might have thought it curious that they disregarded the bed and continued to remain standing, but that was not the case, for Julie no longer was standing. Joshua's ooze covered her entire body, suspending her off the ground. His wife was a prisoner wrapped in his body, entirely helpless and dependent on him for pleasure, and she loved it. The very idea gave her pleasure, and she moaned loudly.
"Yes," Julie groaned.
I'm just getting started.
Wrapping his left hand around Julie's body, he brought his fingertips to her chest, pressing them into her and massaging the substance coating her breasts further into her. At the same time, he contracted the ooze covering her nipples, making it wriggle around her and lap at her with a thousand tongues. On top of that, he brought his right hand down to her ass, squeezing her cheeks and playing with them. His hands were massive enough that he could use his fingers to scratch and tickle her back while the rest of his hand occupied itself with her ass.
Moaning and squirming, Julie's hands tried to pull free from her waist, but Joshua's tentacles held her tightly. Her hands snapped back and collided into her ass, making it jiggle alluringly.
"Joshua!" she exclaimed, her body trembling at his touches.
No more words, he ordered, spreading the substance that coated her neck further up. It spread across her chin and crossed over her mouth, stopping just below her nose so that she could still breathe. Shooting wide, her eyes turned to look at her husband, who grinned at her. The lust behind his glowing, pink eyes burned like stars, captivating her. She attempted to say something, but her words were muffled by her slimy gag.
Payback time, he grinned. Moan for me, Julie.
His ooze dipped into her mouth, forming a tongue. Reaching for hers, his slimy appendage coiled around his wife's tongue like a snake, binding it and assuming total dominance. Her eyes relaxed as her husband pleasured every part of her at once, inside and out. She let out another long moan, which his ooze eagerly lapped up.
There was no mistaking it, this time. He could literally taste her pleasure, freely offered to him through whatever mental link they shared. Her taste sent a spike of lust into his mind, and his eyes flared even brighter. He devoured her very bliss, feeding his instincts and sating his lust.
More! He had to have more!
I'll leave you your vision, he chuckled. You deserve to see the fruit of your efforts.
Shining with love and gratitude, her eyes met his and expressed what her mouth could not.
Joshua faced a choice. This was fun, but he still hungered for more. He could keep teasing her...or he could conquer her.
He knew that Julie would happily go along with whatever he wanted, but...she was right. She had waited long enough for this day, so it wouldn't be fair to keep her waiting for much longer.
Julie hummed in appreciation, still wriggling in his slimy embrace.
What to do, what to do...
Julie mumbled something into her gag, shivering as his tongue continued to control hers.
What's that, my gorgeous wife? You want both, at the same time?
She nodded vigorously, causing Joshua's raspy laughter to drift across her mind.
Such a brilliant, wonderful wife I have. Of course I'll satisfy your request, love.
Continuing to grope her with his left hand, he brought his right hand up from her rear, causing her to whine in disappointment. Joshua shrunk his right hand down to a more reasonable size, and wrapped his fingertips around Julie's throat. Squealing with delight at his boldness, she arched her back and inclined her neck towards him, making herself more vulnerable for him - her instincts as a nightgaunt activating.
The old masters had designed the nightgaunts to feel a comfortable pleasure whenever they obeyed their commands, keeping them obedient. That feature remained even after the Demon Lord worked her magic. But the modern nightgaunt received that pleasure as sexual bliss, encouraging them to submit to their beloved husband's whims.
Joshua grinned and accepted her submission, giving his wife's throat a very gentle squeeze and massaging her neck muscles. The brief deprivation of oxygen added a tinge of panic to her pleasure, which sent a bolt of orgasmic sensation through her, making her scream into her gag. Straining her bound wrists once again, Julie fell limp, panting.
But her husband offered her no mercy, increasing the motions of his slime coating her waist. Creeping down, he began to explore the one place he hadn't yet experienced...
Half-lidded from the ecstatic pleasure, Julie's eyes shot wide open again as she felt something new pressing against her inner thighs.
Technically, Joshua didn't need a sex organ, seeing how every cell of his new body was essentially identical. But it just felt right to mold the slime at the lower part of his body into a more familiar shape. A thick shaft of dark ooze rubbed in between Julie's thighs, slowly rising upwards and brushing against her sopping entrance.
Julie's eyes shot back, meeting her husband's grin and silently begging him to do more than just rub his cock between her thighs.
Soon enough, love. But I've just realized...I've been neglecting your tail, haven't I?
Altering his lower mass, Joshua created a long tentacle out of his substance. He intertwined his own tail with Julie's, wrapping around it many times, creating a writhing mass that wriggled around like two snakes tied together. The ooze coating the tail of Julie's tip eagerly yielded to her husband's, withdrawing and allowing Joshua's substance to take over.
Arching her back and moaning yet again, Julie squeezed her thighs together, trying to tempt her husband with pleasure. He laughed and responded by stopping his motions altogether. His ooze froze around her entire body, ceasing its wriggling and licking. Thrashing around at the sudden deprivation of pleasure, Julie whined needily and turned to look at her husband, desperation gleaming in her sad eyes.
Well I'm sorry, my dear, he said sympathetically. But you did ask me to tease you. Don't you remember?
She pleaded into her gag. Even the ooze inside her mouth had stopped giving her pleasure, no matter how much she tried to tempt him with her tongue's wiggling.
Joshua's grin sported a cruel edge. Teasing her like this was too perfect!
Not good enough, love.
Gripping her throat again, he yanked her hair backwards and brought her face to his, hovering his eyes just an inch from hers. Julie's struggling instantly ceased, suddenly hypnotized by the swirling energy of her husband's eyes. Joshua basked in her attention for a moment, admiring the beauty of her purple irises, then decided to break the moment. He let his left hand fall down from Julie's breasts, and spread her thighs apart, poking a single finger out and slipping it into her pussy.
She let out a shuddering moan, arching her back even further. Her nipples poked against the dark ooze covering her, forcing Joshua to pause for a moment and admire them.
Do you want more, my love?
She screamed her consent, nodding vigorously.
Then beg me, he demanded. Beg me to take you, Julie. Beg me to conquer you.
Slipping another slimy finger inside her folds, he began stretching her and rubbing his slime up and down inside her pussy. Drops of his slime stuck to her insides, reluctantly dragging along as they followed the motions of his fingers. The sublime friction inside of her made Julie writhe and release her loudest moans yet. With tears beginning to pool in her eyes, she loosed a muffled string of desperate pleading, begging her husband to take her, to just fuck her already!
A pang of sympathy shot through him - perhaps he had been getting a bit carried away. But as fun as it would be to immediately begin, there was one thing he needed to tell her, first.
I love you, Julie, he said gently.
Then fuck me, her eyes screamed. Pressing her ass against him, desperate for stronger stimulation, Julie sent her thoughts over, begging her husband for his love.
Grinning lewdly, Joshua instantly returned the pleasure she craved for so desperately, commanding the slime all across her body to began moving again. She began to squirm in delight, but Joshua gripped her throat and held her still.
Jul'leKhoi'ali'azk, he growled. You are mine.
Withdrawing his fingers from her folds, Joshua used his hands to spread Julie's legs further apart, and thrust his cock into her with a single, powerful motion.
Gasping at the sensation, Julie's entire body seized up, her muscles tensing.
Withdrawing slowly from Julie's cunt, he adjusted the amount of substance in her. The initial size of his cock didn't matter in the slightest, given that he could freely control the size of it. It would take some experimenting, but he knew he would find the perfect fit for her, given time.
Julie didn't seem to care at the moment, though. She screamed and flailed in ecstasy, her body having become hyper-sensitive from Joshua's relentless massaging. He pushed his cock back into her, slowly this time, grin widening with every inch of her insides that he claimed as his own.
Their mental link exploded, their minds being driven to the extreme as they struggled to keep up with their shared pleasure. Joshua could feel Julie's delight, understanding just how good his erotic massage felt, understanding how delirious she felt as his cock spread her folds apart and claimed her. Her ecstasy tasted divine, and his mind slurped up her sensations like ambrosia.
Withdrawing again, Joshua used his monstrous hands to begin adding even more pleasure to her mix. His left hand went back up to her chest, resuming its favorite past-time of teasing and pinching his wife's breasts. Continuing to massage her neck with his right hand, Joshua gave her throat gentle squeezes intermittently.
He began to pick up the pace, slamming his organ into her, harder and faster. His ooze made a deliciously lewd squelch as he slammed himself into her, sending shockwaves across her ass and making her thighs jiggle. Gripping her head, he tilted her eyes back to his, maintaining eye contact as he violated her entire body.
Pleasuring every part of her with verve, he ensured that nowhere was safe. He slurped on her toes, licked her ears, poked at her stomach, massaged her elbows, prodded her knees, coated her clit...
This was what the frenzied love-making of the Abyss entailed. If this pleasure was what it meant to be a monster, then being human was a nightmare that Joshua never wanted to return to.
Deciding that he wanted to hear his wife's moans again, he withdrew the slime covering her mouth.
"Hah," she panted. "J-Joshua...h-harder, please..."
As you wish, he chuckled.
With a mighty thrust, he hilted himself inside of her, feeling himself poke against her cervix.
"Ngyah!" Julie cried. "I-I can not e-endure this for much l-longer..."
Then don't endure it, he urged. Scream for me, my gorgeous, brilliant wife.
"Yes," she panted, eyes shining with unparalleled bliss. "I will...my husband!"
Julie clenched her muscles, squeezing her walls around Joshua as he thrust back into her. The enhanced pressure made it more difficult to pull out, but he continued his assault. The time for words was over, for there were none that could accurately portray their bliss.
Slaps, squelches, moans, grunts, and groans filled the room with the rising peal of their lust. Driving the motions of his slime as hard as he possibly could, Joshua increased the licking and squeezing of the slime coating his wife. He would give Julie an orgasm powerful enough to turn her brain to mush, or die trying.
Julie's breath caught in her throat.
"Haaaah!" she exploded, legs quivering as pleasure coursed throughout every cell in her body. Flailing around so strongly that it almost seemed as if she were seizing, Joshua's ooze kept her well restrained, continuing to play with her.
Her orgasm crashed into his mind like a tidal wave, smashing into his senses and instantly triggering his own orgasm. Firmly grabbing her hips, he thrust into Julie as fiercely and deeply as he could, cock erupting and staining Julie's insides white.
They found that their orgasm did not peak, but continued to rise, higher and higher, eventually causing the two to lose all sense of time. Hours could have passed, even days, and yet the two continued to kiss and caress each other without a care in the world, as Julie's folds tightened and milked her husband for all that he had to give.
But inevitably, they began to wind down together, panting and shaking from the intensity of it all. Withdrawing his tentacles, Joshua undid Julie's restraints, allowing her hands to move freely again. She used them to reach down, affectionately squeezing his cock as the last of his essence poured into her. When she was sure that her husband had fully satisfied his lust, she stopped, and Joshua took it as a cue to cease the motions of his ooze.
His substance still wriggled across her body, but it now sought to provide comfort, soothing her after such an intense experience. Joshua slowly lowered the both of them to the floor, scooting back and leaning against the wall, forming a reversed instance of their time in the cave.
"That," Julie breathed. "I...I do not even know how to begin to describe how perfect that was..."
"I think 'perfect' is as strong a word as you can use, love," Joshua chuckled. "How are you feeling? Was I too rough?"
"Not at all," she said, tilting her head back and looking up into his eyes. "You had the perfect balance."
"But I would not mind if you wanted to be rougher," she added with a giggle.
"Careful," he grinned. "I might just do that, next time."
"Next time," she sighed. "What a wonderful idea."
"Agreed," Joshua said. His eyelids suddenly felt very heavy, and he had to struggle to stifle a yawn.
"I think we should move to the bed before we fall asleep," he suggested.
"Just a little longer," Julie said, nuzzling her head against his chest. "I love being together like this."
So the two rested on the floor for a minute, recovering from their ordeal together. Bringing his face down to hers, Joshua planted several small kisses on his wife's lips, the pair simply taking comfort from each other's presence.
Julie took a deep breath and lay her head against her husband's chest, struggling to keep the sleep out of her eyes.
"Hey," she said softly. "Let's go flying, tomorrow."
"Okay," Joshua smiled. "Where should we go?"'
"Anywhere," she giggled. "Everywhere. I do not mind, so long as I am with you."
"That is kind of a prerequisite, is it not?" Joshua laughed, mimicking her style of speech.
"Do not tease me," she protested. "Not like that, anyway..."
"Sorry, but you had better get used to it. You're just too cute."
"Oh, fine," she sighed. "I suppose I can find a way to live with it."
She reached a hand up and stroked her husband's cheek.
"I love you, Joshua," she said softly. "Please stay with me."
"Of course," he replied.
"Forever," they agreed, sealing the promise with one last kiss before heading to bed. They fell asleep together, minds intertwining in their dreams, sending each other blissful thoughts of what they hoped their future would hold.
And far, far above them, in the whirlpool of gleaming jewels that painted the night sky, the stars shone just a bit brighter, granting the union their approval.
A/N: Wow, was this ever a blast to write! The nightgaunt is such a creative and fun species to work with, I love her! I just love the idea of this expressionless, ultra-strong chaos demon actually being super submissive and lovey-dovey. If you made it all the way through this without previously knowing about her, I highly recommend checking out her profile on the Monster Girl Encyclopedia. It is honestly one of the most creative monster girl designs I have ever seen. You'll have to tell me if I did her art justice - she's rather complicated, but I tried to describe her as accurately as I could.
If you did already know about the nightgaunt, did your impression of her change? I think a lot of people get turned off by the fear that they end up becoming their wife's demonic goo backpack for all of eternity, but that is very much not the case. Can you imagine the power trip you would get, learning that you can suddenly change and control every single part of yourself?
When it comes to the transformation aspects, I think a lot of people fear 'losing their humanity'. At the risk of sounding pompous, what really is humanity? Personally, I don't think humanity depends on your physical form. But in a world filled with propaganda and fear-mongering against the monsters, I think most people would be terrified at the thought of becoming a monster. That said, some of the MGE profiles and other fan-stories gloss over the full implications of becoming a monster.
I think, 'Oh, I've been raped but it felt so good that I am now 100% OK with this', can be a bit boring. Not every time, and there's nothing wrong with skipping past that if it isn't the focus of the story, but I wanted to explore what it would be like if a guy had some serious doubts/hangups about being a monster. That's why Joshua insisted that he take the time to go think alone.
He's lucky that his soulmate was Julie! A lot of the more...aggressive, monsters would never have given him that chance. That's the way it is, I guess, in a world full of species that are way stronger than the humans.
Anyway, it should be quite obvious to anyone who has played Monster Hunter that the nightgaunt's purple parts are inspired by the Gore Magala of Monster Hunter, so that's where the idea for her bestial combat form came from. It's really interesting to think about it...that dark ooze is kind of an organic mech, right? The two have to combine like the Power Rangers or something; it's the only way to utilize their full power.
All four of the chaotic/abyssal species in MGE rank highly on my list of preferences. Now that I've gained some experience with writing erotica, my next story is going to feature my absolute favorite monstergirl of all, the Shoggoth. I really want to do my favorite girl justice, so I hope you'll all come back and read that one!
I hope you enjoyed! Thank you all for reading!