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Day 80

Lanternon2 Sep 29th, 2016 983 Never
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  1. Day 80
  2.  
  3. “Aside from the blue skin, I'm the same as any other girl.”
  4. “Demonic energy,” I respond flatly.  
  5. “Okay, sure, there are cosmetic differences.  Eyes, a tail.  Vaginal cilia.  A grasping cervix,” it seems to wander off.  “But by and large, I'm the same as any hugirl.”
  6. I set my arms on the table, trying to steady my stomach so that I can continue my meal.  The wood-carved list called this “honeycream biscuits,” and the flavor almost seemed to match.
  7.  
  8. Almost.
  9.  
  10. I turn to the elf girl behind the counter, idly watching the pair of us.  “What's in these?”  
  11. It takes a moment for her to perk up, and a second more to answer.  “Flour, water, honey, and cashews.”
  12. “Cashews.”
  13. “Yeah,” she says, piping up.  “You gave me the idea for it.  Traditional elven cuisine doesn't have any meat or dairy – it's uses honey and fruits for sweetness and ground nuts for a creamy consistency.”
  14. I'd bother to wonder how I gave her the idea for that, but I'd probably not follow whatever fey thoughts lead there.  I continue my meal again, still wondering at the oddity of my position.  It's the freshness of being back here after two long weeks' absence that reminds me that I'm sharing a meal with a monster, made by a demihuman.  I wonder at how the other paladins would react to knowing that I frequent this place.
  15.  
  16. “What?”
  17. I look at the succubus.  “What?”
  18. “You were smiling about something.  It's weird.”
  19. I raise an eyebrow.  “Weird?”
  20. it sets down her fork over the – what was it called?  The fruit dessert it'd ordered.  “It's unsettling.  Walking bombs shouldn't smile like that.”
  21. “I'm no more a walking bomb than I am a walking sword.  They're just tools I use to protect myself.”
  22. It gives a single, silent cough of a laugh at that, her brow pulling inward.  “You feel safer with that thing on?”
  23. “Why else would I wear it?”
  24.  
  25. It stares at me for a moment and then, as though unwilling to continue the conversation, returns her attention to her food.  That lasts for perhaps ten seconds' time before the fork clatters against the plate again.  “How?”
  26. I look at the succubus again.  “How?”
  27. “How could you feel safer with a bomb on your neck?”
  28. “Because none of you things have it in you to set it off.  Intentionally, at least.”
  29. It stares at me for a while longer, its expression strange, perhaps thoughtful.  I return to my food.  It's not good to try to figure out what a monster is thinking – and it's almost always just sex, anyway.
  30.  
  31. A thought occurs to me, and I turn to the elven girl/woman.  “Caithness wasn't as bad as you said it would be.  At least, not from what I saw.”
  32. It doesn't look up from what it's doing.  “That so?”
  33. “Did you go there?  Before the wall went up.”
  34. She simply shakes her head.  “No.  I just knew some people who went there.”
  35. Ah.  She lost family.  Well, at least now I know that the rumors of pure elves in the forests behind the walls are true.  That's comforting, in a way – one less civilization wiped off the map because of the monsters.
  36. “I hear that some mages smuggle people inside.  Officially I don't condone that, but it's not like you can't ever see them again.”
  37. “Mm,” is all the response I get.
  38.  
  39. Fair enough.
  40.  
  41. ---
  42.  
  43. The rounds are slow today.  I only just returned to the city, and yet I've grown accustomed to the place once again.  It's a second home of sorts, as depressing as that thought may be.  I see a centaur moving ahead, and, smiling, quicken my pace.  
  44. “Officer.”
  45. It twists quickly enough, its brow immediately furrowing as its expression darkens.  “Oh.  You're back.”
  46. “I don't imagine you'll be rid of me for very long.”  I quicken my pace slightly until I'm walking next to it, matching its stride.  “Unless some monster decides to take one for the team and my collar goes off,” I note cheerily.
  47. “I don't see how you can joke about that,” it says, looking forward and away from me.
  48. “I would never.  I take my job very seriously.”  I am in a good mood today, though.  Jovial.  Mayhap it's being back here and slipping back into work so easily.  There's a sort of comfort in knowing exactly what to do and simply doing it.
  49.  
  50. It canters silently for a moment after that, before asking “How did you know it was me?”
  51. “The smell.”  It turns its head to glare at me.  “Hey, I'm not blaming you.  You can't help it.”  
  52. It huffs and turns away.  “I still could've been one of the other officers.”
  53. “I,” I start, but the idle riling of the mare comes to a stop with the horrible revelation.  “There's more than one of you at the station?”
  54. She fixes me with a smug smile.  “Yeah, paladin.  There's lots of police there.”
  55. “Centaurs,” I clarify.
  56. “Some.  We're a very community-focused people; we're protective, too.  Combined with physical strength and speed, and we're a good fit for the job.”  It continues to talk after that, but my attention's elsewhere.  Specifically, the slime I just passed.  It didn't seem to notice me.
  57.  
  58. I've been here for some time, though a few weeks here and there have been spent elsewhere.  I wonder if they're growing accustomed to my presence, as I am with them.  I'm no more a threat to the average monster on the street than they are to me, at least in their eyes.  So, they're not afraid anymore.
  59. I suppose they shouldn't be.  A monster obeying the laws is a trap for whatever ignorant clod decides to marry it, but I can't say that I care if they take the worthless men out of the breeding stock.  Or I wouldn't, if they didn't spawn a dozen more creatures to pose the same risk to others.
  60.  
  61. “Why are you following me, anyway?”
  62. “Curiosity.  Someday I want to see how you handle a rape in progress.”
  63. “Less lethally than you're used to, I'm sure.”
  64. “I suppose doing nothing is as nonlethal as one can be.”
  65. It gives me another glare, staring down at me.  “Why are you really here?”
  66. I walk in silence for a moment.  I really only started following the thing on a whim.  “No reason, I suppose.  Why?”/
  67. “Hmm.”  It turns away, back toward the road.  “I didn't think that paladins wanted to spend time around monsters.”
  68. I smile to myself.  “Well, I came to Min, didn't I?  Maybe I'm just looking for the right monster to 'blow my mind.”
  69.  
  70. “You're a sick man.”  It's a flat statement, as though it was pointing out the weather.
  71. “I think I deserve to have a laugh or two at what will probably kill me.  It probably wouldn't be healthy otherwise.”
  72. “If you think that it'll kill you, then why'd you put it on?”
  73. “To be safe.”
  74. “That doesn't make any sense.”
  75.  
  76. I continue walking alongside the mare for a while, enjoying both its occasional troubled glances and the confused looks of passers-by.  As the houses give way to apartments I spot the gleam of sunlight shining onto small waves, and settle on where I'm heading next.  “Well, maybe next time I'll get to see your nonlethal methods, officer.”
  77. “Just so long as you don't step in and slit her throat.”
  78. “It's,” I remind it, before I head off toward the beach.
  79.  
  80. ---
  81.  
  82. “Simon,” I answer the phone when it rings.
  83. “Victor, you're close to the beach.  Head to Hennel Street.  Rampant in progress.”
  84. My legs are moving when I answer “On my way.”  The street isn't two blocks over.  I think to myself as I steadily speed up into a jog, I didn't know that the new technologies were so integral to the branch halls.  It makes it seem like Megalos proper is somehow antiquated, if I didn't find the traditions to be so comforting.
  85.  
  86. I round the last building onto the main street not twenty feet away from the problem.  A door is held aloft in the claws of the crab-like lower body of the monster in front of me.  It turns, its pink hair spinning as it does.  “You,” it states flatly.  I can't tell if the sound is accusatory or not.
  87. I take a deep breath of air, trying to get enough to satisfy the needs of my lungs and to speak.  “That door did nothing to you, miss.  Put it down.”
  88. The wood crunches as the claw clamps down on it and the things entire body turns to face me.  “He never came.  He never came back.”
  89. The wheels turn in my head fruitlessly for a few breaths, until I remember the thing.  It was the one waiting on the beach.  Rather than standing before the water, it now stands in front of a long line of broken gates, shattered windows and doors, and a conspicuously empty road.
  90.  
  91. “Well, c'est la vie,” I say, with the only phrase in Arraterran I know.  “You can't destroy property, though.  You'll have to come with me.”
  92. “No.”  It's not defiant, it's just a statement.  “I'm going to find him.  He's coming back with me.”
  93. I reach up to my back and draw my weapon, pausing slightly due to how heavy it suddenly feels in my hand.  “Maybe, maybe not.  You are going to come with me first, though.”
  94. Slightly louder, and yet still just as flatly as before, it responds “No.”  Its claws raise slightly before it adds “I won't wait anymore.  Neither of us will be alone anymore.”  It takes a step forward on one chitinous leg.
  95. “One more step, and this gets resolved with steel.”  I lift the sword to point it at the thing, but the blade drags through the air as though I was swinging the broad side of it forward.  It suddenly feels warm in my hand, as though it had been left in the midday sun.
  96.  
  97. I don't have time to consider this.  With the monotone repetition of “No,” the thing advances, reaching for my sword with one of its massive chitinous claws.  It's not fast enough, though.  I spin inside of its reach, and in spite of the sudden weight of my blade I drive it home into the body of the small, humanoid torso.  The thing stares down at me for a moment, shock writ plain on its face.
  98.  
  99. A second later, I pull the blade back out.  There's no blood.  There's no wound.  
  100. My hand ignites.
  101.  
  102. I jump back, crying out and dropping the sword as the sudden flash of pain erupts up my arm and I bury it in my chest, trying to extinguish the flames.   After a frantic and confused moment, there is only the horrid pain of overly sensitive skin being pressed against rough cloth.  Slowly, I peel away the slightly darkened parts of the hoodie I wear to look at the inflamed, reddened skin.  The tiniest telltale hints of angry boils already beginning to manifest in the burn wounds.  I look at the sword, laying harmlessly on the road.  I look at the monster, covering its humanoid mouth with its hands, staring at me in shock.
  103.  
  104. “Okay,” it says finally, “I'll go with you, just don't do that again.  I have to go find him after, though.  He might be hurt.”
  105. Breathing quickly and deeply, I fix the thing with what must be the most confused and angry expression I've given anything in this damnable town.  “What?”
  106. “He might be hurt.  Or lost,” the thing explains.  “A mermaid said so.  Why else wouldn't he come back?”
  107.  
  108. I look over the shattered pieces of building behind it.  It was looking for someone.  In buildings.
  109.  
  110. I look at the sword again.
  111.  
  112. “What in the hells.”
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