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  1. The moon was high in the sky when Leliel approached the door of the Crows Nest; an antiquated little inn so named for the authentic crows nest that jutted through its roof. Town tradition said that the in had once been a ship that ran aground in Fairharbor, that an enterprising captain had converted into a tavern, but no one knew for sure. The place was old. Historic even. Yet it had certainly seen better days. Other inns and taverns had sprung up in its stead, and the Crows Nest failed to keep up with them. Now it was a shell of its former self, host only to poor souls with nowhere else to go, and able to only provide a roof over the head and a somewhat warm meal for the belly. Of course, to a street urchin like Leliel, this place might as well have been heaven.
  2.  
  3. She pushed open the door, a blast of frigid air following her in as she struggled to shut it behind her. A few heads turned her way, but everyone seemed to preoccupied with their mead to bother paying her any mind. It certainly wasnt much to look at. A few rough hewn wooden tables and benches provided seating, and a cracked and worn down stone fireplace provided heating. The walls and the floor were both barren, though tell tale light spots showed where paintings and rugs had once been. The air had a heavy stillness to it, and the atmosphere of oppression weighed down on Leliel as she approached the bar at the end of the room.
  4.  
  5. Behind the counter a small and rather rotund halfling woman was polishing up some of the unused pewter mugs. She looked weary and exhausted, with bags under her bright blue eyes and a frazzled mane of curly blonde hair showing signs of neglect. Business was bad, and there was no use hiding it. The halfling glanced up as Leliel drew near, setting aside her mug and extending a hand to shake. Leliel didnt return the favor, and got right down to business.
  6.  
  7. "Do you have rooms for rent?" She said, trying to keep her head down to allow her hood to conceal her face. Either the halfling didnt notice, or just plain didnt care.
  8.  
  9. "Twenty gold for a room, an extra five for a meal and ale." The innkeeper said, resting an elbow on the countertop. She idly grabbed a nearby ledger and ink quill, pressing the nib to the page. "And what name should I put the room under?"
  10.  
  11. "Wake." She replied softly, giving the fake name she took when traveling. "Martha Wake."
  12.  
  13. "Alright Miss Wake," The innkeeper scratched the name into the ledger with a flourish. "Would you like your key now, or your meal first?"
  14.  
  15. "I'll take my key now." Leliel groped for ber coin purse, drawing out a stack of the small gold pieces she had won in her brawl. As she did so, she cringed a bit to think of what she had done to earn it, and made a quick request. "Do you have any rooms with running water? I'll pay extra for it."
  16.  
  17. "Five extra for a room with a bath."
  18.  
  19. She nodded, adding another five coins to the pile, which the halfling gladly swept into her palm. She plopped a rusty iron key down on the counter with a clank, and set about preparing a meal for her guest. It wasnt fine dining by any stretch of the imagination: salted and cured strips of meat, a small bowl of a creamy potato soup, a chunk of dark bread, and a foaming mug of ale. However, to a homeless half demon, this was a feast fit for royalty. She swallowed hard as she watched her hostess assemble the meal, her mouth watering as she mumbled a word of thanks and took her plate and key to find a seat.
  20.  
  21. Leliel sat close to the fire, letting the dying flames warm her feet, which were freezing from trudging through the snow and slush. She dipped her bread into the potato soup, and took a bite. The aroma of the food alone made her want to scarf it down the way she had during her time at the Least of These Orphanage, but she repressed that urge and chewed daintily. After all, there weren't another twenty children clamoring for food here. She could afford to savor her meals.
  22.  
  23. As she ate, she noted a few sets of prying eyes falling upon her. She knew it was inevitable that someone would notice the red tinge of her hands and feet. She didn't say anything. It was better to let them stare and speculate than to try talking to them and confirm their suspicions.
  24.  
  25. A pair of men spoke in hushed tones over their mugs, and Leliel noted that one had pointed a finger in her direction. He got up a moment later, and began approaching her, slowly but surely. The half demon let out a soft breath, and then let out a little something else as well. A quiet hiss of a fart whispered its way through her cheeks, letting the fabric of her cloak ripple ever so slightly. It took only seconds before Leliel had effectively surrounded herself with a horrid, nose burning miasma that lingered around her table like a bank of fog. She blushed a bit, and wrinkled her nose at the sulfur smell in the air, and was pleased to see the man approaching her stop dead in his tracks.
  26.  
  27. Leliel was positive he had just caught a whiff of her gas, as his nostrils flared for a brief moment, before he coughed slightly and took a step back. With a tinge of green to his cheeks, the man slunk back to his companion, muttering something into his ale. The half demon girl couldn't help but smirk ever so slightly under her hood as she took a long swig of her ale.
  28.  
  29. "I see you're enjoying my boon, half breed."
  30.  
  31. Leliel neatly choked on her brew as she heard that voice in her ear. She wiped the foam from her mouth and set her mug aside, her golden eyes darting about the dimly lit inn for its source. Then she noticed it in the fire.
  32.  
  33. The flames had twisted and curled themselves into an image she recognized. Even in the crude depiction of the fire, she could make out the frame of a massive, corpulent being seated upon a throne, the folds of his bloated belly neatly hiding the seat from view. He was headless, yet a large toothy maw on his chest hung open, with a tongue dangling lazily from it as it dribbled bits of flame down its flabby form. Leliel knew who this was. Baalazog, the archdemon of gluttony. Despite his disgusting appearance, Baalazog was well known among Warlock circles for his power and willingness to make deals. Seeing as exercise and physical combat were out of the question, the Devourer as he was so called, spent much of his time studying the arcane arts, a quality that Leliel had sought out in particular.
  34.  
  35. "What are you doing here, Baalazog?" She whispered under her breath. She knew that she was the only one who could see him in the fire, and the only one who could hear him as well. This was meant for her, and her alone.
  36.  
  37. "I'm just checking up on my favorite little warlock." The demon replied with a chuckle that sent ripples through his form. "Seems I caught you at a good time, basking in the glory of my gift to you!"
  38.  
  39. "Your gift to me was access to your books of spellcasting." Leliel replied matter of factly. "This was a curse you slipped into the contract because you thought it would be funny."
  40.  
  41. As if to confirm her point, this brought forth another round of laughter from Baalazog, who held his stomach with both hands as he cackled.
  42.  
  43. "If you hate it so much, why havent you asked me to remove it?"
  44.  
  45. "Because I know you wont."
  46.  
  47. "You're right, I wont, but that doesn't explain why you keep using it."
  48.  
  49. "I'm a pragmatist. I make use of all of my abilities, even the ones I'm not particularly proud of."
  50.  
  51. "You certainly seemed proud of that last one!"
  52.  
  53. Leliel pointed a sharp nailed finger at the fireplace, giving it a flick as a set of glowing arcane runes appeared in the air around her hand. The flames suddenly shifted, as a set of burning chains forged themselves from the embers, wrapping around Baalazog's rotund form and suddenly tightening. Leliel curled her hand into a fist, and her magical restraints tightened, causing the archdemon to let out an animalistic squeal of pain.
  54.  
  55. "I can do without the attempts at humor, you contemptuous worm." Leliel's voice was low as she practically spat the words into the fireplace. "Gift or curse, I never asked you for the power of flatulence, but I'll use every trick in my arsenal if it comes down to it. Are we clear?"
  56.  
  57. There was a pause from the archdemon, before he stifled a slight chuckle.
  58.  
  59. "Heh..." The maw on his chest curved into a sneer. "Arse-nal."
  60.  
  61. With a grunt of disgust, Leliel suddenly jerked her fist downwards, the conjured chains dragging Baalazog's image down through the flames until it vanished from sight. The half demon let out a little harumph as she gathered up her now empty dishes, placing them on the bar to be washed. Leliel had dealt with archdemons before; ones who were far more powerful than Baalazog. Her last patron, Goresh, had been the archdemon of wrath, and trying to control his gifts had not been easy. The power to turn her skin to iron was a useful one no doubt, but the bouts of rage and violent lusts Goresh forced upon her usually just resulted in her being run out of town by a peasant mob after giving a local shopkeeper a concussion. Compared to pitchforks and slingshots, a little gas was nothing.
  62.  
  63. Leliel ascended the steps to the second floor of the inn, checking the room number on her key. Room 13. She wondered briefly if that had been intentional. She unlocked the door, quickly locking it behind her once she was inside. Her room was pretty bare bones, furnished with a bed, an end table, and a candle for light. The walls and floors were barren, and she could hear the wind faintly whistling through small cracks in the wood and plaster. She snapped her fingers and ignited the candle, before raising her thumb and pushing down in midair as though she were trying to force down a heavy button or switch. There was a bluish spark, and she pulled her finger sideways as though she was unzipping a duffel bag. That wasnt far from the truth, as a rucksack filled with her personal belongings fell out of the crack in space, which she banished with another wave of her palm.
  64.  
  65. Leliel didnt have much, but keeping it in a small pocket dimension was safer than walking around and openly displaying her bags. Despite being destitute, she wasnt immune to petty thieves, though she imagined they wouldnt receive much for her belongings. She opened the bag, neatly setting the contents onto the bed. She had a few chunks of soap, a small bottle of scented oil, a few books of spells, quills, paper, ink, and her most prized posession, a hand crafted flintlock pistol, complete with powder and shot.
  66.  
  67. She had been gifted that last piece by an old dwarf she had met up in the Iron Mountains. Brak Kazad was his name, and he had been one of the few people in her travels to treat her with any shred of dignity. The fact that she had helped him banish a fiend that had taken over his fortress after they dug too deep probably contributed to that. It was a long and hard fought battle, and she had at least one scar to remember it, as well as a keepsake Brak had left her. As she unpacked however, she caught a whiff of her own scent, and cringed. A bath was in order, and she gathered up her soaps and perfumed oils and headed for the adjacent bathroom.
  68.  
  69. The wooden door was warped in the frame, and Leliel had to ram it with her shoulder to force it open. It was a small, cramped space, barely larger than a closet. It contained a small clawfoot tub, a rack full of towels and rags, and a chamber pot in the corner. Not exactly the lap of luxury, but a bath was a bath, and the room seemed clean enough; even if the towels contained a lingering aroma of mildew. She turned on the water, and could hear the pipes rattling and chugging as it began to flow. Much to her pleasant surprise, the hot water worked. As the bath began to fill, Leliel began to strip herself down, first her mud spattered cloak, and then her worn tunic. Both smelled terrible, and she made a note to wash them after her bath. No use in cleaning up just to put on smelly clothes again. She pulled the cork from one of her bottles of oil, letting a small stream of it into the rapidly rising water. The tantalizing scent of mint and tea leaves soon overpowered the decidedly unpleasant scents of the bathroom as she stirred the water with her arm. Much to her disgust, she could see the water cloud with grime as she touched it. It had been about a month since her last real bath. No wonder Tog had been knocked out by her ass.
  70.  
  71. Leliel slipped down into the water with a relaxed sigh, the rising steam calming her nerves. She lathered up with her soap, making sure to really scrub every inch of her body she could. Who knew when she would have the chance to do this again? The water grew dark as she scrubbed, the muck and mire of countless cities and hamlets washing away amid a flurry of bubbles. Speaking of which...
  72.  
  73. Blort-blop-brrrrrumpt~
  74.  
  75. A trio of small explosions rumbled against the bottom of the tub, rising to greet their maker in a rush of little bubbles. As they burst on the surface they delivered the smelly payload they contained. They still held a faint trace of brimstone in their scent, but it was overpowered by a strange, rather skunky smell. Leliel assumed the ale must have been to blame for that, and wrinkled her nose briefly before the fragrance of mint and tea once again took its place. Leliel sighed, knowing that if she wanted to really relax, she was going to end up making use of her unwanted gift. At this point however, she didn't care. She closed her eyes, sank down until the water was nearly up to her chin, and just let body unwind.
  76.  
  77. Prrrrrrrmpt-prt-prt!
  78.  
  79. Leliel did her best to ignore the smell as it wafted up to her nostrils. The irony of unleashing such a stink as she was trying to get clean wasnt lost on her as she lifted a leg ever so slightly to ease her next emission. She didn't need to wait long before a dull gurgling emerged from the water, followed by the rancid smog cloud of her own gas. She could tell that the farts were trying their best to linger in the air, and the mixture of gone off ale and mint that was resulting from her relaxation made her want to gag. As she unleashed another literally bubbly fart into the tub, she decided she ought to add another few drops of her scented oil to help clear the air. She stood up, stepping out into the wooden floor, shuddering slightly as the cooler air washed over her wet and naked frame. She let another drop fall into the water, and took a deep breath in through the nose. An undertone of brimstone and skunk spray still remained. If her skin wasn't already deep red, someone might have noticed her blushing slightly.
  80.  
  81. As she stood there, naked and slightly embarrassed by her talkative tush, Leliel heard something she hadn't been expecting.
  82.  
  83. Three sharp knocks resounded from the door of her room.
  84.  
  85. Leliel froze where she stood. She wasn't expecting any visitors, and it was a little late for housekeeping to be checking in. She quickly dried herself with one of the towels (trying to ignore the smell of mildew that clung to it) and slipped on her tunic.
  86.  
  87. BANG BANG BANG!
  88.  
  89. Three more knocks, more aggressive this time. Her blood chilled as her brain conjured up thoughts as to who it might be. Perhaps one of the Crows Nest patrons had gotten a better look at her than she expected, and was here to let her know she wasn't welcome here. Or maybe one of the men from the Fat Crocodile had bet against her, and was coming to gut her as revenge for knocking out his champ. She stepped gingerly towards the door, taking great care to avoid making the slightest peep as she pressed her eye to the small peephole in the wood.
  90.  
  91. It was indeed someone from the Fat Crocodile Inn. Leliel would recognize that featureless palid mask anywhere. The woman stood outside her door, arms folded over her chest, occasionally tucking a strand of bright ginger hair back behind her ear. Even in the dim candlelight of the hallway, Leliel could see the girl's green eyes almost perfectly. They were bright, piercing, and utterly unmistakable.
  92.  
  93. But what was she here for? Revenge for landing in her salad? Had she made a bet Leliel hadn't noticed in the crowded tavern? Whatever her reason, the half demon was sure she meant trouble. She had heard legends of assassins that wore pale masks in imitation of the god of death. They were said to be ruthlessly efficient, and willing to do anything for coin. Had someone paid this woman to kill her? It wouldn't be the first time someone had sent a hired thug after her.
  94.  
  95. The woman appeared to give an exasperated sigh and pounded on the door again, her knocks beating the door hard enough that Leliel could hear the lock rattle. If she was going to die, she would at least go down swinging.
  96.  
  97. "Just a moment!" Leliel called, as she began to gently drag her nails along the wooden door. Long streaks of arcane fire were left in their wake as she etched a sigil into the frame. She poured her magic into it, hoping to overload the rune and destroy it in an explosion powerful enough to destroy whoever was on the other side. The wood began to quiver as the fiery symbol grew brighter, before it suddenly went stock still. The rune she had drawn faded, and Leliel exhaled sharply.
  98.  
  99. "Oh, you did not just counterspell me..." She whispered under her breath as they knocked once more, trying the handle this time. The half demon took a few steps to her bed, and grabbed the flintlock from its place on the sheets. She always kept it loaded in case of an emergency, but she checked anyways just to be sure. With the calculated precision of an automaton, she slowly leveled the gun at the doorway, taking aim as another series of knocks resounded off the walls.
  100.  
  101. "Let's see you counterspell this."
  102.  
  103. Leliel pulled the trigger, and it was as if a crack of thunder had been unleashed within her room. The sound was nearly deafening as the pistol roared, choking out a cloud of acrid smoke as the shot pierced the door with a loud splintering. The door now hung off of its hinges, and as the smog cleared, Leliel's jaw nearly hit the floor with shock.
  104.  
  105. There were now two masked women standing in the doorway, peering in at their attacker without a sound. They both took a tentative step inside, and Leliel noticed the wands they both clutched in their hands. She could handle mages. Her firearm suddenly took on a bright red glow, as hundreds of hidden glyphs and curved figures lit up as her magic flowed into it. She squeezed the trigger again, and from the barrel spewed an absolute inferno.
  106.  
  107. The two mages quickly raised a ward to block the incoming cone of swirling flames, dissipating them as they pressed forward into the oncoming fire. One of them returned the attack with a flick of her wrist, as a bolt of bluish light was hurled from her fingertips. It struck the gun, and Leliel was forced to drop the weapon with a yelp, as tiny ice crystals began to form on its surface. Another bolt of frost was hurled her way, as Leliel dove for cover, watching as it impacted the ground beside her, leaving a small blanket of fresh snow where it struck. Leliel was quick to strike back, as she conjured a set of chains from the floor around the girl in the mask, which latched onto her with such speed that she barely had time to react before they restrained her.
  108.  
  109. The girl struggled and grunted as Leliel approached her, fighting against the iron bands with all her might, but it was useless. Everytime she squirmed, Leliel tightened her grip, just to be sure she wouldnt lose her captive.
  110.  
  111. "Let's see who it is under the-" As her hand made contact with the mask, a deep crack suddenly formed in it. There was a sound like a window being shattered, and the entire girl seemed to break apart like glass. Leliel stood there stunned for a brief moment before it suddenly struck her like a brick to the skull.
  112.  
  113. There had been two of them.
  114.  
  115. Before she could search the room she was struck from behind, and sent sprawling onto the bed. The girl in the palid mask seemed to fade into reality as she fell; an invisibility spell. Leliel was desperate now, put on the defensive by her attackers trick, and she made a wild move to throw a punch at the woman, who sidestepped the sloppy shot with ease.
  116.  
  117. "Listen, I'm-" Leliel heard her assailant say something from behind her mask, but whatever she was saying was cut off as Leliel's foot connected with her gut. She doubled over, and Leliel took her chance to try and strike her down, only for the girl to throw her full weight against the half demon, pinning her down on the bed.
  118.  
  119. "I just-" Leliel paid her no mind. She thrashed in her grip, trying to call out for help she knew would never come. She was roughly pushed onto her back, just before her enemy eased up her grip ever so slightly. She attempted to make a break for it, only to be suddenly pinned down again by a weight on her chest. The assassin was... sitting on her? The gears in Leliel's brain clicked for a moment, before she suddenly realized what was happening.
  120.  
  121. "Don't you da-"
  122.  
  123. BRRRRRUUUUMPPPPPPLLLLLLLORT!
  124.  
  125. Leliel recieved a taste of her own medicine as the silky, silvery fabric of her assailant's dress ruffled in the damp breeze. Taste was certainly the right word for it too, as her mouth had been open for that one. It tasted sour, almost like vinegar to her tastebuds. She choked and spat as she desperately tried to scrape her tongue with her teeth, but the flavor persisted, lingering bitterly in her mouth. Leliel was almost certain she could hear the girl behind the mask tittering as she roughly adjusted herself, planting her rather ample rear on the half demon's face.
  126.  
  127. sssssssssPLORRRRT!
  128.  
  129. A wet hiss, and then an explosively bubbly finish hit Leliel square in the nose, and she fought for fresh air with every ounce of her being. The taste had been one thing, but the smell was even worse. It was a mixture of wilted greens, gone off vegetables, and an implacable odor of sewer water that coalesced into a sickening reek that nearly made the demon girl lose her dinner. She kicked and screamed, thrashing violently as she tried in vain to throw a punch at her captor, only to find her arms pinned down by the girl's knees.
  130.  
  131. Prrrrrrrt-prrrrmpt!
  132.  
  133. A two for one special rang out from that dress clad ass, clouding Leliel's mind with more horrid veggie gas. Her head was spinning, her eyes were watering, and her lungs were burning. She almost felt bad for what she had done to Tog after being on the recieving end. Her struggling grew weaker as she was forced to breathe in only the rancid methane rather than oxygen, but there was one last thing she could try. It wouldn't be pleasant, nor dignified, but that seemed to be her lot in life.
  134.  
  135. "Now that you're settling down, I wanted to- OW!" The woman in the mask was cut short by her own cry of pain, and she leapt up, rubbing a now sore spot on her butt. "Did you... did you just bite me?!"
  136.  
  137. Fresh air filled Leliel's lungs as she took in a deep breath, jerking upright as she gasped. The air was still tainted, and the nasty taste in her mouth still lingered, but she could breathe again at least.
  138.  
  139. "I didn't want to do this, but you've left me no choice!" The gassy assassin said as she suddenly pulled back her mask. "I demand you cease fighting me this instant!"
  140.  
  141. Leliel paused a moment, finally face to face with her attacker. She looked young, probably only a few years below Leliel herself in terms of age. Her features were gentle and rounded, with a pair of dimples accented by a smattering of freckles that dotted her cheeks. Her reddish orange hair had to be brushed out of her face, as her bangs fell into her vision. But by far her most striking feature was still her eyes however, and they sparkled like emeralds in the flickering light of the candle. Leliel assumed this was supposed to activate some sort of spell; a charm or illusion maybe, but nothing ever came. The two just stood there in silence for what seemed an eternity captured in a few ticks of the clock.
  142.  
  143. The stillness of the moment was shattered when Leliel lunged forward and managed to catch the redhead in the cheek with a nasty right hook. The girl dropped her mask, and she staggered back, reeling from the punch. Leliel leapt to her feet, gripping the girl by the throat and shoving her against the wall before cocking her fist back for another swing.
  144.  
  145. "Wait! Wait!" The girl spluttered, holding her arms up to shield her face. "What do I look like to you?!"
  146.  
  147. "I..." Leliel paused, furrowing her brow as the question settled into her mind. "What?"
  148.  
  149. "What do I look like! Just... tell me about my face!"
  150.  
  151. "You've got... uh... red hair and freckles on your cheeks?" The half demon said confusedly. "Kinda round face I guess?"
  152.  
  153. The girl lowered her hands a bit as she spoke.
  154.  
  155. "I'm not... I'm not the most beautiful girl you've ever seen?"
  156.  
  157. "Uh..." Leliel cocked her head. "I mean you're cute but I wouldn't say-"
  158.  
  159. She was cut off by a sudden squeal of excitement from the girl she was nearly choking, whose eyes grew wide with a sudden wonder.
  160.  
  161. "Oh that's amazing! I assume it must be due to the whole, part demon thing! Maybe cause you're not fully human you aren't-"
  162.  
  163. "So you're not here to kill me?" Leliel's voice sounded almost unsure of itself.
  164.  
  165. "What? Gods, no! I just wanted to talk!" The girl said, as Leliel loosened her grip.
  166.  
  167. "Then what was with all the creeping around in a mask?"
  168.  
  169. "I... You're right. I should explain."
  170.  
  171. Leliel finally released her captive fully, before taking a seat on the bed. She had a myriad of questions, and was about ready for some answers.
  172.  
  173. "First of all, introductions. I'm Vivian Tess, but you can call me Viv."
  174.  
  175. "Leliel Va'Adam."
  176.  
  177. "So, long story short, my dad wasn't human. Mom fell in love with one of the Winter Fey, and... well, they made me." The girl said, somewhat nervously as she paced back and forth. "Mom asked him to make me as beautiful as a fairy, and he did. So everyone who saw me instantly saw me as the most beautiful girl they'd ever seen, and would do just about anything I asked of them."
  178.  
  179. "Gods, how terrible." Leliel said, her voice dripping with venomous sarcasm.
  180.  
  181. "Its not as much a blessing as you'd think." Vivian replied with a coldness in her voice that seemed to be at odds with her bubbly personality. "More of a curse really. Everyone treated me really weird, it was hard to make any real friends, and I just wanted to be... normal I guess is the word."
  182.  
  183. "Believe it or not, I can relate." Leliel seethed.
  184.  
  185. "I started wearing the mask, since if people can't see my face, they just treat me like anyone else. Sorry if I freaked you out." Vivian rubbed the back of her head sheepishly, her cheeks growing slightly flushed. "I was actually trying to find you when I ran into you in the Fat Crocodile tonight. Do you remember a Professor Angell from the Mage's College in Shearhaven?"
  186.  
  187. Leliel did indeed remember. Angell had been an eccentric among scholars, far too consumed by wanderlust to remain in a stuffy office all day. During her time at the college, Angell had always seemed to take a liking to the young half breed, often telling her tales of his journeys to vast frozen lakes and treasure filled hoards in the mountains. She had even accompanied him on a few expeditions in her college days. Leliel nodded slowly as the recollection overtook her.
  188.  
  189. "What of Angell?" She said, resting a hand on her chin.
  190.  
  191. "I spoke with him about a plan I had; something that could lift my curse. I was reading one of the history books at the college on Djinn, and found stories from travelers in the Desert of Shar that there was a whole city full of them and-"
  192.  
  193. "You're talking about the City of Ashes." Leliel had read the legends herself. "It was real at one point, but all the Djinn are long gone."
  194.  
  195. "Not all of them." Vivian said, eyes twinkling. "The stories say that one Djinn was left behind, trapped in a summoning circle by an old mystic who wanted a wish. He wanted to make the wish count, and so he spent years in meditation and prayer to find the perfect words to use. Sadly, he died before he could make the wish, but the Djinn is still there."
  196.  
  197. "And where do I play into this?" Leliel tapped her chin, her curiosity piqued.
  198.  
  199. "Angell said that if anyone could get to the Ruin of Ashes in one piece it would be you. It's a longshot, but a life without this curse would mean everything to me. People would treat me like a normal girl, I wouldn't have to hide behind a mask, I could finally..."
  200.  
  201. Vivian kept talking, but Leliel was no longer listening. If this was true, and there was indeed a Djinn out there capable of granting a wish, she could use it to remove the infernal features from her body. No more horns, no more red skin, no more tail, no more fear. She could live without looking over her shoulder, without hiding her skin, without being chased out of town for her appearance. Of course, Djinn can only grant a single wish. She would have to somehow make her wish before Vivian wasted it on her "cursed beauty". Her focus slowly returned to the conversation at hand, and Vivian's request caught her ear.
  202.  
  203. "So? Are you in?"
  204.  
  205. "That depends." Leliel's tail flicked softly as she spoke. "Are you going to cover the travel, food, room, and board?"
  206.  
  207. "Oh of course! Think of it as an all expense paid vacation with a just a teeny tiny chance of dying."
  208.  
  209. "Alright, I'm in." Leliel extended a hand to her tentative new partner, who accepted it eagerly. "Meet me downstairs at the bar tomorrow at dawn. We can plan out our trip from there."
  210.  
  211. "Oh wonderful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Vivian looked absolutely ecstatic, nearly jumping up and down with glee as the pair shook hands.
  212.  
  213. "One more thing before you go..." Leliel suddenly gave Vivian's arm a sharp tug, pulling her in close as she angled her body, pressing the redhead against her rump.
  214.  
  215. BRRRAAARRRRRPT!
  216.  
  217. Vivian choked and gagged as she was hit with a skunky brimstone fart to the face, staggering back and holding her nose desperately as Leliel released her with a suitably devilish laugh.
  218.  
  219. "That's for farting in my face." She smirked. "See you tomorrow."
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