Yo! Chapter 4 here. Together with all the stuff I was busy with this week, that you can read on the Affection:CK Chapter 6/Part 1 post or the sticky announcement, this also ended up coming out later than planned, and I’ve also had less time to edit it, so it might be little less polished.
But, still we’re making progress, we’re like 1/4 through the plot or something, I dunno me tired…
Demon-Lord’s Little Bride
During the week leading up to his next shift in the Demon-Lord’s cell, Adriel often caught himself getting distracted by his thoughts.
The everyday work in the dungeon was monotonous at best, so it was no surprise that his attention would slip away to the most exciting thing that had ever happened in his life as he mopped floors or delivered meals.
The question of why was the Holy Maiden coming down to the dungeon every month to ‘reinforce’ the wards, which apparently included torturing the Demon-Lord, was still burning bright in his mind. He had not really been able to come up with any conjectures, but that was because he really had very little to go on from.
On the other hand, he had also actively avoided thinking of the events that had followed after he had intruded upon the demon. Mostly, because every time Adriel recalled the way the man had looked at him as he laid beneath him, and the way the man’s large, rough hand had felt on his skin he could feel his body heating up.
Though he knew that those actions had been intended as a threat since the demon had thought him to be a spy for the Holy Maiden, still, Adriel could not forget that the man had called him ‘cute’.
And there had been lust in his eyes; Adriel could not have mistaken it.
The events after they had cleared the misunderstanding had been embarrassing enough as well. Nobody had ever used his lap as a pillow.
All that had just made a jumble of his emotions, so he had tried to banish all the shameful thoughts to the recesses of his mind.
Although he recalled Caleb mentioning something about the Demon-Lord taking a fancy to some of the servant boys, he was sure that would never happen to him.
There just really wasn’t anything particularly appealing or exceptional about him to attract the man’s interest so much the demon would actually start to pursue him.
It was during his next Demon-Lord ‘shift’ that Adriel found himself standing in front of the only framed picture in the room. It was a pretty watercolour – a desert oasis
“Do you like it?”
Adriel jumped. He turned around and saw the Demon-Lord broadly grinning, probably at Adriel’s expense. He had learned early on that the man had a mischievous streak a mile long.
“Um, yea, it’s very pretty,” Adriel answered a bit shyly. “Did you draw it?”
He remembered finding some charcoal sketches while cleaning on his first day, so he thought the supposition was not too farfetched.
The demon’s grin did not waver, and his chest even puffed out a bit as he explained “I did indeed. A guy can’t get stuck in a cell for some thousand or more years without picking up a few hobbies to pass the time. I mostly stick to landscapes, though. This little oasis is someplace I once stumbled upon in the Western Desert.”
Adriel’s eyes went wide. The Western Desert was a region occupied by uncivilized tribal people who did not worship the Saints. However, in the last years the tribes had been unifying at an unprecedented rate, and steadily growing in power. Most of them were engaged in trade, and a large percentage of items imported to the Holy Empire came through them, so a lot of people within the Empire felt that the emerging Merchant Republic was a growing threat.
“You’ve been to the Western Desert?” Adriel asked.
The Demon-Lord laughed.
“I have not always been locked up here, you know? I was already a young man when the Holy Maiden that ruled at the time captured me. I’d seen my share of the world.”
Here the man’s gaze suddenly grew clouded, even a bit wistful if Adriel had to guess as he gazed at the painting. A moment passed, and just when Adriel was wondering if he should say something to break the awkward silence, the demon began speaking again, softly this time as if he was revealing something intimate.
“In truth, I was born and raised in the Western Desert. My Grandfather had been a child during the Great War between the Holy Empire and the demons, and he’d escaped the Dark Marsh during a surprise attack. He had settled in the Western Desert to avoid pursuers from the Empire – the region had been even more treacherous back then. Still, he had to live on the move between settlements in order to not attract attention. My father, and later me were also born under those circumstances. I spent most of my childhood wandering from one small settlement to another, always looking over my shoulder…until it was already too late.”
As he spoke, Adriel listened to him, riveted. Although everyone knew of the demon locked in the dungeon of the Holy Citadel, his origins were much more mysterious. Generations of rulers had gone by since the imprisonment, and the truth of the matter was probably lost in some dusty archives accessible only to the priests of the highest order.
Now, hearing this, Adriel could not even imagine the sort of turmoil that must reside in the demon’s heart.
Unwittingly, he reached out both of his hands and grasped the demon’s left hand, giving it a soft squeeze.
That got the man’s attention. The Demon-Lord looked down at him, and seeing Adriel’s small pale hands wrapped around his, the look in his eyes softened.
Then he snickered.
“Hah…look at me getting all despondent. I must have looked downright downtrodden, for you to go all cute on me. Don’t worry, so much time has gone by that the memories no longer bother me all that much.”
Adriel shook his head.
“I’m just guessing, but I don’t think so. Locked up here, it must seem like time has come to a standstill and all you’re left with are your memories, so you can never really become free from recollections of the past…at least that’s what I feel.”
Immediately after, Adriel hung his head in shame, afraid he’d said too much.
After a moment, a hand landed on his head, giving it a pat. Then it slid down, caressing his cheek, and went under his chin, lifting it up. Adriel followed the motion and lifted his head, coming eye to eye with the Demon-Lord.
The soft look hadn’t left the man’s gaze, and now it was accompanied by a slight smirk.
“Now, aren’t you just patronizing me? And I remember you being so terrified of me on that first day, have I really lost my touch? I am still a full-fledged demonic lord, you know.”
Then he laughed, a deep throaty sound escaping him. Before Adriel could react, the Demon-Lord flicked his nose and turned around, still laughing.
When the demon reached the doorway to his bedroom, he turned around.
“I have something for you. Wait a moment.”
Adriel’s eyebrows rose. He could not imagine what the Demon-Lord could want to give him.
The man returned after a few minutes with a small, rather flat box. He immediately handed it over.
“It’s for you. Open it.”
Adriel timidly took the box from the man’s hands. He was too curious to protest that he didn’t need anything. When he opened it, he gasped at its contents.
There were graphite pencils inside. For drawing. And they were fancier than anything Adriel himself had ever owned.
He looked back up at the man, who seemed to have been judging his reaction.
“I’d noticed how bored you get whenever you come down here, since there’s not really much to do.”
Adriel’s cheeks immediately heated up in embarrassment.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m not used to not doing anything. Back when I worked in the gardens I was always on my feet since the gardens had to be kept in a perfect condition.”
The demon snorted.
“Oh, I can just imagine Dear Hosanna getting all dramatic over a single piece of weed in her perfect little garden.” Adriel flinched at the use of the Holy Maiden’s given name, but then the man continued.
“But there’s no need to apologize. I’m sure I understand tedium better than most.”
“But why pencils?”
“I’d noticed that you had very carefully packed away some of my old sketches. I thought you might like drawing or at least have an appreciation for art. These have been lying around here forever – I haven’t drawn anything for a long time so I thought they might be better appreciated by you.”
Adriel caressed the pencils as he listened to the explanation.
“They are very beautiful. Why haven’t you used them?”
The demon sighed, brushing his long red hair over his shoulder.
“I suppose I haven’t had the inspiration. True art requires a certain state of mind.”
Adriel kept his head downturned as he thought. He did really like the pencils, and he had lost all his art utensils, but…
“I can’t accept this. I do like drawing, but I’m not that good, nowhere near your level. At most all I’ve ever drawn are some of the prettier plants in the gardens. Not to mention, these are too good for me, I can’t keep something so expensive in my dorm-room.”
If Adriel had raised his head at this moment, he would have seen a scheming look pass over the Demon-Lord’s gaze.
“Then how about this,” he began, and put his hands over Adriel’s, closing the box. “Consider these pencils yours, but you can keep them here and use them during your shifts. As for your lack of drawing skills, I can teach you.”
Now Adriel was really stunned.
The demon smiled with a mischievous look in his eyes. “Sure. It’s not like I have anything better to do with my standstill time.”
Adriel blinked, and recalled his earlier words. He blushed. Which he seemed to be doing a lot lately.
But still he felt too happy to be flummoxed by his own actions around the demon. So he gave the man a wide smile.
“Thank you. I would love it if you taught me some of your skills. You’re very talented. When will we start?”
The Demon-Lord puffed up his chest at the praise, which was very easy to see as he was wearing another one of his deep V-neck shirts. His tail also went swishing left and right in excitement.
“I’d say there would be no better time than now, how about it?”
Adriel could not nod any faster.
That was how their first drawing lesson started. At first the Demon-Lord just sat him down and asked him questions to ascertain his knowledge on art, after which he made him draw a few things to establish his skill level. The rest of the day was spent with the demon giving him some basic tips.
Adriel ate it all up like he’d been starving. His schooling had been very basic, and any lessons on drawing would have been seen as frivolous. The Demon-Lord, on the other hand, seemed to have quite a bit of theoretical knowledge, and was more than happy to fill his ears full of it.
By the time Adriel found himself back in his dorm room, he already couldn’t wait for the next week to come around.
And so a new routine was established. Every time he went down to the dungeon to attend to the Demon-Lord, in between attending to his duties, he was given lessons in drawing by the demon.
They stuck to the pencils as their medium of choice, but Adriel hoped to one day work up his way to watercolours.
He’d glimpsed a very well kept set stuffed in a drawer, when the Demon-Lord had surprised him by requesting him to do some organizing in his bedroom. That had taken most of his day as the place had been a mess, like no servant had ever stepped foot in it. The only exception had been the closet since it was the servants’ job to put the clean clothes in it.
The watercolour set had sparked a flame in him, plus the Demon-Lord had added to it by showing him a few more of his works, including a few watercolours, one of which featured exotic flowers, the sort of which Adriel had never seen.
The demon had explained that they were native to the oasis in the central part of the Western Desert.
It had been enough to pique Adriel’s interest. Which lead him to where he was now – the Central library of the Holy Citadel. Only the first floor was open to the public, but he was convinced he could find some encyclopaedias on flowers that included exotic ones as well. It would just take some time. It wasn’t like this was his first time here, but he could not say he was overly familiar with the place either.
He wasn’t exactly a big reader – the most reading he’d ever done had been during his school years. His previous work hadn’t left much time for it, and aside from the days when he served the Demon-Lord, his current work also left him too exhausted for intellectual pursuits. Or so he told himself.
But he had come here a few times to fetch books for the demon who seemed to enjoy parsing through a good book. For the most part the book titles the demon asked for were too complicated for Adriel, though he did note that the demon enjoyed books about historical events, both long past and semi-recent. Adriel supposed it was one way for the Demon-Lord to keep up with what was happening in the world.
He passed another aisle, looking for the section on either encyclopaedias or biology – he wasn’t really sure where he would find what he needed – when the sound of a group of people whispering caught his attention.
“I’m telling you, there’s something going on with that demonic beast.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know, it’s just that he’s been acting…weird.”
Hearing this, Adriel couldn’t help it, he had to take a look towards the chattering people from the corner of his eye.
He recognized them, though vaguely. The one who’d started the conversation was among the seven assigned to serve the Demon-Lord, and he was sure he’d seen the other in the kitchen, so he had to be a lower servant as well.
Feeling anxious, but not knowing why, Adriel took a random book from the shelf and pretended to examine it as he listened on.
“Weird how? Aren’t demons always weird…they’re savage beasts.”
“Yea, but that’s the thing. He’s acting too good…it’s been forever since the last incident.”
The kitchen servant knitted his eyebrows “Isn’t that a good thing?”
The other shook his head in denial.
“It’s too suspicious…” he started, and then his voice went even lower, “I think he might have started fucking one of the servants.”
Adriel almost dropped his book, but caught it in the last moment. His whole body had gone stiff.
On the other hand, the first one’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Why the hell do you think that?”
“I’ve been around longer than you, I remember the last time he started fucking one of us. He was in a much better mood then as well…and no one had any idea of it until the Holy Maiden came crushing down and the poor sod who was spreading his ass got executed.”
A short silence ensued.
“You might be right. But why are you so worried? Unless you’re the one letting the Demon-Lord cram his dick up your ass?” The kitchen servant snickered.
The one who served the demon snorted. “Yea, right. I’d rather let a dog do it. But at that time the Holy Maiden also punished the other servants as a warning. We got ten lashes each. There’s no way I want that to happen again.”
“Damn, then you better hope there isn’t actually anyone dumb enough let the beast wreck their ass.”
The other nodded in agreement. Then they switched topics, but Adriel was no longer listening. Listless, he returned to the dorm, having completely forgotten about the book.
His fellow servant’s words would not leave his mind. He’d noticed that the Demon-Lord had been in a good mood lately, but he hadn’t thought it strange.
If what the other youth had said was true, it was because the demon had found a lover.
Amongst the seven of them.
When he thought of the time he’d spent together with the demon, Adriel shook his head in denial. The other boy certainly couldn’t have meant him. Although he felt that he and the Demon-Lord had grown closer, nothing intimate had happened between them.
But no, that time after he’d freed him from the chains had been a misunderstanding.
Something substantive must have happened to make the demon whose existence was so morose happy enough to make people suspicious. And he certainly had nothing to do with it.
In the end, he burrowed his unease deep inside. It was just a silly conversation between two servants. Nothing would come out of it.
However, it wasn’t the last time he heard the rumour. It seemed the kitchen boy had spread it around, because several times afterwards Adriel caught groups of lower servants discussing the subject in dark corners.
Every time he heard it, something heavy like a rock would settle over his heart, making his chest ache. And the only thought that reverberated in his mind was, had he really fallen for the demon?
Donesies~ Ahh, Adriel you dumb little adorable munchkin.
Next Chapter out in a week, I hope. I haven’t yet started writing the new chapter, but it’ll probably end up being really long, there’s tons of ground to cover and events to set up~
Also, I probably should mention that i put the unedited chapters I’ve written up to now, including the one with the smut up on Patreon as well, just as a little extra. All the edited and polished chapters will only be put on the blog, as far as my current plans are concerned.
Anyways, till then~