A young man wearing a thick, hooded coat stepped quickly through the rain as he walked past light posts, parked cars, and eye catching, glowing ads in the shop windows. A few small groups of mamano with men loitered in the alleyways, keeping out of the rain as they waited for their rides home, “Hey, handsome!” A tall, drenched, and obviously intoxicated yeti shouted at the young man, “Looking for someone to keep you warm tonight?” The man ignored her catcalling and kept walking. He stopped at a crosswalk and stared up at the black, starless sky, letting the small droplets pool on his face and slide down his cheeks. The light changed and the man stepped across the puddle covered crosswalk, trying not to step in any of the shallow pools of water. He paused for a moment as he stared at the front of a small, cozy bar. He peered through the windows of the sparsely populated bar as he looked for someone specific. In the far corner of the bar sat a group of four in a corner. The hooded man sighed with relief before stepping into the bar. The quiet sounds of conversation along with the sound of the rain against the roof combined to give the dimly lit bar a comfy feeling. The bar stools are sparsely occupied by men and mamano, flirting or joking with one another. A few of the tables have couples on double dates or just meeting up to grab drinks and another table is full of big, gruff looking mamano drinking shots. At the two pool tables, a pair of men wearing leather jackets with slicked back hair are getting into a very heated game while their werecat and kobold girlfriends watch. “Yo! Abner!” A female’s voice shouted out to the man, named Abner, as he looked around slowly. He snapped out of it and made his way to the back corner. A square chair sat against the wall with six chairs around it. Four of them, the ones across from each other, are occupied by four people. The young, hooded man took one of the two unoccupied seats. The duo on his right was Gary, a sorcerer specializing in storm magic- lightning, wind and rain along with his girlfriend Malina, a myconid and fungus witch. Malina smiled at Abner as she peeked out from under her mushroom cap. To Abner’s left was Lance, a wizard and Valene, his familiar wife, “How’s it going, man?” Valene asked as she ran her fluffy fingers through her snow white hair. She was a small, busty woman with fluffy arms and legs with even fluffier tall ears. Her star filled raven black eyes stared at Abner. “I-I’m fine,” The young man timidly stammered. “You don’t look fine,” Malina whispered. The myconid woman’s mushroom cap was wide and short with a dark red top. Her spongy skin in contrast was a light pink to nearly white in some spots. She wore black witch’s robes that might have hid most of her small body but for them being quite loose around her arms and shoulders. She glanced around the bar with dark reddish eyes, “Do you need any potions brewed? Something for your stamina? Your health?” “He always looks like that, Malina,” Gary chuckled, “Some drinks should be out soon,” The sorcerer played with a little, blue crystal orb. The insides of the orb crackled as electricity coursed through it. “Who’s D D tonight, dudes and dudette?” Valene demanded as she sat up in her chair. Her legs dangled off the edge of the chair, kicking back and forth childishly. “Aren’t you the designated driver tonight, Valene?” Lance pointed out. The plain clothed wizard smirks as his wife begins to stew, “I’ll give you a bit of my drinks, calm down. You love driving.” “Yeah, I do. But getting hammered with my friends is fun…” Malina looked past Abner and frowned, “No girl again today?” Abner’s heart sank, “Y-yeah. You know how busy she is.” “You’ve got all the time in the world to study at least,” Lance grunted. He glanced over as the bartender was finishing preparing their drinks, “How has conjuration studying been going?” Abner unzipped his hoodie and produced a thick, hardcover tome. He proudly opened it and showed Lance a few of the symbols he had drawn, “F-Finally got some perfect elemental sigils d-down,” He pointed at the rounded symbol next to the wavey air symbol, “Really-- very proud about this water sigil.” “It looks good, friend. Glad to see that written seals and sigils are working better for you than a staff was,” Lance smiled softly and gave him a nod. The shoggoth bar maid appeared next to the table, sending a shiver down Valene’s spine, “Rum and Coke…” She spoke in a strange echoey voice as she set it down on the table, “Whiskey on the rocks, a bottle of Mike’s, a duck fart, and a screwdriver.” “Thanks,” Gary smiled as he picked up the screwdriver. Valene grabbed the Mike’s Hard Lemonade and scowled as Lance snatched it from her, “It doesn’t even have that much alcohol! I can still drive!” The wizard downed a little less than half of it before handing it to his wife, “Just gotta make sure you don’t get tipsy,” He grabbed the whiskey and started to sip on it. “We’re stopping at the liquor store on the way home, bro.” Abner smirked as he picked up the rum and Coke and Malina grabbed the shot of duck fart, “What does your girlfriend like to drink?” “Uh, vodka? No, wine mostly,” Abner quickly corrected himself. Valene glanced over as she looked for something to occupy her time since she couldn’t get sloshed, “So. Tell me about her, Abner. You haven’t said a lot about her.” Abner shifted nervously, “W-well… I don’t think I’d do her justice. I-- You just need to see her yourself. You-- I’d just give a bad first impression.” Valene groaned, “Bro. Come on! It's not THAT scary to describe her to me, dude!” “Lay offa him,” Lance grunted quietly, “I’m excited to finally meet her, to be honest.” “Think he bagged a cute one?” Gary smirked as he took a drink of his screwdriver. “Garus!” Malina put down the now empty shot glass and very lightly punched him on the arm to get him to stop. Gary chuckled, “Come on, aren’t you curious too?” “Deathly curious!” Valene shouted. Abner quietly wished he could vanish as he waited for them to stop pestering him about it, “Anyways,” The familiar finished her lemonade, “You guys got any new stories?” Malina nodded, “I was brewing potions the other night and…” Abner stared down into his drink anxiously as he spaced out. He enjoyed spending time with his friends, he glanced up and watched Valene laughing out loud at Malina’s story. Lance smirked and Gary just shook his head. Abner slowly settled in, relaxed, and started to nurse his drink. A phone buzzed, waking Abner from his slumber. His head felt foggy and pained from the liquor he had drank last night. Abner rolled over and picked up his phone, checking the name on it. ‘MOM.’ He groaned, but answered it, “Hello…?” His voice sounded hoarse and weak. “Good morning! Did I wake you up, baby boy?” His mother asked teasingly. He sat up at the edge of his bed and rubbed his eyes, “N-No…” “Alright, sweetie. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do some shopping at that mall near you, and you said your girlfriend is usually around on Tuesdays, right?” “...Yeah,” It was currently a Monday morning. “Good! Well, we’re gonna come up to that mall next week on Tuesday. We’ll swing by and have dinner at your place and meet your girlfriend!” Abner was quiet as his heart started to race, “I-I don’t know if she’ll be around.” “Then beg her to be around! Do whatever you need to! What kind of mamano doesn’t have time to spend with her loved ones?” His mother gasped, “You’re not dating a… human are you?” “Nn-no no no, mom! You raised me better than that,” He quickly explained, “Okay, mom. I’ll do whatever it takes. J-Just don’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t happen.” His mother sighed quietly, “Alright, sweetie, I’ll let you go. Have a good day, good luck with your studies! Love you!” “Love you too…” Abner mumbled back and listened as his mother hung up to the phone. The conjurer put his phone down as calmly as he could before putting his head in his hands, “Oh no…” He rose from his bed and put his hands on his head, “E-everyone's getting suspicious now… I actually gotta find a girlfriend!” Abner started to scramble around his room in a panic. The man was already dressed in his usual hoodie and jeans since he had passed out in them after drinking. His bedroom was a mess with clothes strewn across the floor and over the small couch that sat against the wall. Movie posters dotted the walls along with small sigils drawn on little papers. Abner scurried out of his messy room and into the somewhat messy main room of his apartment. The blinds and curtains were all closed, casting an inky blackness over everything. Dishes sat near the sink in the darkness, discarded bottles lay around on tables and counters, and various tomes and books lay open, their pages half read and covered in dust. Abner went to one of the little papers that were pasted to the wall and put his hand on it. The paper had a symbol for fire, an almond shape with a line across it and a few T shapes surrounding it. Every candle in the room, all also covered in ink of various shapes, ignited at once, casting an orange glow across the room. To occupy his time, and to make the room a little more presentable, Abner began to pick up his trash. Bottles went on the counter with the others and other garbage was dumped into a trash bag. As the bag was filled, Abner grabbed a large sheet of magical paper from a nearby drawer. From his coat he grabbed the instrument of his magic: a fountain pen carved of elven oak and filled with mana infused ink. He held it up reverently before putting pen to paper. He uttered a few words, whether it was a prayer to the powers that be or a spell he cast, he was never really sure. Mayhaps it was all just superstition to him, though he admitted that was silly on account of magic being real. He took a deep breath and started to draw upon the paper to perform his conjuration magic. Symbols for fire, containment and power were all drawn within a circle with enough space for each of the drawn symbols to breathe and draw in the aether they needed. Each symbol was crafted with care, Abner was sure not to use too much ink as that would make the symbol too powerful and too little ink would do the opposite. As he finished the large circle that surrounded everything but the containment symbols, the sigils began to glow. First the containment, then the circle then the fire. Abner got up and grabbed the full trash bag and placed it within the circle. Soon, the bag was incinerated along with the paper. The smoke, fire and smell all were trapped within the aether as the paper was destroyed. He sighed and started to think. His living room was clean at least. As he thought he started to clean again. First the bedroom where he used conjuration again to wash his clothes before putting them away himself. He skipped making the bed as usual. After a quick shower and a light breakfast consisting of a piece of cheddar cheese and a few apple slices, Abner made his way into the other room of his house, the study. Bookshelves lined the walls and two tables were set up that held various magical reagents. In the center of the room was a lectern, a spot for him to practice his more rigorous magics. He swiftly returned the books from his living room to their spots and breathed a deep sigh. The usual mess of his apartment was a comfort, but cleaning it was also how he cleared his mind. Abner locked the door and began to think, he was in too deep with the girlfriend lie. He had never dated before and couldn’t even remember the purpose for the lie, maybe he felt pathetic but didn’t want to bother with a woman getting in the way of his studies. The truth was that he was a handhold-less and kissless virgin. Lance and Gary, his only two friends, had girls and he had felt that he needed to act like he had one too lest he become something of a fifth wheel and left out of future gatherings. He looked himself in the mirror after hesitantly lowering his hood. A tired, clean shaven, baby face stared back. While he was thankful that being the son of a monster girl brought him the ability to weave magic and some semi dashing looks, he wasn’t sure if those two things alone could bring him luck with a woman, monster or no, “T-There has to be a better option. A quicker option. I only need a fake girlfriend for a week. I could tell them we had a break up...” It could work, he thought to himself, after all this made-up girlfriend never seemed to have time for him and his albeit scarce social life. He pulled the hood back over his head and reached into his coat once more, the coat was enchanted with Abner’s conjuration magic as well as some of Lance’s enchantments. The conjurer retrieved his magic tome, unlike a wizard’s spell book, this book’s pages were mostly blank, ripe to be drawn upon to bring magic forth on the special pieces of parchment. Abner set his tome upon the lectern and opened it to two blank pages. He breathed a deep sigh, “I will summon a girlfriend. How about…” He hurried over to a shelf, “An elemental?” He opened up a tome and looked at some of the higher power leveled elementals, the ones that were actually mamano now. Most of what he had summoned before were small, brainless and non-humanoid elementals that he used to light his candles after binding them to a sigil. Feeling like dating an elemental would be awkward because of this, he slammed the book shut. He moved onto fey and quickly put it down after remembering their size. Perhaps an angel or some other form of celestial? Even if they were likely to go for it, that was probably blasphemy in a few different religions. That left only one category, the fiends. Devils and demons. Probably just as blasphemous, Abner thought to himself, but he shrugged anyway as he grabbed a thick tome. He didn’t dig too far into the tome of fiends, he wasn’t looking for anything powerful, an imp would be an easy target for binding to his will for just a week. With weary, heavy eyes and an even heavier body, Abner slowly and carefully stroked long, elegant lines of power across the pages with steady hands. He had spent all of Monday planning and had spent most of Tuesday getting ready to draw the sigils. A large spiral shape, a portal, was drawn in the center with T’s pointing at it in a circular pattern. Around the circle he drew smaller symbols to give the main portal power. Along the ground he laid out papers in a circle and began to draw a large circle to keep whatever he summoned in. He breathed deeply as he grabbed a small tome from the table, the words he needed to chant at the ready. Abner neared the lectern and began to ink some of the last lines. As his anxiety came at him, he pressed harder than necessary with his pen, casting thick, powerful lines across the pages. He grunted, thinking nothing of it before finishing the lines. He was prepared for whatever imp came through. As the last of the lines were drawn, the sigils began to glow. First the containment runes began to glow, then the runes that powered the portal, and then the portal itself. Abner opened the pages to the passage he was looking for, his Latin was sound, or at least sound enough from what Gary had taught him. The portal began as a red, swirling circle with a black inky void as it searched for a suitable target. He waited and waited as the portal continued to spin and spin. The sigils kept glowing, so he knew the drawn incantation was working. With a frown, he approached the lectern and drew more sigils of power, strengthening the portal. He finished his strokes and stepped back, watching the book intently. Strangely, the portal had turned a deep purple when he merely blinked. He scratched his chin, the portal NEVER turned purple when he did this. He felt like something was amiss and started to prepare another sigil to close it. Abner carefully drew a perfectly straight line and then another intersecting it at a 63 degree angle toward one end. As he tried to draw a circle around it, a loud crash rang out in his study. The sudden noise startled him, making him mess up the circle and leave ink on his desk. He hastily wiped it up and tried to fervently close the portal with another sigil. As another boom echoed from the portal, Abner knew it was too late to close it, he could only prepare something to defend himself with. “FOR TEN THOUSAND YEARS I HAVE BEEN IMPRISONED!” A voice shouted from the purple void as two hands gripped the edges and began to pull a body through, “AT LAST, I AM FREE!” With his heart pounding violently in his chest, Abner fell to the floor, trembling as he watched a form pry itself from the portal. The room shook, wind howled and thunder boomed in the little study. Books fell off their shelves, papers were scattered in the whirlwind and candle sticks fell to the floor. Abner closed his eyes, cowering away, praying his wards would hold back whatever it was. Then, as if turned off by the flick of a switch, the noise stopped. The wind died and everything lay still with no noise other than the low hum of the opened portal. With a shaking body, the conjurer slowly peeked at the results. A woman, more specifically a monster girl, stood half way out of the portal. Her purple skin was illuminated by the bright portal, her heather colored hair gracefully fell over one eye and splayed across her shoulders majestically. From the sides of her head jutted large bat ears with lavender innards and two sets of small horns. Large, plum and lavender bat wings sprung from her hips and curled forward like a skirt. Her clothes, a low cut leotard and sleeves of a soft magenta along with indigo tights, were form fitting, showing off her curves. Her eyes slowly opened, red glowing eyes on black sclera, slowly scanned the room before settling on Abner, “Ah, a mortal has freed me?” Her lips curled back into an impish grin. She put one hand on her chest and the other extended outward, “A human mortal!? How peculiar!” She giggled, stepping from the portal and gracefully gliding to the wooden floor, “While I usually would be quite cross from being summoned, I must thank you, mortal,” She stepped over the containment sigils, “For your little ritual has broken my rusted chains and awoken me from my extended nap!” Even if he was shaking violently in terror and could hardly breathe, Abner still snatched up his little book and opened to a page, “D-Domine, exaudi me daemon! Tuum erit, iam non est tua, mihi mandatum est legem tuam! Esse tenetur ad me et videte verba mea!” He extended his hand toward her as he attempted to exert his will. The demon stared at him before bursting out laughing. She laughed and laughed at him, right in his face as he trembled with fear. It took her minutes, but she eventually calmed down and wiped the water from her eyes, “Hoo boy. You are serious, are you not? You know not what you are dealing with, do you, mortal?” She folded her arms and floated into the air, crossing her legs as she floated in front of the man, “I am… Sybel. Elder trickster devil of the lowest depths,” She stretched her limbs. Abner slowly stood, not sure what else to do. Sybel stood little over four feet tall, surprisingly, a full head and a half under him, “You are lucky I am in such high spirits, mortal. I find you quite humorous. Seeing as all of my other pactsworn have… departed, I will allow you to make a pact with me. Now, where is a suitable throne…?” Her red eyes scanned the room, and after a moment of searching she shrugged and snapped her fingers. Books and candles flew off the shelves as each snapped into place below her, forming a makeshift throne. At once the candles lit up and she sat down before Abner, still grinning ear to ear, “Kneel before me,” Abner felt his body move, unsure if it was his own doing or hers. He got down on one knee and bowed his head, “What is it you desire? Surely you had a reason to be performing a summoning ritual. Power? Money? Strength? Looks? Speak and we will make a pact.” “I-I--” Abner’s words were stuck in his throat. “Come, out with it!” “I-- Sybel, I-I r-require a date, f-for a week only. Th-that is my request for a pact,” Abner quickly explained. Sybel stared at him. With the snap of her fingers a book appeared in a flash of purple smoke and fire titled ‘Human Terminology.’ She waved a finger at the floating tome and it opened to a page. ‘Date: a term for when two humans, generally a man and a woman, try forming a loving and intimate relationship. This can lead to marriage (See page 407) or a breakup.’ Sybel blinked at the page and then at the summoner. She burst out laughing again, “Surely this is a jest! All who gaze upon me find my form reprehensible! Children cry, women weep, and men’s terror lay them low!” She laughed loudly, slamming her hand repeatedly on the armrest of her throne. Abner looked up in confusion. Was a mamano really calling herself ugly? Was she joking? “Y-you said ten thousand years, didn’t you?” “Hm? By my estimate I was sealed away for that long, yes,” She still chuckled and wiped a sizzling tear from her eye. “Do you… know what m-mamano even are?” She paused and checked her human book again and found nothing, “No. I demand you explain yourself.” “Hoo boy…” Abner stood and rubbed his forehead. He opened up a drawer and passed a small silver mirror to Sybel before going to one of his shelves to find a mamano history book. Sybel frowned at the mirror before gazing into it. Gone were her ghastly, monstrous features. Now, she had a face like one of the women she had bestowed looks onto before. Her body was lithe with wide hips and covered gorgeous skin free of any blemishes. She looked good and she knew it, “What gorgeous purples,” She mused to herself as she looked at her clothes, “How did this happen? I did not change my form. Did you do something?” Abner scoffed, “I-I’m no w-where near that strong. T-this might clear some--something up,” He handed over a book of mamano history. The devil used her magic to make it float and started to read it. As she did, Abner took time to clean up the study. “So, the Maou. I think I knew her before she rose to power,” Sybel explained, “Played a few tricks on her of course, but she understood it was all in good fun,” Abner nodded as Sybel put the book down. She wasn’t sure how interested Abner was, it was obvious how nervous he was acting-- any mortal in the presence of a beautiful woman would do that, but was he afraid? She was not sure, “Interesting. I am amazed she still decided to change me despite my being locked up,” With the snap of her fingers the book floated back to its spot on the shelf, “Truely, I must thank her some day. But for now, our pact. You wish for me to date you?” “Y-y-y-yes,” Abner stuttered, not daring to look her in the eye. The devil frowned. She felt a little pang in her chest as she watched the man stutter through his words. Was she feeling… bad? She shook it off and continued, “For what reason? Surely you did not see my old form within a tome and decided you wished to fornicate with me!” She laughed, “But you mortals always were quite strange.” Abner shook his head rapidly, “N-no. You admittedly w-weren’t my target. I just wanted a simple imp. A-as for why… I’ve… uh…” “Out with it, mortal.” “Okay!” He snapped, “I-I-I-I’ve been lying about having a girlfriend for two months! I just need you to pretend to be in a relationship for a week, meet my friends, meet my parents and then you can vanish. I’ll weave a story about a break up and you can forget about me!” Guilt crossed his face. He felt disgusting asking for this, asking a mamano to pretend to be in a relationship with him. Sybel floated before him, watching as his head hung low. Was this what pity felt like? She felt like she was becoming a mortal at this point with all of their wants and emotions and feelings... how reprehensible. She would need to scold The Maou for instilling her with this weakness, “You can stop groveling. I will do it. But what should your part of this deal be? I suppose I will need to reforge my following somehow, so I shall treat you like the rest of my pact sworn, or rather the first of my pact sworn. When I give you directions, you follow them. Is that understood?” She eyed him, expecting his answer. “Y-yes,” He answered quickly. He didn’t dare refuse her as he knelt before her. “Wonderful,” She grinned as she started to utter an ancient and demonic evocation. On the back of Abner’s hand a small symbol appeared. He wondered if he was damned for hell now, “And it is done,” There was a feeling of… joy, perhaps that swelled up inside of Sybel and made her grin a soft, warm smile. She shook herself, “You will find that my affection is not as easily gained as my agreement for a pact.” “I-I understand,” Abner nodded as he rose to his feet. “So. What shall we do first, my temporary suitor?” Abner folded his arms, “L-lunch, I-I guess.”
Abner woke up on Wednesday morning. He rolled over from his stomach onto his back and stretched. He carefully scanned his dark room using what little light filtered in through his window. Bookshelves around the room were full, unlike the study the ones in this room were primarily fiction. A now disused desk sat in the corner with a few scrap papers on it and some extra magical components that had no place in the study. A soft, nice couch sat along a wall near the bed. Sitting on the couch with a large stack of books next to her was Sybel. The little devil sat with one leg folded over the other as she read about American history. As the conjurer stirred in his bed, she looked up at him with her crimson eyes, “Are you about done? You have slumbered for far too long and I demand you entertain me!” After a yawn, he sat up and looked over at her, “Did you s-stay up all night?” “Yes, of course I did. I have no need for sleep or resting. I grow tired of reading of old men who have long since died,” Sybel bemoaned as she closed the book and tossed it aside, “Entertain me,” She said again with a bit more force. With another yawn and a sigh, Abener got out of bed and grabbed his water bottle, “Alright, I’m up. W-what do you w-want to do?” Sybel thought for a short time, almost mockingly as she put a finger to her chin, “Hmm,” She looked him up and down, “Show me your daily routine. I am curious what it is mortals do in this day and age. Even to an immortal being like me, ten thousand years is an awfully long time,” She remarked. Abner wasn’t sure if she was mocking him or had some awful scheme planned, “I-is this an or-order? P-part of the pact?” “Do not think of it that way. Think of it like a small quest in those fiction books you seem to enjoy,” She paused as Abner started to meander around his room, looking for something, “Those books. Do you like them?” The man nodded slowly as he picked up his phone, “Y-yes. I used to r-read them all the time.” “What is it you read now? Just about history?” “M-magic mostly. E-even if I’m not a w-wizard, I enjoy the topic,” He explained as he sat on the edge of the bed. “That magic you practice. I have seen runes and sigils done by masters, part of what sealed me away was conjuration. It took dozens to seal me away, but it took only one to break my binds. You seem to be skilled at it.” “T-thank you. I-I’ve been practicing conjuration for a very long t-time. I-I have very little talent for s-spell weaving l-like a w-wizard,” He explained as he got up and started for the bathroom, “Lance taught me how to use a s-steady hand to d-d-draw ma-magic runes.” “Steady hands?” The devil floated up to the runes stuck to the wall, “Well, if only your voice was as steady as those hands,” She grinned at her ‘playful’ jab but the frown he made caused her impish smile to falter, “What do these on the walls do?” She quickly changed topics. “K-keeps sound in,” Abner flipped on the shower faucet, “Or out.” Sybel’s eyes turned to the water that had instantaneously come out of the wall, seemingly, “Is that magic as well?” “N-no. It's plumbing,” He smirked, “It’s an invention of human engineering. T-totally mundane,” “Not so, it seems even those who cannot perform magic can bend nature to their will. I believe I read about this in one of your books. I’m mildly impressed, considering what you humans did ten thousand years ago. I suppose ten thousand years will bring about some innovation. But I still find it… wasteful considering you can draw sigils to bend said elements to your will. You need only use your ability to make yourself clean.” Abner shrugged, “I p-prefer this. More r-relaxing w-with almost n-no effort used. Wh-why waste the m-mana?” He reached for his shorts to take them off as Sybel made a ‘hmph’ noise, “O-oh. C-can you go?” He whimpered, “I-I need to shower.” “What?” A flash of anger crossed Sybel’s face, “You seek to instruct me? After I said I wanted to view your routine?” Shrinking away from the woman, Abner began to stutter horribly, “D-d-d-do y-you r-r-really n-need to see m-me n-naked? T-to w-w-watch me ba-bathe?” With a roll of her eyes, Sybel looked at her pact sworn, “Cease your yammering. Do you really believe I covet you so much that I would gaze upon you washing yourself like a common pervert? I am a devil of trickery! Not of lust! I have no reason to examine your mortal form!” “R-right.” Sybel’s lips curled into a devilish smile. What she had said had been a trick too. She had seen anatomy within the tomes she had read, but she would not pass up the opportunity to really see it with her own eyes. She wondered if it was her own curiosity getting the better of her, Abner seemed strange and rather nervous at all times like a mouse under the watchful eyes of a cat, she was curious what made him tick. There had to be reasons beyond this lie he had told her about to want her to stick around, even if it was temporary. Perhaps he had read of her in one of his books and seeked her out for a chance at a shard of her power? Did he have devious intentions? She decided to keep a close eye on him, even if her… new form and instincts told her to do more than simply observe her ‘date.’ She could hardly understand why she felt this way, especially towards a mortal. Sybel shook herself. Mayhaps more research was required. After his shower, Abner uncomfortably brushed his teeth and shaved as Sybel’s eyes were fixated on him the entire time. She watched him intently with a strange interest, even inspecting the toothbrush once he was through with it. She floated just behind him, staring through his bathroom mirror and into his eyes. The devil rubbed the fabric of his bathrobes between her fingers, “Do all commoners have such luxurious robes?” The conjurer chuckled, “T-they could. I-it's n-not too expensive.” “Perhaps I require a set for myself.” “I-is that a re-request?” The man asked with a little smirk. The woman scoffed and sneered, “Watch your tongue, mortal. You have begun this… relationship in my good graces and you should see that you do not… tarnish it,” Her dramatic pauses unnerved Abner but he dared not show it. The little smirk on her face sent a shiver down his spine. He had no idea what she was capable of, he was definitely in over his head, “It is not a request. But perhaps you can point me to a store later where I can acquire one. Now move along. What else is included in your morning routine?” Wordlessly, Abner returned to his room and put on his clothes. He went to the kitchen and poured himself a hefty bowl of Captain Crunch. Sybel frowned again as she watched him eat, “I still do not understand this eating. Can magic not fill your gut?” “E-even if I u-used a nourishment spell, I-I would still be hungry,” The conjurer smirked, “The f-feeling of being f-full makes me f-feel al-alive.” Sybel makes a strange face full of disbelief, “Give me some.” The man nodded and poured her a small bowl of sugary cereal. The devil’s frown deepened as the milk was poured, “Do you prefer your food… soggy?” “J-just this.” “Everytime?” “Yep.” The devil stared at the sugary lumps floating in the white liquid. She observed the man scoop his soggy breakfast into his mouth with a spoon. She did the same, taking a small, cautious spoonful and putting it in her mouth. Strange and new flavors coated her tongue. She held the food in her mouth, unsure what to do now, “Naur whut?” A bit of milk dribbled down her chin. She nearly jumped as she saw panic in Abner’s eyes. “Y-y-you need to c-chew it!” He insisted, terrified that she would start choking. Sybel nodded and mimicked his jaw movements until the delicious food was turned into a paste, “N-now just s-swallow it.” The devil did as instructed, feeling food slide down her gullet for the first time in her very long life. The food crashed into her stomach and sat there. She sat still and stared down at herself, feeling a bit of a warm sensation as the food filled her stomach, “I find this feeling to be mildly pleasant. I shall have more.” Abner sighed with relief and went back to eating his own meal. As Sybel finished her she demanded more. The man gave her more without any fuss. The devil took the time to look around her host's main room. The two sat at a small four chair dining table next to the kitchenette. In the living room was a large couch and a leather recliner in front of a small coffee table and a TV. The TV was a bit dusty due to not being used. Near that was a desk with a computer, a light on the tall black monolith signaled that it was on and waiting for input. There was very little in the way of decorations other than small sigils that the conjurer had affixed to the walls. Sybel finished her second bowl before Abner finished his first. She felt nice and full, the warm and almost tingly sensation was almost unbearable now, “More. I want more,” She demanded. Abner shook his head, “Y-you’re going to t-throw up f-from overeating, S-S-Sybel.” The devil was taken off guard as the man stuttered her name. She would normally have snapped at him, but the wonderful feeling of being full plus how her heart fluttered in her chest as the man stammered out her name. Unbeknownst to her, it made her ears wiggle slightly in an adorable fashion. It was a completely alien mixture of feelings that turned her quite amicable. She quickly decided to listen to him, “Fine. I can see you only have my health in mind. For a mortal, you are quite… helpful.” Abner glanced at her and gave a little soft smile at the praise he had received, “T-thanks. A-anything else I-I can e-explain to you?” Sybel floated her small form over to the black monolith with a softly glowing blue light on it, “Explain this.” “T-that’s a computer,” Abner booted it up and Sybel squinted at the bright screen, “Y-you can look up w-whatever you want on here, p-play games, watch v-videos. Gi-give me a topic.” “Hmm…” She searched her mind, “Something mundane, perhaps? Cereal.” The conjurer snorted and typed it into the search box. The devil watched as images, words, and videos all came up on the page. Abner started going through images and pages, “T-this is the inter--internet. J-just a taste of w-what you can do.” “An encyclopedic wealth of information at your fingertips? Is this sorcery or more human ingenuity at work?” The man smirked, “Mo-more human ingenuity. The in-internet was around before monster girls were.” “Hm. Interesting. I have to give mortals even more credit, I suppose. They seem to make useful inventions,” Sybel nodded, “Is that a larger computer?” She pointed to the TV. “It-- You can only w-watch stuff on it,” He showed her the remote and flipped through a few channels. “No looking for more information? What is the point?” “J-just entertainment.” “I see no point in it,” Sybel huffed, “Now. What transpires during the rest of your day?” “N-not much else,” He strolled into the study and started to work on his studies. He grabbed his tome and set it aside before grabbing a thick, leather bound book on conjuration symbols. Sybel sat on one of the tables and watched him work, staring intently as his hands made almost unnaturally steady and clean lines. Years of practice and discipline came forth on even the most simple sigils that did little more than expel cooling air or make a tiny fire. He moved on to trying to summon a sphere of water and balance it in mid air with a minor anti gravity enchantment. Sybel watched as the conjurer splashed water on himself twice as he struggled to draw the anti gravity enchantments fast enough at the right thickness. The devil frowned as Abner scowled at himself. She floated over as he crumpled up the paper and tossed it into a bin with the others, “Frustrated?” The conjurer blew air out of his nose in response. She sounded as if she was speaking to a child. With the snap of her fingers, the water came off of Abner’s hoodie and formed into a floating sphere. Sybel snapped again and turned it into a ball of ice which she rolled between her fingers, “You are overthinking it. Your lines do not need to be perfect. Your perfectionist tendencies will do naught but send you over the edge. Your lines are wonderful, but when speed is needed you should not worry as much.” “H-how do you k-know so much?” Abner asked as he prepared another paper. “I did some reading last night. And I have been summoned before by conjurers and have dealt with them before. I have my own sigil, even!” She bragged. Abner nodded and took a deep breath. He began by slowly drawing the swirling water sigil. As it slowly started to glow, he hurried to draw the two gravity runes, letting himself draw mildly messy lines as he drew a large circle, then a small circle and a backward Z shape through both. He hastily repeated it on the other corner and sighed as the water that was summoned floated up above the page and formed a small, swirling circle, “W-wow…” “You may thank me!” “Yeah, thanks, S-S-Sybel.” Abner’s stuttering and stumbling through her name made her chest pound again and her ears wiggle. And that smile on his face… Sybel felt like she would melt like the ice dripping through her fingers as her face turned red, “Y-yes, of c-course,” She found herself stuttering as she turned away, “I suppose it falls to a... greater being such as me to guide the poor mortals in need,” Abner chuckled and returned to his working, making sure he can repeat his success, “You know…” The devil floated near him, almost whispering in his ear, “If you wanted to skip this work, we could… change our pact. A shard of my power could be yours.” The conjurer shook his head, “U-using magic w-without training c-could be disastrous. I-I don’t want to h-hurt anyone be-because I’m untrained. A-and besides, my voice… st-stuttering k-keeps me from being ab-able to use my w-w-words to conjure m-magic.” Sybel waved her hand dismissively at him, “Fine. Return to your studies. I will merely watch.” With a nod, Abner went back to work. Sybel watched intently, now even more confused about what this man really wanted. More research was definitely required. She could hardly tell what made this man tick. The rest of her day was spent watching Abner’s studies and having lunch and dinner with him. On Thursday, sometime in the evening, Abner pulled his old car up to a local restaurant. Sybel sat shotgun with an old phone book as a seat to allow her to see over the dash. The devil crossed one leg over the other and folded her arms, “I find this chariot… intriguing. But I would have prefered something more mundane and traditional,” She noted. She hadn’t learned much about this world, she had been focused on her own magic so far as well as Abner’s. She had watched him prepare food using the oven, and she found it quite unnecessary and wasteful. She showed off her magic by almost instantly cooking a small pie with the snap of her fingers. Abner sighed, “I-I don’t have the m-money to take you out to d-dinner and rent a c-carriage. I’m sorry.” The devil sighed, “I suppose it can’t be helped. I am unsure if I have any funds. When my imp servants left, they may have taken my wealth with them. I wonder if my castle is still around.” “Y-you have a c-castle?” “Of course I do! What sort of grand demon would I be if I did not have a stoney reminder of the reach of my domain and the power I possess!” She huffed, almost offended that he doubted her claim. “W-wonder if I-I’ll ever see it,” The man mused aloud. “If you prove yourself a most… delightful plaything as one of my pact sworn, perhaps I will let you,” She smugly declared as her chauffeur pulled into the parking lot, “What a quaint little building,” She smirked as she gazed upon the local restaurant that Abner had been to a few times, ‘Vivian’s Vineyard.’ A somewhat fancy restaurant, something that Abner hoped would be to the devil’s taste. She was dressed in her usual leotard, sleeves, and leggings while Abner wore a polo and slacks. The conjurer first stepped from the car and looked at the devil. She pouted at him with an expectant look. Without knowing what else to do, he went to her car door and opened it for her and offered her his hand, “Oh, thank you,” Sybel said a bit sarcastically as she stepped from the car. Abner said nothing and tried to rescind his hand but the devil gripped his fingers with surprising strength, “Where are you headed to in such a hurry? Is this not what two who are dating do? They grip one another’s hands intimately? At least that is what I saw on the television.” “Y-you watched some s-shows? I th-thought you didn’t c-care abou-- about that stuff,” Abner raised an eyebrow as she dragged him to the front of the restaurant, “W-when did you h-have time to watch i-it?” “Do you think a being of my caliber needs to sleep like a mere mortal!?” She laughed haughtily before Abner opened the door for her, “I had naught else to do as you slumbered in your chamber,” The two stepped into the building together, Sybel finally letting go of her date’s hand as the two approached the holstaur working the front of house, “Two today?” She asked with a smile. Abner nodded, “Yes,” He managed to keep in his nervous stuttering for once as the cow woman picked up two menus and led the couple to a small booth. Sybel glanced around as they walked, the atmosphere was warm and comfortable, there were couples and groups all chattering away at their tables. There was a pleasant smell of food in the air combined with a local radio station playing soft rock. “Your waitress will be with you soon!” The cow woman left and returned to the front. Sybel sat across from the conjurer and picked up one of the menus, “How does this work? Is a servant bound to us? One that waits on us hand and foot?” “No-not exactly,” Abner sighed as he grabbed a menu, “J-just fo-follow my lead.” The devil looked past the menu covered in images of food and picked up a little leaflet, “Oooh, what a vast selection of alcohol,” She cooed as she perused it, “Perhaps a glass of wine would do me wonders.” “M-maybe you should tr-try something new?” Abner suggested, knowing that he wanted rum and Coke like usual. “Hmm… What do you reccomend, mortal?” The conjurer rubbed his face, “Maybe s-something fruity?” “Perhaps I will ask our servant,” She smirked. “Please d-don’t ca-call her a s-servant,” Abner whined, already embarrassed by his date. “Hi, and welcome!” A young cyclops with one big, red eye greeted with a warm, welcoming smile on her lips. “H-hello,” Abner politely replied with a smile. Sybel felt a pang of jealousy as Abner’s attention was pulled from her. She suppressed it, wondering what had gotten into her. She started to size up the cyclops with a fake smile on her face. “Can I start you two off with some drinks?” “R-rum and Coke f-for me,” Abner answered, then turned his attention to Sybel as he pulled out his driver’s license. The devil frowned as she stared at the mixed drink selection, “Well. I think a glass of red wine would be wonderful tonight.” “Alright…” The cyclops finished jotting down their orders, “Can I see your IDs?” Abner handed his card over and Sybel gave a confused look, “ID?” The devil repeated as she glanced at her date. “Yes, we card everyone who looks under 35 or is under four and a half feet,” The cyclops explained, still trying to put on a front of friendliness. Sybel turned hostile nearly instantly, “Are you saying I look like a wee babe?” “Ma’am, you’re--” “I am more ancient than the Maou you worship, more ancient than the world you step on, I can--” “Yeah, yeah, cast a pox upon my blood line or sever my soul from my body or cast me into the darkest pits of Hell. I’ve heard it all from shorties like you, lady,” The cyclops was obviously not having it from the small devil, “Show me your ID or no wine for ya.” Abner swore he saw fires raging in Sybel’s eyes. The man reached over the table and grabbed her wrist firmly. Her shock and surprise calmed her down for long enough for him to step in, “S-s-sorry. I-I-I-I’ll make s-sure she h-has her-her ID next t-t-time!” He gave a little nervous chuckle as he tried to defuse the situation. His nervous stammering made the cyclops and the devil both feel a little bad about the situation, not that either would say it. The waitress left quickly before the devil’s ire returned. She didn’t have enough time to get away. Sybel’s lips moved in hushed murmurs as she cast a small misfortune upon the cyclops. Sybel huffed as she regained her composure, “How rude.” “H-her or--” Abner stopped as Sybel’s glare turned to him, “Y-yeah. H-her.” “I am so, so… glad that you agree with me,” The devil’s composure finally returned to her, “May I see your ID?” She half asked and half demanded of her date. Knowing he really didn’t have a choice, he handed over the plastic card. She examined it, not really understanding the purpose of it, “They can tell your age from this?” Abner nodded and reminded himself that he only had to put up with this for five more days. He just prayed she wouldn’t do something like this around his friends or god forbid his parents. He glanced back over at his date and saw that she now held a second ID in her hands which she proudly presented to the conjurer. She had somehow created her own fake ID that looked and felt completely real, “S-Sybel!” His heart sank and started to whisper to her, “Y-y-you can’t j-just f-fake one o-of these! I-It’s a felony! They’ll l-lock you up a-again!” The devil scoffed, “There are not enough conjurers left alive to seal me away again. I will make sure of it,” She glanced over at her date’s pained expression. With a sigh, she snapped her fingers and removed her fake ID from reality, “There. Happy?” Abner nodded, “Thank-- Thank you.” “Alright!” The cyclopes announced her return. She had a tray with three glasses on it in one hand. Two waters and Abner’s liquor, “I’ve got some water,” She set one down in front of Sybel then grabbed the other to put in front of Abner. As she gripped the glass, slick with condensation, it slipped from her hands, landing right in the conjurer’s lap and making him shudder due to the ice water landing on his crotch, “Oh my god!” She gasped, “I-I’m so sorry! Here, I’ll go get you another and--” The waitress slipped and dumped the liquor on his lap too. The pool of cold liquids around Anbner’s feet grew as a wicked smile slowly curled up on Cybel’s face. Tears started to well up in the cyclops’ big eye, “P-please forgive… m-me…” She squeaked pathetically. Abner was so shocked he couldn’t speak, “Tsk, tsk,” Sybel purred, “First you insult me, now you spill drinks on my poor boyfriend? Is there no end to the abuse we must endure today?” “Y-you… you did this,” The cyclops glared at the devil. “Me!?” She gasped at the accusation, “Would I truly be so heartless as to make him the butt of a cruel joke? I could have had you spill it on me and ruin my clothes rather than ruin his!” The waitress stood and bowed apologetically, “Forgive me. Please,” She said, hardly holding back her tears before scurrying away, slipping on the spilled drinks, landing on her hands and knees, the tears now readily flowing, before getting up and hobbling away. Abner didn’t dare accuse Sybel of anything now. That smug smirk on her face said it all. The devil felt a little bad-- not for the cyclopes, of course, but for her precious mortal whom she had indirectly dumped two drinks onto. With the snap of her fingers, all of the liquid on Abner was blown off of him and onto the floor, “T-thanks,” He grumbled, knowing he may never return to this restaurant, with or without her. Soon, a different woman arrived with the liquor and a glass of water on another tray. In her other hand was a towel. With a sheepish smile, the green skinned woman with flowers in her hair carefully set the drinks on the table, “I am so sorry for the inconvenience,” She bowed as well, “Especially if she did really insult you, ma’am,” She turned to Sybel who smiled back. “Oh, it is quite alright. I understand that children can be quite uppity,” The devil gave an impish grin. “N-no need to r-reprimand her,” Abner stuttered, “M-my girlfriend dr-dried me off a-already.” “Yes, the spilling then tripping was more than punishment enough,” Sybel agreed, not wanting to upset him further. With another snap of her fingers, she made all the liquid on the floor coalesce into a large orb of liquid which she then turned into ice and placed onto a nearby empty table. “Well,” The plant woman sighed and collected herself, “Are you two ready to order?” Hours later, Sybel was gleefully eating orange sherbet ice cream with a few small gummy bears sprinkled on top. She let the tasty frozen treat melt in her mouth as she chewed the near frozen gummy candies. She was sprawled out on the large leather recliner as another mamano produced romantic comedy played on the TV. The two lovebirds in the show were now cuddling in a bed, telling each other how much they loved one another. She had watched three in a row and couldn’t even recall the plots at this point, they all blended together in her head into one big goofy sappy comedy. She chuckled as she watched their ridiculous display of affection, “Can you believe these people?” She scoffed and looked at Abner. The man sat on the couch, giving Sybel quite a bit of space as he hid his face within his hood. The devil turned away from the screen, ignoring it as she set down what was left of her treat on the coffee table. She floated herself in front of him in a pose as if she was lounging horizontally, including one of her hands supporting her head. She floated in front of him, expecting him to say something. In his hands, hidden from view, he practiced symbols on a small scrap of paper using mundane ink. Sybel sighed and reached out, placing a gentle palm on his chin and forcing his head up, just like she saw in those silly movies, “Mortal. What ails you?” Abner stared at her with tired eyes, “T-tired, that’s a-all.” “Come now. That is merely a half truth,” She hesitated for a moment, “You may speak freely, I will not get… snippy with you.” The conjurer sighed, “F-fine. I-I-I-I--” He stopped as his nervous stammering worsened. “Come now. Are you that afraid of me?” “I-I can s-see what y-you’re capable of, S-Sybel,” He grunted, “I am a l-little s-s-scared.” “I can promise you, I will not bite. Speak. Consider that an order,” Sybel sat up and folded her arms. “I-I-I’m just af-fraid that I can n-never show my face in public again if you k-keep doing what y-y-you did back there. W-what if one of my friends r-rubs you the wr-r-rong way?” The devil frowned, “Was what I did that dire? I merely defended my honor!” “I-it’s not about that…” He sighed, “Th-things have ch-changed, S-sybel. People don’t g-get into f-fights about th-that kind of thing any--anymore. A-at least n-not here!” “A fight would imply that it was a contest at all. She is lucky I showed mercy and merely had her take a tumble! I was the victor and that is all that matters.” Abner sneered. He was almost in disbelief at what she was saying, “W-what h-honor is there i-in a v-victory over a n-near powerless o-opponent?” The conjurer stood and stormed past her, going to his bedroom. “B-but…” Sybel watched him go, suddenly powerless to stop him. She had no response for him. She fell to the floor as she stopped concentrating on her levitation, she couldn’t focus on it now, she realised. As she stood, she pushed her messy hair from her face and returned to the leather couch. The pain in her chest was unbearable. Even bites of ice cream could do little to cheer her up now as she thought about her date’s anger. Was she in the wrong? She couldn’t be. Abner was a mere mortal, a child even. How could he know best? But… “He did save me…” She admitted, she felt like he had wisdom beyond his years, but how much wisdom? She pushed the conflict from her mind and returned to her sappy, humorous movies, trying to keep the thoughts at bay. Minutes turned to hours as Sybel sat in the dark. Her bowl of ice cream had long since been eaten and her heart and soul felt just as empty as the tub now. She watched as the couple in the movie started to cuddle again, giggling and teasing one another as they goofed around, “That looks nice,” Sybel admitted as she watched the man hold the monster girl tight in his arms, “I want to try that,” She decided. She wondered if she could force Abner to do that. She willed herself to float and found her magic had left her, hopefully just for now. Sybel rose and slowly walked to the bedroom. Just like the previous night, Abner was sound asleep on his full sized bed. Sybel climbed up onto the bed with him, “Abner-- Mortal?” She corrected herself, hoping that he hadn’t heard. He replied by shifting in his sleep slightly, “Good,” She ran a hand down his chest, her claws nearly tearing at the fabric. He was asleep on his side facing her. The devil carefully lifted up his shirt and touched his bare chest, “Now… what makes your body... tick?” She pressed three fingers into Abner’s pectoral muscles and forced his arms to move. She nearly yelped as the arms wrapped around her, pulling her close to his chest. Sybel felt a strange calm, like nothing could go wrong as she was held close to the man, “Most… wonderful…” She found herself yawning, her eyes slowly closing as they felt heavy. Her mind and body both felt at peace as she felt a strange but comforting sense of weakness come over her. Abner’s unconscious body held her tighter and closer, smiling as he felt the body in his arms. Sybel was even more happy as she drifted off to sleep for the first time in her very long life.
As the dawn’s golden light streamed into the bedroom, Sybel awoke. The small devil stretched and yawned, still held firmly in her boyfriend’s arms. She found herself unwilling to move, she was much too comfortable as she lay against Abner. She had almost instantly begun to daydream about putting a long term sleep curse on the conjurer and just laying with him for the rest of time. It made her sigh dreamily as she thought about it. But… would Abner like that? She wondered. Perhaps he would, she hastily decided, it was an honor for a mortal to even be this close to her. Even a mortal as… charming as Abner. She ran her fingers over the man’s skin again, feeling the warmth of his body as she caressed him. “What is wrong with me?” She asked herself, peeling her hand away from him, “Why do I feel so… drawn to him? Has he… cast a spell upon me? Is he attempting to bind me from his will?” As Abner rolled onto his back, Sybel climbed atop him, sitting on his stomach, “What secrets do you hide!?” She hissed, “What have you done to me!?” She received no reply as Abner slumbered peacefully despite the bright rays of the sun that were filtering in through the windows. She had examined her new form before, if the conjurer had done something to her, she would have been able to see it. But what had he done? Was it really his doing? There was an almost unnaturally wonderful feeling as she felt his skin, she absorbed the warmth of his flesh through her delicate finger tips, “What is it about you?” Sybel prodded the sleeping conjurer out of frustration, “Why do I feel this way?” With a sigh, she rolled off of him and lay next to him on the bed. She folded her arms and crossed her legs as she closed her eyes and began to think again. Perhaps she just needed some distance from him to clear her head. He was the first person Sybel had seen in ten thousand years, after all. Could it be that she was being afflicted by some form of Stockholm syndrome? She could not be sure, but a little distance would give her the opportunity to return to the underworld and give her domain a once over. She wondered if any of her minions were still around, they always had been quite loyal to her due to the boons she provided. Without them, would they still have been loyal? The thoughts slipped from her mind as Abner began to stir. Sybel sat up and gave the man an unhappy frown, “Finally awake, are you?” “G-good mo-morning to you too, S-Sybel,” He yawned and threw the blanket off of himself, “N-Need more ent-entertainment?” Sybel’s ears wiggled a little bit at the mention of her name, “N-- No. No I do not today. I merely wished to inform you that I will be stepping out today. Please take care of yourself while I am gone.” “O-oh… y-yeah, s-s-sure,” He nodded, holding back his frown, “I-I’ll just practice my s-sigils today…” “Come now,” She huffed and wagged a finger at him, “Stop looking so glum! I find it quite painful to leave my pact sworn all alone already. I do not need your crying to make me feel worse!” "R-right, s-sorry," The man sighed and sat up, "W-where are you g-going?" The devil gave him a glance, "You need not worry. I shall hopefully return soon. There are a few… questions that I need answers to," With the snap of her fingers a deep purple, swirling vortex opened at the foot of Abner's bed, "Be good!" She called in a teasing voice before floating through. Within the demon realm, the eternal night loomed with the ever present blood moon rising far overhead, boosting all mamanos powers within its far reaching range and casting a blood red haze across the land. Castles dot the red forests, rising high into the dark skies as the wealthy and royal lord over small domains. Standing in the gloom of the Demon Lord’s castle, Sybel glanced around at the surrounding area as mamano of various kinds went about their business. Lesser demons and devils of all varieties walked about with their human husbands as they went on errands or just on simple walks. The buildings around the tall, looming castle were all familiar to Sybel; they were in the style of old medieval buildings with thatched roofs and stone walls. But they were a bit more modern, Sybel could see a strange satellite dish on the roof of a few. Each also looked bigger with multiple floors and rooms like a modern human house. This was the crossroads, an entrance point in the demon realm that existed outside of the material realm of the human world. Sybel once more looked up at the massive walls of the Maou’s castle. Even if she knew she would be welcomed in, she didn’t dare step inside. She knew she wouldn’t like the benevolent ruler’s answers to her questions. The devil pulled the dark cloak she wore around herself and began to step across the cobblestone roads, she had her own little realm to check. With another snap of her fingers, she opened a portal for herself and stepped through. In a far off place, not too unlike the area she had just been in, Sybel appeared in a flash of light. A similar village sprawled around her. Rather than greys and browns for building colors, all the vibrant colors of the rainbow were splashed on most buildings haphazardly and each had strange, nonsensical geometry protruding from their roofs and walls, like a twisted, dark parody of those who lived in Wonderland, “It is wonderful to be home,” Sybel sighed with a little smile on her face, “Now. Where are my subjects?” She wondered. The streets were empty, mayhaps everyone was asleep? She shrugged, she had no desire to wake the residents. She looked toward the center of town where an equally strange and colorful castle stood with impossible angles and floating rooms connected to nothing. A purple barrier surrounded the castle, keeping all who would venture inside to steal and pilfer out. Smoke billowed out of a few chimneys toward the castle. Sybel walked that way in silence, the only noise being her boots clacking on the cobble stone path. She had been wrong with her original guess, it was becoming more and more apparent that the village had mostly been abandoned. She neared the center of town before she saw anyone. A young succubus was playing outside with a ball in Sybel’s path. As the devil approached, the succubus gave her a confused look, “Ho! Young one!” Sybel called as she approached, “Who is in charge here?” “Uhh…” The young succubus looked back toward the castle and pointed to it. “Hmph. Good enough, thank you,” She tossed the child a shiny gold coin and continued trekking toward the massive structure. Within the confines of the purple barrier the castle sat, there was a thick, multicolored moat. The drawbridge was raised and the palisade was down. A little sort of ‘town center’ had formed in front of the gates of the town. A few merchants and farmers sold food, tools, toys, or anything else they could create or grow. Sybel walked towards the group of lesser devils and demons that congregated. Some had human husbands at their side and some had demon dogs. A few mamano of other types were lingering around and Sybel wondered if they were residents. A few noticed her approach and gave a wary look, “Hm? Who are you?” A succubi called as her hand reached for the sword on her hip. “Stay your blade. I mean you no harm,” Sybel scoffed, still concealed by the cloak, “Who is your leader?” “We don’t got one,” A weak imp called, looking cross. “She’s been gone for long time,” A sad looking demon notes. “Ah… Perfect,” Sybel’s lips curled into an impish grin. With the simple snap of her fingers, the barrier surrounding the castle cracked rapidly, shattering into numerous gleaming purple shards that all disintegrated into purple glitter. With the wave of her hand the drawbridge lowered, leaving all the people around her staring with bulging eyes. They all gathered around, unsure whether to be angry or terrified that someone had finally broken the seal. Eyes darted from the castle to the short devil that was now floating above the crowd, “Hear me, for I will only say it once,” She threw the cloak from herself, showing off her beautiful form, “Your… wondrous and powerful queen has returned to lord over her domain once more! I understand you not recognizing me, as I assume most of you are not the same minions I left behind all those years ago.” “Bullshit!” An indignant imp cried, “How could someone so small control the power of the trickster lord?” A loud snapping of fingers forced the imp to her knees where her head was forcibly bowed, “Does anyone else require… a… demonstration?” Sybel haughtily asked with a cocky laugh, “No need to bow for me. I merely wished to announce my presence to you all before retiring to my castle.” “Wait!” A demon called, “What do you wish for us to call you now, o queen of darkness?” Sybel withheld a cringe at her old adopted title, a mantle taken from the old ruler, “...Sybel will do. Now. I will be retiring for a time before returning to the human world.” “Sybel?” A few murmured to one another as they parted ways for the devil to float by. “If you require my aid, contact me like your forefathers and mothers did,” With that, Sybel left the crowd and headed into her castle. Sybel didn’t bother to wander around the castle. She headed straight to her personal chambers where a formerly disused bed sat. There was a hollow feeling within her. While she was happy that her domain was still intact, it still felt empty in her castle. Rooms full of magical trinkets, treasures, collections of long since frozen demons that ikred Sybel in the past, and even one of the seven Legendary Swords where if each was to be collected, the wielder of the single resulting weapon would have the potential to end the world. Even when surrounded by so many grand things, she wondered what the point was. She got on the bed and lay on her back, she had felt nice when sleeping but now that same warmth and comfort had left her with a cold and completely unwelcoming feeling. She lay there for about an hour, tossing and turning to try and find a comfortable position, without any sleepiness coming to her this time, “But this bed is much warmer and much more comfortable. Why can I not return to the realm of sleep?” She wondered. There was only one thing missing, but… could that mortal be what was missing? As the thoughts of him returned, so did a bit of warmth that she so desperately craved. Sybel rose from her bed and went to her throne room. A large, plush throne of dark brown wood and luxurious purple fabric. She plopped herself down on it and rested her head on her hand. She thought of ways to distract herself. Perhaps sneaking into another lord’s castle and doing something naughty would be fun? But… would Abner approve of that? What he had said about no honor is defeating powerless opponents bothered her. The other lords weren’t exactly powerless, but had the sands of time eroded their powers? The monster girls that Sybel had interacted with thus far had been drastically powered down from their ancient, pre mamano forms. She shrugged and snapped her fingers as she started to spy on a few potential victims. She recognized one or two of them, but most seemed to be the descendants of the ones she had been acquainted with. While there was new blood to play tricks on there was more satisfaction to reoccurring pranks, especially after such a long time being sealed away. What was the point of it if she wouldn’t make herself laugh with a joke or trick now? Or even make Abner laugh? There he was back on her mind again. Perhaps that was what she was really missing. Her heart ached slightly as she watched the other greater demons and devils sharing a quiet evening with their own mortals. Her mind could only focus on Abner. She snapped her fingers and tore a hole in space to view her precious mortal. Just the sight of him, even through a viewing portal was enough to make her body feel strange once more. The distance from him had done nothing but hurt her. She needed to return soon. She needed to return to him. Abner stood staring at the blank sheets of paper. Sybel had just woken up and left him alone. He should feel a little more calm but he found himself even more anxious with her gone. Was she coming back? She could have just decided to void their contract as there was nothing Abner could do to fight back against that. Conjuration was a poor attacking magic style as it relied on animating things or summoning things to fight for the caster. He shook himself, was her talk of being remorseful for leaving him white lies? She was a trickster demon, an extraordinarily powerful one at that, he could hardly tell if he could trust her at all. But the way she acted around him, whether it was all a trick or no, made him weak. Waking up next to her had made him elated, even if it was just to tell him she was leaving. Abner knew he was enamored and infatuated with her but he couldn’t stop, even if he knew he needed to; the devil would be out of his life in just a few days, never to be seen again. He’d be back to living alone, studying alone, doing everything by himself all on his own again. But is that what I want? He asked himself silently as he slowly drew a line on the page. He didn’t want to answer his own question, he was afraid he would reply with ‘no.’ He was so focused on the inking that he didn’t notice the subtle shift in the air as Sybel returned to gaze upon him in person. She didn’t make herself known as she silently watched the mortal work, reveling in his passion and diligence. As the last swirling line was finished, a small being made of water appeared and was quickly trapped in a jar. It sloshed back and forth in confusion from being yanked from the realm of water, “Magnificently done!” Sybel clasped her hands together after nearly making Abner jump out of his skin with her sudden appearance. As the jar slipped from his hands, the devil simply pointed at it, causing it to levitate back up to his hands, “You ought to be more careful!” She laughed, enjoying teasing him once again. Sybel loved seeing him squirm nervously. She struggled to find a word for it, but it wasn’t a malicious desire, she simply loved the faces he would make. “Y-y-y-you ought to no-not sn-sneak up on me!” He frowned as he took the jar and set it aside. He felt at ease seeing that she had returned, “H-how was y-your t-t-time out?” She smiled back as she lounged in the air, “Oh, rather boring in all honesty. Merely had to check up on my faculties. I had been gone for some time, as you know. If I go again I shall take you with me to make it a little more fun and interesting.” “T-to the r-r-realm of demons? Where the M-Maou herself r-r-- resides?” “Yes. Mayhaps we shall get lucky enough to meet the Maou in person!” She chuckled to herself, “I wonder what she would say if she saw me now,” She sighed and turned back to the conjurer, “Well? Do not let me stop you! You were studying your craft! Hop to it!” “R-r-right,” Abner took a deep breath and turned back to the lectern. With Sybel now nearby he returned to his task, feeling a little more confident now. The devil floated just behind him, “What steady hands you have,” She teased as she put her hands on his shoulders, “Oooh, what a magnificent line!” She giggled. “C-c’mon, cut that o-out,” Abner nervously chuckled as he continued his practice. “Fine, fine,” She glanced down at his hand as he continued making lines. Due to the devil’s teasing, the conjurer’s hand was actually shaking as he tried to draw his fire sigil. Abner glanced away from his work to give Sybel a little nervous smile that made her heart flutter. As a glow formed near the man, her eyes widened. The unfinished sigil had started to burn brightly with unstable energy. Sybel lurched forward, gripping Abner around the neck as she formed a powerful barrier, sealing the lectern in a purple dome as the page exploded into an impressive ball of fire, “Well… that was exciting, hm?” Sybel slowly let the conjurer go, his entire body was shivering. Abner couldn’t tell if he was more shocked that his magic had suddenly gone so poorly or that Sybel had essentially hugged him tightly to protect him. His body shuddered as his nerves completely got the better of him, “Y-y-y-y-yeah-- yeah…” “Perhaps that is enough excitement for today. What shall-- Ah! The internet! I wish to see more of it! Please guide me through the operation of it once more,” She quickly tried to distract him as she swept up the ashes of his failed sigil. “O-oh… ye-- yeah. I can d-d-do that.” Abner awoke with a start, his dreams had been full of strange yet wonderful things. Visions of Sybel in various beautiful dresses, a large, luxurious castle, being waited on by various lesser devils… a wedding… children. He shook himself and glanced around, knowing he needed to clear this from his mind. Once more, Sybel was at his side, floating quietly at his bedside, “A good morning to you, mortal,” She smirked. She had watched him all night, watching him toss and turn in his sleep. She had been too scared to climb into his bed on that Friday night after poking around on the internet with him. Abner stretched and sat at the edge of his bed, “Y-y-yeah. Good-- good morning, S-S-Sybel.” Her ears wiggled with joy at the stumbling of her name, “I was wondering something. Are there any other delicious breakfast foods that I should be trying? The food that the Captain makes is delicious but it hurts my mouth somewhat.” “T-there’s pancakes, w-waffles, and french t-toast as well as other cereals. We’re o-out of Cap-- Captain Crunch t-too.” “How do we acquire more? Must we fight a pirate captain? I will make quick work of him if we must,” Sybel boasted as she folded her arms and chuckled, “Even with sailing magic, they will be no match for me.” “W-we don’t n-need to fight anyone f-for f-food,” Abner smirked, “W-we go to the st-store and b-buy it.” “Ah, a market. I believe I will pass on going,” She frowned, “I am sure you will get upset if I use my magic to sway merchants when haggling.” Abner was about to tell her that’s not how it works now, but he had a sinking suspicion she would really try it, “A-alright. I-I can g-go on my o-own.” “I will keep myself busy here.” “A-anything specific you w-want? I-I’ve got i-ideas on t-t-things for you to try,” Abner started toward the bathroom. “Ice cream. I, well, I ate it all,” She admitted, remembering her depression filled bender the other night. “I-I know,” The conjurer grinned, “Y-you left the t-t-tub out. Y-you’re gonna ge-- get a little f-fat if y-you eat so m-much of that s-stuff!” “Y-you…!” Sybel huffed, her face getting red with embarrassment, “Ugh! Go wash yourself! I cannot get fat! I have complete control over my form!” Abner laughed and stepped into the shower. It was a warm and somewhat sunny morning with the blue sky poking out between white fluffy clouds. With his stomach full of fluffy pancakes, Abner walked down the street alone, strutting past small hole in the wall bars, shops, and other kinds of dives. Most were run by monster girls, the store now being handed down in the family. Abner hadn’t been alive before the monster girls came to this world, but he knew they had cleaned up this town soon after they had arrived. A few Mamano, mostly younger ones, exchanged pleasant greetings with him. He stammered when he returned them, of course, not that the women seemed to mind based on their smiles. Sybel had managed to cook breakfast that morning using her magic almost exclusively. It wasn’t surprising how adept she was at it, but it was surprising how robust her magic was. Delicate enough to handle eggs and stir batter but it could also be used to heat a pan or expertly flip pancakes. A whole stack of them had been made to perfection with Abner’s instructions. Sybel had loved the pancakes and wanted more, which meant more things for Abner to buy. The devil had at least been kind enough to load him down with some ancient demon gold coins. He would need to find a buyer for such a thing, but that money should definitely sustain him for a while. Maybe he could buy something fun with the money… maybe splurge on something nice for Sybel. But what would a rich and powerful devil want? Especially from a floundering conjurer like him. As his mind turned to Sybel, it quickly wandered to the events of yesterday evening. The hug he had gotten had shaken him a lot more than that explosion. He sighed thinking about it as he turned down an alleyway to cut across to the nearby Monster Mart. He wished he could just order his food online, but the Mamano government had made that illegal right after they had shown up to make sure that single men couldn’t hide in their homes for lengthy periods of time. The conjurer’s hood was up as a brisk breeze blew through him. The wind in his ears muffled the sounds of the seemingly empty alleyway as he stomped through the puddles left by last night’s rain. Thankfully the sigils drawn inside his shoes repelled water, keeping them from getting wet. A sudden movement behind the conjurer made him stop, he could sense something, a magical being was trying to conceal itself from him. He turned around as a small lesser imp tripped behind a trash can, knocking it over and revealing the succubi that was crouched behind it. Two other lesser demons popped out, the four of them blocking the way that he had come. He turned back to the way he was headed and saw a demon, an imp, and a succubi block the way he was going. His heart was pounding with fear, he couldn’t even go for the sigils in his coat to summon one of his greater bound elementals. He was suddenly faced with seven women who all made a mad dash at him, one of the demons grabbing him by the arm, “I saw him first!” She screamed. One of the succubi gripped his coat, “No! I did! I want him!” “That sublime scent! The son of a greater devil must be mine!” An imp hissed as she clung to his leg. The seven demons and devils fought with one another over Abner. If he hadn’t been so terrified, horribly shaking in his boots as he froze up completely, he might have actually been confused. He had never had any monster girl show this much interest in him. The monsters looked like they were about to turn to violence as they drew weapons or began to wield magic, “HANDS OFF OF MY MORTAL!” A commanding voice boomed down the alleyway. The demons all shuddered before angrily turning down the alleyway, back the way that Abner had come from, “Kneel and I... may spare you!” It was Sybel, stomping furiously down the alley, concealed in a plum colored cloak. “Back off, shorty!” A demon challenged, “We all saw him before you did! We--” A single snap of Sybel’s fingers silenced the woman, each forcibly being pulled to the ground, kneeling before the devil’s ireful and contempt filled gaze, “Now… did they harm you, mortal?” Abner slid down the wall, now sitting on the concrete ground, merely shaking his head. He was unable to raise his trembling voice to an audible volume, “You are lucky. Should he have been injured, your punishment would have been much more… severe,” Her baleful gaze scanned each of the demons and devils, some looked terrified and less looked angry, “I would usually… destroy you... or simply send you to the deepest parts of the depths. But I am lacking for minions. Submit to me.” “I-- I won’t do it!” A demon cried as she forced herself to her feet, “I don’t care who you are, we--” Sybel pointed a single finer, a bright purple light forming from the digit. A slight smirk appeared on the grand devil’s face before everyone was blinded by a flash of purple. Where the demon had stood was now little more than ash and a black stain on the ground. Abner couldn’t believe it, Sybel had killed someone in front of him, “Does anyone else require a demonstration? No?” She chuckled almost maliciously before snapping her fingers, each of the demons and devils vanishing in a smaller flash of light. Sybel breathed out with relief before dashing to Abner’s side, “My precious mortal, are you alright?” She took his hand in hers as she attempted to soothe his nerves. “Y-y-y-y-you… you--you killed s-someone…” Abner gave her a horrified look. He was more worried about what would happen to her if someone found out. “You think I would be so daft as to murder someone in broad daylight? Come now, Abn-- Mortal. You surely must think me smarter than that!” She chuckled to herself, “It was a trick, of course. I know the value of life, especially since I would rather turn them into servants than piles of ash. They have all been ferried to my domain, ready to start their new lives.” “Y-you…” A shred of remorse washed over her as she studied his face, “Mayhaps I was… too overzealous with my punishment? Was I?” “N-n-no,” Abner sighed, “I-- I’m just g-glad you s-showed up, S-Sybel.” Her ears fluttered slightly, “Oh, no need to thank me, mortal. It is my duty as part of our pact!” She pushed his hood down, and touched his cheek, “Rise now, mortal. We still must make our trip to the store, hm?” “O-our?” “I cannot leave you alone now, it seems. They could sense my power on you and wished to take it for themselves. Son of a powerful demon,” She scoffed and shook her head, “How ridiculous,” With the snap of her fingers, a gust of powerful magic shot Abner to his feet, “Are you feeling better?” “W-well-- Well…” “Out with it mortal.” “I-- I do feel a bit m-more c-confident with y-- you around,” He admitted quietly. Sybel felt an almost heavenly feeling as Abner’s lips spread into a little sheepish smile, “You make the day feel… warmer with your kind words,” She saw him still trembling slightly, “Come, we should finish your shopping and hurry home. You need to relax after all that excitement.” “I-- I do…” He sighed and rubbed his forehead before Sybel gripped his hand again and began to drag him to the store, “T-thanks, S-Sybel. Y-you’ve saved me twice n-now…” “Like I said, it is my duty to keep you safe. Now stop dilly dallying! I desire ice cream and to ferry you home!” Sybel dragged him along and out of the alleyway. Hours later, Abner lay awake in bed. The thoughts of the last few days played through his head. When he had decided to summon a monster girl, he had given himself so much time as he had expected he would have to whip an imp or lesser succubi into shape to make them presentable to his parents and friends. He had never dreamed of summoning someone like Sybel-- she was whipping him into shape instead! He smirked and rolled over, squeezing his eyes tight. Even just thinking about her made him feel her power near him. Frustrated with all the tossing and turning, he opened his eyes to grab his phone. He pressed against a soft form, causing it to yelp. Abner’s own heart began to race, wondering what had crawled into his bed. Turning on his phone’s flashlight, he stared down into a startled purple face. Sybel gave him a little smile. She was wearing the purple bathrobe she had bought at the store that day, “W-what are you--” Abner started. “Hold me. Grab me with those arms,” She ordered with a pout, “I NEED your aid to sleep!” “Y-y-y-y-yeah… o-okay…” Abner’s heart pounded as he carefully held Sybel’s small and unfathomably powerful form to his body. She instantly let out a sigh, “Oh, that is just what I needed…” She rested her head on Abner’s arm, “Thank you, Abner.” “Y-y-yeah. Sur-- Sure,” He nervously stammered back as one of the devil’s hands ran down his chest. Sybel yawned, “I have watched you toss and turn for hours. I pray my presence is comforting enough to aid your slumber,” She didn’t wait for a response, “Sleep well…” She mumbled before almost instantly falling asleep herself, clinging to Abner’s body. The conjurer didn’t dare move for fear of waking up Sybel. Her body was very warm, but more important than that, she was adorable when sleeping. Abner found it a little strange, as she had said that she didn’t need to sleep at all. Had that been a lie? A trick? He couldn’t be sure but as far as he could tell, she was really asleep. He dared to shift slightly, careful not to jostle the little devil too much. Soon enough as he found a comfortable position, still clutching her softly in his arms, he felt sleep overtaking him. Even if she had snuck into his bed, Sybel definitely was helping him sleep now. Her presence was comforting, calming even. It was something he struggled to explain to himself, but he found himself uncaring as he finally drifted off to sleep, his head once again filled with visions of him and Sybel living together.
Once more, the golden light of the morning woke Sybel up as it streamed in through the slightly parted curtains. The devil stretched and planted her head once more against the conjurer’s arm. She decided against scrambling away from Abner this time, he had seen her last night, the jig was up. But beyond that, Sybel wasn’t content with running from this feeling anymore, she was content and confident with accepting them now even if she didn’t fully understand what they meant. She was more than happy to cuddle up with her now favorite mortal. She had never trifled much in the follies of men, she was an arch devil with more important things to do. But now this mortal was the only thing that occupied her mind. Soon, Abner was awake as well. Unlike the previous night, he felt somewhat calm as he held Sybel in his arms, still a little nervous about jostling her too much, “I hope your slumber was refreshing,” The devil cooed as she hesitantly peeled herself away from him, “I know I feel very good after such a slumber.” “S-sleeping is p-pretty nice,” He yawned and stretched, making Sybel yawn back. A few long moments passed before either spoke, “S-so… y-you said you d-d-didn’t need to s-sleep.” “Well. I do not require it like you mortals do. I merely find it to be… enjoyable,” She defensively explained before floating up over the bed, “If you have lived as long as I have, you take whatever joys you can, no matter how simple. Whether it be the calm of slumber or the warmth of another.” Abner shrugged, “I-I guess I g-get it. T-there’s some s-s-simple things that I e-enjoy.” “Of course, although I would argue your conjuration practice is anything but simple. Returning to the matter of simple things; I wish to try a shower next. Then we can have more of the Captain’s breakfast. Mayhaps we could attempt to make waffles? You mentioned they were pancake adjacent breakfast foods.” “W-waffles a-are good. L-let me help you p-prepare your sho-- shower,” Abner offered, “Y-you bought soap y-yesterday, r-right?” “I did. What other things did I buy?” She wondered to herself as she floated out of the bedroom, followed by Abner on foot. She dug through a bag, “A small brush for my teeth, soap for my body, you said this was 'shampoo' for my hair, scented candles, some sweets…” She grabbed the two bottles of sweet smelling soap and took them to the shower. She stared at the shiny silver handles of the shower then back up at Abner. The conjurer smirked and showed her how to operate the handles, “Do you plan on joining me?” Sybel asked as she started to disrobe. “N-no. T-that’s… more of a-- a m-married c-couple th-thing,” He nervously chuckled as he turned away from her. “Would you… stay nearby? Just in case,” She asked quietly as steam started to billow from the shower, “Not that I expect to be in a life of death scenario, I merely wish to have you on hand.” “S-sure. I-if it m-makes you f-feel better,” Abner gave a small smile. He heard Sybel’s clothes hit the floor and although curious as to what the woman’s nude, purple colored form looked like, he withheld his curiosity. He was merely a temporary ‘boyfriend.’ That most likely gorgeous form was not his to gaze upon. He took a seat on the closed toilet and simply waited. Sybel stepped into the shower, letting the hot water run down her skin. She quickly began to understand the joy of this, hot water rushing down one’s skin was almost as refreshing as the act of sleeping. It was like a rainy day, which she had only experienced a few times, but hot and much more pleasant. “M-Make sure you c-close your eye-- eyes when you sh-shampoo!” Abner called. “Why is that?” She inquired with a little frown as she picked up the vanilla and cherry soap. “It-- It stings like h-hell!” “Hm,” She recalled the instructions Abner had given yesterday; ‘S-squirt it into y-your ha-hand and l-lather it in y-your h-hair. D-do the same with the b-body wash, S-Sybel,’ Her ears wiggled as she thought about how he had said her name. She did as instructed as she began to wash herself off. Her mind wandered, thoughts of trickery ran through her head. An idea flashed in her mind, with a swift motion she knocked a bottle of Abner’s shampoo off of a small smelf in the bathroom. The hefty bottle hit the tile floor with a loud THUMP! As it did, Sybel let out a fake yelp. “S-S-S-S-Sybel!?” The conjurer shouted as he scrambled to his feet. The devil let out a hyena-like laughter, “Gotcha! I am fine, mortal. Return to your resting.” Abner scowled and folded his arms, a little steamed at her. Sybel took her turn sitting on the closed toilet seat. Her hair was all pulled up and wrapped in a towel like what she had seen in those romance movies and shows. She smelled like delicious cherry sweets and was wrapped in a different fluffy bathrobe. Using a file, she sharpened her claws carefully. Suddenly, Abner’s phone started to ring. It buzzed on the counter next to Sybel, she of course picked it up and stared at the screen. A name: LANCE, read across the screen. She recalled that name from a story that Abner had told about how he had learned his craft. She shrugged and decided to not answer, letting it go to voicemail. The conjurer shut off the shower and stepped out, “Y-you’ve picked up-- You’ve picked up s-some in-interesting h-habits,” He snickered quietly. “Hmph. A girl needs to look her best. At least that is what I’ve seen in those movies,” Sybel smirked, “Your small device buzzed, by the way.” “Hm?” Abner scooped it up and checked the missed call, “I-I’ll give L-Lance a c-call when we s-start b-breakfast.” With the snap of her fingers, Sybel dressed herself and completely dried off. Abner scoffed as she shot him a cheeky smirk, “I will begin to prepare… hm... pancakes today,” She decided before moving to the kitchen. After drying and changing, Abner headed to the kitchen too and stood against the counter, watching Sybel as she now expertly mixed the pancake batter. He grabbed his phone and called the wizard back, already knowing what he wanted. After a few rings, he picked up, “Hey, Abner,” Lance’s voice came through the phone, “Up for our usual get together tonight?” “Y-yeah. I-I’ll be there. A-actually,” He glanced at Sybel who shot him a questionable look, “W-we’ll both be th-there.” “Oh? Both of you? Your lady friend is around?” The conjurer could hear the wizard smiling. “WHAT!?” A voice in the background shouted. “Y-yeah. S-she, uh, t-t-t-took some t-time o-o-o-off,” His stammering got worse as he lied. “ASK HIM ABOUT HER, DUDE!” The voice, obviously Lance’s familiar and wife, Valene, shouted, “BRO! LEMME TALK TO HER!” She screamed again. The sounds of an almost playful scuffle played through the phone speaker as Valene tried to fight for the phone. “Calm down!” Lance laughed, “We’ll both meet her tonight! We’ll see you both tonight. Same time, same place, alright? Oh, what does she like to drink? We’ll get something ordered for her.” “He said wine last time!” Valene reminded her husband. “Right. We’ll get her some top shelf wine. See you both tonight!” Lance hung up as Valene started hollering again. “Sheesh…” Abner set the phone on the counter and slid down it so he was sitting on the floor. He put his face in his hands and rubbed his eyes. “Who was that… overzealous woman on the phone?” Sybel asked as she approached her mortal. Behind her, her magic effortlessly prepared the pancakes without her intervention. “V-Valene. N-nice familiar, but she m-makes me a l-little nervous.” “A familiar? Hm. I wonder how they changed under the Maou’s magic. What other combatants will there be in this social game?” Sybel asked. Abner was sure she was taking the piss out of him, “Well-- Well, L-Lance, Garus, w-we call him G-Gary, and Malina.” Sybel nodded, her magic now cooking the batter, “I have heard you speak of Garus. Sorcerer, correct? What of this Malina?” “F-fungus witch. Really s-sweet.” “You surround yourself with magically inclined companions. Smart. I will admit I am rather glad that none are... clerics or paladins. Maou protect you if you were close friends with a druid either!” She laughed, “I have had trouble with paladins and clerics, you see. Always wanting to smite first and talk later. I trapped a few of them in an endless maze. I must wonder if they are still there…” Abner decided it would be for the best to drop the topic, “H-hey, is the f-food gonna be ready soon? I-I’m getting h-hungry.” “I almost forgot about the pancakes!” Sybel snapped her fingers and plates flew out of the cupboards to be loaded high with delicious and fluffy pancakes. Another snap pulled Abner to his feet and pushed him toward the dining table, “Eat up!” Sybel demanded as she joined him, “Let us watch a movie after our morning meal. We have quite a bit of time to… what do you say? Kill? Time to kill?” The rain came down in a light drizzle as two hooded figures walked down the dimly lit street. Parked cars, street signs, and eye-catching ads plastered in large storefront windows. Abner pulled his hood a little further over his head while Sybel next to him wore her plum colored cloak. Most of the rain was pushed off of both of them due to Sybel’s magic, with Abner’s sigils keeping their feet dry as they step through puddles. A laughing, drunken oni glanced at Abner, not seeing Sybel, “Oi! Cute guy!” She shouted with a slurred voice, Wanna--” With a single snap of Sybel’s fingers, gallons of water from the ground and air were teleported over the oni who, along with her drinking buddies, were all soaked to the bone instantly. They all started to shout and curse at one another and at the sky before all of them ran off, now desperate to get home, “W-wow…” Abner stammered. “My pact sworn is mine and mine alone,” Sybel reminded him, “I will not share, especially not with... drunkards.” “W-well, I sh-should thank y-you,” Abner admitted, “Y-you wouldn’t b-believe how often t-these girls g-get grabby.” “If they get grabby, perhaps they will… lose their hands. Is that too harsh?” She quickly asked. “Y-yeah. J-just so-soak th-them or spook t-them somehow,” Abner pleaded, “The b-bar is right here,” The two stood in front of the bar for a few moments before moving to go in. For once, Abner didn’t stop to peer in through the window looking for his friends. Somehow having Sybel with him gave him confidence; even if this was all pretend, his friends did not know that… and part of him didn’t know that, either. The warm and friendly noises of the bar washed over the couple. Sybel had barely any time to take in the sights of the people before a voice rang out, “Abner!” It was the same one that was screeching through the phone that morning, “Over here!” A snow white familiar waved the two over with an excited look on her face. She hadn’t even spoken to the familiar yet, but Sybel was already feeling a little nervous, a feeling she did not often have nor did she know how to deal with. She took Abner’s hand in hers for support as the two strutted over to the table. All eyes were on Sybel as she slowly removed her cloak and climbed into her chair. Gary whistled, “Well, Abner. Looks like I was right.” “W-what?” The conjurer stammered back. “You’re punching well above your weight when it comes to the girl you’ve bagged,” A wide smile spread across the sorcerer’s face. Malina blushed for him, and punched him in the arm with what little strength she had, “Garus!” She swiftly turned to Sybel, “I’m so sorry. H-he’s just a meathead.” “I would not say that Abner is punching up. He is a very wonderful man,” Sybel gave the sorcerer an ire filled gaze that made him squirm for a moment. “So! What’s your name, dudette!?” Valne quickly steered the conversation elsewhere. “My name is... Sybel,” She said simply, hardly keeping herself from going into the whole ‘Elder Trickster Devil of the Lowest depths’ speil, “At least that is the name I hand out.” “Wise,” Lance nodded, “True names have power over beings like devils. At least I assume you’re a devil.” “Your assumption is correct, Lance,” Sybel smirked, “Do not look so surprised. It was quite easy to deduce based on what Abner has told me, I believe I know each of your names.” “Yo, what the heck, dude?” Valene gave the conjurer a look, “You tell us nothing, bro. But you tell your girl about us!? That’s just not fair, dude! How much has he told you?” Her gaze returned to Sybel, “Name’s Valene, by the way. Really glad to finally meet you, broski.” “Broski?” Sybel echoed quietly with a confused look. “You probably know, but my name is Malina. If you want any potions, I would be more than happy to prepare them for you,” The fungus wizard bowed her mushroom cap topped head deeply to the devil, “Please ignore my boyfriend’s jests. He doesn’t mean them as a slight against either of you.” “You don’t know that,” Gary smirked, just trying to be an ass. Sybel withheld a scowl. The bar maid shoggoth slithered over to the table with a tray full of drinks. The usual drinks were passed out, rum and Coke for Abner, a screwdriver for Gary, cider for Lance, who was going to be driving everyone home, Valene was having a Long Island iced tea, and Malina had a shot of vanilla vodka. As the shoggoth took up the wine glass with a long tendril, Sybel pulled a small plastic card from her little bag. As the two made eye contact, they exchanged knowing glances and the devil put her ID away as the shoggoth deposited the wine glass before her. With a silent nod as thanks, she brought the wine glass to her lips and took a long drink of it. “Garus,” Malina said with a firm tone before the sorcerer could crack some kind of joke, “One of the pool tables has opened up. Why not take your friends and play a round or two?” “Ah, girl chat. Got it,” He smirked and headed to the table. “Don’t be too hard on her, honey,” Lance murmured. “Ay, don’t worry, babe,” She grabbed the collar of his coat and gave him a peck on the cheek, “Have fun.” Abner simply gave Sybel a little wave before the men stepped over to one of the pool tables and started to rack the balls, “So, come on, girl,” Valene changed seats so that both she and Malina were right next to Sybel, “Who are you, really?” “Hm? I have no idea what you mean,” Sybel glanced at her boyfriend as he watched Gary line up a break. With a near unseeable motion, she used a bit of magic to screw up his shot. Gary scowled at himself over his poor shot, the break simply sending each billiard balls to the far ends of the pool table, “I am Sybel. What more is there to say?” Malina gave a little smile and changed topics, “I’ve been dying to know, how did you meet Abner? He’s been very tight lipped on it.” Sybel could quickly tell that she was being truthful in her not knowing. The devil absentmindedly used her magic again to improve her boy friend’s shot, allowing him to sink a ball and set himself up for an easy second, “It was… oh, I can hardly remember,” She recalled the time frame Abner had mentioned when he had first summoned her, “Three months, I believe,” She fibbed, a month longer than the conjurer had been saying with his lies. She searched her mind quickly for another fib, “We met at that magic shop, the one north of here. I was picking up a few materials when I spotted him. Something about him… felt right.” “He simply struck your fancy then?” Malina had a nice, little smile on her face as she swooned at the thought. “Three months?” Valene repeated, “Your mana is really strong. How the hell did I never smell you on him?” “I really only kissed him for the first time a few days ago,” Sybel sheepishly admitted as she messed with Gary’s shot again, “He picked me up and I gave him a little peck on the cheek. Beyond that we’ve never really done anything so… exhilarating.” "Not even hand holding?" Valene gave a strange look as Sybel shook her head. She wasn’t sure if the look was because she said no to the hand holding or because of her long, dramatic pauses. “What is it you do for work?” The mushroom witch inquired. “Well…” Sybel sipped on her wine, trying to buy time while she thought of something clever. The thought came to her rather quickly as she remembered one of those romantic comedies she had watched before, “I travel constantly for my sales job. It makes it difficult for us to… connect sometimes. We talk as much as we can but I go to places that do not even have cellular sometimes. Then when I am in town, usually at strange times I really just wish to rest. He has told me you all wanted to meet me, but I was either too tired or too busy to agree to meet you,” She messed with Gary’s shot again as she withheld a smirk. It was obvious on Valene’s face that some skepticism still remained, but Malina seemed placated enough. The familiar started to speak again, “Look, broski,” She gestured at Sybel with a fluffy hand, “I know that Gary dude is kind of an ass, but I think he’s right. I really can’t understand how a timid guy like Abner gets a girl like you. I can smell how powerful you are, Sybel, dude.” Sybel had to keep another smirk in. Valene had very nearly just committed social suicide and the devil was eager to go in for the kill, “I happen to find it adorable how skittish he is!” She expressed mock offense at what Valene had said, “My boyfriend is a wonderful man whom I love very much, are you saying you think otherwise!?” A classic move in her romantic comedies. Valene was now on the back foot, “N-no, I d-didn’t mean it like that,” She whimpered, sinking in her seat. The fungus woman jumped in to change topics, “Sybel, what are your hobbies? Surely there is something that gives you solace while traveling.” Before Sybel could respond, she was quieted by the rumbling of thunder in the middle of the bar. A dark, angry cloud had formed over Gary’s head as he lost to Abner. Gary had only sunk one or two balls and in his last hit he sank the eight ball and lost, “Gary!” The satyr bartender shouted, “Take that out of here before it rains on my floor!” He put down the pool stick that he had nearly broken in half and stormed out of the building. He stood in front of the bar window as his grey storm cloud began to pour down on him, a few bolts of lighting being cast off of it as thunder rumbled, “Oh, poor Garus,” Malina sighed at her boyfriend’s anguish. “Looks like your man destroyed him, bro,” Valene smirked, trying to move past her offense, “Looks he’s full of surprises. I really don’t know a lot about him other than his conjuration,” She admitted. “He is more than worth anyone’s time,” Sybel gave a small smile as she sipped on more wine. She had not expected this social game to go so well in her favor but the two other monster girls seemed amicable now, at least. They had also forgotten about the hobby question, seemingly, allowing Sybel to avoid it entirely. “Lance! Crush him this game, babe!” Valene called as the wizard started to rack again. “Get vengeance for Garus!” Malina laughed as she returned to her drink. Sybel smirked as she messed with the wizard’s breaking shot, preventing him from sinking any balls with it. The night went on with the boys playing some more pool and ordering a few more drinks while the girls chatted in a friendly fashion as they mostly made small talk. As Abner awoke after a mostly forgotten night of drinking, he didn’t feel the usual fluffiness of his comforter or the bright orange sun in his eyes. The comforter that was draped across his slowly awakening form had a heft to it along with the silky smoothness of the sheets under it. He knew he wasn’t in his bed as he felt the other worldly softness of the pillow and the firm sponginess of the mattress. His eyes flew open as his heart started to pound. The conjurer sat up and looked around. He was in a massive bed with a big purple blanket of a luxurious fabric he had never seen nor felt before. The room he was in had large floor to ceiling windows along with curtains that were pulled back revealing a deep purple sky and an ominous red moon. Abner stretched and got out of the bed slowly and made his way over to the window. The room was lit dimly by a few candles, the floor was made of smooth wood, and the walls were made of expertly carved stone blocks, each as large as a man. He looked out over the red, gloomy forest and pink looking lake that were many feet below him and quickly realised he was in a large castle, unable to see a surrounding village or anything. “Mortal, why have you left the bed?” Sybel whined from where she lay, “Oh? Are you enjoying the view?” “W-where a-are we?” He asked with a slight whimper. “Do you recall a promise I made? If you were a good… play thing, I would show you my little slice of the demon world? Well, here we are! Welcome to… my castle!” She playfully stood on her bed and gave a lavish bow, “Please, take your time in the freshly installed shower, just know we have a long day ahead of us!” “A l-long day a-ahead?” Abner echoed as he stepped away from the window, “H-how did I get h-here?” “We left the bar, you were quite intoxicated and I just… decided on a whim what we should do today,” She grinned, “I opened a portal and tucked you in before going and planning the day. Here are your clothes,” She snapped her fingers, a dresser flew open, and an outfit folded itself neatly on the massive bed, “Like I said. Take your time. I will be waiting for you,” Sybel gave her boyfriend a smile before stepping from the room for a short time. Without knowing what else to do, Abner headed for the other door and stepped into a massive bathroom. There was a huge bath, two sinks, a massive mirror stretching across one wall, and a nice shower tucked into the corner. He stripped down and got in. Somehow he was not surprised to find his soap and shampoo of choice were both already there, ready and waiting for him to scrub himself clean. Within a few minutes, he had cleaned himself up and dressed. As if waiting for her cue, Sybel reappeared in her usual, lovely outfit. She had a wide smile on her face, “Y-you’re in high s-spirits,” Abner chuckled at his host. “I am so very excited for today! We will start today off right with some breakfast fit for a queen! And her king, of course,” Sybel quickly added before taking Abner by the hand and led him down the hallway. The hallway had a long, purple carpet laid from one end to the other with a few doors leading into mysterious rooms. The castle was much bigger than Abner had imagined. Passages turned into stairs which led up or down then through more winding hallways before once again going up or down. Most of the hallways were completely empty minus a strangely hellish painting or two and the purple rugs. Almost seemingly randomly, the cheerfully humming devil led the conjurer through a door and into a long room with a long dining table. Sybel sat at the head of the table with Abner sitting to her right. The table was made of an expensive looking, purple hued wood with strange imagery in the grains of it. Faces, demons, food, beasts, monsters, all of it seemed to be naturally shown in the pinkish browns and darker, purple browns of the wood. “I-I can’t help but ad-admire this dining t-table, it’s so extravagant.” Abner complimented, his eyes drawn to the tale the imagery told. “Ah yes, it is made from amaranth wood, such a… mesmerizing mauve tone befitting of my… tastes,” Sybel’s smile widened due to the conjurer’s praise. “I-I’m i-impressed, S-S-Sybel,” Abner shook slightly, a but intimidated by the castle, “Y-you live in a much b-bigger and nicer c-castle than I-I c-could imagine.” Sybel chuckled, “Perhaps I am compensating for my height, hm?” She joked, “It may not seem so, but I hardly know these halls and they seem to change constantly. I just… understand where to go and what my destination is while traversing it.” “R-really? How b-bizzare…” The opening of a door somewhat startled Abner as an imp that he slightly recognized from the girls that cornered him in an alleyway. She was dressed in a maid’s uniform and her hair was done in a duo of messy pigtails. She brought out plates of pancakes, bacon, and hashbrowns for the pair before disappearing back through the door she came through, “N-new help?” “Mhm,” Sybel grinned as she began to plate her food, “I have put those new… servants to good use. I also attracted some other villagers with the promise of work and, well, I think we’ll have a lot of fun tonight. It needs a bit longer to be prepared, but until then, we will make ourselves… busy. I shall show you around the castle for a spell, then I have the perfect day planned.” “P-Perfect day, huh?” “Maybe you could call it…” A grin curled up on her lips, “a date.” Abner shuddered, “D-d-d-date?” “Yes, a date. You have taken me on two so far. We went to dinner and to the bar with your friends, plus tomorrow we have another dinner date with your parents,” Sybel looked the conjurer in the eyes, “So I decided it was my turn and planned a date for us, based on those movies I love so dearly. So eat up, we have much to do.” Abner was pulled through endless corridors and rooms where he was shown numerous otherworldly wonders. Treasures, arts, old world monsters frozen forever in stone that the Maou had apparently deemed not worthy of her blessing, horrifying creatures with tentacles, countless eyes, and horrible maws. Sybel even led him to her throne room where she offered him to sit, though the conjurer refused profusely much to her amusement. Various other strange and wonderful things like an impossible hanging garden full of purple foliage, and even a room full of romantic comedies rounded off the tour. The devil gleefully showed off her collection as well as other comedies from both pre and post mamano incursion. The room had a nice big couch, a freezer full of ice cream and a massive flat screen display hooked up to a blu-ray player, VHS player, and even some old and obscure formats like laserdisc and CED. A nearby grandfather clock went DONG ten times and Sybel’s eyes shined, “Oh! It is time!” The little devil exclaimed excitedly. She was nearly bouncing as she grabbed Abner’s hand again. She merely snapped her fingers this time and teleported both of them to the gates of her castle. With another snap, the drawbridge rumbled as it lowered slowly to allow the two to cross the moat below it. As one final snap rang out, a generator hummed to life and the dark area was bathed in light. Abner gasped and Sybel’s grin was full of glee. A large, sprawling fair had replaced some of Sybel’s village. She had used her magic and manpower to move the existing houses a bit outward to place a carnival in front of her castle. Rides, games, food, and even a few shows dotted the packed area. The area was quickly full of sounds as game runners shouted at the nearby demons, devils, imps, and various other kinds of monster girls that had suddenly flooded the streets. Screams of joy from those going on rides pierced Abner’s ears, excited children ran past, and the smell of fried fair food hit the pairs’ noses, “H-how…?” Was all Abner could stutter. “Well, a collector came by. Wanted the Legendary Sword I had. She called it the Shard of… Doom or something like that. I would not let it go for cheap, so she paid for this and gave me a lot of manpower to get it done. A lot of rides and such were brought here from the human world,” Sybel explained, still taking in the view of it, “It is wonderful, is it not? Just like the fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks in my movies.” Abner smirked, “W-what do y-you wanna do f-first?” “The roller coaster! We have to!” Sybel took the man’s hand again, “Come on!” The duo dashed across the fair grounds and past other couples and families. After a fun and quick ride on the roller coaster, Sybel was drawn somewhere by music. She happened upon a carousel that spun slowly with horses bobbing up and down, “I want to ride that!” She decided and made her way toward it. Abner struggled to keep up as she excitedly darted across the cobblestone paths. She hopped into the short line and waited for her mortal to catch up. As soon as he got there, the current riders, mostly children and their parents, got off and left the small fenced in area, “Come along now,” She scolded the out of breath conjurer. “S-s-sorry,” He stammered as he wiped his brow. Sybel thought to tease him further, but decided better of it. Soon, the two were boarding along with some other couples or parents taking their young children on. Abner found a tall horse next to a smaller one for Sybel to ride and climbed up onto it. The little devil looked at the small horse then up at her boyfriend. She effortlessly floated up to him and sat on his lap, “Does this bother you?” She asked with a little smile. “N-n-n-no…” Abner stammered as he put his hands on the pole in front of him. Sybel did the same, placing her hands below Abner’s. A technician came around and made sure all the children were buckled in before starting up the carousel. The usual cheerful music started to blare as the round ride started to spin. Soon the wooden, colorfully painted horses began to bob up and down. The ride spun and spun with Sybel looking around, starting to feel a little dizzy as she was pulled along the slow moving ride. She quickly began to feel sick, making her squeeze her eyes shut and lean back into Abner and cling to his arms. With a pitiful whimper, she grabbed his arm and wrenched it from the bar and forced him to hold her tight. He did as she silently pleaded and held her against his body as her claws dug slightly into his skin. After a couple more minutes the ride ended and giggling children slowly exited the ride, “Is it over?” Sybel mumbled. “Y-yes,” Abner chuckled as he carefully dismounted from the wooden horse and carried Sybel off the ride, “Y-you handled the c-coaster just fine. W-why is this o-one m-ma-making you panic?” He asked gently. “N-nothing!” The defensive devil suddenly insisted as she wiggled out of Abner’s grip and floated to the ground, “I felt a little ill, is all. We should do something else.” Abner nodded and quickly spotted a candy stall. He swiftly bought his curious girlfriend a cone of cotton candy after taking a little bite for himself, “H-How about we t-try some of these games?” Abner asked after a bit of meandering around. Sybel nodded as she took a massive bite of pink cotton candy, “Oh! Like in one of the movies! You have to win me a giant stuffed bear!” She pointed to a stall. “Step right up! Step right up!” The carnie called from where he stood behind the counter, “Throw the ball, knock down the bottles and win a prize!” The conjurer and devil both strode up to the counter, Sybel’s eyes were trained on a large purple stuffed teddy bear, “Looking to win a prize for your lady, champ?” The rotund carnie asked. “Y-yeah,” Abner nodded. “Well, with three balls if you can knock down each of the three stacks, I’ll let you have the bear your lady is so set on,” The carnie explained as Abner paid the fee and was given three baseballs. Abner’s first throw, an inexperienced lob that went right over the short stack of three metal jugs, “Don’t look so disheartened,” The man chuckled, “Ya can still win the medium or small prize.” Abner threw again, this time trying to wind back and throw a baseball style pitch which went into the ground. He sighed and tried one last time, underhand tossing the ball up and actually hitting one of the three bottles this time with decent force. The bottle didn’t even move, “What is that about?” Sybel frowned as the ball harmlessly bounced off, “He hit it!” “Not hard enough. You wanna try again, champ?” The man asked. Abner sighed and nodded, paying out again to try. The conjurer felt each ball in his hands. They felt like standard baseballs with decent weight. Without knowing what else to do, he tried throwing again, going for a baseball pitch. One missed and the second hit the bottles square in the middle where it harmlessly bounced off the metal bottles. With a scoff, Abner threw again, hitting only the top bottle which still didn’t move, “W-what the hell!?” He growled. “Tough luck, champ. Wanna go again?” “We can go do something else,” Sybel suggested as she sensed his frustration. “G-give me a s-second. G-gotta stretch,” Abner stepped away, ducking between two stalls. He grabbed his magical ink pen after rolling up one of his coat sleeves. He put the pen to his skin and started to draw three sigils. Fire for strength. A bow for accuracy. Wind for speed. With one final line through all three, the sigils glowed with magical life. Although it was his left hand, it now shook and trembled with raw power. He returned to the stand and forked over his money. He sneered at the carnie and picked up the ball in his left hand. “Ohoh! Switching hands now are--” He began. Abner shut him up by lobbing the ball with all his might, obliterating the three bottles and the piece of wood behind them that kept them up. “Ah, so you were cheating,” Sybel chuckled, “Smash the rest, mortal.” “W-with pleasure,” The conjurer grinned as he picked up the second ball. “W-wait just a second!” The carnie shouted. But Abner was quick and a bit angry, two balls were lobbed, smashing both other stacks of bottles that fell to the ground with loud clangs, “Y-you cheated!” The carnie exclaimed as Abner grabbed his wrist in pain. “Do you think you have the moral high ground in that argument?” Sybel asked, the bear already in her hands, “Come along, we have many other games to play.” “I-I think I p-pulled something,” Abner wheezed as he trudged away. The carnie was left with nothing but a destroyed booth and being down one large stuffed bear that Sybel teleported to her bedroom. The couple giggled as they dashed away and moved on to the next game, “Now what?” Sybel asked. “I s-see a spinning tea-tea cup ride over th-there,” Abner pointed to the rapidly spinning ride. “No!” Sybel shouted, “I mean. No. I refuse. How about…” She glanced around, her belly still somewhat full of sugar. She glanced at the lake where little duck shaped paddle boats floated on the water as couples rode out onto the reddish pink water to kiss one another, “The boats!” “B-boats…?” “What, can you not swim?” Sybel folded her arms and frowned. “O-of course I can! J-just a little nervous, as al-always,” He sighed, “But I wo-won’t deny you.” “Good. Come along then, mortal,” She ordered as she began to hurry to the lake. Abner didn’t argue at all as he was led over to the water’s edge. A small pier jutted out into the water where a few more paddle boats sat, waiting for riders. The water was clear as it was pink, and although it was dark out it was well illuminated by several floating paper lanterns that dotted the surface. Sybel gave the ride operator a few coins and was helped by Abner to step into the boat. The conjurer carefully climbed in himself and the two quietly paddled out onto the water. The two stopped in the middle of the lake, surrounded by the paper lanterns on the crystal clear, pink water. Abner stared at the sky, the clear, reddish night sky with the blood moon hanging in it, casting its red glow across the water and forest, “Quite lovely, is it not?” Sybel inquired, leaning back in her hard plastic seat. “Ye-yeah. Y’know, i-it figures tha-that you come from such a b-beautiful place,” Abner absentmindedly mused. Sybel blushed and held her tongue, unsure how to reply to such a compliment. She stared up at the same sky like he was and looked to the moon she had seen countless times now. Somehow, it felt a lot better with Abner at her side. The conjurer looked back at the devil, “T-this feels a l-little r-romantic, huh?” “Romantic?” The devil echoed as she looked at him, “I suppose. It is no tunnel of love, but it will do,” She glanced past him and at the massive ferris wheel on the other side of the park, “Actually I know somewhere much more… romantic we can go,” She smirked and readied herself to paddle again, “Do not make me paddle alone!” Sybel pulled Abner into the ferris wheel. All other riders had just gotten off and the two were now the only ones on it. The technician closed the door on the carriage and set the big wheel to spin. Slowly, the couple rode to the top of it before Sybel snapped her fingers, shutting down the ride with the two sitting at the top. The ferris wheel was situated at the edge of the park, giving a wonderful view of the lit up fair and the castle on the right and the woods and lake to the left. Sybel scooted from her seat across from Abner and moved right next to him, “Wonderful, is it not? The view from up here. We are almost as high up as some of the tallest rooms of my castle!” “Yeah, it is,” Abner replied, his mind and heart completely calm, “It's really nice up here, with you.” Sybel’s jaw hung open, “You… spoke without stutter! I can hardly believe my ears!” “I-I-I did?” The stutter returned for a brief moment, “Huh…” “What has caused that? Perchance you feel… something around me?” She ventured a teasing guess. “Calm, I guess. You’ve saved me twice, taken care of me, shown me wonderful things… I feel… safe with you,” He shrugged, “Thanks, Sybel.” Sybel couldn’t contain the feeling within her as she was showered with loving praise. Her ears wiggled and her face turned a flushed magenta color as she giggled and leaned over to Abner, “I am so very glad I could do this. But, to be honest, I find your stammering adorable.” “Really?” “Mhm,” She got closer and closer to Abner, putting a few gentle fingers on his chin as she touched his shaved face, “I have just the cure for your sudden confidence,” She leaned in and planted a deep kiss on his cheek, “Now how do you feel?” Abner’s face was completely red, “I-- I-- W-- Y-you--” He had quickly turned into a stammering wreck. “Say my name,” Sybel grinned sadistically before kissing him on the other cheek, “Say it.” Abner covered his face, his heart was pounding and his head was spinning as the devil teasingly caressed his hair, “S-Sy-S-Syb-el,” He choked out. Sybel cackled like a villain as she made her boyfriend squirm, “My! You are just the most precious mortal I have ever seen!” She forced Abner onto his back and sat on his chest where she stared down into his eyes. The smile on her face slowly turned into a frown as she caressed his cheek, “How unfortunate that this is our final night together.” Abner sobered up quickly, “Y-yeah. B-but these memories I’ve shared with you. I-I d-don’t think I’ll ever forget them.” “You will never forget me either?” “H-how could I? I doubt I ever will.” Neither could get themselves to say much more as the weight and sadness of their situation impacted them both. Sybel snapped her fingers again and the ferris wheel began to move again, rumbling slightly as the two were carefully and slowly ferried to the ground level. The devil kissed the conjurer one more time before letting him sit up, “I never want this night to end.” “We have a lot more time,” Abner reminded her, “We don’t need to prepare for my parents until tomorrow. We should have as much fun as we can tonight.” Sybel wiped her eyes, “Yes. Let us do that. I want to ride the roller coaster again. Perhaps we should get some food as well?” “Preferably in that order,” The conjurer shuddered as he helped her from the ride. The two did their best to enjoy the night together, despite the coming end of their pact.
Sybel sat on the big leather recliner, hunched over with her wrists on her knees and her hands clasped together. She was lost in her own thoughts, wondering what to do about Abner. She stared at the movie she had put on and sighed as the two lovers embraced tightly. She wondered if she could get a hug like that from Abner before the two of them… part. The devil glanced at the clock, it was five thirty two on a Tuesday, the dated day where Abner’s parents were coming into town for some shopping and, more importantly, to come visit their precious son. This was the whole reason Sybel had been brought into this human world, to act as Abner’s girlfriend to help him keep up his ruse. She knew and dreaded what would come next. Their pact would end. Without a pact, Sybel would be unable to stay in the mortal realm. Oh, how she wanted to try and have the pact extended, but her own pride kept her from bringing the topic up. “Sybel?” Abner quietly called out to her. He wiped his hands with a cloth, “You ready?” The devil shut off the TV, “How do I look?” She floated into the air and struck a little pose for her boyfriend. No matter how temporary it was, she would still act as his girlfriend. Abner smirked, “You look g-good-- w-wonderful, even,” Sybel wasn’t in her usual purple outfit, for this special occasion, she had a deep plum dress on. It was sleek and conformed to her curves. Sybel’s heart ached as she saw the small, nervous shaking of Abner’s body, “You poor thing,” She caressed his cheek, “I am right here if you start getting nervous,” She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a gentle squeeze. Abner gave her a smile as she pulled away. He wanted desperately for her to stay, but Abner was sure she would be more happy without him. She was a demon that seemed to be on par, power wise, with the Maou herself. Such powerful women needed and deserved powerful husbands, legendary heroes and powerful wizards… not a third rate caster like himself. He wasn’t nervous about his parents coming over, he was more nervous about Sybel leaving and the pact ending. He couldn’t bring himself to ask about extending it, he couldn’t beg her to stay when she had much better things to do, “T-thank you, Sybel.” “Do you need my help?” “Can you get the w-wine out? The taco casserole s-should be ready b-by the time my parents g-get here,” Abner looked around, the devil had cleaned up most of the apartment herself while he had cooked. He really wasn’t sure if she had done the cleaning herself, perhaps she had summoned some imps to lend her a hand. Perhaps she had done it herself through magic. She giggled teasingly, “As you command~” Sybel strut over to the kitchen, shaking her hips for Abner as she walked, “I picked up something for you while I was out,” She called as she procured the wine from the fridge. “W-What is it?” The devil snapped her fingers and a small rift opened. A very expensive bottle of rum and two bottles of Coke appeared around her, floating in the air before she deposited them onto the kitchen counter, “A little something to soothe those nerves.” “T-thanks, Sy-Sybel,” Abner grinned as he examined the bottle. The devil blushed and turned away as her ears wiggle slightly. The rum was in a glass bottle with silver inlaid into the shaped glass. The label was made up of runes that Abner couldn’t read. “You are very welcome,” Sybel replied as she began to set the table. A pounding on the door sent a chill down her spine. “Ready?” Abner asked quietly as he composed himself and slowly strided to the entrance of his apartment. Sybel just nodded and steeled herself for this next social combat. The conjurer tapped a sigil on the wall, brightening the elemental flames in the room and lighting the candles on the table. He unlocked the door and slowly opened it, “Hey--” “Oh, my precious baby boy!” A woman yanked on Abner, pulling him into a hug, “How is my baby? Have you been eating well?” “Mom! I’m doing just fine!” Abner cried out, still hugging his mother back as his father chuckled quietly. Sybel ceased her floating magic and watched as her boyfriend wrenched the door open, revealing the woman and man behind it. She raised an eyebrow at the pair, she had hardly been briefed on what to expect, but the sight before her was not what she had in mind. The first to hurry into the room was a small, fluffy owl mage. Her black and grey feathers were thoroughly preened, a set of thick glasses sat on her nose in front of shimmering, emerald eyes, and her fluffy chest feathers were hardly contained by a pink v-necked shirt with jean shorts on her legs that ended in talons, “Abner! Is that her!?” The owl mage exclaimed, “She’s just so precious!” It was painfully obvious that she was holding herself back from flying at the devil to hug her. “Mariam,” The man sighed, “You don’t even know her name yet,” The man reminded Sybel of Abner, at least in looks. He was much more muscular than his son, but they both had the same sharp and intelligent looking features, but the father looked quite a bit less skittish. “Mom, dad,” Abner hurriedly began to introduce them, “Th-this is Sybel, my girlfriend.” “What an adorable name!” The owl mage giggled, “You may call me Mariam. My husband here is Barnabus.” “Barny,” The man huffed. “How wonderful to finally meet you both,” Sybel gave a little, polite curtsey, “My apologies that it took three months for us to have a little dinner date.” “No worries. Abner said you were real busy,” Barny shrugged as the owl mom kept beaming at her son, her face full of pride, “What’s for dinner?” “Ah, shoot! My casserole!” The conjurer hollered in alarm as he dashed to the oven. Mariam took a seat at the table, “You know, I wish Abner had told me you were a devil! Perhaps I would have brushed up on demonology if you had warned me! I know some kinds of demons and devils can be a bit fickle. Oh, I’m sorry, I hope that wasn’t… ‘racist’ in a way,” Abner silently freaked out over his mom’s usual callousness. “Please,” Sybel scoffed, “I am not so easily offended as some of my kin. You could call it… restraint. Control is something that some lack.” “Well, it’s wonderful to finally meet you,” The mom owl smiled, “I think this is the most clean I’ve seen your apartment, Abner.” “Leave him alone, dear,” Her husband sighed, “I won’t have you ruin this evening. Not when I can smell such a fragrant meal.” “I-I wasn’t going to ruin tonight! Our son doesn’t call enough… and you know I like giving him a hard time,” The owl mage shook her head and turned her attention back to Sybel, “So, Sybel, what is it you do that keeps you out so often?” “Me?” The devil moved to the kitchen table, leaving a spot next to her for Abner as his parents sat across from him, “Sales. I am sent travelling quite often and must leave my precious mor-- Abner behind,” She reused the same fib as last time, “What is it you two do?” “I work at a university a ways down south. I teach a few magic related classes,” Mariam replied then looked expectantly at her husband. Barny folded his arms, “Architecture.” “I can see where Abner gets the steady hands from,” Sybel smirked, “And his… penchant for magic.” Abner brought his taco casserole over to the dinner table and set it out, the scent of taco meat, cheese, and beans, “Looks good, Abner. What recipe did you use?” Barny asked. “Yours, o-of c-c-course,” The conjurer smirked, “Hopefully I-I didn’t o-overcook it.” “Women do like a man that can cook! Has he been feeding you, dear? He’s gone a few days without eating before, you know,” Mariam chuckled as her son’s face turned red. Barny quickly dished up. “Oh, before I met Abner I never ate food, I did not need to. Maybe a sip of wine or two when meeting with someone but that was it. But his cooking, and the restaurants he took me to,” The devil swooned at the thought of all the delicious food she had eaten, ”I cannot get enough to eat now. He has fed me very well.” “Glad to hear my son can actually take care of himself and someone else,” Barny smirked. “He can more than take care of himself,” Sybel assured him, “I would go as far as to say that he has been taking care of me during my… time off,” She uncorked the wine using her thumb claw and poured herself a glass as Mariam got herself some food too. With a glance, Sybel watched Abner prepare himself a drink with shaking, nervous hands. The devil wanted to dash over and comfort him, but she knew she couldn’t allow the prim and proper personality she was putting forward to drop. Sybel withheld her magic as well, she wasn’t sure how much of her power level she could get away with showing. Abner returned to the table, sat beside Sybel and dished up a plate for either of them. The mom owl looked between her son and his girlfriend, “I have many questions for you both, how did you meet?” “Well, unfortunately there is not much to say on that… we met about three months ago. At that magic store downtown. Like many mamano will tell you when asked about their man, he merely struck my fancy. I found the stuttering and nervousness of his demeanor… endearing. A handsome man with a sweet personality. Of course I was interested in him!” She glanced over at Abner who had only taken a few bites of his food and a sip or two of his liquor. He was using the blunt end of his fork to trace the little symbol on the back of his hand; Sybel’s symbol. The one that had been placed there when their pact had been created; not that he knew what it was, it was merely something to occupy his mind as he tried to keep his cool, “I think it has been about three months now,” The demon continued. Mariam gasped, “Three months!? But he only started telling us about you this month!” “I-I didn’t th-think it would l-last,” Abner shrugged sheepishly, “S-she’s way out of m-my l-league.” “Abner!” Sybel scolded, “You know better than to say that.” “S-sorry…” The conjurer returned to tracing the little symbol on the back of his hand. The devil put a worried hand on his shoulder. “See, dear?” Mariam turned to her own husband, “You had nothing to worry about. Sybel seems like a wonderful lady.” “Me? Worry?” Barny scoffed, “Never. I was merely a little uneasy on account of us not knowing a single thing about the girl. You were the one fretting about what kind of ‘scary monster’ had absconded with your boy!” “I did not!” The owl mom looked horrified that her husband had thrown her under the bus like that, “W-well… Sybel doesn’t seem scary at all. She seems quite nice and lovely.” “Thank you,” The devil grinned, another social interaction had been won in her favor. A bit easier than the interaction with Abner’s friends, but she would take every victory she could. “Oh, Sybel dear, I brought some old photos of Abner that I thought you might love to see!” With a bit of rummaging around through her purse and a few sips of wine, she procured a little book with old, printed out photos in it, “Take a look!” “M-mom,” Quiet pleading came from Abner’s lips. Sybel smiled, “I must admit I AM a little… curious. No need to look so embarrassed, I am sure you were an adorable child and--” She gasped loudly, “Look at you! You are so cute in these robes!” Her eyes grew wide as she saw a young Abner in crimson robes with a little wand in his hand. The owl beamed at the devil, “My baby boy was on his grade school magic team! He was still trying to be a wizard then, but, well he’s probably told you about his switch to conjuration.” “Yes. Though he did not need to tell me. His hands are much more steady than his voice, that much is obvious from watching him work,” Sybel replied as she returned to thumbing through the book. Abner had his face in his hands as his mom started to chatter on and on again about another memory. His ill fated attempts at sports in middle school was up first as Sybel found a photo of him, incredibly scrawny looking, in a basketball jersey. Mariam stumbled, only to be caught by her husband and son as they tried to get her to the door. She wrapped her big fluffy wings around her son, “I’m going to miss my baby! You live so far from the roost!” She held back tears as her son hugged her back. Her breath reeked of wine. “I-I’ll see you a-again s-soon, mom,” Abner mumbled. “Will Sybel be there? I really hope she will,” The mom owl finally let her son go and turned to his girlfriend, “Take care of him for me, okay?” “I will, Mariam. See you around!” Sybel called. Although she wouldn’t show it on her face, her heart was thumping painfully in her chest. She didn’t know how long she had. The pact was only valid through this dinner date, but what would happen when it was up? The intoxicated owl mage was led out the door, “Byyyye!” She hollered as her husband took her arm in his and carried her out. Abner started to close the door, poking his head out to give a sad, yet wholly relieved, goodbye to his parents, “Bye…” Sybel shuddered as she felt a force on her. A portal had appeared at her feet that was swiftly sucking her in with a surprisingly strong grip. She was pulled down to her waist in an instant, her claws digging into the wooden floor of the living room as she desperately tried to stay. Her pride was completely gone, she needed to talk to Abner and tell him how she felt. His back was to her as he watched his parents make their way to the apartment complex’s elevator. Her claws dragged across the wood, leaving deep gashes in it as she was pulled deeper and deeper into the purple void, “Ab--!” Her cry for help was cut short as she lost her grip and was unceremoniously dumped into her throne room, “No no no no!” A holler escaped her anguished face as she desperately tried to return. Every attempt failed, one after another, but with no anchor to the human world, she was unable to return. Her one pactsworn had been ripped from her claws, she had nothing now. Anguish and despair overcame her as tears began to roll down her cheeks. A loud, pained cry came from her mouth as she fell to her knees and she started to sob. All the warmth she had felt in Abner’s presence was gone. Now she felt a crippling loneliness, even worse than the ten thousand years she spent sealed away. Abner finally shut the door and perked up as he thought he heard Sybel, “Huh?” He called as he turned around, “Sybel?” Slowly, he started to creep around the apartment. It only took a few minutes of him wandering through each room, calling out for his girlfriend. The cold and chilling realisation painfully struck him as he stepped out of his study. Abner pressed his back to the wall and slid down it, curling up on the floor as his eyes started to water. He was all alone. She hadn’t even said goodbye to him. He checked the back of his hand, the symbol that had signified that pact was gone of course. Abner had been positive that this would be painful, but he hadn’t been prepared for this horrible, heart wrenching pain. He sat on the floor, the crippling loneliness inhibited him from even picking himself up. Time passed, though Abner didn’t care, he still sat with his head hung low as he quietly sobbed to himself for what he guessed was hours. Sybel was gone and it felt like there was nothing he could have even done about it. There was still a part of him that wondered if it was all pretend, that Sybel really only performed as the contract dictated, but somewhere in his heart he refused to believe such a stupid thought. Eventually, exhaustion took him, his heavy eyes closing as the sweet, yet uncaring tendrils of the dream realm embraced him. … … … “Mistress?” A muffled call came from beyond the door, making Sybel scowl. She turned up the TV, watching the awful rom-com play out as she stuffed her face with all manner of ice cream she could get her hands on. Numerous empty, completely cleaned out tubs of ice cream were scattered about the room. The creamy, frozen, and fruity treat wouldn’t stay the sad feelings anymore. While she licked the tub clean, the monster on the other side of the door pounded on it, “Mistress! Let us in! We have brought what you wanted!” Sybel scowled and lobbed the empty container across the room toward the voice, “Leave me be!” She half sobbed and half growled out. It had been a bit over a week since her final date with Abner and his parents. She was a wreck and couldn’t get him off her mind. She couldn’t sleep, food tasted much, much worse, and worst of all; she felt powerless. She held power over her domain still, but it was nothing like the small deeds she would do that made Abner smile, or laugh, or shiver with anxiety, or the one time she turned him into a nervous wreck with just a kiss. Abner, Abner, Abner. That was all she wanted. Sybel turned as she heard the door to her media room open. Three imps, most loyal and eager to serve their devilish overlord, bounced into the room, “Mistress! Mistress, look!” One cried as they dragged something in. “Yes! We have brought the answer to all your woes!” Another imp cried as they all tossed what they were dragging to Sybel’s feet. It was a man. Bound and gagged before her, “A single man! Perfect for becoming your pactsworn.” The man looked terrified as he looked up at the disheveled devil. Fury quickly rose in Sybel as she floated off the couch, “You DARE bring me just ANY mortal!?” She bellowed as more tears sprung from her already puffy eyes, “I do not want this man! I want MY mortal!” She snapped her fingers and flung every empty ice cream bucket in the room at the three imps who shouted and cried before dashing from the room, the empty ice cream tubs following them and keeping up their assault. She turned her attention to the man and snapped her fingers, removing his binds. The man slowly rose to his feet, “Thanks,” He sighed with relief, “How--” Sybel snapped her fingers again, teleporting him to the hellhound village a few dozen miles away to be ravaged by whatever lonely mutt found him first. The devil returned to the couch and rested her head on the arm rest. She sniffled and wiped her eyes, “Perhaps just viewing him will bring me some joy,” She quietly decided. With another snap of her fingers, a purple, swirling void appeared and began to grow. Soon, the void stopped and the dark, purplish center cleared like a fog and revealed her quarry. Abner. He lay on his bed, face down with his head in his pillows. He had been like this for a few days now. Laying still except for when the hunger pains got to be unbearable or he had to go to the bathroom. Wrapped in blankets and his usual hoodie, he made quiet sobbing noises every once in a while. Sybel ached once more. She touched the void, trying to reach out to him and comfort him in his time of need. Cursing the ancient laws she was forced to abide by was the only thing Sybel could do as her hand phased through the viewing portal before her, “My precious mortal…” She mumbled. She felt her eyes begin to water again, she couldn’t bear to watch him anymore. The shattering of Abner’s fragile heart was too much for her. She closed the portal and sobbed again, materializing yet another tub of ice cream for herself. “He won’t pick up, dude,” Valene had a worried look on her face as she dialed Abner’s number for the fifth time that day, “Lance, do something, babe,” She pleaded. Even if she gave Abner a hard time, she didn’t know what she’d do if something happened to him. Lance was sitting on the floor with his eyes closed as he meditated, “Valene…” “Lance, please,” She begged, “I’m gonna call Gary and Malina. Maybe they’ve had luck?” Lance had never seen his wife so nervous and shaky over something. He stood and strutted to her side, “Sssh,” He soothed her quietly as he cast a ‘calm emotions’ spell on her with a hug, “Everything is fine. Abner wouldn’t do something so drastic.” “But… can we go over there, babe? To his apartment? I just gotta make sure that dude is okay,” She pleaded, “I’ll drive. We can go pick up Gary and Malina too. Please?” “Of course. I must admit I’m a little worried too. This should calm both of our minds and hearts. I know Gary is a little worried too and I’m sure Malina is as well,” The wizard got up and grabbed a coat for himself and tossed Valene her crimson track jacket. “Thanks, babe,” She finally smiled and dialed Malina, “Yo!” Her friend immediately picked up, “You hear from Abner recently?” “No,” Her friend mumbled with a worried tone, “Do you think…?” “Don’t say it! We’re gonna go check on him. Wanna come with?” She offered. “I’d love to. I’ll grab Gary and see you soon!” She hung up. Lance smirked, “I don’t think I ever realised how much we all worried for Abner.” “Babe! Hurry up!” Valene shouted as she was already running toward the stairs of Lance’s wizard tower. With a heavy sigh, he followed her down the stairs and out of the building where her precious hippie van was waiting. The two had moved out of the desert and a bit more out west to hide a home amongst the trees but still be able to comfortably drive down to the local town to see their friends or buy groceries. The two climbed into the magically enchanted van and took off with memories of their first adventure together filling their heads. With a short drive down to their friend’s small house, all four were together. The myconid witch and the sorcerer climbed into the back seats and buckled in before Valene took off, nearly speeding as she hurried down the road, “Slow down!” Malina started back seat driving, “We won’t get there sooner if you get pulled over!” “Okay! Okay!” Valene slowed down her van a bit as they entered the town proper. Riding in silence did nothing but put the group more on edge as Valene expertly navigated through the town. Soon enough, the group had arrived at Abner’s apartment complex. Valene rushed out of the van and toward the apartment complex’s front entrance. Lance felt a wave of relief as he saw Abner’s car sitting in its usual parking spot. “Valene! Wait up!” Malina ran to catch up after Gary helped her out of the van. The sorcerer looked at the wizard and shrugged, “Think he’s okay?” “He has to be,” Lance replied with a little smirk, “He’s a smart guy, he’s not gonna do something drastic.” The four made their way up to Abner’s apartment where Valene pounded on the door, “Abner! Abner! Let us in!” She hollered and waited two or three minutes before turning to her husband. She didn’t even have to open her mouth, “On it,” Lance put his hands together and spread them apart. With a red glow, a white wooden staff with a red gem firmly planted in the top and smaller gems floating around it appeared in his hands. With another wave of his hand, his tome of spells appeared in front of him and opened to the page he had in mind. He took only a moment to commit the spell to memory again. With the muttering of an incantation, he tapped the end against the locked door. There was the very loud sound of the bolt turning and the door creaked open, “Done.” “Way to go, babe!” Valene slapped him on the ass and rushed into the apartment. “Yeah, ‘babe,’ good job,” Gary chuckled as he entered behind the familiar. The wizard and myconoid both entered after. Malina tasted the air immediately, “Do you smell that?” “I do,” Gary nodded as he felt the strange mana in the air. “Nope,” Lance shrugged, “So I guess it’s not the scent of death.” “Abner, bro?” Valene called as she made her way to his bedroom, “Are you in there?” in there?” No response. An answer that made her heart pound harder than a cry for help would have. She shot a glance at Gary who had quickly checked the study and had shaken his head. The familiar swallowed nervously and tried the door, finding it unlocked. Even in the dim light, she could see Abner’s form on the bed, “Abner?” She called again, “Bro, this isn’t funny,” A few cautious steps forward made a scent hit her nose. It wasn’t death or magic, just the musk of body odor. It was like a miasma about the conjurer's form. Valene had smelt much worse, but it was definitely off putting. She saw plates piled on the nearby night stand. Lance stepped to his wife’s side and looked at his friend, “Well, he’s breathing,” He whispered, “I imagine he’s just sleeping now.” “Ugh, that stank,” Gary grumbled, “Has he just been laying here for a week!?” With a sigh, Lance waved his staff and cast a spell that removed the stench from the room, “It seems that way,” He used the butt of his staff to prod his friend, “Abner, wake up.” The conjurer was slow to wake, the malaise made it difficult for him to find the energy to move, “Huh?” He slowly rolled over and sat up, staring at his friends with his puffy, red eyes. “Oh, thank god,” Valene sighed with relief and sat on the edge of the conjurer’s bed, “Bro, do you realise how much I’ve been worrying about you?” The conjurer gave her an apathetic look, “S-Sorry,” He groggily replied as he rubbed his face. “Here, something for your weariness,” Malina said in a soothing tone as she handed the conjurer a small bottle of a green liquid. He eyed it for a moment before setting it aside, “Abner? Is something wrong?” “What gave that away?” The sarcastic sorcerer snorted before dropping back down onto his pillow. His voice oozed with annoyance and anger. “You’re acting like your cat died. Or your girlfriend dumped you,” Gary mused. Lance made a strange face, “No sutter?” He whispered to himself. With a scoff, Valene gave Gary an angry look, “Bro, he’s obviously just upset that Sybel had to go back to work, right? You had a heartfelt goodbye with her at the airport and you both bawled and--” “She’s gone.” Abner interrupted the familiar’s theory, not bothering to even look at his friends. “What?” Confused looks were passed around, “What do you mean, ‘gone?’” Abner got back up and gave an angry, yet wholly sad look, “Like GONE. She’s not here anymore and she never will be!” His eyes started to leak again, “As soon as that damn pact was up, s-she… l-left. S-she didn’t even say good b-bye,” He struggled to hold in his tears. “Pact?” Lance said aloud as he furled his brow. Valene put a hand on the conjurer’s back, unsure how to comfort him, “Why did you have some kind of pact with Sybel?” “Don’t lots of demons and devils make pacts?” Gary asked with a frown. “Not exactly. Contracts, sure. But pacts… pacts are something only done by the most powerful of outerworld beings like demons, devils, elementals, and angels, even. Abner, what exactly did you get yourself into? Did she force you into this?” “No!” A shout quickly came from Abner’s lips, “W-well, kind of. I-I-I-I--” The conjurer took a deep breath and steeled himself, “I’ve been lying to you all. My parents too. I didn’t have a girlfriend before t-three weeks ago.” Gary coughed, caught off guard by Abner’s admission, “What!?” Sparks of lightning jumped off his body. “Bro! You’ve been talking about a girlfriend for months!” Valane gave him a cross look while he hung his head. “Why would you lie to us…?” Malina had tears forming in her eyes. Lance folded his arms, “Much less your parents,” The wizard paused for a few moments as he stared at the tears that stained his friend’s cheeks, “I’m sure you had a reason to. I don’t know you to be a liar.” “I w-wanted to keep hanging out with you g-guys,” Abner whined, “I-I felt like I was becoming a f-forgotten fifth wheel. Y-you guys started inviting me more when I m-mentioned a girlfriend.” “Dude, we just started scheduling more hang outs because we wanted to meet her,” Valane’s smile was hollow and pained as was her chuckle. Gary held his tongue from telling Abner he should have just talked to them about his worries. It was obvious that the conjurer would have struggled to do that. “Parents were pushing you to find a girl, weren’t they?” Lance guessed, knowing that story all too well. Abner nodded, “I’m s-sorry.” Each of the conjurer’s friends found it hard to not forgive him. The loss of Sybel had obviously taken its toll on him. The myconid witch sighed, “We forgive you, Abner. Come on, get up. You need to move around,” She took him by the wrist and pulled him off his bed. He pathetically sat at the edge of his bed and stared at his feet. “I’ll get some water boiling,” Gary offered, “Maybe some tea would help you.” “Dude, Gary, no one wants to drink your old man tea,” Valane scoffed as she followed him back out into the main room, “But what the hell is that smell!?” “Some weird mana, I guess.” Lance looked back at Abner, “How did you form a pact with her?” “I-I-I-I… I was trying to summon an imp to b-bind to myself to act as my girlfriend for a l-little bit. I summoned Sybel on accident and she encouraged me to m-make a pact with her since I had undone her t-ten thousand year chains,” Abner explained, “W-we set for the pact to end after the dinner with my parents.” “I see…” Lance stepped out of the room. “You fell in love with her, didn’t you?” Malina asked quietly. Abner just nodded silently before slowly trying to get up, bringing the little green potion with him, “No need to be embarrassed about it, Abner. I mean, I fell in love with Garus of all people,” She put a gentle hand on Abner’s shoulder, “I think you found a wonderful person to fall in love with. She seemed like a nice woman.” “She was great,” Abner sighed and wiped his face, “I just wish she felt the same way.” “Lance, babe! Can you do something about this dank mana smell?” Valane wretched and whined at her husband. The wizard grunted and headed over to where she was. He cast a spell to view the mana in the room. The space was wreathed in Abner’s conjuration magic which showed up as a dark blue. A mass of residual, powerful magic was near the dining table with a deep red color, “Abyssal magic,” The wizard muttered as he examined it. Valene joined her husband and looked at the floor, unable to see the magic like he could, “Hey, babe, look at this,” Both sets of eyes turned to the wooden floor. The deep gouges were nearly instantly visible, “What the hell…?” “Abner, you said she left without a word?” Lance inquired as he touched the deep claw marks. “Yeah,” He replied quietly as he drank the tea Gary had prepared with magic. “I don’t think she would have left these scratches if she had wanted to leave, dude,” Valene noted, waving Abner over, “Maybe there’s somethin’ goin’ on here.” The conjurer folded his arms and frowned for a time, lost in thought, “I’d like to see her again. Even if it’s just to say goodbye.” “Do you know how to get in contact with her again? How to summon her?” Gary asked as he downed his own cup of tea. Abner shot him a dejected look, “I-I don’t. B-but… she said she has her own sigil. I-I need to know what it is.” “The sigil of a devil locked away for ten thousand years… Where do we find that?” Marina wondered aloud. Valene turned to her husband with a cheeky grin, “Think grandma might know, babe?” With a shrug, Lance shot a look back at her, “No. But her collection of books might. And she might know where to find it within those books. Let’s go.” “Wait, wait wait. Doesn’t your grandma live like, six or seven states away?” Gary asked in an overdramatic fashion, “Shouldn’t you also announce you’re coming?” “Oh, this dude hasn’t seen the secret weapon,” Valane giggled, “She loves visitors so she won’t mind. We drop by at least once a month.” Abner grabbed the little green potion from his pocket and downed it, coughing and sputtering as the rich and sweet goo went down his throat. He felt energized on top of the determination he already felt. The conjurer and his friends left the apartment and climbed into Valene’s hippie colored van. The familiar and her husband climbed into the back and started putting everything that was set out away and locking up all of the drawers of the little kitchen. Gary plopped down onto the water bed and started to relax, “So how long is the drive? A day? Two days?” “A few minutes,” Lance replied as he climbed into the passenger's seat. “Bull.” Abner gave them both incredulous looks but took Malina’s cue to sit down and buckled himself in. Once everyone, excluding Gary had strapped in, Lance pulled down on a lever on the dash. A machine housing a large, blue, glowing crystal slowly ejected from the dash with a low hiss. Lance punched a few buttons that seemed to be from an old fashioned typewriter before pushing it back into the dash. The van rumbled, a lot more than it usually did when the ignition was turned, and a burst of steam came from the console. Valene grinned as she pulled out of the apartment parking lot and into the street. She furiously shifted up a gear as she saw the way was clear. The van rumbled as it sped up, a high pitched wail emanating from the dash, and smoke billowing out the vehicle’s tailpipe. Gary tried to grab onto something, but a burst of speed threw him from the bed and into the back wall. Abner and the others were pushed back into their seats as the outside went from a bright sunny day to a deep green swirling vortex as the van quickly hit 88 miles per hour. A mad cackling emanated from Valene’s mouth as her vehicle violently shook. An alarm began to blare, bathing the dark cabin in a red glow. Lance reached over and threw the lever again. The van leapt from the green void and onto a long, empty patch of pavement. Valene hit the brakes, making everyone in the van lurch forward and Gary tumbled across the floor painfully, hitting his head on the wooden supports of the water bed and curling up into a ball of hurt, gripping his head, “We’re here!” Valene shouted as she started to unbuckle. Abner looked out the window. The dry, humid forests of coniferous trees had been replaced by tall, lush evergreens. As he left the van, the conjurer got a face full of cold wind as he stared around at the tall trees. Breaking the line of trees was a dark stone castle. It felt large to Abner, despite having no walls surrounding it. Although he honestly had no point of reference as to what a large castle should be, “I’m so excited to see grandma!” Valene shouted as she hurried to the castle gates. Abner followed along with Lance while Malina tended to her wounded boyfriend. She applied a thick salve to the bump on his head and gave him a kiss on the cheek as his eyes watered. Lance used his magic to ring the doorbell, which was really a large bell that hung from the stone walls. It gonged loudly as the other two joined the group. Soon, the large wooden door was opened slightly as an older, grey haired kikimora poked her head out, “Oh! Lance and Valene. I see you brought some guests. Your grandmother had not informed me you were going to be coming here,” The door was opened wider for the five to enter the castle. The stone walls and wooden floors gave the castle a cold atmosphere with flaming green sconces casting an ominous glow across the walls. “Well, we didn’t tell her we were coming, Svetlana, it’s kind of a last minute thing,” Lance admitted. Svetlana nodded with understanding, “Ah, I see. Well, you know she loves it when family comes by. Living out here she doesn’t see much of you all anymore. Especially you Lance. I can’t believe your mother moved so far away! I’ve said before how much your grandmother fretted over it.” “You’ve said many times, Svetlana. At least she’s had you this whole time.” “Of course. I could never leave her. I picked this path early on, but I feel like I made the right choice,” The kikimora smiled. She was practically another grandmother to Lance. “You’ve made more than enough money to let your kids and grandkids do whatever they want with their lives,” Lance pointed out, “That must be worth it.” “Of course it is,” Svetlana stopped at another set of doors and cleared her throat, “My Lady! You have visitors~!” The kikimora called with a sing-songy voice before pushing the door open. The group of five plus the elderkiki stepped into the massive library. Tall shelves, going up the ceiling, each and every one of them was stacked high with books. Around the room, even more books laid in semi organized piles, yearning to be placed on shelves if any more of them were ever added to the room. Desks were scattered about, each made of dark wood and piled high with more books and papers. There were a few scroll holders that had long since been overfilled with rolls of parchment. In the center of the room, drawing all the attention to it, was a brass pillar with a large, green glowing crystal resting on top of it. Wires, tubes and all manner of artifice and machinaton humming as the aetheric crystal fed them its innate power. A massive ball of green magic was suspended in the air with books, papers, potions and a woman in raven black robes suspended in mid air as if unaffected by gravity. She had short just as black hair with pointy cat ears on the top of her head. The robed woman was floating upside down with a book in front of her as she fussed over a mortar and pestle. Abner shivered as he felt a gaze fall upon him. “Always so enamored with her studies,” Svetlana sighed as she looked around, “I wish she’d let me tidy up in here.” “I’ve got it from here,” Lance gave the kikimora a nod in thanks and cleared his throat, “Grandma!” He called with no response. He sighed and thought for a moment, “Grandma Maxy! I solved that ancient philosopher’s puzzle box you sent me!” “WHAT!?” The witch screamed as her cat ears twitched. She turned around as she grabbed her hat and put it on her head. Her bright emerald cat eyes scanned the group, “Lance? Oh, and you brought all your little friends too. Svetlana you did not inform me that we had guests!” “I tried to… my Lady Maxine,” The kikimora rolled her eyes as the cat witch swam out of the anti gravity field and gracefully floated to the ground. “Well, better late than never, I suppose. How are you, Lance, dear?” Maxine asked as she leaned on her staff. It was a long brown staff with bright green gems at the top, “I assume you did not really solve that puzzle box,” She mewled disappointedly. “I concluded that the box is probably impossible. Other than that I am well,” Lance smiled. “I assume you did not drag your wife and friends out here just to tell me that. Introduce me to your little entourage and tell me, what have you come seeking?” Maxine wondered aloud. Abner froze as cold metal was placed against the side of his throat. He twitched slightly and felt the sharpness of it. All the conjurer could do was squeak quietly, alerting his friends. Gary produced his crackling crystal orb and Malina drew her small, mushroom tipped wand, ready to defend their friend, “Kimiko,” Maxine sighed as if she had seen this a million times, “What is it?” Lance and Valene had the same tired expressions as the witch. A gruff woman behind the conjurer growled, “I sense magic most foul on this one. Fiend magic.” “Come now. My precious grandson would not keep less than desirable company. Stay your blade and cease your prowling around in the shadows!” The witch scolded. The jinko grunted and sheathed her sword before joining her master’s side. She wore a dark colored kimono and an eyepatch over her left eye. Her hair was an orangish color, though most of it, as well as the fur on her arms and tail, had turned white over the years and the wrinkles were a bit more obvious on her face compared to the witch whose magic would lengthen her life by quite a bit. “Just as protective as ever, Kimiko,” Lance smirked, “Grandma, you’ve met Valene before,” He gestured to the familiar who gave a little wave, “This is Garus and Malina. I’ve brought them up before, the sorcerer and the fungus witch. And that’s Abner, the conjurer.” “Yes, yes. I can recall. But come on with it, boy. Why is it you’ve ventured all the way out here?” “Abner?” Lance gave a nod for him to speak. The conjurer did his best to calm his nerves after being threatened by the old samurai. He shook himself once and tried to calm his shivering body, “W-well… y-y-you see…” He felt a surge of confidence as Sybel’s smiling face entered his mind, “I’m looking for the sigil of a powerful devil. A trickster devil. An elder trickster devil.” “That doesn’t seem too difficult,” Maxine rubbed her chin as she searched the catalogues of her mind. “The dude forgot to mention she’s been sealed away for ten thousand years,” Valene smirked with a little shrug. “That does make it a little more difficult,” The cat witch frowned, “Ten thousand years is a long time. I have multiple ancient tomes that might include her, but without a true name or some other way to identify her… This may be quite difficult and time consuming if not impossible. Some elder demons are not very amicable when torn from their realm,” She smirked, “Imagine pulling a fiend away from her husband mid… session.” Valene and Gary both giggled at the thought while everyone else imagined the fury on the hypothetical fiend’s face, “My Lady, are you sure this is a good idea?” Kimiko pressed. “Always the worrier,” Maxine shook her head dismissively, “If we do this right, there should be no danger to anyone involved. That is, if she is willing to see our friend Abner here.” Eyes turned to the sullen looking conjurer, “I-I just want to say goodbye to h-her, a-at the least. I don’t care i-if she d-doesn’t love me back.” The samurai’s eye closed, “His intentions seem pure, at the least. I suppose I will stand down.” Gary scowled, “How the hell are we supposed to find this devil then?” Lance and Maxine started to debate the best formulaic approach to it while Malina and Svetlana talked about cooking. Gary got his turn of being stared down by Kimiko and Valene checked her phone. Abner nervously drew a symbol on the back of his hand. "What if we just start trying out the names of devils and demons, and invoke the true name clause?" Lance suggested, "We could banish them if they are not the one we're looking for." "That could be dangerous if we get the wrong one, not to mention how long it would take. We are talking years, my dear Lance. While I want to help, I do not have years to sacrifice for this," Maxine tapped her staff on the ground and a few books flew off the very top shelves and from the bottom of piles to her. Each one swirled around her, their pages turning rapidly as they passed by, “We cannot go by physical appearance either. About 95 percent of all monsters, including the greater fiends had their forms change when the Maou came into power. Do you have any ideas, Abner? You were close to her, surely there is something you have to identify her with. A magical item she gave you, a symbol put on her pactsworn, anything can help.” “P-pactsworn symbol?” Abner repeated and looked down at the now red marks on the back of his hand due to his fingernail digging into this skin. His eyes widened with realisation, the symbol he had nervously been drawing was the same one he had been tracing at the dinner with his parents. Hastily, he dug through his enchanted coat and grabbed a mundane pencil and a scrap of paper. He drew the symbol from memory and showed it to the witch and her grandson, “This, I-I think.” The old cat woman peered at it for a moment, “Yes… yes… This will do. I believe I know who you speak of. If she’s out… I may need to contact her soon. It’s a good thing you had that symbol in your head,” Maxine smirked, “Because the book we would have been using does not list your devil as an elder devil.” A single tome, more ancient and dusty than the rest, floated over to Abner and opened to a page. There was little information on what Sybel used to be before the Maou or before being sealed away. But it did include her personal sigil, a way for cults and demonologists to summon her. Abner stared intently at the symbol before drawing it on the loose piece of paper numerous times to memorize it, “That look g-good?” He showed it to Lance and the cat witch. “Better than I could ever do,” Maxine purred, “Lance, as much as I would love for you to stay, perhaps you should get Abner home so he can speak to this woman in private.” “Lady Maxine, how about you keep them for lunch at least?” Svetlana suggested, “I am sure my husband can cook for a few more.” The witch nodded, “You are right. They came this far. Please let your husband know that we have guests who will be staying for a meal.” Sybel returned to her bedroom after a few hours at her fair. She had done everything again that she had done with Abner, but without him none of it felt fun at all. She had ridden the rides, eaten the food, and played multiple games but she couldn’t get the depressed frown off of her face. The only time she came close to smiling was when she reminisced about her time with Abner and the things they had done together. Even the few simple tricks she had played that almost delighted her now had almost no effect on her mood. She stared at the ceiling, the dim light cast long shadows across it. She felt weary from all of her crying and fruitless attempts at merriment. Changing into her purple nightgown and crawling under the sheets, she suddenly felt wide awake, “Abner. I need Abner so I can sleep,” She whined. She had done this multiple nights in a row now. Each night was as restless as the last. With the snap of her fingers, she summoned forth another purple void. The depths of the inky darkness faded after a short time to reveal the object of her desires. Sybel was shocked to see him up, and out and about no less. Abner’s head was resting on his hand as he stared out a window, his mind wandering and ignoring those around him. Sybel saw his friends, those that she only slightly cared about due to the fact that Abner cared about them. Although, her chatter with Valene and Malina had been somewhat pleasant. Mayhaps she would speak to them, or ‘hang out’ as Valene called it, again-- if only she could. There were a few others around Abner. A black haired cat woman, an old jinko, and a kikimora. Relief washed over Sybel as she figured that none of them had a romantic interest in her Abner. She quickly tuned out everyones’ chattering and focused on the face of her precious mortal. She laid on her bed and moved her viewing portal to the pillow next to her. With the rotating of the portal, she made it look like Abner was lying next to her, staring directly at her, “There. See? T-this is h-how is s-should be…” Tears welled up in her eyes as she squeezed them shut. She felt pathetic and powerless as she lay quietly alone in her dark room. She had been all powerful for a millenia, she even continued feeling powerful while being sealed away, but being seperated from her precious mortal was the worst pain she had ever felt. “Ready to go?” A clear voice came through the portal, it was Lance, another of Abner’s friends. Sybel watched Abner nod and get up, “I-I’m ready. Th-thanks for your h-help, Maxine.” “Of course darlings! You should all come by again soon. We would love to have you,” The cat and elderkiki showed the guests out and gave one final wave goodbye as Abner, Lance, Valene, Malina, and Gary all climbed into the familiar’s van. Sybel sat up and watched as they all strapped and braced themselves as the van teleported through a green void and spilled out back near Abner’s apartment. Valene dodged a bit of traffic as she slowed down and pulled into the apartment complex’s lot. The five entered the building and went to Abner’s apartment, “A-are you four p-planning on c-coming in?” The conjurer asked. “We’ll be nearby unless things go wrong,” Lance gave him a reassuring smile before plopping down on his couch where Valene began to cuddle with him. Malina and Gary sat together on the recliner. Sybel knit her brow, “What are you up to, Abner?” She wondered aloud as she watched him enter his study and prepare his work area. Her heart dropped as she watched him draw a few summoning sigils with his magic pen, “You do not need me anymore, do you, Abner?” A hollow chuckle was all she could utter as she started to watch him furiously draw sigils on the paper, “He must be summoning a new girlfriend. His friends must have talked him into it…” She sighed and closed the viewing portal. The thoughts of revenge against those mortals were quickly swept away by the feelings of despair and anguish. Sybel knew that her mortal was gone forever, right through her fingertips. Abner stared down at the pages of magical parchment. The swirls of ink formed sigils of power, a few of them glowing as they waited for the summoning circle to be completed. Doubts and fears crossed his mind, but he couldn't go back now. No matter how furious Sybel would be, seeing her one last time would clear his mind and he’d be able to let go. He took a deep breath and drew Sybel’s sigil in the center of the circle and drew the last portion of the ring. Sigils began to glow, the wind began to howl and thunder crackled in the room. The portal slowly opened and began to crackle with energy. The ground shook, making Abner lose balance and threw him to the floor. Just as quickly as it began, the violent shaking and rumbling stopped and Abner found himself staring up at the ceiling. “Abner?” A sniffling, disbelief filled voice mewled. The conjurer picked himself up and quickly spotted the devil, twisting himself around to kneel before her with his face bowed low, “S-Sybel, please, let me s-say one thing before you leave me again,” He pleaded, not daring to look up at her. “Abner…” The devil fought back more tears. When Abner looked up and saw her, his jaw dropped. She stood on the floor in a set of fluffy purple robes with a few colorful ice cream stains on it. Her hair was disheveled and her eyes were puffy and red from crying, just as much as his were. Her red eyes were set on the man before her, “Abner… I missed you so much.” “Sybel… I-I-I--” Abner couldn’t find the words he wanted to say, “Y-you’re not mad at me? F-for summoning you?” The devil’s face contorted in a grin as her eyes filled with water, “Mad!? Abner, you have no idea how happy I am to see you!” She forced the conjurer to hug her tightly. “B-but you--” “I am sorry I did not say goodbye. As much as saying it would have pained me, I at least wanted to give you that,,” She sighed wearily, her tears welling up again, “It was not my choice to leave, Abner. Ancient devil… laws and all that. I hurt you, did I not?” Relief washed over him and his confidence slowly returned, “I’ve been in so much pain since you left, Sybel,” Abner looked at the robes she was wearing, “Kinda looks like you felt the same.” “I--” Sybel’s pride melted away as she saw the concerned look on Abner’s face, “I felt awful. I watched my shows, and they were boring without you around. Ice cream could not calm the fire in my heart for you. I even went to my carnival to take my mind off of you but the rides lacked any joy, the crowd left me feeling lonely, and even the cotton candy was bland and tasteless without… you,” She ran her clawed fingers down the side of his face, “I…” She stiffened up as she sensed another presence. With the snap of her fingers, the guests in her mortal’s house were all removed and dumped unceremoniously into Valene’s van, “I need you, Abner,” More tears pathetically streamed down her already stained face. A little smile broke out on the conjurer’s week-long frown, “I-I need you too,” With gentle strength, he picked up the devil in his arms and held her tight. The two embraced and cried tears of joy in one another’s arms as they felt one another’s warmth again. It took Abner almost a few minutes to calm down, “So, Sybel, should we make a…?” “A pact!?” She finished the sentence for him, her eyes full of glittering stars, “Yes, we should. We shall! What should the terms be? Of course you will be mine. I will be yours as well.” “Do we need anything else?” “Of course we do!” Sybel started to pace back and forth, “An agreement to be faithful to one another, an agreement to not lie to one another, I shall give you some of my power too… what else do we need?” “Sybel,” Abner chuckled as he pulled her into another hug, “Do you really think I won’t be faithful to you?” The devil blushed as her ears wiggled from Abner saying her name, “Well, no. To be honest I am… terrified to lose you again. To think that a mortal, no matter how… handsome, would cause me to feel that weak and powerless. I would have scoffed at the idea an age ago. Do you know how many emotions that I have never felt I have gone through because of you!?” Sybel scolded. Abner could hardly take her seriously in her fluffy robes, “All because you would not just ASK me to extend our pact.” “Why didn’t you ask?” The conjurer smirked. “I--” Sybel stomped her foot, “You are just so… LUCKY that I… ADORE you. If you were any other mortal I might have flayed you,” Sybel suddenly shuddered, “We are running out of time. Abner, make a pact with me. I shall be your adoring, loving, doting, wife and you shall be my most wonderful husband. We can hash out the rest later.” Although the thought of teasing her crossed his mind, he understood that time was of the essence, this summoning ritual was not nearly as powerful as the last and he couldn’t bear to let Sybel slip away from him again, “I agree to your terms, Sybel.” “Then the pact is sealed,” To seal the deal, the devil kissed her precious mortal on the lips. She giggled as Abner pulled away as his face flushed an adorable tomato color. She gave an impish grin, “I cannot think of a more precious mortal that I have ever met. I am quite lucky to have gotten the cream of the crop dropped right into my lap. Though, I suppose you were the one to summon me.” “Thanks, Sybel,” Abner chuckled nervously with a tiny smirk. Checking the back of his hand, the conjurer saw the small symbol had returned. This one looked burnt into his skin rather than a little pen drawing on top of it. He tried to calm his nerves as Sybel admired his quivering form. “What to do now…” Sybel wondered, her heart pounding with a new feeling. She wondered if it was love and decided to pounce on it, “I love you,” She announced, getting that out of the way. She quickly realised it was true, especially because of how good it felt to say, especially with the smile on Abner’s lips and face reddening even more. She snapped her fingers and the conjurer was lifted in the air and placed on his feet, “I believe we should shower. As we are now married, we may, correct?” Abner chuckled, getting a little nervous, “R-right. It f-feels l-like you’ve been waiting for this.” “I must admit I’ve been curious about looking a bit… closer at your body. Ever since I saw you nude for the first time, I have thought about it. And now I will have what I want. Come, to the shower, mortal,” She paused, “That does not feel right. Mortal? Abner? Husband? H-hu--” She found the phrase difficult to say, “H-hubby?” It was almost embarrassing for her. “As you wish, wifey,” The conjurer teased. Sybel’s face was just as red as his now. “S-stop that,” Sybel demanded as she took him by the wrist and pulled him to the bathroom. “Y-you don’t like it wh-when I call you t-that?” Abner inquired sadly. “Oh, no no no, Abner. I… admittedly I love it. These feelings, Abner, are so strange and new to me. I am merely… embarrassed,” She sheepishly explained as the two entered the bathroom. With the snap of her fingers, the water started to run. Abner only blinked and he found that their clothes had been magicked away, folded up on a shelf in the corner. With gentle hands Sybel pushed him towards the shower door. “Come along, husband, the shower awaits,” She giggled, extracting a yelp out of him with a pinch or two around his waist. Abner was so embarrassed and yet so excited that he could feel the heat even in his ears. As they entered the running shower, the steam and hot water washed over them. Abner jumped a little when the sliding door behind them clacked shut, and soon enough he found himself being gently pushed down onto the built-in seat, “Try to relax, husband,” Abner’s eyes wandered around the shower, unsure where to look as he knew before him was the shapely body of that little devil laid bare. She looked at her husband as she grabbed his body wash, “You may look, Abner. I have nothing to hide from you as I hope you have nothing to hide from me,” She grinned before squirting out some of the wash into the palm of her hand. “Of course I d-don’t,” Abner tried his best to chuckle, but it came out hollow and strange sounding, “I’m j-just a little nervous.” “You are always so nervous. I have seen you naked plenty of times. You have nothing to be ashamed of,” She began to lather the soap on his legs, starting at the feet and slowly going up to his closed thighs. As she pushed them apart, her husband’s erect member was laid bare for her. She had seen penises in anatomy books, but seeing one in person for the first time was a little intimidating. She curiously took hold of it in her hands, making Abner whimper as she stroked it gently. She gave it a small squeeze and felt it pulse and throb in her hands. Feeling him in the palms of her hands turned her on, “Is this what you were so nervous over? You act as if I am not aroused as well upon seeing your body in all its grandeur.” Abner grunted as the devil kept stroking and touching him, “R-really?” Sybel put her hands on her hips and stopped groping him, “Do you honestly think I am above carnal desires? A need for the flesh and warmth of another? You make me feel strange things I never thought I ever would. You almost make me feel like a,” Her face contorted into something almost disgusted, “a mortal. I have observed them and their desires before. I feel like one of them now.” “Should I apologize for that?” Abner chuckled. “You only need to if you do not plan on… taking care of me like I plan on taking care of you. Relax while we bathe, we will take care of our needs in a moment.” The shower continued as the two washed one another’s bodies, Sybel eagerly lathering their bodies up as she rubbed Abner and herself clean. Abner lay on his side. He could hear Sybel disrobing behind him, the sounds begging him to sneak a peek. As the robes hit the floor, the conjurer glanced over his shoulder at the devil’s slender body. The low light of the moon that filtered in through the slightly opened curtains shined off her glistening purple form. She glanced over her shoulder with one glowing red eye and a smirk on her lips, “You refused to get an eyeful earlier. Now you deign to look? Not that I mind, of course,” She chuckled as she floated into the air and approached the conjurer, “You look… nervous, dear.” “O-o-of c-c-course I’m n-nervous,” Abner admitted, “I-It's my first time.” “No need to fret. You and I will become quite… intimate and knowledgeable of one another in time. Let us take it slow,” The devil withheld her own nervousness as she climbed into bed with her husband. She forced Abner onto his side, facing away from her. Her arms wrapped around his neck and she breathed on his ear, “How is this? You seem to be enjoying it,” Her clawed fingers ran across her husband’s chest, making him shiver. Abner’s heart pounded as the devil teased him, “What is it you prefer? What if I was taller?” With the snap of her fingers, Sybel’s body seemed to grow until she was a smidge taller than Abner. Her soft hands and sharp claws caressed his skin, digging into his flesh ever so slightly, silently threatening to rend it, while her now much larger breasts pressed against his back. Her long, slender legs brushed up against his and entangled them, keeping him from moving, “How does this feel?” “G-g-g-good… b-b-but…” “You want something different? Perhaps something a bit more… monstrous?” With another snap, her hands changed, growing soft and coarse fur with longer, sharper claws. Her legs did the same, up to the knee at least. One claw went to his neck, holding it in place as she kissed and licked the back of his neck, her tongue now rough like sandpaper. Abner fidgeted and whined as the rough tongue and sharp teeth of the devil-beast moved to his ear and began to nibble and lick. One hand also grabbed Abner’s crotch, rubbing his hard member gently, “Is this better?” She purred, “Does this excite you?” “W-well, Sy-S-Sybel,” Abner gasped as her arms gripped him tightly in a bear hug, “I-I w-would r-r-rather do it with y-you… normal y-you. I-I don’t n-need you to c-change.” “You enjoy my normal form?” Sybel chuckled, “So be it,” Abner was forced onto his back and Sybel began to straddle him. She was back to her usual self as Abner stared up at her, putting his hands on her wide hips as his eyes wandered to her shapely breasts. Her nipples were a mildly darker purple compared to her skin, “If I am what you want, why should I not give you more of me?” She wondered before snapping her fingers. The bed creaked as four more forms climbed into it. Four more Sybels were staring down into Abner’s face, each one bit their bottom lips or made kissy faces at him. They were nearly identical to Sybel, but their purples were much less vibrant compared to the original, “Hm, not as gorgeous as the original. We shall have to practice this, but these copies will suffice.” “Look how handsome my husband is~!” One copy cooed as she cuddled up to him. “Yes, my mortal is admittedly quite wonderful. As far as mortal looks and personality goes. Unfortunately mortals are quite fickle. I cannot have him scampering off,” The second as well as a third grabbed Abner’s wrists and held them firmly. Abner couldn’t bring himself to say anything, the words were completely stuck in his throat again. The third mewled quietly, “I-I just don’t want Abner to leave. I-I want to love him forever. I-I will just have to help hold him down. “He is just so adorable when he is nervous, hm? So… fuckable, even. Hell, I want to fuck him SO BAD! Hurry up! Ride him! Use him!” The fourth begged as she ran her fingers over his chest. Her loins started to slide up and down Abner’s side as she desperately tried to feel something. Sybel, the real one, straddled on her husband’s crotch and began to rub against his underwear. The sensation of pleasure was unlike anything she had ever felt. Her greatest joys had always come from the tricks and pranks she would play, but the feeling of being so intimate with her beloved was on another level. The long since dead devils and demons of promiscuity and senseless intercourse had no idea how much better it felt when you were in love. A loud moan escaped her lips, signalling just how much she loved the feeling. Each of the shades moaned just a split second after her, the sensation being shared between them. “Come on! Hurry up and do it now! My fuckable husband is twitching and throbbing already!” One of the shades whined. “Let me savor him,” Sybel snapped. She took a deep breath and ran her claws down the conjurer’s stomach, stopping at the hem of his underwear, “Ready or not, hubby. I am going to begin,” The two copies that flanked Abner kissed his neck sensually, making him gasp while Sybel revealed his member to the cool air of the room. She ran fingers down his shaft, making it throb at just her touch. Using her magic, she made her body float as another magical spell forced the man’s member to stand straight up. Abner could see her pussy, clean shaven and glistening in the moonlight as she presented to him, then folded her legs, one over the other in a lounging fashion before slowly lowering her floating body down and piercing herself on the member. She shuddered, as did her shades as the intense pleasure shot through them. Abner’s own cry of pleasure was cut off as the hornier of the two shades flanking him shoved her breasts in his face. Sybel continued riding her man’s meat, slowly gliding up and down his throbbing cock. Each of the shades moaned at different intervals with the horniest of the four nearly screaming the conjurer’s name while she humped his face through her leotard. The other three shades grabbed her and threw her off before moving in and assaulting him with their tongues, lips, and little love bites. Sybel found herself, as well as her copies, enjoying the sensation of kissing and teasing Abner. He was running his fingers through their hair and reciprocating every kiss he could, the three devil shades’ tongues twisting around his own as they each sealed their lips to his. Abner felt like he was in heaven as he drowned in gorgeous little imps. Each one was just as eager to please him as the last. Sybel shifted her position, shifting her legs so she was once again straddling Abner. She took most of his member, feeling it brush against her sensitive walls as she started to pick up the pace. The three shades taking care of Abner all began to cry out in pleasure as well as the horniest one that was still laying on the floor in an overwhelmed state as she hollered the loudest. Sybel couldn’t stop now if she wanted to, the feeling of pleasure was far too overpowering compared to her other senses. She rose up and fell back down, shuddering as she went down to the hilt on him. Pants and moans were all the conjurer could muster as the devil ravaged his body. He could hardly even pant as the copies of his wife kept trying to kiss him in between their own, loud cries. He could feel himself throb inside Sybel’s pussy, threatening to bust at any moment, “S-Sy-Sybel,” He moaned, trying to warn her. “Say my name again, mortal,” One copy pleaded, “Stammer it!” “CUM IN ME!” The horny one screamed. A third whimpered as her claws raked the man’s flesh, “P-please, I want to be yours…” “Whenever you are ready, dear,” The fourth cooed. The real Sybel kept pace but leaned forward, putting her hands on his stomach for support, the others moving aside to let her through, “I love you, Abner. I always will.” Abner’s heart skipped a beat upon hearing her and he looked her in the eyes, his arms still restrained by the three shades that cuddled against him, “I love you too,” He replied with nothing but confidence. “Just what I wanted to hear,” Every Sybel grinned just as the main one began to pick up the pace. All five Sybels as well as Abner threw their heads back as they neared climax, the pleasure was reaching its boiling point, ready to spill over into an orgasm. Proclaiming their love for one another had been the final push that either one needed to come to climax. Sybel pumped a few more times before slamming herself down, “ABNER~!” She cried in ecstasy as the walls of her womanhood quaked violently. The conjurer shouted back incoherently, unable to form words between the shades of his Love bullying his mouth with their own. As his cock erupted, a load of cum shot deep into the devil’s trembling pussy. As the waves of ecstasy faded, Sybel felt a glorious and warm feeling deep inside of her. She slumped forward and rested her head on her husband’s chest, “Oh, Abner… I pray our next session will be just as wonderful,” She dismounted his cock, a bit of his cum spilling out, “I suppose that needs to be cleaned up,” She snapped her fingers, cleaning her own womanhood of any excess baby batter and leaving his member still covered in it. She crawled across his body as her four shades lunged for the semi erect penis, practically climbing over one another to get to it first. Abner didn’t have any time to catch his breath as four sets of lips set upon his member. Gentle kisses, excited smooches, furious licks, supple breasts being rubbed against his manhood, and exploring fingers caressing his balls, along a small love bite or two on his thighs. All at once happening in quick succession it nearly made him jump out of bed. With the snap of the devil’s fingers, magical chains grabbed his limbs and pulled them tight, keeping him still while the four eager shades ‘cleaned’ him, “Relax. Do you not want to drown in the pleasure I can provide?” “Well, y-yes, but--” He was cut off as one shade began to deep throat him, both of his balls were taken in a mouth each and were sucked on firmly, shooting pleasure all through his already ragged body. “You are just so adorable when you struggle,” Sybel giggled as she traced a single clawed finger on his chest. To tease him further, she began to assault his mouth herself, kissing his lips, licking them playfully in between sweet kisses, contrasting the mouth made ravaging going on at his loins. One of the clones put his member in between her breasts and started stroking while the others kissed the head of it or sucking on his balls. “Where did you… learn this stuff?” Abner whimpered out between breaths. The main devil pressed her lips to her husband’s as his cries increased. She calmly and playfully made out with him, using her tongue to wrestle with his for a few moments before breaking their kiss with a loud pop, “Did you honestly think I was only watching PG related rom-coms? You should not be surprised to know that mamano make many raunchy, or plainly pornographic movies. Why do one thing that excites a man when I can do five just for my precious mortal? Only the best for the one that is mine. Now,” She paused again for dramatic effect, “Cum for me.” As if on command, Abner erupted again, spraying spunk spontaneously on Sybel’s sultry shades, the four devils each greedily lapping it up, “Ah… wow,” Abner wheezed, feeling spent and out of breath. “Do not rest yet,” Sybel warned, “It is still our wedding night. The first night that our new ever lasting pact has been formed. Rules of three and all that,” She waved a hand dismissively as she gave the four copies another few seconds to finish cleaning up before snapping her fingers again. Abner didn’t fight back as he felt himself be lifted into the air and placed on his feet at the bedside. The four shades floated to him on silent wings, grabbing his arms first and forcing them behind his back where they were magically bound. Sybel lined herself up before him, readying herself for a round of forced missionary-- for the purpose of procreation, of course. Sybel’s hands went to her man’s shaft, stroking him gently and teasing it with her claws as she got him erect again. Abner was shocked he still had the stamina for it. “May I rest after this?” He pleaded, starting to worry the devil would ride him to death. She could see the worry and exhaustion on his face, “If you are a good boy and stay this… insatiable lust for your body. I will let you rest,” An impish grin spread across her lips as one of her clones grabbed the penis at the base of the shaft and lined it up for her. Two of the other clones grabbed Abner’s rear, one of them getting a yelp from him as she teasingly slapped it, and forced him forward as the fourth floated behind him and held him upright by gripping his shoulders. Soon Abner’s penis was shoved deep into Sybel’s pussy making all of the clones gasp and sigh along with their host, the fourth one giving him a quick peck on the cheek. Abner was forcibly pushed out and then back in, the pace being decided by Sybel’s clones. Abner attempted to be as calm as he could, letting the little devils force him in and out with rapid pace. Sybel’s body shuddered as she lay back, completely relaxed while she let the shades of herself take control of her man. He was forced to pump and pump, completely at their mercy. Though he was tired, a part of him did not mind the control his quintupled lover had over him now. His body was shuddering, covered in scratches, and about ready to miraculously climax again. “Sy-S-Sybel,” He moaned to her. All five devils were overwhelmingly pleased. “Whenever you are ready.” “I love you so much…” “Yes, cum for me again, mortal.” “Please, please, please, PLEASE.” “Oh! Abner!” “Gah!” The man cried, splurting his load deep into her. The devil orgasmed in response to the baby batter being shot into her womb. All of them cried out as they orgasmed in unison. Once they were both done, Abner was released and allowed to collapse onto the bed where Sybel ran her fingers over his back, “You have more than earned your rest, husband,” She decided before cleaning the two of all sweat and sexual fluids with the snap of her fingers. She snapped again and the shades vanished, all feeling wholly satisfied. Sybel used her magic to dress herself in a nightgown and put her husband in his usual sleep shorts, “I pray you had a time that was just as wonderful as mine.” Abner looked at Sybel and put his head on her chest, letting her caress his hair gently, “Yeah, it was great.” “Good. Mayhaps… we could go again tomorrow? Just you and I?” The conjurer sighed, “Maybe,” Was all he could muster as her wrapped his arms around her and pressed his face into her chest. Sybel chuckled to herself as she ran her claws over Abner’s scalp, caressing every inch of it as she began to fall into a slumber, “You never said no~” Her husband didn’t reply as he had already fallen asleep due to how much his wife had taxed his body. The big smile on the devil’s face remained even as she fell asleep. Abner woke up first from their sex induced slumber. Using his devil wife as a Sybel-pillow had been wonderful. He wasn’t sure if he had ever slept that well in his life. Carefully, he peeled himself off of her body and let her lie by herself for a bit while he rubbed his face and tried to wake up. His eyes wandered around the room as he thought again about how they had done the deed. Sybel was most likely to ravage him tonight, but being ravaged while drowning in those impish grins and slender bodies wouldn’t be too bad. “Already excited?” Sybel teased as she scanned his body. “What? Oh!” Abner hadn’t even realised he was pitching a tent already, “Just thinking about how you, uh, well, we, uh…” Sybel giggled, “How we gave in to our carnal desires? I am struggling to not dream of doing it again. Perhaps a shower… session is in order?” Abner couldn’t bring himself to say no, “If you want,” He resumed scanning the room, “Have you seen my phone? Oh wait, I think I see it,” The conjurer pointed at the dresser. A bolt of dark purple energy shot out of his finger, narrowly missing his dresser and slamming into the wall with a FWOOSH noise, leaving a scorch mark and some smoke behind, “What!?” “Ooooh,” Sybel gave an impish grin, “It seems like I lended you some of my power. I did not really mean too, but I suppose it cannot be helped having infused you with my mana.” “So I’m a warlock now?” “Not just a warlock. MY warlock. Worry not, this will not affect your conjuration practice,” Sybel floated behind him and caressed his shoulders, “When you are ready, I will offer you guidance on your new magics. For now, just be a little careful.” “Yeah, I’ll try not to point at anyone,” He sighed. “Exactly. Now come lay down again. You need your rest.” … … … Sweat poured down the devil’s face. She panted, trying to recover from the excruciating pain. The last thing she could remember was the unicorn doctor hollering ‘it's a girl!’ at her. Sybel’s mouth was dry and her head was still hazy as the overhead fluorescents beamed down at her, “W-where…?” She wheezed, struggling to form words. “I’m right here,” Abner whispered as he took hold of her hand. “Not you!” She weakly pushed his hand away, “Where is my baby!?” With haste, she grabbed his hand again and gave it a gentle squeeze, “How is your other hand?” “Well… the doctor said it’s not broken. The bruising and sprain should go away on their own. Got a prescription for pain meds if I need it,” He brushed his devil’s hair out of her face. Sybel smiled, glad to have him by her side. It had been a year since they had first met. It felt a little quick to have a child, but they were more than prepared. Sybel’s fair was bringing in a lot of money, more than enough to support them and their child. The devil was glad to be done having the child in her swollen belly, but she knew she would miss the nightly belly rubs. Now she’d need breast rubs due to how swollen those were with milk now, “Can I see the baby soon?” She half wondered, half demanded. Abner perked up as he heard hooves on the tile floor approaching them, “Sybel? Abner?” The unicorn doctor had returned with a little pink bundle. “Is that my baby?” Sybel asked, still half delirious. “Yes. I’m sure you want to hold her.” “Please, I need to see her,” The pink bundle was handed over and the devil delicately took it in her arms. She pushed some of the blankets aside and stared at the fragile child in her arms. Her hair was a darker purple than Sybel's, and her purple skin was a little more pale, but other than that, she looked like she would become the splitting image of her mother. Little droplets of water fell onto the baby’s blanket. Sybel was weeping as the flood of emotions hit her. Joy, worry, fear, as well as a hint of excitement. It was all too much for her to bear. “She has your horns,” Abner chuckled as he gently pet his wife’s head. “Y-yeah. S-she-- She does,” Sybel used Abner’s shoulder to cry on now. “Did you think of a name?” Sybel nodded, “Sabel. The A from Abner and everything else from Sybel.” Abner sighed with a smile, knowing he wouldn’t really be able to convince her otherwise, nor did he want to, “I love it.” “Abner?” Sybel turned to him with big tears staining her face, “I-I want to have another.” “I do too. But let’s take a break. You need to rest and we need to raise this one for a bit,” Abner smiled and ruffled her hair a bit. “I love you,” Sybel murmured. The conjurer grinned, “I love you too.” “I was talking to Sabel. But I love you as well, Abner.” He sighed, shook his head and smiled down at their daughter, “Thanks…”