The Demon Lord didn’t get hangovers. They were afraid to come near her. The last time a hangover dared threaten her, she destroyed it and seven generations of its family.
Nyze, on the other hand, was still susceptible. When she awoke, she found herself sprawled out on Psytalla’s bed, somehow entangled bodily with a softly snoring Metokai, whose face was buried in her chest.
“Good morning, dear.” Psytalla said from her desk, looking fresh and chipper.
“Mrgrpmhph.” Nyze responded before plopping her head back down on the pillow and closing her eyelids against the hateful light.
Since when had those damn skull candles been so BRIGHT?!
While Nyze was nursing a throbbing headache and complaining about the Demon Realm’s inexplicable lack of coffee, elsewhere Frane and Rylmedy were standing on a balcony near the zenith of one of the castle’s highest towers, watching the rays of dawn break over the mountains as the White Moon began to rise, signaling the start of day.
Rylmedy was dressed in her usual light leather armor. Frane, however, was bundled up in a black hooded cloak that completely obscured her entire body. As the daylight bathed the balcony, Frane slowly raised one of her arms and drew back the sleeve of her cloak, exposing her hand to the morning rays.
The flesh on her hand boiled away instantly, and after about three seconds her whole hand burst into flame and turned into ash which scattered to the wind. Frane quickly withdrew her arm back into the shadow of her cloak, gritting her teeth as her hand regenerated. Then the two girls quickly retreated inside, into the safe darkness of the Demon Lord’s castle.
Once the door to the balcony was completely closed, Frane threw back her hood and squealed in delight. “Did you SEE that?! My hand disintegrated! Completely, totally disintegrated!” She threw off her cloak and waved her two wholly intact hands around excitedly.
Rylmedy regarded her enthusiastic girlfriend wearily. Frane certainly looked far different than she had a day ago; her eyes were now bright red with slitted irises, and her ears were long and pointed like those of an elf. When she opened her mouth, long fangs peeked out from behind her lips. Add to that the other, more sensual changes to her body and her newly joyful attitude, and Frane had quite clearly gone through a miraculous metamorphosis.
Yes, she was now a vampire, as she had always wanted.
Rylmedy, on the other hand, had transformed into a ball of worry. Her girlfriend, her precious, nerdy, taciturn and wonderfully awkward girlfriend, was now vulnerable to daylight. DAYLIGHT. Was there anything more ubiquitous than that? She shuddered as she imagined Frane turning to ash.
There were countermeasures to this, of course. The black cloak Frane was wearing was the most obvious; there were also protective charms that combined warrior magic and healing magic to keep vampires safe, even in full blast of the White Moon’s light. But these were simply workarounds. There was no cure for the vampire’s inherent weakness to daylight, and Frane had gone through with this transformation WILLINGLY.
Rylmedy’s thoughts turned to the night before as her stomach knotted up with stress.
At the behest of the Demon Lord’s summons, a pink-haired vampire arrived from the Nightlands late yesterday eve to perform Frane’s embrace. After the standard disclaimers, she sank her fangs deep into Frane’s throat, draining her almost dry of blood, then slashed open her own wrist and offered Frane some of her cursed plasma. Frane drank deep of the vampire’s essence, and less than a second later she screamed out in pain.
Most demonic transformations weren’t inherently painful. They felt WEIRD, certainly; one’s body being re-arranged was always an uncomfortable experience, but not a painful one. Vampirism was different; it was a magical curse nearly as old as Goezia itself, whose origins were shrouded in the mysteries of distant time. Nobody knew WHY vampires were vulnerable to daylight or fire, or why they could only feed on blood, or why they didn’t age; those answers evaded even the most dedicated of scholars. The reason for the vampiric transformation manifesting as a night of wracking pain was similarly obscure.
Rylmedy was warned by the visiting vampire not to use healing magic on her girlfriend during the process, as that would simply prolong things. Instead, she simply held Frane’s hand as the latter writhed on the bed, screaming and clawing at the sheets. Eventually, Frane wore herself out and fainted, completely exhausted and covered in sweat. Rylmedy undressed her, wiped her down with a damp towel and pulled the sheet over her shaking body.
It was in that moment that Rylmedy began to think this might have been a mistake on Frane’s part. She had been unwilling to stand in Frane’s way, knowing this was a lifelong dream come true for her; nevertheless, seeing her lover suffering through such torment filled Rylmedy’s heart with doubt. And those doubts only continued to grow, despite the… other benefits of Frane’s metamorphosis.
Snapping her attention back to the present, Rylmedy looked again at her girlfriend. Before the transformation, Frane had been a lanky, thin and awkward girl who hated her own appearance, no matter how many times Rylmedy told her she was beautiful. As a vampire, she was fully a foot shorter than her human self, standing only 5 foot 2, and her body had filled out in a myriad of ways. She had curves now, curves for DAYS, and thighs thick enough to park a wyvern on. When she walked, her hips SWAYED; the first time Rylmedy saw this, she experienced quite a tingling jolt in places not typically mentioned in polite company. It was an astounding supernatural glo-up, and Frane seemed to love every moment of it, which made Rylmedy feel all the worse for being such a worrywart.
Frane, having come down off her ascended vampire fangirl high, noticed Rylmedy’s worry and sidled up to her. Her expression returned to its usual neutrality.
“You’re worried about me, aren’t you?” she asked quietly.
“N-No, I’m not…” Rylmedy replied weakly, in an entirely unconvincing tone.
Frane’s eyes narrowed. “Liar.”
Rylmedy knew she couldn’t get anything past Frane; her girlfriend was too observant, too incisive. She had denied the accusations at first simply to preserve her own ego, a mild and probably futile defense. How could she stand to be so dour when the love of her life was so happy? She once again fell into a spiral of guilt and self-hatred, which is why Frane’s next words shocked her.
“I’m sorry. I should have discussed this with you more before I went through with it.”
“Huh?” Rylmedy blinked, banishing the tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
Frane reached up and brushed away a strand of Rylmedy’s brown hair; she thought, with a jolt of euphoria, how satisfying it was to look UP at her girlfriend instead of DOWN at her, before returning her mind to the topic at hand. “When I get excited about something, I… I lose all focus…”
Despite herself, Rylmedy chuckled. “That’s an understatement.”
Frane’s usual taciturn personality was broken up by bouts of hyperfixation, always on very specific niche topics that interested her. These moments of focus were one of the reasons she was able to mold herself into one of the greatest battle-mages in human history, powerful enough to stand alongside the Hero, despite her general disinterest in studying the broader disciplines of magic. And no niche topic had attracted Frane’s laser-like attentions moreso than vampires and vampire fiction.
Growing up as closeted lesbians in a society that regarded homosexuality as a mortal sin, Rylmedy and Frane had coped in different ways. Rylmedy opted for repressing her feelings, burying them deep inside and pretending they didn’t exist. Frane, on the other hand, chose escapism; she became a voracious reader, seeking out any fiction with that contained even the most veiled validation of her hidden desires.
Vampire fiction was inherently risqué, not quite condemned by the Church but certainly not approved either. Such salacious stories existed in that wide grey zone that naturally develops whenever a rigidly moralistic religious organization clashes with natural human needs and desires. And because these stories already existed in that grey zone by virtue of starring demonic protagonists, that meant the authors could take things a step further and include other topics the Church forbade. Topics such as queer romance. And so Frane consumed such stories voraciously.
When Rylmedy and Frane found each other and began their secret romance, Frane had talked excitedly for hours on end about her precious vampire stories. Rylmedy wasn’t really interested in them, but was quite happy to bask in the enthusiasm of her girlfriend; listening to Frane gush about her passions warmed Rylmedy’s heart.
“It’s not that I hate your passions, or anything like that.” Rylmedy said, trying to explain the swirling chaos of doubt that clouded her mind. “It’s just… this is such a big change. A lot of changes, actually. We defected to the Demon Realm, and now you’re… you’re…”
“Undead. Demonic. A vampire,” Frane finished her thought. "And I don't tan anymore, I burn."
“Yeah. You can’t even go out during the day anymore without protection! I just… I don’t want to lose you…” Tears threatened to overwhelm Rylmedy’s eyes once again.
“You won’t,” Frane said gently, brushing her hand against Rylmedy’s cheek. “I’ll be careful. I won’t go outside without my protective charms and cloak. Hell, I’ll wear full plate-armor if I have to.”
Rylmedy nodded wordlessly.
“And I’m sorry I didn’t talk with you about this more before I dove in head-first. The last thing I want is to push you away.”
Rylmedy clenched her fists. “You haven’t. I-I’ll get stronger too. I’ll learn demonic magic, strengthen my healing, master that resurrection spell of theirs. I’ll be the bulwark that protects you.”
Frane responded by standing on her tippy-toes and planting a kiss on Rylmedy’s lips. A bit of tongue-wrestling followed, before the moment was suddenly interrupted by Frane’s tummy rumbling.
The sudden shift in mood caused Rylmedy to burst out laughing while Frane looked down at her gurgling belly guiltily. “Argh. I just ate an hour ago. I was warned vampire fledglings need more blood than normal, but…”
Rylmedy grinned and pulled at her collar, baring the nape of her neck. “Well, care to have your first taste of my blood, then?”
Frane’s eyes widened, and her mouth hung open; a trickle of drool formed at the corner of her mouth.
“Guess that’s a yes.” Rylmedy said, pulling her into their shared bedroom.
Vampire feeding was an intensely pleasurable act, both for the vampire and their prey; vampiric saliva contained anticoagulants and aphrodisiacs which mingled with the blood of the prey and returned to the vampire via feeding. When Frane bit into Rylmedy’s jugular, the jolts of pleasure that shot through both of them caused them to moan in synchronized ecstasy.
Despite her hunger, Frane was careful not to feed too much. She had a backup store of blood in a few dozen sealed goblets, preserved by time magic, which the Nightlands vampire had gifted her. With that supply, there was no need for her to drain Rylmedy to the point of anemia; however, when she pulled her fangs out, both of them still felt unsatisfied.
A moment after the feeding concluded, they were all over each other again, kissing, hugging, grinding. They needed to recapture that pleasure, build on it. Then, suddenly, Frane pulled back.
“What’s wrong?” Rylmedy asked, panting.
“It’s just… I… I’m a demon now,” Frane said reluctantly. “If we do this… you’ll…”
“I’ll become a demon too,” nodded Rylmedy. “I know that.”
“You’re… you’re okay with that?” Frane was confused; Rylmedy had seemed so reluctant earlier, so worried.
Rylmedy shrugged. “Sure. If we’re doing this, we’re going all the way. Besides, demon transformations are affirmational, right?”
Frane motioned to her body and nodded. “That’s what Psytalla said, yeah. I think that’s why I wound up… like this. Shorter and curvier and bigger boobs, you know? This is the kind of girl I always wanted to be.”
“Then I’ll turn into something I like too. I won’t lie, the idea is scary… but also kind of exciting? Besides, you dove into this whole vampire thing without much forethought, so I’m just following in the steps of my reckless girlfriend. I need to be strong if I'm to protect you.”
Frane looked a bit guilty, wondering if she was forcing Rylmedy’s hand, but the latter quickly lifted her mood with another deep kiss.
The sex was VERY good. It had been good all week, now that the two girls could openly be themselves, but the blood-drinking foreplay had gotten them in the mood nigh instantaneously. And when they cried out in pleasure together, deep in the throes of tribadism, Rylmedy began to feel hot, like she was burning up from the inside.
“Frane…” she gasped, “I think… think it’s…starting…”
As Frane looked on with wide eyes, Rylmedy began to grow. Larger, and larger, and LARGER…
Psytalla, Metokai and Nyze were all in the throne room having a serious discussion when Frane burst in excitedly, yelling at the top of her lungs.
“NYZE! NYZE! CHECK IT OUT!”
Nyze, still suffering slight after-effects of her hangover, winced slightly at Frane’s shouting. Then she did a double-take as she saw the transformation her friend had undergone. Frane was still unmistakably Frane, but was now shorter and curvier and marked with obviously vampiric features.
What confused Nyze more was the demon who followed her into the throne room. She was… well, huge was the only proper descriptor. She stood ten feet tall, with grey skin the color of granite, and the ground shook with each step she took. She was well-built, bulging with toned muscle, and two large batlike wings sprouted from her back. Her brown hair fell down her back like a wild mane, and atop her head jutted two long, pointed horns. From just above her butt grew a thick tail, and her ears were long and pointed, the common trait of almost all demons.
Nyze didn’t recognize the huge gargoyle girl, looking over to Psytalla and Metokai with a questioning gaze; they both shook their heads. Then the gargoyle spoke, and the voice was familiar.
“Look at me, Nyze! Now I’m a demon too!”
“RYLMEDY?!” Nyze shrieked in surprise.
“YEAH!” Rylmedy replied, wringing her hands together bashfully. The shy gesture looked just a bit silly when performed by a ten-foot muscular gargoyle woman. “Frane’s a vampire and I’m a gargoyle!”
“It’s like poetry,” Frane confirmed. “Now we rhyme.”
Nyze facepalmed at that bit of purple prose. Then she slithered forwards, breaking into a grin. “Well, congratulations to both of you, I guess. I wasn’t expecting such drastic transformations, but you both seem really happy!”
“You’re one to talk,” Frane said, gesturing to Nyze’s snakelike tail.
“True,” Nyze replied, laughing. “Still, you’re so SHORT now? This is gonna take some getting used to.”
There was a staccato click-clacking, and Metokai suddenly appeared right beside Nyze. “And what,” she said, her voice seething, “is wrong with being short?”
“Absolutely nothing,” Frane said, not missing a beat. “Short is justice. I don’t believe we’ve had proper introductions?”
“Indeed not. I am Metokai, High General of the Grand Unified Demonic Armies.” Metokai held out her paw, and Frane took it and shook.
“Frane, formerly of the Hero’s party. My gargoyle girlfriend is named Rylmedy. Apologies for killing you that one time.”
“I’m over it,” Metokai shrugged. “Pleased to meet you, Frane and Rylmedy.”
“Hey, wait a minute.” Nyze said, sounding unsatisfied. “How come you call THEM by their proper names, but always address me as ‘serpent?’”
“Because, serpent, they are merely acquaintances, whereas you are my most hated RIVAL.” Metokai spat.
Frane looked back and forth at the tiny angry baphomet and the tall annoyed lamia, then asked “What exactly is she talking about, Nyze? What trouble have you gotten into these past few days to earn yourself another rival?”
“It’s… It’s a long story…” Nyze said, shuffling from side-to-side awkwardly.
““We’re all ears.”” Frane and Rylmedy said in unison.
Rixu was having the best year of his life.
Most soldiers groused and complained when they were assigned to guard the Anti-Demon Wall. It was a boring posting, one devoid of all opportunity for glory or career advancement. For Rixu, however, it was heaven. Why? Because he could laze around all day, getting paid to do nothing whatsoever.
And Rixu absolutely LOVED doing nothing.
The Anti-Demon Wall stretched east-west across the whole continent of Skana, in the shadow of the Burning Range of volcanic mountains that marked the border between the southerly Demon Realm and the northerly Kingdom of Saimonica. Despite its name, the Anti-Demon Wall was not seriously intended as a defensive fortification; it was only around twenty feet tall and fifteen feet wide. Any well-constructed siege engine or moderately powerful mage could smash through with little trouble. The outpost towers constructed at regular intervals along the Wall’s length were ecumenical its true purpose; it was essentially an early warning system, enabling any news of an encroaching demon attack to be communicated rapidly along its entire length, and back to the fortified cities of Saimonica.
Not that the demons ever attacked these days. Indeed, it had been two full centuries and change since any sign of aggression from the Demon Realm. Each outpost was nevertheless manned by three soldiers, who stood watch in nine-hour shifts to cover the full course of a day. Such a posting was widely considered to be the worst, most boring job in the whole of Saimonica’s professional military establishment, and soldiers who served yearlong stints here never stopped complaining.
Not Rixu, though. He had no friends or family back in Arcryid, nobody he missed seeing. And as a serial avoider of hard work, he absolutely loved standing (or, more often, sitting) on top of his assigned outpost and staring out at the Burning Range. It was so peaceful, so easy. He’d do this for the rest of his life if he could.
Rixu was enjoying another such lazy morning when, for the first time in his entire posting, he saw something unusual. A small figure, coming from the direction of the Burning Range, stumbled towards the Wall quite slowly. Rixu blinked, rubbed his eyes, then looked again.
There was definitely someone there. A demon, maybe? Rixu idly wondered if he should raise the alarm, then decided to wait and see. He wasn’t keen on sending the other soldiers into a tizzy because it would ruin his peaceful morning.
The figure grew closer and closer, and soon Rixu realized it was a human. Sighing heavily, he descended the outpost stairs to investigate. Now, a normal soldier might have suspected the newcomer to be a demon in disguise or some other such trickery… but Rixu didn’t really care. He wanted to resolve whatever this was quickly so he could go back to goofing off. So he went out to meet the figure.
It turned out to be a disheveled man, clad in rags. The man was gaunt, clearly having gone without food or water for some time, and sleep-deprived to boot. His lips were cracked, his eyes glossed over, and he was missing most of his teeth. Rixu quickly gave him a water skin, which the man downed eagerly in a few large gulps.
Rixu took the man inside, sitting him down in a chair, then gave him a medium portion of hardtack and jerky. The man devoured it hungrily, then turned to Rixu, eyes begging for more, but Rixu shook his head. He remembered from basic training that feeding a starving man too much too quickly could cause refeeding syndrome. The man, hungry as he was, would have to pace himself.
“Who are you?” Rixu asked. “Why is a half-starved human walking on foot away from the Demon Realm?”
“My name is Diarn,” said the man in a cracked voice. “I’m the Hero.”