Stories Hub / Sci-Fi & Fantasy / Outer Demon

Outer Demon

by EighthSpan 02/14/18

There are two things you should be aware of before reading this story. First, it contains elements that could be reasonably interpreted as rape. If that's going to be a dealbreaker for you, turn away now. However, this story occurs in the universe of Monster Girl Encyclopedia, and MGE always has a happy ending. (But what are you doing reading about monster girls if rape is a dealbreaker?)

Secondly...I'll just say it, the Nightgaunt is kinda bizarre, even by monstergirl standards. This story contains transformation elements that will probably turn some people away...becoming the husband of a Nightgaunt requires certain sacrifices. But with every species that I cover, I try to sway people over that originally didn't find them appealing, to play up what makes them special. So trust me when I say the the Nightgaunt isn't as scary as she appears. She's actually a real sweetheart!

Anyways, the disclaimer is over. Onwards to the story!

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He could hear the sounds of their drunken revelry, even at this distance.

Their arrogance sickened him, but Joshua's stomach couldn't find a way to tighten itself into an even more complicated knot. Hatred and revulsion washed into his mouth, tasting of ash and bile. His fingers curled into a fist as he shifted his gaze upwards to the night sky.

He saw the full moon through the branches of the pine forest, its face peering down at him with mute curiosity. On any other night, he would have welcomed the light it provided, but tonight, it was a curse. Not because he bought into the villagers' idle superstitions about demons and specters prowling about when the pale light was at its strongest, but because tonight, he was the prey, not the hunter.

But the light of the full moon hadn't mattered, thankfully. Cloaked in the misty night air, Joshua used the low pockets of fog to infiltrate to the edge of the marauders' camp. The arrogant fools hadn't even bothered maintaining a sentry, utterly convinced of their invincibility. However, while Joshua had managed to sneak all the way up to the edge of their camp, he was a single man with a longbow, and the marauder camp held a dozen thugs, each with steel weapons and armor. He knew he didn't stand a chance of defeating them alone, but who else was going to assist his rescue mission? The town militia?

He snorted. The militia of Brunswick rallied to deal with ornery schoolchildren and the occasional sighting of a wolf or mountain lion, too far into the safety of the Republic's borders to worry about things such as roving slavers or the war with the monsters. So the marauders were fools, yes, but they weren't wrong. The people of Brunswick - or at least, the ones left after the raid - posed no threat to them.

Joshua clenched his fingers into his longbow, making their tips turn white from the pressure. Hatred spiked in his mind again, contorting his face into a grimace.

He should have tried harder! He had been urging the mayor to take the town's militia more seriously for the better part of a year. The Republic was losing the war with the monsters, their borders were shrinking as a result, and the land was rife with those who sought to abuse the chaos.

The people of Brunswick were not as safe as they thought they were. If only he had been more persuasive, more persistent!

"Then...Esther, she wouldn't have been..." Joshua croaked, muttering to himself. Heat built up in the corner of his eyes, but he took in a sharp breath through his nose and stomped the feelings back down. No, he couldn't allow hatred to take over, be it directed at himself or the marauders. He had to come up with a plan.

He reviewed the layout of their camp. It was just a ways off the road that cut through the forest, being centered in a clearing that was surrounded by a ring of pine trees and ferns. They had seven tents set up in a haphazard, irregular fashion along the western edge of the clearing. A large bonfire crackled at the center of their camp. The slave cages - and the abducted villagers within them - were at the northern end of the camp, each cage being a wheeled contraption just barely big enough to hold three adults. And with the slave cages were the horses that pulled them, resting nearby. Eleven of the twelve men were drinking and guffawing around the bonfire, leaving just one unaccounted for. A lightweight who was forced to retire early, perhaps?

...there were no good options. Joshua was confident that he could approach the camp from any angle, even make it to the slave cages undetected, but they were locked, and he wasn't certain which slaver held the keys. It would have been tremendously lucky if it was the missing twelfth man, but there was no way to know which tent he was in. And drunk or not, the slavers wouldn't miss Joshua poking around at the entrances of their tents.

He unslung his longbow, gripping it in his left hand, running his fingers over the smooth, dark wood. It was a fine piece of fletching. It was without a doubt, his greatest creation - precise, sturdy, and reliable. Perhaps he could use it pick off two or three of them from the woods...but then what? The life-or-death adrenaline rush would sober the rest, and he could not fight nine armed men by himself. Joshua was just a hunter, not some divine hero of the Order.

Perhaps piety was the answer? Joshua knelt down, inclined his head, and splayed the fingers of his free hand against his chest in a gesture of servitude.

"Divine Aeris," he muttered. "I know that I am a stranger to you. I am not a devout man of faith, and you have no reason to help me. But the people that these monsters have taken are not strangers to you. They love you. They trust you, and they place their faith in you. Even now, I am certain that they remain calm, awaiting your salvation. I beg of you, Divine Aeris, give me the strength that I lack, so that I may carry out your benevolence. Lend me the power to rescue your faithful!"

Silence.

An owl hooted in the distance.

Joshua swallowed his saliva as uncertainty boiled up within his knotted stomach.

"If I am unworthy," he continued, "then send someone else! It need not be one of your valkyries, or one of your chosen heroes! A rider from the capital, a passing stranger, the town priest! Anyone, please!"

"Please," he begged, voice choking with emotion. His chest and eyes felt like they held hot coals behind them. The spikes of hatred in his mind that had taken over as his heartbeat became weaker and more irregular.

He couldn't do anything. Nobody was going to help him. Nobody was going to save the captured townsfolk, nobody was going to save his sister...

"Damn it all!" he hissed, pounding his fist against the trunk of a pine tree with too much force. A flash of pain tore through his hand, fading into a dull, throbbing ache.

A particularly loud set of hoots and cheers drew his attention back to the marauders' camp. Joshua's brow furrowed, his eyes flaring with fury so terrible that they threatened to ignite a forest fire with a simple glance.

Wait...

A fire! Could that work?

Joshua pressed his hands against his pockets and toolbelt, quickly searching himself. Was it...yes! He still had his infinite firelighter, a magical bauble that his father had left him. With this, he had a new option. He couldn't defeat all of the marauders, and he couldn't free the slaves without the keys.

But what if used fire? The marauders would have to go to sleep eventually. If they found the sense to post a sentry, he could easily pick off one drunk and drowsy man from a distance. Then he could trap the rest in their tents, and burn them alive. A horrific end, but the vermin deserved no less.

It wasn't a great plan, but it was all Joshua had. He was alone, and the gods did not seem interested in weaving a miracle. There was a good chance he would fail, a strong likelihood that he would die. But Esther was all the family that he had left. If he lost her, too...

Joshua firmly shook the thoughts away, for they would do him no good. He had made up his mind - a surprise fire attack was the way to go.

"Might as well creep a bit closer, then," he muttered to himself. "Gonna need to be absolutely certain when they've gone to sleep."

Joshua crept towards the camp while crouching low to the ground, bow held in one hand. He treaded gently, being well-accustomed to silently stalking his prey. His boots deftly avoided twigs and leaves, even though he was certain that the marauders couldn't possibly hear the sounds.

You just never take that kind of a chance.

His ears tingled, chilly in the cool, misty air. He utilized his sense of sound to its utmost - every time the wind brushed through the pine branches, every time a fern rustled in the distance, Joshua paused and altered his course. He couldn't be certain where that twelfth marauder was. Perhaps he was the one member of the group who had the wisdom to realize that they needed a sentry.

But if the twelfth was out here in the forest with Joshua, the man was outmatched. Ironically, it would be his caution that assured his death.

Joshua paused again. He heard something moving - the sound of a creaking branch. The branch shook up and down, rustling its leaves. Definitely not an owl - they didn't have the force to shake a branch like that. So what in the world was that?

The sound of rushing air reached his ears like a faint whistle. He turned in the direction of the sound, and then-

A powerful force grabbed both of his shoulders and yanked him backwards! Had the twelfth managed to get behind him?!

Joshua flailed and tried to kick back at his attacker, but a sickening lurch in his stomach revealed that whatever was holding on to him was not dragging him backwards, but upwards.

Cold air rushed around him, scraping at his face as he rose higher and higher into the air. Pine branches brushed against him, leaving sticky scrapes on him. Joshua opened his mouth and tried to scream - illogical, he knew, but sheer animal panic had overtaken him. But before he could make even a squeak, something cool and slimy slapped against his cheek and stretched across his mouth.

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