There was nothing quite as unfortunate as doing something you very well knew was a terrible idea.
Yet, somehow, Goldie found themselves doing just that. It was almost as if they were no longer in control of their own actions. They were merely witness to their arms sweeping ingredients and components they’d need for the ritual from the storage room. Lighting the black wax candles on their altar. Throwing back the curtains to reveal the new moon.
It wasn’t true, of course, as much as they may like to believe it—they were very much responsible for their own foolishness, as always.
Huffing and puffing with overly laden arms, they stumbled into their workspace, nearly laying atop their altar to dump their burden safely on its surface. Luckily, the oaken table was built to be sturdy, and accustomed to such things. Often, their work required heavy stones, dense metals, and an incomprehensible number of bound books. The candles set on each corner, however, wobbled in their ceramic holders, and Goldie rushed to steady them, hissing as molten wax dripped over the backs of one set of knuckles.
“Clearly, no other being is in control of me today,” they said aloud wryly, “only I could be this much of a mess.”
It was the nerves. Goldie hated to take risks, but then again, this particular idea of theirs had stuck in their brain ever since reading Abyssal Beings and Summoning Them—the godsdamned ritual had practically jumped off the parchment. Now, despite their recognition of its idiocy, they could not stop themselves from completing it. Their mind simply would not let it rest. They really would think it some sort of magical compulsion had their little home not been warded so strongly not even the gods could spy on them.
Sighing ruefully, Goldie twirled the charcoal between their palms, and set to work. Squinting at their books, they drew sigils, glyphs, ancient runes, and symbols for which no mortal had any name. By the time they finished, the candles had burned down by nearly a third, their legs were numb from crouching in their hunched position, and the floor of the workshop was covered from wall to wall in scrawled charcoal. They were tempted to double check their work but shook off the urge.
This particular ritual might be high stakes, but they’d not flubbed a sigil since they were twelve years old, attempting to ward their bedroom from their mothers, as many petulant children were wont to do. Predictably, the result had instead been that they found themselves unable to leave their room. It had taken their mothers near half a day to break their sloppy ward, and Goldie never rushed through such things again.
Steeling themselves, they returned to their altar, toeing carefully around the sooty lines on the stone floor, taking pains not to smudge any of them. When they were finally free and clear, they dabbed the sweat from their brow, turning to their altar. Already assembled in a small cast iron bowl was a ground mixture of dried components, which burned furiously as Goldie took a match lit with the steady flame of their candles and tossed it in.
As the bitter, heady smoke began to drift up and fill their workshop, they turned and swept the tome with the ritual from their altar and began to chant. As the Abyssal words tripped from their tongue, their arcane focus, a small gold piece on a chain, began to glow and heat against the bare skin of their sternum. Soon, it was the only light left in their workshop as an unnatural shroud of darkness blanketed the room, the candles sputtering almost apprehensively on their altar.
Bad idea. Such a very, very bad idea.
Though Goldie’s braid was too heavy to move, the small strands of blond hair around their face fluttered and began to float as they reached the halfway point of the incantation, the white linen of their tunic ballooning around their midriff. Almost imperceptibly, the smoke from the burning components began to congregate in the center of the charcoal sigils, hanging heavily and beginning to swirl in a slow circle.
Another line of Abyssal and the swirling grew almost aggressive, arrowing down in the cyclone to almost touch the floor. A dull, slow roar of wind thrummed in their ears, coalescing into a full-bodied snarl as they reached the final line of their chant. The knot in Goldie’s stomach was positively gordian as the smoke began to take shape, arms and hands sprouting long claws. The slightly-too-long arms swirled up into broad shoulders, and Goldie watched as a skull
formed, with a set of sharp horns jutting upwards into hazy, yet nonetheless razor points. Abruptly, a set of smokey wings snapped outwards from their enormous form, almost draconic in shape, each prong tipped with its own wicked talon. They alone spanned near the length of Goldie’s workshop, and the wizard could not help but stare in awe.
With a grunt, two glowing yellow eyes snapped open, and from amongst the roiling smoke, a wide, fanged mouth emerged.
“Who summons me from the Abyss?” The voice spoke on a constant growl, and Goldie got the impression that was more their voice than any aggressive emotion.
Oh, bad bad bad idea. Such bad.
Now it was clear the growl was that of anger.
Gripping the spellbook tightly in their hands, they managed to respond, “My name is Goldie.”
The swirling smog grew in height, now almost eight feet of noncorporeal abyssal fury. “Wizard, are you?” The corner of their fanged mouth twitched in a sneer, their pearly points glinting in the dimmed candlelight. “Human, too. I might have guessed.”
“What do I call you?” Goldie replied, somewhat indignant at the being’s tone.
A leathery flutter of wings, and the creature spoke, anger undiminished. “Do you not know what you have summoned, wizard?”
Now Goldie found their own temper roused. “I know very well, shadow demon. But that is hardly your name. Unless you do not have one?”
The creature snapped its fangs, an almost oily smoke burbling from betwixt its teeth in their ire. “Why should I tell such secrets to you?”
Goldie barely resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of their nose. The demon was being so obstinate, and for no good reason! They knew as well as Goldie did that they could be forced to divulge such secrets with fairly simple spells, spells Goldie had proven themself capable of casting purely by summoning the demon in the first place.
What the demon likely didn’t know, however, was that Goldie would never cast such spells upon them. Perhaps it was a silly line to draw, considering they had summoned a literal demon from the abyssal plane, but Goldie had never quite possessed the stomach for forcing things upon other beings, unless it was life or death circumstance. This hardly qualified.
“Very well, if you decide to be obstinate, that’s you’re prerogative, I suppose,” they sighed, before forcing themselves to stand straight.
The demon looked almost adorably confused, which was quite the feat, considering they were well over seven feet of swirling, demonic energy. Goldie, despite themself, melted a bit.
“You…you will not…” The demon trailed off, at a loss.
Luckily, Goldie took their meaning. “Nope. Regrettably, I, of course, cannot allow you to roam past my property, nor harm me or others, so there will be enchantments and wards against such things, but otherwise, I impose no other restrictions upon you.”
The demon was silent for a long moment. So long, in fact, that Goldie began to wonder if they weren’t giving them the silent treatment. At last, however, the demon did speak, and when they did so, there was markedly less growling.
“And if I wished to return to the other plane?”
Goldie shrugged. “I mean, if you really wanted to, I would return you. I could summon another.” The idea did make them unexpectedly sad, however. They found they rather liked the grumpy demon already.
“No! No, I do not wish to return. I will stay…for now,” the demon drew themself up haughtily, seeming to remember themself. “And you may call me Alastair. It was my name when I was a true demon—unlike many of my kind, I have not forgotten it. Despite my form, I still choose to be the same male.”
Goldie grinned at him; their mood buoyed by his unexpected admission.
“Well, lovely to meet you, Alastair. Welcome to my home—I expect we’ll work together just swimmingly.”
“What do you mean there will be no killing?” Alastair grumbled, looking askance at Goldie.
He seemed almost…put out.
Goldie, for their part, was just exasperated. “I’m not sure how else to say it! I didn’t summon you to kill anyone!”
From the look on the demon’s face, this message still hadn’t quite sunk in. Goldie wanted to slam their head on the shelves.
It was an entire day after Goldie had summoned Alastair. They had slept for long past any normal sleep cycle, but this wasn’t—or shouldn’t have been—surprising. After more involved spells, such as the summoning they had performed, Goldie tended to crash. Using that much magic was draining.
By the time they did awaken, Alastair was practically vibrating with the need to do something. It seemed he was not the type to sit idle for long. However, his idea of his duties vastly differed from Goldie’s.
“But…what else will I do?” He asked, staring at them in complete confusion. “If I cannot crush your enemies, take revenge in your name, summon lesser abyssal beings for your army, then why in the name of the gods did you summon me?”
Goldie threw their hands up. “I’ve told you, to assist with the upkeep of my archives!” They gestured broadly at the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of towering shelves surrounding them.
Goldie, like many wizards, had a penchant for hoarding knowledge like a dragon did riches. Their family had, for generations, collected and preserved hundreds and thousands of magickal tomes, journals, and other such sources of knowledge. Goldie had dedicated their life to adding to and preserving them.
Except, now the gorgeous, massive collection had become…a bit unwieldy, if they were honest with themself. It was just too much for one person to properly care for, and they would rather eat their arcane focus than get rid of a single book or scroll. Thus…assistance was necessary.
Alastair seemed to come to a conclusion.
“Ah,” he nodded sagely, wisps of smoke tracing his movements like ink on parchment.
“You need protection. For these…” he waved somewhat disparagingly, “…books.”
“Books?! Books?!” Goldie sputtered at the thinly veiled insult. “Each volume and scroll in this library are one-of-a-kind and priceless! They contain knowledge otherwise lost to time, painstakingly written by scholars long forgot—are you even listening to me?!”
Alastair’s head snapped back, his hazy wings fluttering uneasily behind his broad back. “Of course, wizard.”
They eyed him suspiciously, knowing very well he had not been. “Well, regardless, it’s not protection I need. I do very well with that on my own.”
Alastair eyed them doubtfully. “You are not…” He trailed off, seeming to realize
whatever he had been about to say would be taken poorly.
Goldie’s eyes narrowed, and they planted their hands on their hips. “Not what, demon?”
They snorted at that. He could not have stated the more obvious. Goldie had not so much as touched a blade aside from their ritual athame in their entire life, but that did not mean they were defenseless. Why swing a heavy sword about like an imbecile when they could simply banish their opponents to another realm or conjure fire at will?
“I may not wear full plate or bash skulls in with a morningstar, but I’ve done just fine protecting myself,” they quipped, tossing their braid over their shoulder for emphasis.
Alastair’s smokey form somehow swirled in a manner that clearly communicated doubt, and Goldie would’ve thought they were imagining things if it weren’t for the incredulous huff he released.
“As you say,” he replied, making it clear that he thought it was not as they said.
Goldie waved him off. “Whatever, I won’t be requiring your assistance in matters of protection. I have wards for that, and besides, I already mentioned there are enchantments that prevent you from harming anyone, even those who may be hostile, so don’t go getting any ideas.”
Another grumpy huff, and Goldie continued.
“What I do need is someone to help me with all this…madness! Organizing, dusting, repairs, cataloguing, along with other such maintenance. Anything bigger than a mending spell is time consuming for me, and there are a few leaks and repairs I’ve put off for too long—er, wait, uh,” they looked doubtfully at Alastair’s roiling, foggy visage. “Can you…lift, uh, things?”
Now it was Alastair’s turn to look affronted. “Of course, I can—how else could I kill? Though, I must admit,” he added, “I haven’t done many nonviolent tasks in this form. Perhaps it’s different.”
Of course, killing was his first example. Goldie was sensing a bit of a theme. Why was it rapidly becoming endearing? They didn’t condone unnecessary violence, and yet on Alastair’s smokey, horned visage, it was almost cute.
Oh, gods, that spell must have really, really done a number on them. Apparently, twenty-four hours of sleep wasn’t enough to completely recharge their exhausted brain. It was the only explanation.
Clearing their throat, they shook themself from their trance. “Well, that’s good news. But I still think I should tinker around a bit, do some research—there has to be some transmutation or enchantment or some such that can make you more fully corporeal, make things easier for you…hm…” thoughts swirled through their head as they stared into the distance, pondering the
“Wizard? Hello?” The demon popped a giant, wickedly clawed hand into their field of vision, the trailing fog tickling the end of their nose with a cool, surprisingly pleasant flicker.
“Huh?” They started, turning to see Alastair watching them with a peculiar look on his face.
They started, realizing their error. “Oh! Sorry, daydreaming. It’s not such a problem when you live alone,” they grinned sheepishly.
The demon’s eyes softened, their yellow glow shifting from inferno to the warm glow of an ember. “You…do not often have visitors?”
Goldie could feel their face flushing now, Alastair becoming startlingly close to prodding a tender nerve. “My home is isolated. Not many come unless they are truly desperate for the knowledge here.”
“That seems counterintuitive,” he commented, his curving horns silhouetted by the low lantern light as he cocked his head.
They did not like how perceptive this demon was being. What happened to being chaotic creatures of violence? He was behaving like a godsdamned cleric, not a resident of the abyssal plane!
Goldie huffed, “the isolation protects the books, and it’s good for those seekers to work for it. Builds character.”
Alastair seemed about to speak once more, but they had had just about enough of the sincere heart-to-heart for one morning. Clapping their hands, many rings glinting as they moved, they snapped, “let’s get to it then! Now’s as good a time as any to see how you are with nonviolent chores. You don’t seem to give off moisture—you’re shadow, not fog. So, you can touch any of the tomes or scrolls here, carefully. Let me show you.”
They sensed the demon chose to let the matter drop out of graciousness, but Goldie would take what they could get. They’d only known one another for a few hours—that they had been conscious, anyway. Yes, it felt rather longer than that, they were forced to admit, but likely that was a side effect of the summoning. Of course, there would be an initial intimate bond between them. But that was where it would end.
Besides, the two of them had work to do. The archive was a demanding master, after all.
Alastair was surprisingly helpful, despite his caterwauling about the lack of killing
involved. After the first hour, those complaints had all but ceased, and Goldie got to see their very favorite thing—the slow dawning awe one felt in the presence of the knowledge the archives possessed. It was something they saw every time they let a newcomer into their little sanctum. One could not simply remain unaffected by it—it was infectious.
By the end of the day, the two of them had accomplished more than Goldie could have hoped to finish in a week of dedicated labor. Not only that, they were forced to admit that his company was just as valuable as his helping hands. He was…charming. In the oddest of ways.
Goldie certainly couldn’t pretend to be a socialite. When they were younger, they’d adventured out to collect more artifacts for their library. Spent months amongst other beings on their quests to find and preserve the precious knowledge of the many, many planes. But it had been a long time since they had done so—the archive required too much upkeep for them to abandon it for months at a time and allowing their collection to molder and ruin defeated the
purpose of such adventures.
Between that and their mothers leaving in their retirement to travel other realms and dimensions, they’d had rather little company at all. There was, of course, the occasional visitor. Determined heroes and stuffy, scholarly wizards that hadn’t deigned to talk with others in centuries. Otherwise, Goldie enjoyed a blissful, silent existence. And, honestly, they had never minded. They tolerated those who came to enrich their minds in the library, but they didn’t feel a
need to seek out more.
…They had a sneaking suspicion that if those knowledge seekers had been anything like Alastair, they would have felt their isolation much more keenly. As they worked, when they left his company for even a moment, the air seemed almost oppressive in its silence.
"Is this what every day is like here?” Alastair’s deep rumble pulled them out of their thoughtful state.
They blinked, brushing off their emerald robes and meeting the demon’s glowing stare. “How do you mean?”
He gestured to the shelves as if in explanation. “The work…it’s soothing, but nonstop.
"Do you always work this hard?”
Goldie shook their head, walking over to turn off the already dim lanterns as they left the archival chambers. Another reason a shadow demon had been perfect for the job—he liked the dark, as did the books. Though Goldie had become accustomed to it, most other creatures were not so willing. Few from this realm craved the darkness.
“I suppose, yes, but only during the warmer seasons. The warmth and humidity are dangerous for some of the library’s more delicate items. Plus, any construction or repair projects must be done before the snows set in.”
“And what do you do during the winter?” Alastair prodded as they closed the library and Goldie set about resetting the protective wards.
“I get the occasional visitor, but mostly I study, read. Organize. Anything to pass the time. The winters aren’t terribly long, but it’s a nice break.”
He nodded, but they could tell by the surprisingly expressive swirling of his form that he was mulling that over. Goldie would bet they would be hearing more from him later—and they weren’t sure they’d much like it when they did.
“What about you?” They asked, before they could think better of it.
He started, turning almost a shade lighter in his surprise. “My turn to ask—what do you mean?”
Goldie grinned, stepping away from the wards. “I mean, who were you before you became a shadow demon?”
He scowled, his horns almost seeming to grow sharper, more menacing, along with his mood. “You must know I don’t remember. Few of us do.”
Goldie could have kicked themself. Shadow demons were, of course, created when a demon was slain and then improperly reformed. That process tended to strip them of their memories, distancing them from their former lives. They truly became different creatures; separate from the demonic entities they once were. And, likely, reminders of that weren’t pleasant.
“Oh, I just…” Now Goldie felt rather mean. “I assumed because you remembered your name, you might remember more. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions like that.”
His mouth opened, then closed, his fangs snapping closed with an audible click. “You did nothing wrong. Most of us don’t remember anything, so I am a rarity. I remember my name, and I remember my last moments. But…nothing else.”
Goldie took in his sour visage and had a feeling sympathy would not be appreciated. Instead, they just nodded. “Do you want to remember?”
He stopped short. “I…never thought about it. Why?”
“I could look into some more serious memory restoration magic. Spanning multiple lives would likely require more than just a run-of-the-mill incantation, but if it’s possible, that information would be here somewhere.”
A shadowy wing shot out in front of them, stopping their progress. They turned to see Alastair gaping abjectly at them.
Dusting off their robes and tucking flyaway hairs behind their ears, they asked self-consciously, “what? What is it?”
“You would…you would do that?” He spoke slowly, as if worried by asking they would change their mind.
“Of course! It may take a while, research of that kind usually does, but if that’s
something you want, I’m happy to do it.”
For a long moment, there was nothing but silence. Then, still slowly, he replied, “let me think on this.”
The mood heavy, yet not unpleasant, Goldie simply nodded, and they spent the rest of the evening in a comfortable, thoughtful silence.
Over the next few weeks, the two of them began to settle into a comfortable routine. Alastair, aside from occasionally—and, they hoped, jokingly complaining about the lack of murder, was astoundingly helpful. Not only that, but he genuinely showed care and thoughtfulness in what he did. Countless times, Goldie caught him cradling a scroll or book with such reverence one would think it was a sleeping infant. He had the kind of sincerity that was impossible to fabricate.
He was hardworking, funny, and, to put it plainly, lovely company. Goldie was fast becoming attached to the demon. In a very concerning way.
Whenever he stalked by, the wisps of smoke trailing after sent warm, pleasant shivers coursing through their body. When he smiled that wide, fang-filled smile, they could feel their cheeks flushing with a florescent blush. Whenever he appeared suddenly out of the shadows, they felt only exhilaration and joy, never fear.
Though he did not eat to sustain himself, he always joined them at dinner, talking and laughing with that rumbling voice that made parts of Goldie tingle and heat. Talking with him was as easy as breathing. Not once had they gotten sick of his near-constant company. In fact, they had begun to crave it. Already, in such a short span, he was their closest confidant.
If they were not so incredibly infatuated, they might have been scared. As it was, they were too busy being delighted. Shaking their head, they returned their attention to the altar in front of them, dozens of components and scrolls and materials scattered in a haphazard mess across it. There was a reason
for the chaos, however—they were so, so incredibly close to a breakthrough.
They had been working tirelessly since Alastair had arrived to finish this damned amulet. One that would give him more control over his corporeality. It wasn’t an easy project, since few wizards ever strived give demonic entities more power, but Goldie had no doubts. Alastair could not, of course, cause any harm to anyone regardless due to their wards, but even if he could, they would want to do this for him.
It was about more than just making him helpful in the archives—which it would
undoubtedly do. As of now, he could not lift more than a scroll or two at a time and could not assist with outside repairs. However, their true motivation was more selfless than that.
They knew most shadow demons despised their limited forms. As demons, they had been far more powerful, their shadow forms, rather aptly, a shadow of their former selves. Such a drastic change would, of course, be galling. While Goldie wouldn’t change a thing about him, they hoped it would make Alastair happier, make him feel better.
They would do anything to make him happy. They might not be able to change his circumstance, but they could maybe make things better.
“What are you doing?”
Goldie hadn’t cast levitate, but they certainly felt as if they did. It would explain why they nearly jumped straight into their ceiling. They’d been so deep in concentration that Alastair’s curious growl practically sent them into another dimension.
They would know—they’d done it before.
They whirled, their hand clasped to their chest, to see their demon looming over the altar, glowing eyes alight with curiosity.
“You scared the trousers off me!” They gasped, blinking up at the giant demon, still attempting to calm their heartrate.
A wild, feral expression crossed Alastair’s face, but it came and went so swiftly Goldie couldn’t be certain. “Apologies,” he rumbled, his voice somehow even gruffer than it had been previously. “You were very absorbed.”
“Wizards. It’s an occupational hazard,” they chirped in response. “As for your question, I’m actually ready for a test run, if you’re willing?”
Alastair straightened to his full towering height, suddenly suspicious. “What kind of test? Are you going to turn me into a small amphibian?”
Goldie huffed. “Seriously? Accusing me of turning folk into toads? How stereotypical of you.”
Still slightly suspicious, the demon mumbled a sheepish, “I am sorry.”
“And you should be! I much prefer rats.”
“Sorry! Sorry. No,” they held up the amulet proudly, the dark stone gleaming in the dim lantern light. “This is going to turn you…less shadowy.”
The demon froze, and then the smoke at the edges of his form began to roil wildly. “You mean, make me corporeal?”
“To an extent,” Goldie rushed to explain, “it will make your form much more solid, make interacting with physical objects less draining. I know it takes a lot of focus for you. However, you won’t be able to travel among the shadows, and you’ll be even more susceptible to light than you already are—stay away from paladins. But, with practice, I think you’ll be able to control how corporeal you are!”
For a long moment, he said nothing, and Goldie worried they’d horribly offended him. They shouldn’t have prodded, they should have asked, they should have made it clear he was fine the way he was—
“You really were able to do this?” He finally spoke, his words filled with unmistakable awe.
Their cheeks heated at his admiring expression. “Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is only the first attempt.”
He grinned a fanged grin. “Then let’s stop blathering on and see if your little trinket is of any use.”
Before Goldie could object, Alastair swiped the cord from their fingers and began to pull it over his head, growling in irritation as it caught on one of his horns.
Doing their best to ignore the unwanted thrill that moved through them with that bestial noise, they began to nervously ramble.
“After consulting some texts, I used pure obsidian for its grounding properties, enchanted it with some magic tangentially related to the same summoning spell I used to bring you from the abyssal plane—modified of course—and, with water infused with—”
A long, clawed, tangible finger pressed against their lips, silencing them very effectively.
“Hush, Goldie. No need to be nervous. See, it’s working.” He gestured at his finger, no longer pleasant wisps of shadow, now warm, firm flesh against their skin.
Shaking it off, Goldie beamed. “How do you feel? Is it fully successful? Can you control it?”
He sent them a fond look. “I am not sure yet. Patience, wizard.”
“Then find out!” They could barely contain themself, wanting to see him in action.
Alastair cocked his head. “Ah, yes. You’re right. A test is in order.”
Why were they suddenly short of breath? Had the room gotten warm all of a sudden?
“And how do you plan on testing it out?”
“I have an idea or two,” the demon’s typical rumble had smoothed into an erotic purr, the now smooth surface of his horns gleaming as his head dipped down to be level with theirs. His face, always handsome and severe, was even more sharply defined, the lack of swirling mist disconcerting but just as beautiful to Goldie. “Are you willing to participate in an experiment with me, wizard?”
“Oh, yes,” they whispered instantly, swaying into his massive bulk. “In the name of science.”
That wild expression was back, and this time he made no effort to mask it. “In the name of science,” he echoed, before pressing his lips to theirs.
Alastair tasted like burnt cinnamon and oak. Smelled like the archives Goldie had watched him grow to love. Parchment, ink, leather. It was sexy, sweet, and just like home.
His hand came up to cradle the back of their neck, fingers long enough that his claws tucked so delicately on either side of their jaw. Tilting their head up, he kissed them gently, as if not quite ready to believe he could.
Goldie, however, had no such hesitancies. They would not let him get off that easy. He’d been driving them batty for weeks, after all. Reaching up to grip his horns, they tugged him forward, sinking their teeth into his plush lower lip. With a startled but pleased growl, Alastair’s other hand snaked across their lower back, pressing their bodies together until there was not so much as an inch of space between them.
“Be careful, wizard,” he warned, pulling back for only a moment. “I bite too, and my teeth are far, far bigger.”
“You say that like it’s a threat,” Goldie panted, his words only stoking the fire in their middle further.
Gods, he made them feel…so incredibly, beautifully alive.
With a guttural snarl, he backed them roughly into the wall, his wings fanning out and hooking into the wood behind them, well and truly penning Goldie in. They might as well have been in their own little world, just them and their demon. Alone in their special pocket dimension. With eyes blazing, his long, black tongue flicked teasingly against their chin, groaning in bliss at their taste. His lips met Goldie’s again, this time with fire and fury, fang and careful claw. Before long, they were writhing where they were pinned, the hard, heavy warmth
of Alastair’s body so, so good against them.
Claws scrabbled desperately against their hips, firm, muscled thigh slipping between theirs, pressing, pressing against their sensitive, swollen flesh. The silken fabric of their robes purred across their nipples, drove them mad as it teased their oversensitized skin. Goldie vaguely heard the sounds of his horns scraping brutally against the wall above them, felt small chips of oak raining down to settle on their shoulders. They simply could not have cared less. They were perfect, needy, unable to breathe between his kisses and wanting it no other way.
Then, suddenly, the body they were clinging to like a port in a storm…changed. The burning heat cooled, the lips pressed to theirs fading into something not quite intangible, but not quite corporeal either. Eyes flying open, they saw Alastair, as they’d come to know him. Swirling smoke and hazy aura.
Glancing down at himself, the demon nigh on roared with anger, the smoke of his figure roiling so violently it may as well have been a tornado.
“To the abyss with it all!” He bellowed.
“Ah,” Goldie laughed, slapping the hair from their face with a trembling
hand—apparently Alastair had undone their braid at some point during their encounter. “It seems I have some tweaks to make on that amulet.”
Seeing the demon’s continued distress, they rushed to reassure him. “No, hey, don’t worry, Alastair! It’s only a first test, I’m certain I can—”
“Enough!” He snapped, his form so wild that his outline was almost indiscernible to them. “What’s the godsdamn point? I can’t even kiss you properly, I—” he cut off abruptly, seeming to realize he’d revealed more than intended.
Goldie slowly broke out into a wry grin, shaking their head. “Is that what this is? Silly demon,” they reached up, their smile widening as they cast hold person, freezing him in place.
“Why don’t I show you just how little I care about your form?”
“What are you—”
Goldie interrupted him with a raised hand. “Yes or no, demon? Simple question.”
Those demonic eyes narrowed, but with a rumble of complaint, he answered, “yes. But know this little charm of yours will not last forever. Clock is ticking, wizard.”
“Promises, promises,” they laughed, gently running a finger down one of his sharply pointed ears. They marveled at the feeling—he had substance, but yet was somehow fully shadow. It defied all natural laws. Shaking their head, smiling as he shivered from their touch, they murmured, “what must it be like, I wonder? To be entirely made of magic.”
“You would know,” his voice was somewhere between a growl and a purr. “You’re one with it as much as any creature of magical origin.”
“No, that’s sorcerers. I have no innate magic.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Pausing, Goldie shook their head. “Enough out of you, demon, I have work to do.”
Before he could speak again, they muttered a small incantation, and, alight with mischief, they resumed their exploration…with a third, arcane hand. Glowing gold and pulsing with their focused magical will, Goldie was delighted to find their mage hand able to touch Alastair far better than their own, physical one. Knowing they had a smug expression permanently affixed to their face, they set about leaving no part of their demonic lover untouched, brushing across the muscled, well-formed, if hazy, body.
Each brush of their mage hand sent cascading shivers through him, his eyes glowing so bright they could scarcely look at him. His wings fluttered and shifted even with their hold person binding him, and they knew their time was short. Beaming up at him evilly, they let their glowing hand slide downward, delving within his form until his shadows coalesced into a
swirling, shadowy cock. It was incredibly thick, swirling with the rest of him like a small hurricane. They could feel the excited, roiling pulses through their magic, the energy of his lust potent and heady as his magic caressed theirs.
Incredibly, as they touched him, his pleasure echoed through their magic, making them pant as their own climax rose. It was a magical feedback loop, his pleasure creating theirs and, in turn, pleasuring him. As their glowing hand began to gently pump up and down his swirling, thick length, their other hands refused to stay idle, caressing and pressing and rubbing until their pleasure became so unbearable they had no choice but to pull his head down and kiss him.
Hissing against their lips, Goldie watched as Alastair’s eyes rolled back into his skull in pure ecstasy, his cock twitching and throbbing in their arcane grip as he climaxed. Their own pleasure began to peak with his, their hands clinging to him as they cried out, shaking and quivering along with him as they came together. His massive form shuddered, growing, spreading until he resembled more a cloud than a physical being. There, he hovered, misty, both their breaths heaving as the electric, erotic tension slowly eased.
“Are you ever going to reform?” Goldie laughed after a minute or so, only half joking. They would have been concerned at his perpetually hazy state, but their own body scarcely seemed to be under their control.
“I may never reform,” came the resonating, clearly satisfied groan. “You have robbed me of my senses.”
They grinned smugly. “I trust you see both your forms are pleasing to me, now?”
A different, more irritated groan. “Yes, yes, don’t gloat.”
They obeyed, instead sitting in silence as they each came back to themselves, enjoying one another’s company.
“Have you ever thought about leaving?”
It was only years of practice that kept Goldie from toppling off the ladder they’d propped against one of the archives bookshelves. After regaining their balance, they looked down at Alastair perplexedly. “I’m sorry?”
“Be careful,” the demon huffed crossly, his wings shuffling with anxiety, eyes narrowing up at them. “If you can’t be safe, I won’t allow you up there any longer.”
They would have rolled their eyes if they hadn’t been so preoccupied with his previous statement. They were about ten feet up—hardly a perilous height. “I’m fine. Now what were you saying?”
Harrumphing, he crossed his arms. “I said, have you thought about leaving?”
“What, the archives?” They blinked, still unsure of his meaning.
“Yes,” he grunted, “I’m not sure why this is such a difficult concept for you to grasp. You’re a genius who can make a shadow demon corporeal,” he shook his now fine-tuned amulet for emphasis, “but this is too difficult for you?”
“Alright, cranky,” they scoffed, dropping off the ladder and casting feather fall, just to mess with him. His resulting glower was a sweet reward. “I suppose, yes, I have thought about it. But I can’t up and walk away from this,” they gestured at the rows of beautiful, if high-maintenance volumes. “For any length of time.”
For a moment, there was only silence. Alastair regarded them with a piercing, soul-searing stare, one that made them feel rather like one of their own experiments. Finally, just when they were about to explode with tension, he spoke.
“You are a very accomplished wizard.”
They started. That was the last thing they expected to come out of his mouth after all that. Especially in that tone—instead of admiring or fond, it was almost exasperated.
Alastair cocked his head. “In this case, it may not be a compliment, my Goldie. You and I both know you are capable of a great many things. Magicks beyond most mortals’ comprehension. The rules of this plane are laughable to you. You are unencumbered by the shackles that humble many powerful beings.”
Goldie could feel their cheeks flush so brightly they felt as though they were casting their own light. Though accurate, they were painfully uncomfortable with the lavish, almost scolding praise being lain upon their proverbial doorstep.
“Is this not true, Goldie?” The low growl shook them out of their awkward anxieties.
“Yes! Yes, er, that’s, uh…true,” They muttered, playing haphazardly with the end of their braid.
Snagging the golden hair in his claws, Alastair tugged gently, urging them closer,
wrapping them up in his wings like a spider ensnaring its prey.
"Then you know quite well how to create a homunculus. How to summon a familiar. How to teleport. How to send a message. How to stop time!” His nostrils flared as he worked himself up, leaning down so they were nose to nose. “Is this not so, wizard?”
Biting their lip, they muttered, “yes.”
“You do not need to care for these books yourself. You never did. You enjoy it, and that’s all well and good, but, when you found yourself in need of help, you could have done any number of the things I previously mentioned. And yet you did not—no, you summoned me. A demon. Hardly the right creature for the job.”
Finally finding their backbone, Goldie hissed, “do you wish I hadn’t? Is that it, demon? You want to go back to the abyss?”
Tears stung the back of their eyes as they began to push against his chest. He didn’t so much as budge, and though they could have easily broken free with any number of spells, they did not. They could not bring themself to.
“Hardly,” Alastair snorted, as if the very notion was ridiculous. “I would trade the
entirety of the abyss for a mere moment in your company, and if you don’t know that by now, I haven’t been clear enough.”
“What then?!” They snapped, running through their spell book for the most nasty, nonlethal hexes they could think of.
“You, wizard, shut yourself in here alone, bound here by your own flimsy excuses, but you aren’t satisfied, not completely. You summoned me, not a homunculus, not a familiar, because you were lonely.”
Goldie sputtered indignantly. “I never—”
“Mastering wizardry doesn’t make you less human, Goldie. You can’t be up here alone for the rest of your life. You don’t want to be.”
They could only stand in his arms, gawping at him like a fish. “You’ve figured all this out, have you?” They said, their words devoid of the bite they intended.
“Yes,” Alastair murmured, his glowing eyes softening, his wings tightening against them as if he couldn’t bear even an inch of space between them. “I have. Do you know why I never asked you to restore my memory, Goldie?”
Confused by the subject change, and still reeling from his brutally accurate assessment, they blinked up at him. “Uh, no?”
“Because even from our first day together, I chose this life, with you. I know little of who I was before, but it’s not hard to guess. I’d rather move forward on this plane with you than hide behind the bitter past.” He pressed his forehead to theirs, tugging once more on the end of their blond braid. “It’s never too late to break our old patterns. Let’s do it now, together.”
“Now?” They breathed, their body heating at his closeness, growing restless at his scent, his strong, burly form. The leathery caress of his wings along their skin.
“Why not now? There are many months left before winter rolls in. We can go anywhere, do anything, and be back before the snow.”
Hooking their arms around his thick neck, they hummed thoughtfully. “We could…go find more books. For the archives. And then…return?”
Looking down at them fondly, he nodded. “For a start. We can do whatever we wish.”
“Well,” they purred, stroking the tip of his ear, “we can’t leave just yet.”
Narrowing his eyes, he rumbled, “and why’s that?”
“We have one more task…very important. Life or death.”
“Out with it, wizard.”
“Before we leave…I need an orgasm.”
Eyes searingly bright, wisps of shadow beginning to flicker as his control wavered, he growled, “only one?”
With a flick of their hand, Goldie and Alastair found themselves in Goldie’s
bedchambers. It, too, was jam-packed with books and scrolls, but these were of Goldie’s own creation, and so stored much more haphazardly. A large, messily organized desk was crammed into one corner, littered with quills and dried inkpots. Their bed was large and covered so thoroughly with pillows it took some effort to burrow down to the mattress—just how Goldie liked to sleep. Grinning self-depreciatingly, they laughed, gesturing to their new surroundings. “I
do, in fact, know how to teleport.”
Alastair shook his head, grinning back a fanged grin as he kicked away an errant sheaf of parchment. “What will I do with you?”
“I think I already made that clear, demon.” They laughed, falling back on their giant bed, bouncing on their downy pillows.
Rumbling darkly, Alastair stalked forward, looking every bit the demonic male he was. “As my summoner wishes.”
With a swipe of his claws, their robes were shredded, falling from their body in sad wisps of silk and embroidery. Before Goldie could express any teasing indignance, Alastair scoffed, “as if you can’t mend them in seconds.”
Quirking a brow, they did just that, before tossing the now intact garment to the floor. “Sassy little wizard,” he chuckled, black tongue darting out to lick one gleaming fang. With a groan, Goldie sat up, gripping the back of his neck and pulling him back down atop them. As they hooked their legs around his trim hips, they peppered kisses along his sharp jawline, their hands restless on his body. With a rough growl, Alastair buried his head in their neck, his hips beginning to thrust and grind between Goldie’s legs. Already, Goldie could feel the thick, throbbing length of him had materialized from his shadows, creating a delicious
friction. They cried out, their muscles tensing and fingers curling, digging their nails into the skin of his back.
“Yes, my Goldie. Mark me with your little human claws,” the demon snarled, his hips continuing their relentless, merciless drives. “You already marked me, my very abyssal soul, the moment your magic summoned me here.”
“If you don’t get inside me demon, I swear—”
“Patience,” Alastair laughed, but it was strained, his brow furrowed with desperate need.
“You will come for me first. I want to feel your magic go wild as you find your pleasure.”
As he growled his commands, one large hand delved between their thighs to their soaked folds, his claws turning to shadowy incorporeality that whispered across their flesh with teasing, cool flutters. Two of his thick fingers pressed inside of them, and the sensation only grew more unbearably delicious as he slid them along Goldie’s inner walls.
“So soft and warm,” the demon growled, his claw-tipped wings tearing into the pillows as he worked Goldie’s body into a frenzy. “You drive me to madness, wizard.”
With that, Goldie soared over the edge into climax, their body shuddering, inner muscles clamping down on Alastair’s fingers as the pleasure seemed to shatter them to pieces. Throughout it all, the demon’s ministrations never ceased, heavy-lidded eyes taking in their pleasure like a king surveying his domain, satisfaction etched onto his handsome features.
After what seemed like an eternity, they drifted back down, their heartbeat still rapid in their chest. Incredibly, even after that incredible orgasm, they yearned for more. Still trembling from the force of their climax, they pushed back on Alastair’s shoulders, flipping them so Goldie straddled the demon’s thick thighs. Yellow eyes gleamed up at them, dancing with mischief and painful lust.
“You think you don’t drive me to madness as well, demon?” Goldie hissed, their hand stroking and gently gripping his throat. “Even I’m afraid of what that may unleash.”
The demon’s smile was more a baring of fangs. “I’m not. Do your worst, wizard. And,” his nostrils flared, “get on my cock before I truly lose all semblance of sanity.”
Before he had finished speaking, Goldie had his thick shaft in their hand, squeezing and stroking him as they settled into place. He hissed, the cords of his neck standing in sharp relief as he ground his teeth together. His claws dug into the already rather battered pillows, the edges of his form hazing as his control weakened. The sight stoked the fires of Goldie’s lust even further, and, at last, they dropped down onto his cock.
Both demon and wizard groaned in unison, Alastair’s eyes rolling back as their walls gripped him tightly. For their part, Goldie found themself gasping as the swell along his length created a delicious pressure inside of them, the pressure only mounting as they began to rock and grind atop him. Their combined sounds of pleasure rose as their hips rolled, hands grasping and caressing, magic rising around their desperate forms.
“Come here,” Alastair snapped, hips rolling in such a way that Goldie lost their balance and collapsed into his chest, his mouth meeting theirs hungrily as Goldie could feel their second climax rising in their middle. Behind them, they could feel his wings pressing against their ass and the backs of their thighs, urging their hips along their demanding rhythm.
With a cry, Goldie came, shattering in their demon’s arms, milking his cock with the waves of their orgasm. Alastair roared as his own pleasure was dragged from him almost without his permission, their bodies twining together in loving bliss. Throughout it all, their movements never ceased, drawing out the pleasure as long as possible…almost too long, until the waves of lust became almost torturous. And still, their climaxes refused to fade, refused to release them
from its grip, until it became clear something was afoot.
Goldie abruptly realized their magic, bolstered and wild in their pleasure, had acted, slowing time to a mere crawl. With a gasp, they released the spell, and Alastair panted, going limp, arms wrapped around the wizard’s equally replete body.
“You’re wicked,” he groaned, gazing up at them through mere slits.
Still short of breath, absolutely ravaged by their unintentional little time spell, they replied, “are you really complaining?”
With a weak, breathless laugh, Alastair shook his head. “Never, my wizard. Never.”
Goldie glowered at the merchant—no, the scoundrel—in front of them, irritation boiling in their veins.
“Already told you. They’re fine, quit being fussy.” The big, brawny human sneered at them, crossing his arms in annoyance.
“You’re going to ruin them, you oaf!” They hissed, gesturing at the scrolls lain out
haphazardly at his booth. “These scrolls are from the Archmage Theobold’s personal collection, they are hundreds of years old, and you have them exposed to the sun, the moisture, the…” they gulped, “the grabby, oily hands of shoppers!”
He shrugged, infuriatingly nonchalant. “They fetch the same price either way.”
It was galling to see such little care for such precious artifacts. Goldie could only imagine the damage they had already sustained thus far in his care.
Gritting their teeth, they snarled, “how much?”
The merchant hooted a cruel laugh. “You think I’ll sell to you after all this? You’re mad. Get on before I call my guards.”
For a moment, Goldie really, truly considered usurping his will. It would be easy for them. The city they were in was known to be a relatively nonmagical area, primarily populated by tradesmen and farmers, not wizards or sorcerers. It was unlikely he’d have any magical defenses in place, and gods knew he well deserved such misfortune. Only their mothers’ teachings and their own moral code prevented them from doing so. But oh, how they were tempted.
Still, they could not let the insult pass. With a small charm, their eyes glowed with otherworldly light, their voice echoing in his mind.
Next time you may not be so lucky.
The man flinched backwards, falling without grace into a display of fine porcelain plates, which shattered beneath his bulk with a loud crash. Before he could pick himself up and cause a ruckus, Goldie had vanished.
“Market didn’t go well, I assume?”
Goldie ignored the dry humor in Alastair’s voice, pacing in front of the bed where he lounged.
The room in the inn they had rented for the week was dark, the curtains drawn against the light of noon. Even without his amulet, Alastair was too vulnerable against the sun, and remained sequestered in their quarters during the daylight hours. Some days, Goldie stayed with him. Others, they went out to explore the daytime activities the city offered while he rested. Regardless, at night, the two of them did their own explorations, both in and out of the inn.
Goldie had become rather afflicted with wanderlust. After their first trip—a mere day-long adventure to a nearby town—they had cast their attentions wider, stayed longer, always with their demon lover at their side. Due to their travels, the archives had expanded at an incredible rate, but the steady supply of unseen servants and magical enchantments kept them all in perfect condition.
Alastair had even begun to talk about opening the archive up, making it more accessible to the general public. While Goldie knew it was a good idea, they hadn’t quite worked themself up to it as of yet. Small steps, and all that.
“Calm, my dear wizard, what troubles you?” the demon’s voice pulled them from their angry mumbling, and they sighed.
“I had a bit of a tiff with a local merchant at the market,” they admitted. At his raised brow, they told the rest of the story, becoming angry all over again as they recounted it.
When they finished, Alastair growled, shadow roiling in irritation. “What a prick. No respect for the knowledge of the past.”
“Right?!” Goldie threw their hands up.
“Come here,” the demon beckoned, holding his arms wide.
They obeyed without hesitation, burrowing into his shadowy chest, sighing as his arms wrapped around them. Calm descended almost instantly, their anger releasing on a deep, gusty sigh.
“Do not let him bother you, Goldie. He’s not worth it. Besides,” they could feel his wicked grin, though they could not see it with their face pressed to his shoulder. “Besides, I’ll just sneak into his rooms tonight while he sleeps and swipe them from him. He doesn’t deserve to keep such treasures, much less profit off them.”
Pulling back abruptly, Goldie beamed. “Really? You’d do that?”
He scoffed. “Of course. He’s lucky that’s all I’m doing, to be frank.”
They laughed, pressing their lips to his in a quick, loving kiss. Pulling back so only their foreheads touched, they murmured, “yes, there will be no killing.”
Shoulders shaking on a silent chuckle, Alastair nodded gently. “As you command.”