A Light's Fall

by CannedBeans

Tags: #cw:gore #cw:noncon #cw:sexual_assault #dom:female #f/f #fantasy #pov:bottom #sub:female #transformation #abuse #cw:blood #cw:death #litrpg #self_hypnosis #werewolf

the [High Priest] of a small chapel finds a strange scroll in the basement of his church, what is it for? how did it get here? and how exactly does one banish a demon?  

This chapter took me a while and I wish that I had gone into more details about the mental changes I usually like to get into the nitty details of a persons head when I write them but I didn't much with Michael.
[Susceptibility] was an unfortunate skill to have, but to Father Michael it was a blessing in disguise, as a man of the cloth he had spent his life in the sanctified halls of the church in quiet contemplation and prayer. When he wasn’t busy administering to the local community. But it provided ample relief from the pitfalls of the skill and had brought into highlight what the skill was. A test from the gods, gambling, alcohol, drugs, sex outside the sanctity of marriage and this skill made all of those things all the more tempting. As such his abstinence from these unholy temptations proved his devotion true. He raised his head and looked up towards the altar, from where he’d been kneeling head bowed in prayer, the statue before him was to the [Goddess Ely’ra The Lightfallen] She was just one of the pantheon of course but this church was dedicated mostly to her, and in a relatively small city like this one there was only the one church. Of course they had shrines for each of the major deities but they paled in comparison to the main altar. 
He slowly rose to his feet and shuffled towards the main entrance pushing open the heavy wooden doors to let the morning sunlight filter into the church bathing the [Head Priest] in sunlight, he drew in a deep breath and smiled. He was getting up there in years nearing his fifties and time and lacking exercise had given him a bit of a pot belly, his once brown short cropped hair was now peppered with gray and the beard that had been his pride grew down over his chin. No life was good, he had lived a depraved lifestyle as a young man and it had led him to acquiring the cursed skill, but it had been a wakeup call and he had joined the local priesthood as a mere [Apprentice] and had worked his way up to where he is the father of a church in a slightly larger city. His sermons often touched on his troubled youth and spoke of how a mistake could be forgiven, how hard work could bring anyone back to the light. That the gods gave us trials and challenges to overcome. He was proud of his work over the years and the community he had cultivated. He was more than proud of how things were going just another decade or two and he could comfortably retire and let a younger priest take over most of the duties.
One of the townsfolk waved to him from the street and he returned the greeting with a bright smile. Today was an off day for him. He would spend most of the day catching up on chores cleaning the church and making sure the larder was properly stocked. Perhaps he would take a book down from the shelf and read into the twilight. A comfortable quiet day for the priest was in order and he aimed to indulge in those little allowances he made for himself. He had to be careful always not to delve into anything that triggered the foul temptations of that accursed skill.
It was several hours later that the priest had found himself in the cellar sorting through the old records and making sure that everything was in order. He performed these checks once every few months more out of a need to keep himself busy than any real worry that the records were getting out of hand. There was only him and one junior [Priest] here so the chance of either of them letting things get so out of hand was unlikely, still it was good to be sure that everything was orderly, an orderly living space lent itself to an orderly mind and life. He hummed a tune under his breath as he unfurled a scroll he didn’t recognize, brow furrowing as he saw a language he didn’t recognize. 
What was this? Was it something left over from the last [Head Priest]? He wasn’t sure his brow furrowed as he read over the foreign words. They were strange and hard to parse; he couldn't imagine trying to pronounce them! Too many consonants made it a throaty guttural language he would guess as he certainly didn’t try reading it aloud. Slowly he unfurled more and more of the parchment but never was there anything but that strange language he couldn’t parse.
When the paper came fully unfurled something heavy and metallic fell to the floor with a heavy clunk, his brow furrowing as he bent down to pick up whatever had fallen, it was heavy made of some kind of metal and warm to the touch. He turned it over in his hand and looked it over, a bright red gemstone about the size of an egg sat in a metal broach like frame. His eyes immediately went wide as he saw it. What was this? It was clearly valuable.. What was it doing in the basement records room of a small forgotten church like this? He set the gemstone and the scroll down on a table. Determined to try and figure out more about it he turned to head up to the library. Perhaps he could find a book that made reference to the language he had found? There was always a chance after all that if the scroll and gem were left here, then there would also be some notes on it around, if he couldn’t find anything in the library he’d look for the previous [Head Priest]’s notes. 
Michael dreamed of burning skies and sinful indulgences, in his dreams he couldn’t stop himself from reaching for those forbidden delights that he denied himself in his waking hours. He drank until he was drunk, he ate fine foods, and had wanton sex. He indulged and sinned and laughed and laughed and laughed. Every time he woke from the dream he was wracked with cold sweats and a deep pain in his body. Months had passed since he had found that amulet and scroll and everything had gone downhill steadily from there. His daily prayers felt empty and hollow and no matter how much he begged for salvation from these accursed nightmares they continued to plague him. He sighed raising a hand to rub at his brow, this too would pass, as all trials did. The gods were testing his faith and he would pull through, as he had every time before. achingly he dragged himself out of bed and let out a low groan as the slight aches and pains that came with an aging body made themselves known. He had made some steady progress on the nature of the language he had discovered in that scroll and the more he found out about it the more he was confused as to how it had ended up here, hidden among the chapel's records.
It seemed to be an ancient language mostly forgotten but referenced in a few texts, it seemed like the scroll should be in the hands of a [Historian] or some kind of collector he could not for the life of him understand why a scroll, and gemstone, that were both presumably thousands of years old and worth nearly uncountable quantities of gold. But it wasn’t greed that motivated him, what use would all of that gold be to him? At most he would donate it for a nominal sum to perform some repairs around the church, but what motivated him was at least to his mind academic curiosity. Why was it here? How had it gotten here? It was a grand mystery that had gripped him he desperately wanted, no need to know what its purpose was. It was perhaps a little unseemly for a priest but he was allowed some small indulgences and what sin could come from mere academic curiosity?
He rose from bed and as he stood up his night clothes hung looser from his frame than he expected them to, was he losing weight? Those long hours into the night reading obscure texts must be having some effect on his health. He held up his pants with one hand to prevent them falling as he made his way over to the dresser and then to the mirror to comb his hair and beard. The moment his eyes made contact with his reflection he swore he could see a flash of movement in the corner of his eye, black hair and piercing yellow eyes. But when he whirled around there was nothing there, he was alone. Michael just shook his head letting out a soft chuckle. He must be tired, these dreams were stressing him and now he was imagining things. He gave his reflection a harsh look and internally chided himself. He had been so proud of his self control, overcoming his foolish youth and maturing, how could he be losing his grip so easily? It was just a small trial; he merely had to keep his head on his shoulders.
Still no matter how he chided himself or tried to ignore it he swore he could catch little flashes of black hair and yellow eyes, if reflective surfaces out of the corner of his eyes. He made his way through his daily routine opening the church and giving advice to those that sought his counsel. He performed his daily prayers and begged the gods for forgiveness for his sins and for relief from the accursed dreams and foul temptations. As usual there was no answer.
It was in this manner that weeks passed, he woke up exhausted, drained mentally from the late nights studying ancient lore, and the foul dreams that continued to plague him nightly. They seemed to only grow more vivid and detailed as time went on. He saw himself commit acts of debauchery and violence. He saw himself speak great blasphemies, and revel in the depraved loathing and desires of those around him. He saw his temple defiled, the statue to his beloved [Goddess Ely’ra The Lightfallen] defiled and the once holy place turned into a den of vice. He shuddered, such terrible visions were inflicted upon him he couldn't help but feel his guts twist in response. Shame and fury at the mere thought of anything he saw coming to pass! 
Worst of all his waking visions had not abated and over to me his stressed mind added yet more details to the stranger he saw in reflections and out of the corner of his eye. Those yellow eyes seemed to glow with a deep amusement, the black hair fell in wavy ringlets and now he could make out a mocking smirk that haunted him like he was the butt of some great cosmic joke that he was not privy to. It was maddening to him, and he could only grit his teeth and try to ignore the mocking smile that filled his mind and ate away at his sanity. He just wanted to be done with this trial to return to his quiet life. Maybe he should just be done with the scroll and gemstone? Just sell it to some collector or mage that would be interested in the curio… Not it would eat at him that he had given up on it. That in some way he had failed to solve this particular puzzle, he just shook his head and slowly descended the steps to the chapel basement and made his way right over to the desk where the scroll lay unfurled just as he had left it, a pile of reference books open to various pages were scattered around.

He sunk down into his seat and picked up one of the books, lighting a candle and starting where he had left off before. It was strange like the language was just on the tip of his tongue tickling at the edge of his mind. It was almost like he could just read it if he looked hard enough, concentrated enough on the scroll he could read it. He could figure out this puzzle all on his own and he could have the satisfaction of accomplishment. It was a small insignificant thing wasn’t it? Just an old scroll, just a strange language, but it felt so monumental to him it had become a great mountain in his mind that he had no choice but to climb as he’d come too far to turn back now. There was only the option to continue on and reach the peak. He leaned forwards, his eyes narrowing as he stared at the scroll, the runes seemed to swim before his eyes becoming clearer and clearer. Until he could see it, the meaning behind the runes, somewhere deep down this sent up alarm bells. This should not be how an ancient language works, unless it was the work of some foul magic. He discarded that worry, what could be so vile as to harm him? A [High Priest] here in the chapel of his goddess. There could be no safer place for the faithful than here, no demonic magic could ensnare him without him knowing, and surely his daily prayers and the rituals would have cleansed him of any tainted magics. Agonizingly he breathed in, those small concerns brushed aside easily as the runes slowly shifted and he could read the meaning behind them.
The word that revealed itself had no meaning to him but it felt important. The word settled into his mind like a heavy weight. Yael’bath'teth? What did it mean? He wasn’t sure but it felt important. He returned his focus to the scroll hoping that further scrutiny would reveal more or perhaps give some context as to what this ‘Yael’bath'teth’ meant. But the scroll refused to deliver any new secrets to him no matter how much he glared at it. He pushed his chair back and sighed staring up at the ceiling. It felt like a huge step, he had pulled some secret from the scroll but what was it? He couldn’t be sure the word felt heavy in his mind and carried a weight that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He just closed his eyes, there was an inexplicable urge to speak the words aloud to taste them on his tongue and try and tease out why they felt so heavy. Before he could think differently and before his brain could fling up any flimsy excuses, he sat up, opened his eyes and spoke.
“Yael’bath'teth” he spoke the word aloud and although it was likely that his pronunciation was atrocious, the word rolled heavily from his tongue and half spoke itself once his intention reached his tongue, the moment its sonorous incantation vibrated through the air the candle blew out a sudden bone deep chill filling the air around him, he swore he could her a low musical chuckle just on the edges of hearing, a dry mocking patronizing lit, that whispered of the mistake he had made by vocalizing that single word he had managed to read from the scroll. 
He shot to his feet in the dark of the basement and a heavy presence settled over him like he was being observed by a creature far greater than him, like he was being picked apart down to his very soul. His hands fumbled sweeping across the desk knocking paper and books to the floor as his fingers grasped for the candle and a match. Moment by creeping moment he felt that presence tightening, bearing down with greater intensity as he fumbled with the match struggling to strike it and light a flame. He fumbled and dropped the first match letting out a quiet curse that only seemed to amuse the presence before he finally lit a match and the flame beat back the gloom. With shaky hands he lit the candle and thrust it forwards to chase away the shadows. But he found nothing there in the basement. He was alone with the mess he had made, for a few moments he stood there heart pounding in his ribs and eyes darting about the small underground chamber. But there was nothing, no presence; it had disappeared as if he had simply imagined it all. He just grumbled and shook his head from side to side. He was far far too stressed out for this, maybe it was time for an early night? Try and get some restful sleep. Gently he set down the candle and started to pick up the books stacking theme again on the desk and just generally tidying up. Before picking up the candle and marching up the stairs. He needed some sleep, to properly rest and unwind, whatever was going on he was clearly far too stressed out, tomorrow he would be ignoring the scroll and simply performing his duties, then perhaps resting in the gardens outside to contemplate the serenity of nature. 
He smiled to himself, yes that's what he needed a day off. As he emerged from the basement and closed the door behind him he heard something just on the edge of his hearing like the soft whispering of that same mocking lit just on the edges of his hearing and as he glanced around to try and identify it, his eyes caught his reflection in a mirror and his heat about lept out of his chest. In his reflection he saw a woman; no a monster leaning on his shoulder, familiar black wavy hair and piercing yellow eyes that seemed to glow in the dim candle light. Sharp teeth bared in a mocking little smile, twin horns curled up from her forehead and swept back like the crown of a dragon. Her skin a deep crimson and a long thin whip like tail tipped with spade swished behind her. She blew him a kiss through the mirror and as that mocking laugh faded into the distance he swore he could hear a quiet. “Goodnight Father~ sweet dreams.”  before he blinked and the apparition was gone. Whirling around here was nothing there, he cast the candle about but if there had been a demon in the chapel there was no trace of her now. 
Fear gripping his heart and a worried furrow to his brow he rushed into the main church right to the altar to bow his head in prayer, begging the [Goddess] for assistance, but the only assistance he received was that same whisper in the distance just at the edge of his hearing. That same dry mocking laugh…
His dream was different tonight, now his nightmare had direction, that demon presided over his torment she directed his descent into sin it was through his lips she poke foul blasphemies and it was through him that she worked her profane magics. His body was a mere puppet for the monster, and by the time the dream came to an end he had even started to find some small enjoyment in it. Only for him to be plunged into the deep end of shame and fury when he awoke. He would not be the puppet of a monster! His brow twisted together in a deep scowl and he sat up swinging his legs out of bed. 
          [Name]: Michael Taylor
          [Race]: Human
          [Level]: 78  1685/134774
          [class]: [High Priest]
          [skills]: [susceptibility], [Housework], [Lead the Faithful], [Sincere prayer], 
          [Light of the Faithful], [Behold the Truth], [Turn the Faithless], [Shepherd the Flock], 
          [Bastion of Light], [Word of the Goddess]
He was a powerful human having reached his second class change and truly could be considered one of humanities champions, despite his class being a non combat class. He was not so weak as to fall for a single demon. He glowered across the room and stood up, cursing as he had to quickly catch his pants to prevent them from falling. His body had noticeably slimmed down, his potbelly had retreated until his stomach was nearly taught again just a bit of pudge to him now. His skin was far smoother than it had ever been as the weathering of age had retreated. He was certain it was the influence of the demon of course the foul creature would show him the positive side to this mess first. But he knew it to be mere bait to lure him into letting down his guard a bit more. He stomped over to the mirror but instead of his own scowling reflection, what stepped up to the mirror to face him was the demon Yael’bath'teth, the monster smirking at him through the reflective barrier.

“I rebuke you monster, begone from this holy place, take your foul blasphemies with you [Turn the Faithless]!” He invoked the skill, washing the room in the gentle glow of holy light that should have burned any demon in his vicinity, that should send the possessed and heretics fleeing. But the demon merely smiled at him, mocking his attempt to excise her from this place. She merely smiled at him, amusement sparkling in her eyes, her lips creeping upwards baring sharpened teeth as she waved a hand and the light that had filled the room parted like a crowd making room for royalty. 
"You simple fool." The demon chuckled from behind the mirror, leaning so close that it was almost surprising when her breath didn't fog the glass. "You called me to this place and now you think me so easily dismissed?" Long fingers pressed to the barrier that was the mirror, scraping across its surface with an unearthly noise that lanced pain through his mind, the mirror scarred in their wake with divots he would not feel if he ran his fingers over the surface. "You can fight me, try to run, do whatever it is you think it takes to free yourself of my presence. I will wait, eagerly watching over your shoulder as your hope begins to unravel, as you cry and scream to your goddess only to be deafened by the silence. And when you are finally broken, when you realize what you have done to yourself..." Bile rose in the back of his throat, his face contorting in a manner that made her laugh, a sound like ashes shaking from a collapsing building. "You will speak my name, and you will know despair."

She faded from the mirror with a twisted laugh, so certain of her victory that he needed nothing but taunt him. He slammed his fist down on the wooden table and let out a low growl, he would not fall to this monster. He was a [High Priest] for crying out loud! He spent the rest of the morning in an angry haze. He dressed, tightened his robes, made breakfast and opened the church ignoring the flashes of the demon's visage he could still see in the reflective materials around him. Ignoring the claw marks that were still carved into the surface of the mirror. Today there was a line of parishoners waiting for him to open the door. It was the day that he would preach to the people. He schooled his expression and set his jaw, he greeted the people with a smile and a word. After all Father Michael knew most of them personally after spending so many years tending to this community and these mornings were just as much a social event as they were a time for preaching. He couldn’t quite completely put the monster out of his mind especially since he kept catching sight of one of her eyes or a smile in any jewelry worn by the people passing him by but it was a mild irritation next to his duties. Briefly, he considered talking to someone about his problems with the demon, but he very quickly dismissed the idea that if he, a level 78 [High Priest] could not banish the creature then what hope did the rest of these people have? No, he would only be dragging them into this situation. He took a breath and made his way up to the podium in the front forcing a smile on his face. 
Today he would preach about something topical, the nature of temptation and sin and how important it was to recognise that even the simplest of things could lead one down the road to destruction, how important it was to remain vigilant and ensure that one was always walking the true path. He tried to ignore that near incessant laughter and mockery he could hear as if the demoness was behind him whispering into his ear how foolish and futile his actions were, that he had already failed and was merely amusing her with his futile attempts to resist her. Still he just let her comments wash over him, he wouldn’t give the infernal the reaction he wanted. He spoke and when his preaching wound down he bowed his head and led the congregation through a prayer and a hymn. Soon enough it was nearing lunchtime and everyone was backing up to leave. Smiles and chatter filled the halls and it warmed his heart to see everyone banded together for something so good. 
It helped soothe the strain under the surface and calm some of the stress that was building up in response to the devils endless whisperings. He stepped down and talked with a few of the church regulars about mundane simple things. He congratulated one of the newly married couples on their pregnancy and briefly they spoke about scheduling the baptism when he was born. The priest was more than happy to talk about these things and try to ignore the demon's whispers that the child wasn’t her husband, that the woman was a whore. The devils existed to spread strife and twist the hearts of mortal men. It was in the foul creatures nature to lie, and twist the truth. He wouldn’t let them affect him, he was a servant of the [Goddess] and no infernal would tempt him. Steadily the people made their way to the door and  he saw off the congregation once they had all left the church and he closed the door behind them, closing his eyes as soon as the sunlight was hidden from view it felt like he had plunged himself into a torture chamber. The constant stream of attention from the demon seemed to intensify around him.

“Begone monster, you are not welcome in this house of light.” But like before his words had no effect on the creature and when he raised his head there she was sitting on the altar, that smug predatory smile ever present on her features idly kicking a foot through the air as she watched him from across the room.
“This is no house of light foolish boy.” Her answer was simple and her tail flicked caressing the tip of that spade tail over the leg of the statue, the statue of the [Goddess]. “You have been abandoned, poor mortal. Your goddess has no power here boy let me show you..” She let out a dark little chuckle as her tail slowly crept up along the statue's leg until it flicked at the carved stone sending a violent spider web of cracks scattering across its surface. A shout rose from the priests through at the sight and she started forwards breaking into a run to cross the length of the church even as the demon disappeared her laughter reaching a crescendo around him, he nearly crashed into the alter as he stared up at the statue, it was over a hundred years old and had very nearly been a blessed artifact on its own, to see it damaged at all.. Let alone crumbling! With mourning horror he felt a small flash of fear, what kind of monster could do this in the house of light? Deface the statue of the goddess to whom the chapel was dedicated? He reached up a hand to brush his fingers against the cracked stone and a chunk fell off under his fingers smashing to the floor.
He winced and pulled back, staring at the piece of the statue on the floor, a hand reached for the holy symbol that sat on the altar and he picked it up, holding it in his hands and running his fingers over the surface of the symbol. “Goddess grant me the strength to purge this monster from your sanctuary...” he muttered to himself, bot for now there was no eyes waiting from him in the reflective mental he was looking at, just his own haggard face, the lines on his face deepend and the bags under his eyes thick from the stress of the last few weeks. 
If only he had destroyed that accursed scroll and smashed the gemstone when he found it. He paused in place as that thought flitted through his mind. The gemstone! He had completely overlooked it but it had to have something to do with the demon. He felt almost giddy at the thought that he might be able to banish the demon or do something about her with that gemstone. So he marched off heading straight for the door to the basement and pushing it open. What exactly was his plan? He had no clue but he figured that something would happen when he picked up the gem and he could figure it out from there. The table was just as he had left it and the gem was sitting right there on the table. 
His fingers curl right around the gemstone and the metal broach that it sat within and hefted it staring into the depths of the crimson crystal. It seemed to swim and twist its insides murky like a deep lake at night. Staring only drew you deeper in, led the eye and the mind down past the surface and into the swirling depths, his eyes followed the indecipherable shifting patterns. It was like the scroll they were just out of reach and they entrapped his mind, dragging it slowly down chasing an ephemeral tail to find the secret.
A loud thump drew him from his trance and he blinked into the dim light. Wha- how long had he been standing here staring at this gemstone? He just set his brow and squeezed his fingers over the gem covering it with his palm to hide it from view and whirling to march back up the stairs to the main floor. He made his way right to the altar and set the gemstone down upon it. The demon hadn’t bothered him so far yet this evening. He had to assume that was a good sign and that the infernal was losing her grip over him. Deep down he knew that was a joke but he had to cling to that thread of hope, he stared at the gem for a moment then picked up the holy symbol and after uttering a quiet prayer he summoned up one of his skills [Bastion of Light] the warm gentle glow of holy light suffused his fist and he brought it down on the gemstone. Hoping that the light of the divine would smash the profane artifact but he could have been more wrong.
The gem flashed a sickening crimson light as his hand made contact with it and before his very eyes the light of his skill was being claimed by the gem sucked into the swirling depths, that sickening crimson light itching through the brilliant glow that protected his hand. He could only watch in mute horror as steadily the holy light was overtaken, tendrils of crimson red worming steadily closer to his fist. He grunted straining his arm to pull it back but it's like his muscles were frozen in place. He grunted and gritted his teeth straining with all of his might as he watched the crimson tendrils reach, creeping towards the skin of his hand and slowly sink into the flesh. Searing agony tore through his arm and shot up into his chest like his nerves were being lit aflame. He grunted and choked back a scream of pain shaking in place as the pain only ramped up. He shook and sunk down to his knee’s his hand stuck firmly in place on the altar.
It was then that his tormentor reappeared, the demon who’s name he had spoken aloud manifested, her arms draping over his shoulders, her lips close enough to his ear that warm breath washed against his skin when she spoke. 
“Silly boy.” She didn’t at all seem to be bothered by the agonizing pain lancing through his body radiating up his arm from the gemstone pressed against his palm. Her fingers traced over his outstretched arm, those nails leaving little trails down his forearm. “But you’ve done something stupid, and are now suffering the consequences.” She clicked her tongue like a disappointed parent. Her fingers wrapped around his wrist and with an unyielding grip twisted his arm around the gemstone resting in his palm. She ignored how he hissed and shuddered, how the pain wracked his body. She squeezed around his wrist watching how the gemstone seemed to be melting into his skin.
“Impatient child, you could have just waited the few weeks it would have taken. Alas, poor thing.” Her tone certainly didn’t indicate any real pity for his situation of course. The priest was writhing in place his eyes widening as his wrist was turned over and he could see fully as that gemstone had started to.. Melt into his skin!? He drew in a sharp gasp the pain forgotten for a heartbeat in a moment of panic. He tried to fire any of his kills, all of them, all of them something to detach this infernal relic from his body, and dislodge the demon's grip on his arm. Alas nothing worked and his efforts only brought a little laugh to the demon's lips. She pressed against his back her breath washing against his neck and ear as she spoke.
“My heart will fuse with yours fully far faster than I anticipated at this rate… poor dear I’ve been with you for months growing in your heart like a seed. You spit and fight, you struggle and thrash but you cannot deny me. For I am you.” She smiled next to his ear. “I can feel your indignation at the thought, I can taste your disdain~ aha, poor thing.” She cooed softly, her fingers squeezing tighter around his wrist, her body shifting slightly pressing against his back. "You think this is something that just happened to you, that you can throw up your mental defenses and protect yourself," She scoffed at the thought and shook his hand to emphasize the gemstone that was slowly fusing with his flesh. “But now I have fully bloomed. The time to be rid of me has long passed. There is no demon by the name Yael’bath'teth, not yet at least~” 
The demon released his wrist and stepped back releasing him to draw his arm in towards his chest. He couldn’t pry the gemstone from his hand; it was well and truly stuck. The pain slowly dulled to a constant throb, something that was at least in the moment far far more manageable than it had been before. But he still couldn’t dislodge it from place, he turned but the demon had disappeared, her point made at least as far as she was concerned. She seemed quite certain that he had no way to banish her. The priest grimaced at the gemstone fused with his hand, a thumb rubbing slowly at the skin that surrounded the gemstone, little lances of agony still shot up his arm periodically. But he did his best to ignore the pain he had to get this gem out of his body.. Briefly he considered trying to carve it out with a knife. But he very quickly shelved that idea, there were too many risks with strange magical artifacts to try something so dangerous. 
All thoughts of merely smashing the gem gone from his head as he climbed to his feet, shaking a cold sweat on his brow he cradled that hand against his chest as he glanced around. Searching, hunting for any inspiration that could solve the current predicament. There was nothing and the chapel felt cold and dark, the few candles that were lit didn’t seem to chase away the gloom. The once grand statue sat crumbling into a pile of rubble. The colors of the tapestries and murals seemed muted and leached of warmth and light. Maybe the demon was speaking the truth? And there was nothing he could do, his struggling was only making it worse, only making it hurt worse. 
He squeezed his fingers into a fist feeling the gemstone embedded in his palm. He could not afford despair, he could not fall to such a small setback. He steadied himself and set his jaw marching out of the chapel and towards the kitchen. His skills had failed him, the [Goddess] wasn’t answering his prayers, he could not risk bringing the poor folks in town into his mess. He set his hand down on the kitchen counter and grabbed one of the heavy knives from the block. He stared at the blade for a few moments looking at the way his own haggard features reflected back at him, the demon hadn’t appeared to stop or mock him. He couldn’t even see her eyes in the reflection. He wasn't sure what that meant, she mocked him up until the point he was doing something that she wanted him to. Or maybe whatever energies she had to manifest had been consumed earlier and he was free of her for the time being. He tensed his grip around the handle of the knife and sighed, turning slowly to slide the tool back into place on the knife block. This was the demon's game, Michael thought back over what he knew of the infernals. They delighted in twisting and manipulating good people into engineering their own downfalls, he could not act frivolously. 
Father Michael settled himself down on one of the pews staring up at the cracked and crumbling statue, he had wrapped his hand in a cloth that would hide the gemstone from view and reduce any temptation to do something as foolish as try and cut off his hand with a kitchen knife. He merely grimaced his eyes tracing the many cracks that spiderwebbed over the once brilliant statue, finding the state of it an apt metaphor for his current state. He was crumbling, slowly but steadily. He was sleeping fitfully, he was constantly seeing and hearing things. His mind would fray and break eventually just as the demon had said, unless he found some way out of this maze and slipped the demon's noose. He rubbed a thumb slowly over the gemstone embedded in his hand. 
But what can he do? Not much tonight in the end he couldn’t keep up these late nights. They were only going to sap his strength more and while the demon could toy with his dreams. It was still better than skipping proper sleep, he squeezed his hand. The gen still shot little lances of pain up his arm but that was all it had stopped eating its way into his body and seemed to have stopped moving... Could he trust it to remain in place while he slept? 
He couldn’t know for sure and certainly hadn’t yet found a way to deal with the gemstone, none of his skills had phased it, skills that had banished demons and brought monsters low simply washed over the dem.. Or were devoured like his [Bastion of̸ ̢̛̀̕̕͘͟L̴̵̡̛͡҉͢͝í̢̧̧g̷͘͏̨h̡͡҉̸̸̕͢͟t͏̡̛́̕͜͏] he lifted his head, [Bastion of̸ ̢̛̀̕̕͘͟L̴̵̡̛͡҉͢͝í̢̧̧g̷͘͏̨h̡͡҉̸̸̕͢͟t͏̡̛́̕͜͏] something was wrong with his skill.
“[Bastion of̸ ̢̛̀̕̕͘͟L̴̵̡̛͡҉͢͝í̢̧̧g̷͘͏̨h̡͡҉̸̸̕͢͟t͏̡̛́̕͜͏]” he intoned the skill to activate it and watched with mounting horror as instead of the gentle brilliant divine light he expected a sicily haze of crimson light radiating off of his hand. The very same vile glow that the gemstone had given off and had drilled into his body. Was this what the gemstone had done? Was it devouring and corrupting his skill? He cut off the skill and watched the light fade. It was the last straw and the priest felt something in him break something that had been wound tight snapped and he buried his head in his hands, would he forever carry this scar? Even if he banished the demon, removed the gemstone and sanctified this church his skill would forever be tainted by the monster's touch. Some part of him would carry that scar forever and who knows how many more pieces of himself would be lost in the coming days? He thought back to how he had looked when he first found the scroll. He had lost weight for sure, was he a bit shorter? His frame a bit less wide and bulky? It was hard to say but he knew that he had been glossing over and ignoring the small physical changes to his body every morning. 
He could hold it back no longer and tears broke front he dam welling up in his eyes and rolling over his cheeks. What had he done to deserve this? He had worked hard to ensure that he wouldn’t be ruled by his baser urges. He had dedicated his life to improving and serving the community around his little church and what? He was going to suffer alone and fail alone. He had lived a holy life perhaps, but one of isolation. He had no friends or family, the community he served had always treated him in a detached and distant way. Perhaps he should have been more friendly and open, wouldn’t that be the rub? In order to live life the way he thought he should, the way he had been taught to, he had isolated himself and created the perfect target for the demon to latch onto. It was Ironic perhaps, and slowly those tears transitioned into laughter. It started as a choked gasp, then a wry chortle and finally steadily morphing into the full belly laugh of a broken man. A broken man who had opened his eyes to see that he was in a hell of his own making and there was simply nothing left but laughter, madness and despair. 
He wasn’t sure how long he sat there, laughing and then settling down for a morose spell staring at the table, before again another bout of laughter bubbled up from his chest and rolled from his lips. What was it the demon had said to him? ‘You will speak my name, and you will know despair.’ Well he knew despair but he was not yet ready to give the demon what she wanted. He could feel his own weakness, he could feel how feeble he was how much he sat on that knife's edge. Slowly he climbed to his feet and made his way to his bedroom. Sparing a glance at the mirror as he passed. His reflection was alone, he couldn’t see the demon in the mirror but he could see the claw marks she had left on its surface. He reached out a hand to brush slowly over the smooth glass. His face looked haggard and worn with deep dark bags under his eyes. Still his beard looked thinner than he remembered and there was a softness to his skin that he only noticed now that he was looking for it. 
He was being changed by the demon he knew it, bit by bit she was hollowing him out and would claim his body as her own. He tore away his gaze from the mirror and stepped over to the bed not bothering to change out of his vestments as he sunk down onto the mattress. He was asleep before his head even hit the pillow. 
It was a calm evening for Yael, the demon sat lounging on the altar of what had once been a well loved church, tended to by an aging priest. But now the building lay in ruin the town outside a shell of its former self. While many things had changed in the past few weeks she was most pleased with the changes to her own body. Crimson skin decorated her form and black curly hair hung loosely from her head; twin horns curved up jutting towards the sky, her figure could most accurately be described as sinful in its proportions. A long whip-like tail curled behind her tipped with a spade, and blackened talons adorned her fingers. She was young for a demon but indisputable in her name and title. A clawed finger came up to brush slowly over the surface of her gemstone which sat on her chest fused with her sternum peeking between the valley of soft cleavage. It marked her for who she was Sovereign, one of the seven it was only fair that she had bloomed from a vessel as exquisite as that priest had been.
When he woke this morning everything felt different, Father Michael blinked blearily in the rays of sunlight that filtered through the window and landed on his face. He let out a groan and was immediately started to further alertness as his voice became foreign to his ears. He sat up, his mind and body already primed for some new horror to have changed his life. Some new change the demon visited upon him while he slept. As he sat up and swung his legs out of the bed he immediately came to realize how bad it was. When instead of feet two hooves clicked onto the floor, and the vestments he’d not bothered to change out of the night before hung far closer on his body than they had when he fell asleep. 
The priest grimaced a hand coming up to brush a stray strand of hair out of his face and… hair? For most of his time as a priest he’d had short cropped hair but now? He pinched that strand of hair and pulled it forwards, it was familiar it was long curly and a healthy black like his had been twenty years earlier but far far too long. He recognized it immediately of course it was the same hair that adorned the devils head. His hand too was closer to a shade of crimson than his skin had ever been before and with a sinking feeling he understood what the demon had said the night before he could have had a few weeks to solve the problem had he not accidentally fused the gemstone with himself but he hand and now he was all the closer to being subsumed by the monster. 
He stretched out his hands looking them over, delicate fingers tipped with claw-like nails; they weren’t an exact match for the hands he’d seen in the dream but they were very close. It took him a full second to notice that the gemstone was gone from his palm and instinctively he knew where it had gone. He pressed a hand to his chest, he snorted as his hand pressed against two swells and the hard surface of the gem resting between his two new breasts. How was he still calling himself a man now? Was there even a way to reverse what had been done to his body or was he just to accept that he would always be a demon-touched freak? Even if by some miracle he got rid of the devil he’d have to give up his parish. No matter what his life was ruined well and truly. He stood up having to bunch up the vestments to hold them in place as he took a shaky step, walking on hives was a new experience and one that sent a strange mixture of despair and joy through him. It was like he had an extra knee to keep track of and each step was a bit more rigid than he was used to. His balance was off, as he moved he slowly adjusted. By the time he reached the mirror he wasn’t perfect but he could at least take a few steps without stumbling.
He bowed his head to look into the mirror but what he saw looking back at him was the demon, or well not exactly there were still remnants of his old features in his face, the horns weren’t as tall, weren’t as majestic but they were unmistakable. His skin was a few shades shy of hers and his eyes were still human; they hadn’t yet taken on that luminous golden quality that the devil’s eyes had. Unfortunate then perhaps that at a glance he would pass for the monster, or a sibling to her at a closer look. 
The mirror flickered and the demon appeared next to his reflection, as insubstantial as she normally was but very much there in the mirror looking for all the world like the cat that got the canary. Her arms were draped over his shoulder and she was wearing a similar vestiment to him of course hers was nearly skin tight and hugged her every curve, and of course had a few strategic openings to bare far more skin than was appropriate for a proper vestment.
“Awe look at you hun~ you’re looking great!” She shifted a bit her reflection pressing against his own and he frowned at her.
“Leave me be a monster, I have no patience for your irreverence today.” It was a weak protest and he knew it, he had not the power to banish her nor did he have the mental acuity to verbally spar with her. He could only weakly request that she leave him to his despair. His words didn’t phase her and she just smiled at him through the mirror. 
“Where is that fire and fury mister [High Priest]? Where is your holy light and the will of your goddess? Has your faith crumbled like that statue?” her tail swished and she leaned forwards pressing closer to the glass surface of the mirror. “Aren’t you just about ready to give in? Why extend your suffering at this point~? You’ve lost, you’ve broken, your body is mine just another night or two and there will be nothing left of you. Why draw this out at this point?” 
He closed his eyes blocking her from his vision, she wanted him to surrender did she? For some reason that bolstered his spirit, if she was asking for his surrender then that meant she hadn’t won just yet and he still had a chance. She wasn’t simply steamrolling his will, and he was certain that if she could she would have. So he straightened his back, opened his eyes and smiled at the monster. 
“I suppose you'll have to wait those few more nights.” He didn't really have a plan, not really. Michael ignored her calls as he turned away from the mirror. He had no ability to go outside or talk to others; they would immediately run screaming or attack him. Instead he simply tightened some belts around the vestments to keep them from falling and made his way down to the basement. When he was researching the scroll he had collected a large number of arcane and occult tomes. He hauled them all up to the chapel properly and spread them out on the floor. He shoved some of the pews out of the way and plopped himself down on the carpet. There had to be something he could do and as far as he knew.. He had a few days left. He wouldn’t waste a minute. 
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed but he had found something, something solid, a single strand of hope and that hope had bloomed into an all consuming manic energy. He had pulled the carpet asides and shoved books out of the way a great elaborate magical circle had been painted onto the bare stone below, he had pilfered candles from all over the chapel to complete the ritual. He merely had to cast the spell to summon and bind a demon. If he summoned his tormenter.. Could he properly bind her? Render her harmless in a state that he could banish her and free himself of this curse? It was a long shot but he was gambling with his very soul here and folding was not an option. 
He checked every line in the circle and finding it satisfactory he picked up the book flipping through the pages to the words, the incantation. It would be tough, a bit of a tongue twister but he was confident. He began to speak, his voice started low and slowly rose as he gained confidence. He felt the shift as the candles burned brighter and he could feel the arcane energies coalescing in the center of the circle slowly taking shape into the ritual that would call forth the demon named in his incantation. Sweat dripped from his brow and his eyes narrowed with anticipation. Was this it? Would he succeed and be free of this monsters grasp? 
“orap zmy vyezmw ao virclyww va xe tidd oarzm haf uloyrlid vyluxyl ao zmy kditcywz myddw, haf uloyrlid tarrfezyr va xe uljacy vorv tidd oarzm ulza ph turtdy. Capy oarzm Yael’bath'teth!”
As he shouted the demons name his vision swam, twisting slowly and coalescing down to a single point before going black and he fell. Something twisted around him and he felt a wrenching sensation as he was falling twisting through what felt like a tunnel of dark void. It stretched out farther and farther into endlessness before with a wrenching sensation he landed with a thump on the floor. Something was wrong, immediately he could tell with his face on the warm stones of the floor. He forced his eyes open and sat up slowly, he was still within the chapel as far as he could tell? Slowly he glanced around before realizing what had changed. He was seated in the middle of the magic circle. 
But how was that possible? He had summoned the demon herself not… with mounting horror her recalled what the demon had said to him and slowly putting those little puzzle pieces together in his head, everything slotting into place ‘like a seed’ ‘There is no demon by the name Yael’bath'teth, not yet at least~’ he glanced down at himself his body wrapped in the far to large clothing that he had worn since the day before. He had succeeded in summoning Yael, after all he was Yael. He crawled slowly over to the edge of the circle and reached out a hand, pulling back with a hiss when the invisible barrier burned his fingertips. Shit, the circle was meant to trap a demon inside to strike a deal with the summoner, but.. He was the summoner and the demon in question! 
He glared at the invisible barrier and hissed at it. Not that it did anything but make him feel slightly better in response. Shakily he climbed to his feet and glanced around, he was alone. As he had always been nobody was coming to the church for another week when the parishioners would come to hear him preach, if the demon was speaking truth and he had to believe it was so then there was only a few more days of being him left, just a few dozen hours before Michael became Yael completely. He pulled up his sheet just to look at the first few lines.
          [Name]: M̕i̕͝͠͝͏̵̡́͟ćh̴̷̶̸̨́́͘͢’bath'teth
          [Race]: H̵ų̨̀̕̕͘͢͡m̸̨̕͟͜á̡̡̕͟ǹ̵̸̨́͟͜͝
It was clear how far he had fallen, and now he was stuck in this circle. He stood up and tried to dispel it, tried to cancel the summoning but nothing at all happened; he simply could affect the summoning from the inside of the circle. After a time he simply stalked back to the center of the circle and plopped down. He was stuck, his last ditch effort had failed and now he understood why. Why everything he had tried had failed, he couldn’t banish the demon because the demon was him. He couldn’t summon the demon only by himself, it’s not even that he possessed the demon that he kept seeing that was taunting him, it was his own mind the whole time. He had been doomed from the moment that he touched that scroll. Briefly he wondered what exactly it was, maybe he would find out when his mind gave out. He sighed a low shaky exhalation that flitted out into the emptiness of the church around him. His eyes landed on the statue of the [Goddess] crumbled now to nothing but a pile of rubble. 
The chapel felt empty and now that he was looking he could feel it, the warmth and light were gone and it was just a cold stone building. How long had it been since he last felt the attention of the divines he had sworn his life to serve? The ones that he had insisted had helped him escape the failings of his youth, the stumbling block that was [Susceptibility] but what had they done truly? Hadn’t it been his own efforts? Waking up at dawn to put his body through the rigors of chores and work to keep him occupied, hadn’t it been his own efforts studying the written word and religious teachings that made him a [Priest]? What had the gods done for him but abandon him in his hour of need? 
She scoffed and turned away from the crumbled statue, maybe it was a good thing that it had been defaced, the divines were content to reap the rewards of mortal efforts and provide little in return it seemed. Her tail flicked and she grimaced realizing that the growth was trapped in the vestments. That discomfort lasted only until she sliced through the back of the robe with a claw to free the thin whip like appendage. When she settled down again and opened her eyes there was another pair of golden eyes staring into her own. A face that was so like her own, because it was her own face, a smile that mirrored her own met hers.
“Hello there myself Fancy seeing you here.” They spoke in unison, but that didn’t feel wrong, it felt right, after all they were the same person arguing with themself for weeks. It was silly now to look back on it but she didn’t much bother. 
“Are you ready to say our name? Now that we are done with despair and struggle, now that we are done with foolish waste of time?”
Both Yael and the reflection of Yael nodded and that was that two sets of lips opened, two tongues twisted and two voices spoke with a single breath.
“Yael’bath'teth.” and the two became one. 
It was a glorious moment when she closed her eyes, took in a deep breath and felt a resonance that thrummed through her entire body, her every nerve tingling with awareness. Her tail flicked and she stood slowly climbing to her feet, there was no awkwardness in her movements anymore. Every inch of her felt right; she felt perfected. With a little hum she tore the vestments from her body and tossed the rags to the floor. It would be a crime to cover what she was up with such clothing adorned with the trappings of the divine. Her gemstone glinted in the dull candle light and she stepped forwards pressing her nails against the barrier that contained her, a hissing sound filled the air as the magics protested her touch and slowly she plied more and more pressure until the magic could take no more the pitch of its while resign in intensity until it burst and the barrier popped. A ritual designed to hold back a mere thrall could not stand before an aspected Sovereign, knowledge flooded her mind of who, of what she was and what she was capable of. She was the Sovereign of lust, newly born queen of the succubi and while that title conveyed great power. What it meant most was that her kind would come when she called. She marched down the length of the chapel towards the large oak double doors.

Her lips curled into a smile and she licked over her lips. Her fingernails trailing over the wooden backs of the pews setting them alight with flame. 
“Come sisters, I can feel your hunger, your desire. Come forth you wretched beasts, it's time to feast.” Her words resonated through the air, and the flames she left behind rippled, from the ripples spilled forth devils and monsters, her kin, her sisters, dozens at first then steadily more and more until a hundred succubi were called forth from the abyss and she reached the doors placing a hand on the wood. Father Michael really was the perfect vessel, but Michael was gone and only Yael remained and she and her many many sisters were quite hungry. 
She pushed and the double doors swung open, with a smile and a wave of her hand she unleashed hell upon that small town….

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