Erika crept along the corridor of black stone, the holy light wreathing her sword casting long shadows off into the murky distance. Ostensibly, she was victorious—the demons were fully routed, cast away by the combined might and faith of her and her fellow paladins. But they still had to conduct a thorough sweep of each room, and Erika had no intention of putting her guard down. This was her first time in a demonic fortress, and every nerve and muscle in her body was pulled taut with adrenaline-fuelled tension.
Any time she slowed down, images of the earlier battle cycled through her mind: The covetous hands of Envy, Greed and Gluttony demons tearing into her comrades. The wild shrieks of Wrath demons echoing through the halls as they charged forward. Pride and Lust demons peeling apart the minds of seasoned soldiers with nothing more than a single glance. Her fellow recruit being felled while standing right beside—
No. This was not the time to dwell on that. Erika shook her head and tightened her grip on her blade, making her way toward the next of many unassuming arched doors.
Bang bang bang
The hilt of her sword made slight dents in the wood.
Silence. Erika let out a sigh of relief; the most dangerous demons lacked the self-control to stay quiet. She turned the door handle, then shoved it open with her hip to reveal a staircase down into the inky abyss.
Erika froze. A basement? No, no—this room was supposed to be safe. She was supposed to briefly check it out, see nothing of interest, and then move on. She most certainly was not supposed to find an entirely separate floor, one that could be host to any number of horrors. There could be scores of Wrath demons laying in wait; foul magics and traps hidden from her sight. Her own tomb.
The room darkened and became fuzzy as panic gripped Erika and wrung the breath out of her. She stumbled into the wall and clumsily slid down it into a seated position. Nausea blossomed in her gut. Sweat poured down her forehead and into her eyes. She was dead, doomed, cursed, forsaken—what was that?
Despite her faltering vision, Erika caught sight of something odd on the floor beside her: A plush rabbit, well-worn with little buttons for eyes. It was so entirely out of place that her bafflement distracted from her panic, shocking her back to her wits. She reached out to pick it up with an unsteady gloved hand. Sure enough, it was just a plush toy. No tricks, no illusions. And as Erika’s eyes adjusted to the darkness of the stairwell, she realized it wasn’t the only one. A big plush sheep lay a few steps down, resting on a lacy (if slightly crumpled) pillow. Furrowing her brow, Erika shared one last look with the toy rabbit before putting it in her satchel and getting back up to her feet.
What was going on here? Did these belong to the fortress’ former inhabitants? Had they been snatched up by Greed demons from the surrounding villages? Was the basement full of kidnapped children?
Urged on by the grim thought of captives, Erika steeled herself and began descending the staircase. Murmuring a quick prayer to stoke the heavenly flames of her sword, she stepped over a blanket draped atop the last few steps and pressed her ear against the basement door to listen.
For a moment, there was nothing. And then…a pitter-patter similar to a light rain. The rustling of fabric. Deep, slow breaths. There was definitely something beyond, but the distinct lack of urgency in the sound of its movements suggested it wasn’t aware of the paladin’s presence. The fear lurked at the edge of Erika’s conscious mind, but she’d regained enough control to push it away for the time being. There could be people in danger, and it was her job to save them. She wiped some of the sweat off of her face, made sure her dirty blonde hair was tightly secured in a bun, then entered with the confidence of a true paladin.
“Who’s there? Show yourself!” She declared mightily, sword and shield held at the ready in case of any attackers.
There were no attackers, though, and no hostages either. In fact, the light of her sword revealed only a single room, the majority of which was taken up by a massive, round bed covered in plushies, blankets, and pillows. In the middle of the pile, a demon stirred.
Her form was more humanoid than most, only slightly taller than an average human with smooth, pale lilac skin. Two tiny horns barely poked out of her forehead, and a spade-tipped tail was curled around one of her bare legs. She wore only a thin nightgown.
“Who’reyu?” She grumbled, her bright yellow cat-like eyes blinking lazily.
Erika felt too confused to be scared, and too determined to let confusion stop her. “I am Erika Viel, paladin of the Eternal Godhead.”
“Oh.” The demon’s eyes widened in realization. “Oh. Is that what all the noise was about earlier?” Her voice was a slow, meandering drawl.
Erika didn’t bother answering. Engaging demons on their own terms was never a good idea. “Identify yourself, fiend.”
The demon made her way up to a sitting position, the act seeming to take her as much energy as Erika had used to battle an entire horde of her kin. A few strands of wavy dark hair fell over her face. “Nara, demon of Sloth.”
Erika frowned. Sloth demons were quite rare, and consequently had been brushed over in her education. She couldn’t quite remember what they were capable of. “I see. You’re…not attacking me?”
“Nah.” Nara yawned, revealing a pair of sharp fangs. Erika unconsciously mimicked her a moment later. “A single paladin making it this far into the fort means we’ve probably already lost it.”
Surprised at the demon’s smart read of the situation, Erika blinked slowly. “Right.”
“Besides, fighting is tiring. You of all people would know—no offense, but you look exhausted.”
In truth, Erika could feel her energy reserves dwindling. She simply hadn’t noticed it until now, distracted as she’d been by her body’s heightened state of alertness. Rest would come soon enough, though. Until then, she had to see to her duties. Her shield hand reached for a pair of enchanted silver manacles at her waist, her eyes never leaving Nara’s. The demon hissed softly when she saw the implements, but didn’t move.
“Up against the wall,” Erika instructed.
Nara sighed. “Do we have to? Silver hurts.”
“Yes, we have to.” An actual conversation with a demon that didn’t involve screeching or cursing was new to Erika, but she still wasn’t about to give up any ground. Demons of Pride and Lust could also speak calmly and rationally, but that didn’t make engaging with them a good idea.
“Can’t you just wait until your paladin friends show up? Then you can escort me together, no silver needed.” Nara flashed a little smile. “Besides, that way you can take a load off in the meantime.”
That…wasn’t such a bad idea, actually. Someone was bound to check on Erika soon, and she’d have a much easier time managing the demon with help. And sitting down did sound like absolute bliss to her strained, aching limbs. Could she? Would it be stupid to do that? Maybe not. If Nara really was dangerous, she would have somehow participated in the earlier battles. Right?
Ultimately, Erika’s legs decided for her. They didn’t give out all at once—slight quivering became trembling became quaking so hard she had no choice but to sink down to her knees.
She sucked in a breath and glared at Nara, trying to maintain her dignity. “Fine. Five minutes.”
The demon nodded sagely.
Both of them were quiet for a moment as they readjusted: Erika scooted backward until she could rest against the wall, then tucked her knees to her chest as best as she could in full plate. Meanwhile, Nara flipped over to lay on her stomach, watching the paladin with her hands holding up her chin.
“Hard battle?” Nara mumbled sympathetically.
“…My first.” Erika leaned her head back. “Other than a few skirmishes, anyway.” Distantly, she felt somewhat surprised at how open she was being.
Nara winced. “I’m sorry to hear it. My kind can be pretty nasty up close.” She gestured to the whole room. “There’s a reason why I moved all the way down here, after all. Wrath demons screaming all day, Greeds stealing all of my things…only slept eight hours a day for weeks. Absolutely miserable.”
“Mm.” It did sound miserable to Erika. Her eyes fluttered, taking brief breaks so she could remain extra vigilant while they were open.
Nara tilted her head to one side. “Are you sure you’re comfortable in that armor?”
The second the words left her soft lavender lips, Erika realized she wasn’t. Metal plates dug into her skin at odd angles, while the leather straps holding them together were much too tight. It was just unpleasant enough to keep her from fully relaxing. Temporarily, of course. To get her strength back.
“Nnoo…” she slurred, “but I have to…keep it on. Stay safe. Demons.”
Nara hummed, deep in thought. “Ah. I see. Didn’t you say you beat the demons, though?” She grabbed a pillow—one that looked so soft—and held it to her chest.
“Mhm.” Erika decided it was okay to close her eyes so long as she stayed vigilant with her ears. It felt incredible to finally let them rest after so many hours spent straining to see in murky rooms. Wait a second…Erika frowned.
Nara had just made a really good point.
“So… don’t need to wear armor anymore?”
The demon’s quiet voice soothed her ears. “I don’t know. You’re the paladin; you tell me.”
Erika wanted quite badly to take off her armor, which presumably meant it was a good idea. She nodded. “Yeah. Don’t need it.”
But after only a few seconds of pawing at her full plate, Erika realized her problems weren’t yet over. “I, um, I need help.”
If the demon was helping her undress, then she wouldn’t be able to do any trickery. Erika was still doing her job. Best to be cautious, though—she cracked one eye open just a sliver to see how Nara reacted.
She beckoned the paladin closer. “Sure. C’mere.”
Erika’s attempt to stand lasted less than a second before being entirely abandoned. She crawled on her hands and knees to the awaiting demon instead. For whatever reason, Nara looking down at her with her warm, sleepy expression tied Erika’s stomach up in knots. Nice, warm knots. She moaned softly.
“Are you okay?” Nara squinted at her.
“Oh, oops.” The demon glanced away sheepishly. “Sorry, I…do that. To people. Can’t control it. Like an aura, I guess.”
“Yr really pretty,” Erika opined, resting her face against the corner of the bed.
Nara giggled. “Thanks. You too.” Retracting her claws, she reached down and started undoing the straps on Erika’s armor. “Good thing you needed the sleep anyway, hm?”
“I caaaaaan’t,” Erika groaned, her toned body almost entirely limp. Every piece of armor removed meant a bit more comfort, and yet residual terror clung tightly to her heart and kept her mind from fully calming down.
“We’ll see about that,” Nara grunted as she pulled off Erika’s boots. “Sleep is my domain.”
In a heroic feat of strength, the two of them managed to pull Erika onto the fantastically soft and amazingly wide bed. She squirmed in delight, relishing the feeling of the warm sheets against her skin. Nara slipped a pillow underneath her head, then collected several plush animals to offer her.
“Duck, cow, or dog?”
Without moving her torso, Erika reached over the edge of the bed into her discarded satchel and retrieved the rabbit.
Nara gasped in delight. “You found him!”
Erika could only manage a grunt in response.
“Maybe you paladins really are heroes after all…” A warm hand brushed against Erika’s shoulder. “Spoon or no spoon?”
As per her request, a warm body cuddled up to her. One of the demon’s arms idly flopped over top of her, completing the embrace. “Sleep well, paladin.”
Erika let out a tiny mewl. The room became quiet once more.
And while the anxiety and fear didn’t disappear, Nara’s presence seemed to keep them at bay. It was as if the demon had gently but insistently taken those feelings and put them away to be dealt with once morning came. It was sleeping time, Erika imagined Nara telling the fears, not worrying time. The image was oddly comforting. Erika took in a deep, slow breath for the first time that day, and drifted into sle—
The sound of splintering wood shattered the peace as a metal boot kicked the door open. A half dozen paladins stormed into the bedroom, swords drawn. “We found her!”
“Damnit,” Erika muttered under her breath.
Nara’s new bed was rectangular.
It was not a good shape for a bed. Compared to a circle, there were fewer ways to get in and out of it, fewer ways to lie on top of it, and far fewer ways to share it with others—especially multiple people at once.
But regardless of its flaws, being in the bed was still infinitely preferable to leaving it.
“Up, up, up!” Cardinal Lena strode into the room, her bright and chipper voice like screeching metal to the demon. “Good morning, Miss Nara!”
“Go ‘way,” Nara grumbled, burying her face under a stack of pillows.
The clergywoman approached the bed and started tossing aside the pillows and blankets Nara was encased in. “Busy day today! We've got a new class of acolytes coming in.”
Nara ignored her, hoping she would give up and leave. Unfortunately, this strategy never worked and probably never would. When the last blanket was pulled away and she was exposed to the harsh elements of her moderately cool room, Nara had no choice but to admit defeat.
Things could be much worse, she supposed. Following her capture, she’d been kept in a barren dungeon cell and repeatedly interrogated—no sleep, no bed, none of her knitted animals. Nara had been inconsolable, cowering in the corner and hissing at anyone who came near.
After days of this, though, news of her capture had finally reached someone who knew anything about Sloth demons. Cardinal Lena had been the first to advocate on Nara’s behalf, explaining to skeptical paladins time and time again how yes, Sloth demons did make people tired but no, they did not corrupt souls or eat people while they slept.
“Arms up,” the Cardinal ordered. Nara limply obeyed, and was lifted up onto her feet by the armpits before having a pale blue sundress shoved over her head. The fabric briefly caught on one of her horns, much to Lena’s annoyance. “Tsk tsk. Wrist, please.”
Nara rolled her eyes and held out a hand. The Cardinal snapped on a leather bracelet, one that concealed a small band of silver—just enough to dampen the demon’s soporific aura and make her slightly uncomfortable.
“That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now come on, I’ll not be late.”
Lena exited with the same boundless energy she’d come in with, like a cheery tornado sweeping through the room. Nara followed grudgingly, squinting in the morning sun the second she left her quiet sanctuary and its dim orange glow. She dragged her feet as she ascended the spiral staircase, going from the basement to the main floor of the Academy of the Eternal Godhead.
“Excuse me,” muttered a passing student, who did a triple take upon realizing the girl he’d brushed against was a demon.
A quick right and Nara was in Lena’s classroom, making a beeline to the room’s most comfortable chair—the one located behind and to the right of the podium where the Cardinal stood, which Nara suspected was not a coincidence. She curled up and tried to ignore the stream of students coming in after her.
“Come in, come in!” Lena chirped, gesticulating excitedly. “Welcome to Introduction to Demonology!”
While the Cardinal had refused to imprison Nara any longer, several other stuffy old paladins had worried she knew too much. Her current situation was the compromise they’d arrived at: Nara would be Lena’s responsibility, answer any questions she had about demons, and in exchange would be given a comfortable room and the return of her possessions.
It was an alright deal, Nara supposed, as she immediately tuned out Lena’s lecture. The only real downside had been the loneliness—obnoxious as her own kind could be, she’d still had a few close friends and had felt as though she fit in among them. Here, though, she had no such luxury. She was viewed as a novelty at best and a threat at worst.
The day passed normally, with Nara dozing fitfully through Lena’s classes and occasionally being roused to explain something or answer some dumb human question. A vague sense of longing nipped at her heels and slipped bitter thoughts inside her head. Even Lena noticed the demon wasn’t her usual self. After wrapping up for the day, the clergywoman walked Nara back to her room and watched her glum expression closely.
“Are you alright?”
Nara shrugged and went to her bed, grabbing her plush rabbit.
“Well,” Lena declared with the certainty of a lifelong preacher. “That settles that.” She marched out of the room, clearly on a mission.
The mission’s nature revealed itself soon after, when a knuckle rapped against her door.
“Hello?” A nervous, familiar voice called out.
Nara’s tail swished a wide arc in excitement. “Enter.”
The door creaked open and Erika entered, taking small, tentative steps.
“Good evening, Miss Erika Viel, paladin of the Eternal Godhead.” Nara’s coy smirk didn’t last, quickly becoming one of genuine delight.
“Nara, Sloth demon.” A sad smile played out across Erika’s face. “I wanted to apologize.”
Erika looked down at her feet, struggling to find the right words before giving up and simply unleashing a deluge of them. “Getting you captured, I guess? How you were treated? Not seeing you until now? I mean, I just wasn’t sure if you wanted to see me or not, and thought you might want some space, and…well, that’s it.”
Nara scratched her head. “I was going to be captured regardless. You made the experience much more pleasant. Why would I be mad?” Humans, she’d noticed, had a tendency to overthink things.
Erika’s cheeks flushed bright pink, contrasting nicely with her braided blonde hair. Much like on the first day they’d met, there were dark circles under her eyes and she seemed to be shrinking into her garb—armor then, a tunic and trousers now.
“Oh,” said the skittish little thing. “I’m glad. I…I wasn’t going to ask, but the Cardinal said…um. I was wondering if you could help me, actually?”
Nara quirked an eyebrow. “Oh? With what?”
“I’ve been having nightmares.” Erika shifted nervously. “Of that day. But I don’t want to seem like I only value you for…uh…this. Thing.”
Nara strode forward, grabbing Erika’s hands in her own. “It,” she whispered, “is a service happily rendered.” She plucked the dampening bracelet from her wrist and threw it into the corner.
The paladin’s scent, the way her breaths had slowed and became even, the little noises she’d made on her way toward slumber…all of it had been ambrosia for Nara. Sleep was her domain, and people like Erika were exactly who she wanted within it.
And so she pulled the paladin excitedly toward her poorly-shaped bed, setting up sleeping arrangements for two.
“Disrobe,” she ordered offhandedly before turning back to arrange her pillows.
“Skin-to-skin touch is soothing. Quite relaxing,” she explained matter-of-factly, pulling her own clothing off head to reveal her lithe nude form.
But when Erika went absolutely silent behind her, Nara turned and saw she was anything but relaxed. Her face was a bright crimson, her eyes kept failing to avoid looking at the demon, and her hands clenched and unclenched awkwardly.
“…is something wrong?”
“No!” Erika blurted out. “Nothing wrong, no. You’re…I…everything is not wrong.”
Nara eyed her curiously for a moment, then realized what was going on. “Oh! You are aroused, yes?” No wonder she seemed so out of sorts—she must have been worried her arousal would interfere with her sleep. “Don’t worry. We can take care of that; then you’ll be very relaxed. Trust me.”
Erika’s mouth opened wide and flapped uselessly for a moment before she closed it, adopted an air of overjoyed acceptance, and started tearing off her clothing as fast as she could. Nara watched long enough to get a good mental image of her large, pert breasts and muscular thighs before returning to her bed setup. In addition, she took a few deep breaths and emptied her mind to help amplify her natural aura—she got the feeling Erika would be a little overexcited even after they handled her arousal.
Erika complied, sitting up perfectly straight with her legs crossed. Nara slipped behind the tense woman, then traced a single finger up her spine to watch the shiver that followed. She grinned and leaned forward to whisper in her ear: “Couldn’t keep away, hm? I’m not surprised. With me, I’ve noticed your fears cannot hold a candle to your desires. Out there, you can play warrior. But in here? There are no hard deeds, no dark thoughts. Just me and my sweet, sleepy girl.”
She started rubbing Erika’s shoulders, warming and stroking the skin before digging into her tense, knotted muscles. Only when Erika went fractionally more limp would Nara relent, shifting her hands first to her lower back and then around to her breasts.
“I—nngh, fuck!—dreamed of this,” Erika moaned, her breath catching every time Nara rolled one of her plump pink nipples between her finger and thumb.
“I know.” Once both of the blonde’s nipples were standing at attention and she was too caught up in lust to keep from squirming, Nara allowed one hand to trail slowly down the paladin’s tight stomach toward her sex.
Erika gasped. “You can read dreams?”
“Dreams? No.” Nara cupped her mound, savoring how it made her press back into the demon. “You? Yes. Very easily.”
And then she allowed a single finger to circle Erika’s clit, prompting louder, deeper, and far less contained moans. Nara’s other arm wrapped around Erika’s chest, holding the paladin close as she bucked her hips with pleasure and lolled her head back onto the demon’s shoulder.
“Ohhh fuck, you’re not even a demon of lust how in the—aah!”
“No more talking,” Nara growled, nipping Erika’s neck. She gasped the moment she felt fangs graze against the sensitive skin, a full-body shiver wringing out the tension lingering in her muscles. Nara added a few more bites for good measure.
The battle between exhaustion and lust played out across Erika’s body, with her thrusts gradually decelerating into tremors and twitches. Her pleasure hadn’t decreased—as indicated by her light drooling and rolled-back eyes—but Nara had plucked away the energy necessary for any larger movements or sounds. The demon allowed herself to fall backward, bringing her sleepy toy with her. Any objections Erika may have had to the sudden fall were quickly forgotten when another finger was added to her clit.
With her eyes hooded and her breaths sporadic, Erika finally surrendered herself to the sensation. The only indication of her orgasm was a low, nearly inaudible moan and a clenching of her thighs.
But sweetest of all was her little shocked whimper once she realized Nara had no intention of stopping.
“Mine,” Nara hissed into the human’s ear. “My sweet thing to keep safe from the world. All mine.”
After the second climax, Erika was a rag doll who just so happened to whimper and mewl. After the third, she was nothing more than soft clay in the hands of an expert sculptor. The only movements she made were tiny involuntary spasms and the gentle rise and fall of her stomach with breath.
Satisfied with her work, Nara pulled her hand away from Erika’s sex and kissed the crown of her head. Feeling her own sleepiness catching up with her—she’d had a long day, after all—the demon set about fussing over the human much as she had that night so many weeks ago. She was curled onto her side, surrounded by pillows, and had a plush rabbit pressed into her slack arms.
When the demon pressed herself against Erika as the big spoon, she was pleased to find not a single inkling of tension in her body. Nara was a true daughter of Sloth, and she was damn good at what she did.
With a snap of her fingers, the room went dark—an enchantment she’d rigidly insisted upon when she moved in. The room fell into total silence. All was peaceful.
“No nightmares?” Erika whispered, a trace of anxiety audible in her voice.
“Not while I’m here,” Nara reassured her.
That night, they both slept long and well.