Demon Queened Ch. 13.5

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Ordinarily, visits with a General – or anyone important, really – should be handled with a level of decorum. I wouldn’t call myself an expert on etiquette or anything, but I did get the basics drilled into me when I first started working as a maid. Enough to know that I shouldn’t be laying facedown on the couch I’d found in General Yara’s waiting room. The maid who’d greeted me had already left to alert the General, and I doubted she’d be happy to see me sprawled out on her fancy furniture. So I should probably sit up, right?

…Nope. Not gonna happen. I was too exhausted to even try.

“Told Maid she would get tired.”

“Come over here so I can glare at you,” I grumbled.

Bailey obediently walked around the couch, circumventing a low wooden table before stopping in front of me. She wasn’t wearing Devilla’s clothes, as I’d originally intended, but instead a spare maid uniform I’d borrowed from a werewolf coworker. For some reason she’d refused to cover herself with Devilla’s scent, saying that I should wear them and give her my own clothes instead. I was a little curious why she was fine with me smelling like Devilla, but it wasn’t worth asking her about. Figuring out Bailey’s logic was like pulling teeth. It was probably for the best, in any case, since her current clothes came with a pre-made hole for her tail.

With her arms crossed in front of her chest and a stern look on her face, the uniform made Bailey seem like a put-upon servant, dissatisfied with her mistress’s behavior.

“Told Maid she should let me carry her.”

“And I told you that getting carried would be way too embarrassing,” I retorted, scowling. “There are already enough rumors about how weak I am; some people are even saying I have human blood in me!” Serving Devilla directly made me a popular topic of gossip. The majority of it was harmless, if irritating, coming from people who pitied me for being ‘forced’ into the job, but some of the rumors I’d heard were meant to hurt. Leaping to Devilla’s defense really wasn’t doing any favors for my reputation, it seemed. Not that I was going to stop.

People talking behind my back wasn’t exactly new, anyway – I only started working as a maid in the first place because my coworkers wouldn’t stop claiming that Mom was funneling all our best clients my way. I did wish that I could talk to someone about it, though. My friends didn’t understand why I wouldn’t just quit, and Devilla herself was out of the question. She’d just blame herself, and then I’d end up giving her a pep talk instead. Then she’d probably start calling herself a terrible friend for making me cheer her up when I had my own problems, and… Ugh. I planned on putting off that particular headache for as long as possible.

“Better to hint weakness than show it. Maid would be less tired if she listened.”

“Look, we’re already here, alright? There’s no point bickering about it now.” Maybe I was being too stubborn for my own good, but I still wasn’t going to cave. If I did, Bailey would insist on carrying me the whole way back. “How the hell did you get so fit, anyway? You were skin and bones when Devilla brought you home, and now you’re fine and dandy after walking down ninety-one floors!?”

“Horned wolves strong. Will get stronger. Will protect Maid for Queen!” Bailey puffed her chest out in pride and wagged her black, bushy tail behind her.

“I can protect myself!” I snapped, causing Bailey’s tail to stop midswing, falling limply behind her. I felt bad for a moment, even thinking that I might have gone too far, but that remorse went out the window pretty quick once Bailey treated me to a harsh stare, filled with fierce determination.

“Maid not strong enough,” she declared flatly. “I protect, or Queen upset.”

“Wait… Did Devilla order you to guard me? Is that why you’re being so stubborn?” Why the hell would Devilla give her an order like that!? If anything, she should have told Bailey to stay in her room, and not cause trouble!

But Bailey shook her head. “Not need order. Know what important on own.”

I narrowed my eyes at the wolf, finally forcing myself upright and giving her the dirtiest look I could manage. “How the hell is protecting me against nonexistent threats important?”

Utterly unfazed by my frustration, Bailey pointed a finger at herself. “I serve Queen.” Then she pointed at me. “Maid most important person to Queen. Not need order to protect.” She spoke as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, but all I could do was gawk at her.

I was the most important person to Devilla? That wasn’t… I mean… Okay, maybe it was maybe sortof true, depending on how Bailey meant it. Bailey looked at Devilla as a leader, while Lenora was still struggling to see past her status as Queen, so our bond was probably the closest thing she had to a traditional friendship. It was only a matter of time before she made more friends though. Soon enough, I’d just be one of many.

…Why did that thought sting so much?

I wanted to question Bailey further, but the door to General Yara’s office escort opened before I got the chance. I tried not to let my face show how irritated I was by the untimely interruption, reminding myself that I was representing the Queen herself. Instead, I studied the incoming maid. It wasn’t the same girl who’d gone to fetch the General. That one had been a dryad, while this one… I honestly had no clue. I’d been forced to memorize all the different demon species as part of my schooling, but I couldn’t remember what half of them looked like.

This girl’s top half was humanoid, but her lower half reminded me of a snake’s tail. Her scales, which ran up all the way up her sides and covered her shoulders were dark green, like her eyes. Her hair, which cascaded down to her shoulders in waves, was a deep brown that offset the color nicely. Her tits, which were hidden by a black band with a white frill, were a bit on the small side, enough that I could probably hide them from view with just my hands. That wasn’t particularly relevant, but it did stoke my personal interest.

“Thank you for coming all this way, Lady Abigail, Lady Bailey,” the maid said, prompting me to put my musings aside and focus on her words. “My name is Nivera, and it will be my pleasure to serve you today.” She slithered toward me, carrying a tray with two wooden cups atop it. “General Yara will be ready in just a moment. In deference to your long journey, she asks that you and your friend enjoy these refreshments before joining her.” She placed the platter on the table, directly in front of us.

“You can drop the Lady part, I’m just another maid. And Bailey… well, Bailey is Bailey, I guess.” I kept my tone friendly, but it was an effort not to roll my eyes at her overly polite welcome. You’d think I’d be used to that sort of thing after spending so much time with a literal queen, but it honestly wasn’t the same. Devilla’s way of speaking could come across as formal, sure, but that was just what came naturally to her. I actually asked her to speak casually once, and it was so painfully awkward I begged her to stop after two sentences. Nivera, on the other hand, was putting in way too much effort for my tastes.

“Oh, perish the thought, Lady Abigail! I could not possibly refer to you in such a disrespectful manner! I am, after all, but one of General Yara’s many maids, while you are the personal attendant of our dear Queen! Why, who knows what would happen to me if word of my rudeness reached her ears?”

Her overly dramatic speech might have been more convincing if it wasn’t for the smirk on her face. I still wouldn’t have bought the humble bits, but I might have believed she was sincerely worried about Devilla’s reaction.

“Are you seriously trying to get a rise out of me in your boss’s waiting room? What the hell is your plan here, get me to raise a fuss, and then kick me out? Make me look bad so Devilla fires me?”

Nivera gasped, lifting a hand to her chest. “Why would you make such foul accusations? I’ve treated you with nothing but respect, and yet you speak to me with such cruelty… But then, considering the company you keep, perhaps I should have expected such treatment? They do say that like attracts like, no?”

My hands curled into fists, tight enough that my nails dug into my palms, but I kept my mouth shut. I knew how the public saw Devilla. I’d heard plenty worse, but this… this felt different. More personal. Nivera wasn’t just denouncing our Queen, or me for being so close with her. She was insulting us both at the same time, and using our friendship to do it. I wanted to grab her, shake her, and scream at her for being so damn ignorant and hateful. I wanted to shout, not only at her, but at everyone who despised Devilla – at everyone who failed to realize how hard their Queen was working.

But it wouldn’t do any good. I couldn’t tell anyone what Devilla was really up to, and I couldn’t prove how much she’d changed. If I hadn’t gotten to know Devilla personally, I’d still be insulting her myself. It wouldn’t be fair to curse at Nivera, or to slap her with all my strength, but telling myself that didn’t help me calm down. Was this how Devilla felt when that rabbit girl insulted me? I thought she was overreacting at the time, but maybe I should have complimented her on her restraint.

“Oh, dear me, I do hope I haven’t angered you? The way you’re looking at me – why, a woman of lesser strength might fear for her life, under assault from such gazes!”

I glowered at her, getting more and more aggravated with every word she spoke, but… I made myself let it go with a heavy sigh. Bitchiness aside, Nivera actually did me a favor by reminding me that I wasn’t alone in my anger. If I was mad then Bailey was enraged. I wasn’t certain whether she’d picked up on the nuance of our conversation, or if she was just reacting to my own behavior, but she was literally snarling, showing off her sharp fangs. The way she was standing, bent forward, with her head lowered and her horn pointed straight at Nivera, made her feelings all the clearer. If Devilla hadn’t explicitly forbidden bursa eve gelen escort Bailey from starting fights, our conversation would have already ended in bloodshed.

“I know it’s not the place of a lowly servant such as myself to say this, but don’t you think you’re being rude, keeping General Yara waiting like this?” Nivera arched one of her delicate eyebrows. “I daresay she must be wondering why you haven’t finished your drinks and joined her already.”

“You said she was busy,” I growled, reaching out to rub Bailey’s back. She snarled once more, before slowly straightening herself and raising her head. I could still feel the tension in her muscles through the palm of my hand, but at least she wasn’t being so obvious with her bloodlust.

“I also said she would be ready in a moment,” Nivera reminded me. “Though if you truly wish to finish our conversation, I’m sure the General wouldn’t mind waiting. Not if it’s for the sake of our illustrious Queen’s personal maid.”

I held my tongue and glanced down at the cups. They were filled with some sort of pink liquid. Fruit juice, maybe? General Yara oversaw the agricultural floors, so it would make sense. Nivera’s “service” had preemptively ruined the taste, but it felt like a bad idea to refuse the General’s hospitality right before asking for a favor. Throwing our cups in her maid’s face was off the table, too. I had to content myself with glaring at her as I drank.

The beverage was surprisingly sweet, with just enough sour in it to balance out the flavor. It was probably one of the best things I’d ever tasted, but I came close to spitting it out when I realized just what I was drinking.

“You gave us potions!?”

Nivera placed a hand on her cheek. “Oh my, did I forget to mention that? Well, no harm no foul; they’re only stamina potions, after all. General Yara wanted to ensure you were in tip-top condition for your meeting.”

“So she gave these to us out of the goodness of her heart?” I narrowed my eyes at the maid, folding my arms in front of my chest. “The cheapest potions on the market would cost me a week’s salary.” Well, it would have before Devilla promoted me, anyway.

“You needn’t worry about the price, Lady Abigail. General Yara grew the ingredients herself. You do know how good goblins are at growing things, don’t you?”

“…So you’re saying she gave me something from her personal stock?” My eyes narrowed in suspicion. Thanks to their wild magic, goblins could grow nearly anything so long as they had a seed for it. All they needed was some form of soil and water; even if sunlight was optional, if they used enough magic. But magical plants took a lot more effort and energy to grow than their mundane counterparts. No matter what Nivera claimed, these potions represented a significant investment.

“Is it so hard to believe my mistress is simply being kind? And even if she isn’t, can you afford to refuse her generosity? Trust me when I say you wouldn’t want to meet the General in anything less than peak condition.” She gave my cup a meaningful glance before following it up with another smug grin. The urge to slap her was growing ever stronger, but I stifled the urge and turned toward Bailey instead. For better or worse, she’d already emptied her cup and was licking the liquid from her lips.

“Do you know how to activate a potion?” I could already guess Bailey’s answer, but that didn’t keep me from sighing when I saw her quizzical expression. “That thing you just drank lets you use an extra ability for a little bit. It’s like what Devilla does with your hair, except this one apparently restores your stamina.” I treated Nivera to another suspicious look, but her smirk was as immovable as the tower itself. Still, while I didn’t exactly trust her, I wasn’t too worried about the potion’s effect. If she wanted to hurt us, she wouldn’t bother with a potion; she’d just give us poison. “You should be able to feel something new inside you. It’s hard to explain, but just try and channel your power like you do when you’re using your own abilities – like your horn. It should feel just like that, except… not.”

“A wonderful explanation, Lady Abigail. Though I must say, I didn’t expect Lady Bailey to be so ignorant.” Nivera tapped a finger against her lip. “You know, I’ve heard quite a few rumors about the Queen’s new guard dog, but nobody seems quite certain where she came from.”

“What’s it to you?” I demanded. Devilla’s trip to get salt for the tower wasn’t much of a secret, and it was easy enough to guess that she’d found Bailey during her journey. I had no intention of confirming or denying the truth, though. Especially if this bitch was the one asking.

“Oh, it’s nothing more than idle curiosity on my part, Lady Abigail,” Nivera assured me, bowing her head in false deference. “But I really don’t think you should keep the General waiting any longer.”

I scowled, looking down at my cup. I’d barely taken more than a sip so far, but I could already feel the effect. There was something new inside me, something that didn’t görükle escort belong. It wasn’t exactly uncomfortable, let alone painful, it was just… there. Barely present, but impossible to ignore.

I tilted the cup back and swallowed its remaining contents. The sensation grew stronger the more I drank until it felt almost solid. I took hold of my magic and channeled it through my temporary guest, letting it shape the magic, before circulating it within myself. Slowly but surely, my weariness faded away. My limbs felt light as a feather, and my body was practically vibrating from the energy inside it. I felt like I could run all the way back to the hundred-and-first floor. It was a good feeling, but restoring myself physically had come at a cost – it used up almost all my magic. I wouldn’t be able to cast spells any time soon without risk of depletion, and this time there’d be no Demon Queen to save me from myself. Whatever General Yara was planning, I could only hope that it wouldn’t involve magic.

I got to my feet, putting my cup down with a little more force than needed. Bailey followed my example, cracking her cup in the process. I pretended not to notice.

“We’re finished. Now take me to General Yara.”

“Of course, Lady Abigail. If you and your companion would be so kind as to follow me?” The maid slithered back toward the door without waiting for a response. I got up and followed, with Bailey taking up the rear. Without speaking another word, the three of us left the waiting room behind.


Author’s Notes:

Hope you liked the interlude! I’d like to thank to my editor paradoxicalWitchling and my proofreader FallingLeaf, for all their hard work, and I’d like to thank my readers! Your views, favorites, and comments bring me so much joy!

The remainder of my author’s notes go on for quite a while, so here’s a quick summary for those who don’t want to read through them – the interludes serve a few purposes, and while you don’t have to read them they will definitely impact the plot. Bailey’s behavior/natural instincts are different from a mundane wolf’s, but that’s more or less purposeful. Also, I changed the series synopsis – Literotica never really got the full one to begin with, but I put it below for those curious.

I hope you enjoyed getting some time with Abigail! I’m planning to alternate between her and Devilla until they reunite. Abigail’s activities can mostly be considered a subplot, of sorts. Their main purpose is to give people a look at what’s happening in Devilla’s absence. I’m also hoping she can give you all some valuable insight the inner workings of Dimona Tower. Devilla tends to be a little oblivious when it comes to that sort of thing. She didn’t care at all before recovering her past life memories, and while she’s trying to be a better person she still has no clue how to be an actual leader. It’s arguably better for her to leave it in the hands of people who actually know what they’re doing, so that she can devote time to things only she can handle – like going on adventures befriending Lucy!

Of course, Abigail doesn’t know much about the actual politics of the tower, but she gets at least a little information just by living in a actual city, instead of what’s essentially a palace. (One that’s big enough to be its own city, and which is populated almost solely by commuters who are only there to serve her needs.) It also helps that people are actually happy to talk to Abigail of their own volition.

The interludes also serve another purpose, however – laying the groundwork for Devilla’s future chapters. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Abigail’s interludes will most definitely have consequences beyond her success or failure to get peppermint oil. You can probably get away with skipping them, if you really want to. Abigail will summarize some of what she’s been doing for Devilla’s sake in the main chapters, so it shouldn’t be too confusing. But I do think it’s valuable to have the whole story, so I’m hoping people will find them enjoyable enough to read.

Other than that, my main comment for this chapter is in regards to Bailey. I suspect many of you have noticed that her behavior doesn’t really match that of real world wolves, so I wanted to be upfront and say that I’m not even trying to stick to their natural behavior. Horned Wolves are monsters, at the end of the day, and they aren’t a perfect match for their mundane counterparts.

By the way, I altered the description of the series – Literotica never really got the original to begin with, but what I had before matched my initial intentions for the series, but it’s a poor fit for what I ended up with. The core concept has never changed, but back when I first came up with it I expected more of a traditional harem story. Devilla was meant to win the affection of all the generals, and the Heroine, willingly sleeping with anyone who asked, but completely oblivious to their actual feelings for her. She was going to be super dense in terms of romance, believing herself unloveable, but generally trying not to dwell on things too much. As you can see, things didn’t really go according to plan. I think that’s a good thing, since I very much love the characters I ended up with, and I’m happy with the plot I’ve written, but it definitely doesn’t fit the summary I put up at the start. ^^;

For those who want to read the current synopsis –

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