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"Never Court A Monster" [Pt. 1/?]


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(In which a monster is enthusiastically courted)

This isn't exactly my usual fare, but I've honestly been meaning to post something more self-indulgent and inhuman for a while now, so here we are. It's about Kess, a fetishist human rogue who is helplessly in love-lust-whatever with Vizha (VEE-jiuh but the j is like the french j, or ˈviˈʐä for you IPA nerds), the newest and most monstrous member of her party…who also happens to have terrible allergies to forest flowers. Whoops. Future parts will most likely be going up in the adult board, but I'll toss part one here for now. Hope at least someone enjoys this plunge into my depths of my weird and insatiable horn.


I met a bard, once, some cramped inn too far off the kingroads to have a name. Sheathed steel, raucous laughter, tallowsmoke. I was half-leaned over the stolid oak barslab, slouchy, pensive, empty-mugged, waiting on another round of bitters. Another of those nights, where the world's all buzzing but you don't join in, you just reverberate... 'till I felt some fingers spider up my shoulder, turned around, frowned, again, and there he was on the wrong side of the tapping, tall, all flaxen scruff and smirk. We got to talking, laughing, fucking—but I remember more of what he said than how it felt.


"Three rules for courtship, if you ask me." His voice didn't fight against the din, it carried over it, as his upraised fingers wiggled in agreement. "Just the three." And after that is mostly a blur, a late-night forest walk and eager groping under sackcloth sheets. His name, I think, was Milo. Mathios? Matthias. Or all three and more, I'd bet, written in a different diaries, scratched into different trees, murmured wistfully in different memories.


A twig cracks under my boot, and I glance back around the here-and-now. The other three are all looking some part of forward, scattered shoulder-to-shoulder in rough marching order. There's Bares at the front left, axe dragging a clumpy furrow in the rich forest earth, Hakan down and to the right, fingers tapping aimlessly against his staff, me, Kess, at his flank, and then...


Rule one. Never court within the party.


We found her underground, in a bandit burrow. Caged, chained, gagged. Once we'd torn the place apart, we let her free, helped her to the surface, and usually that would be the end of it. No tearful thank-yous, no heartfelt goodbyes—the reward for saving a prisoner is that glimmer in their eyes, that quiet unbreaking. We gave her food, clothes, rations, set her towards the nearest city...and she just stood there, eying us. Lost, defiant, both—we couldn't tell, but when we stepped away, she followed.


Two. Never court without their name.


Vizha,or sometimes just Vee. It's not her name, not really, but whatever language she speaks is far enough away from the Common Tongue that Hakan's made a research project of translating it. Comprehend Speech is a complex spell, he says, and tricky to find a scribing of outside a trade hub. Expensive, too, because they know most of the time you don't really have a choice. So for now, Vizha is Vizha, because when we each pointed at ourselves and said our names, that's what came out, in her strange two-tone voice, a buzzing rumble beneath a bright-pealed bell. That was the first time she smiled, too, teeth parting to show more teeth. And more teeth, and more teeth...


And three, most importantly. Never court a monster.


Sorry, Matthias. Sorry, Pa. Sorry, Heaven.


She's not an actual monster, obviously. Probably. Then again, none of us are too sure either way. Hakan's betting some kind of half-breed—demonspawn, maybe, with some exotic mortal parent—but those tend to be only just a bit inhuman; a horn here, a barbed tail there. Vizha's got the skin to pass for one, the smooth, faded ochre of the Southern Ridge, not to mention the figure—taut and slender all the way down, 'till you hit the luscious flare of her hips. Look past that, though, and she's an alien spectacle from nearly every angle: thick curved horns above her the jagged russet fringe of her hair, slender knifepoint ears, volcanic, deep-burning orange eyes. Squarish scale-patches dot her arms and legs, the color of burnt clay, and short, thick claws crest from each fingertip, tinted the same. She could be half-dragon too, almost, if it weren't for those teeth: concentric rings of incisor and canine, all gleaming and predatory, the outermost growing outside her mouth, like an orc's protruding tusks but facing inward, all the way around. Then she has a normal set, I know, just like ours but sharper and meaner, and then one more ring near the start of her throat that I've only noticed once, dimly by torchlight, with her claws buried in my thighs and her mouth open oh-so-wide...


Oh, and a forked tongue, too. Long. Very dexterous. My impending damnation aside, I am a lucky, lucky girl.


The path twists, and I use the readjustment to move a little closer to Vee, our shoulders almost brushing. She notices, glancing up as she walks—she's a few inches shorter, which I've always found a little jarring, or attractive, or both. You don't expect the seductive fire-eyed nightmare to be the one looking up.


"Kanyaat...iud zdom-ra,” I half-whisper, smiling conspiratorially. Walking, with my love. She's tried her best to teach me scraps of the language, pointing at objects or miming out actions, but the most I can do is bash together phrases from the forty-odd words I've got written on the parchment folded in my coat and hope it's not too wrong. There's a script, too, which I have even less of a head for, all points and crosses and sharp corners. That's Hakan's puzzle, or would be, if he'd ever quit his sulking about his 'research project' caring more for yours truly than being his dictionary.


Vizha looks at me oddly, eyes catching the shards of sunlight filtered through the leaves. For a moment I'm worried I've slighted her somehow, garbled the words to insult something dear—but then she laughs, reverberant, sparkling, and shakes her head.

"Iud kanyaat zya-drom-ra," she enunciates, vowels buzzing in their otherworldly way. I nod, sheepishness plain on my face, which only makes her giggle again. "Kiuzz-nhi rho kanyaat dhiisaq-vo."


I mull it over. Kiuzz is my name—she seems to have trouble with her E's—but the rest past that isn't anything I've heard, so I figure it isn't for my benefit anyway. Shrugging, I try again:

"...Iud, kanyaat...zya-drom-ra."


Vee nods, apparently approving. Her tongue flicks out to caress her outer fangs, jabbing briefly in my direction, before it disappears back inside its bony prison. It's a gesture I've seen her make before, one she's tried and failed to explain across twenty-odd minutes of exasperated back-and-forth. The most I've got is that it's a sort of endearment, which is very much enough for me.


"What's she laughing at?" Bares' gruff tenor sounds from up in front, eyes still fixed on the path ahead. "You telling jokes, Kess?"


"I tried one about you, but I think I butchered it—they've got a word for 'ogre', but not 'malodorous ogre," I say cheerfully. Bares huffs some air out through his nose in what I know is the spectre of a laugh.


"Aye? What about 'mouthy tart?'"


I snort, and Vizha looks on with interest. "Wouldn't know."'


"Don't forget 'unwashed urchin', Hakan says, with a rare sliver of a grin. "Or 'vulgar villain', 'lustful lout'—"


"Wretched wizard," I cut him off, glaring through my smile. "Hideous Hakan."


"No, no. Say it like a proper mage. All full of himself. Hakan the Hideous," Bares chimes in. I nod emphatically.


The three of us pass the next while-and-a-half that way, same as we've always done: idly trading increasingly-colorful barbs 'till we're laughing before we get the words out, trying to keep pace in between bouts of stifled mirth. Vizha watches us from a bit behind my shoulder, quiet and bemused, but I'm so caught up in the hail of gleeful insults that I hardly pay her mind—




The sound splits the forest air, close enough to make me jump and loud enough I swear I hear the whisper of an echo. My next jibe dies waiting on my lips, and Bares, Hakan and I turn to face Vizha in joint disbelief.


"Did she just..." Bares' brow is furrowed.


"Was that..." Hakan sounds inquisitive.


Vizha stares back at them, eyes narrowed in what I figure is annoyance—until her sharp, well-defined nose creases up, her nostrils flare to pointed ovals, trembling, and her furnace-bright eyes flutter, then lid, leaving no room for argument.




Oh, Hell.


The sneeze whipcracks Vee's body forward as a foot-long puff of scarlet fire bursts from her mouth and nose. I'm close enough that I can feel the heat against my cheeks—but the flames vanish in an instant, and I'm left with no excuse for the slowly-rising flush of warmth that follows.

"Didn't know she could do that." Bares sounds mildly impressed. I'm not sure if he's talking about the fire or the sneezing and am in no state to ask. Vizha sniffs loudly, one claw scratching above her nostrils as they leak thin plumes of coppery smoke, and I do my best to stare without making it blindingly obvious.


"So she's a spirignate after all! I had suspicions, obviously, but you can't ask for better proof than that." Hakan says triumphantly. At Bares' blank stare and my rolled eyes, he huffs, jabbing his staff down into forest earth. "A fire-breather. Though if you're a proper pedant, you'll subdivide them into magospirignates and pharyngospirignates: creatures who create jets of flame inside their mouths with magic, and those with some quirk of anatomy that lets them ignite their own breath. The former category is has your chimeras, demons, and hellhounds, while the latter includes dragons, salamanders, and, I'd bet a sack of kingscoin, our Vizha." He gives her a nods, carefully eying her still faintly-smoking nares. "Bless you, by the way." She sniffs again.


Bares' frown deepens. "You think she's not half-hellspawn, then? How do you know?"


"They prefer the term tiefling, Bares," Hakan tuts. "And her actual ancestry is still anyone's guess; all this proves is that she's physiologically closer to something draconic than a denizen of the Abyss. I know that, of course, because even though both subtypes breath fire, pharyngospirignates are the only ones—"




"...who do it involuntarily," finishes Hakan, looking put out. His brows arch as his eyes find the scorch marks on a nearby tree trunk. "Hope she's not coming down with something. I'd spare a handkerchief, but..."


"She seems hardy enough," Bares replies, with an unhurried shrug. "Either way. Sunset soon, and we haven't found a campsite. We should move." He turns and starts back down the path, leaving the three of us to follow. Vee falls back in step behind my shoulder, her fangs not enough to hide her dour expression.


“Zho vak-mhig-na gan zidaat," she mutters, rubbing her fingers in an insistent back-and-forth from the wider edge of her nostril to the septum. "Jhiinva gaat nzyd bya-vhok-nahh-hhh..." Her breath wavers, hitching and unsteady, and the digits by her nose shift from rubbing, to pinching, to falling away as she gives up and gives in. Her mouth falls open wide, teeth on full display, every vicious row glittering in the dying sunlight. "hhHHH..." She grimaces, one hand gripping my shoulder for support, claws digging through my leathers, as her chest heaves with another vocal, needy hitch...


"HHAAH-SHUOOOH! Bohdzhat!'" I don't know the word, but the way Vizha says it gives me a solid guess. "Kiuzz-vo...nahqyo." She sniffles thickly, carefully pulling her hand away, and looks at me with what I swear is an apologetic smile. "Nahqyo." I stare at her, swallowing, and very nearly lick my lips.


"It's all right, kanyaat. Don't you fret." But so help me, the moment we're alone...


Vizha nods absently, oblivious to the thoughts coursing through my head and the heavy throb below my stomach, and walks on…only to slow, seconds later, as her slender frame recoils with another huge, gasping "hhHHYAAH-KSHOOO!!" The flash of scarlet throws her face into relief, and I get the briefest, tantalizing flash of her eyes squeezed shut, fangs bared, her nose crinkled and nostrils wide with urgent, helpless need...


"hhhHIHH—!! hhHAAHH-CHSHHOOO!! Uhn..."


This, I'm fairly certain, is going to be the longest sunset the world has ever known.

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(@bben9) courting is kind of like dating but a bit different-ths is actually a pretty good story by the way

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hi this is REALLY really good!! you’re an amazing writer!!! i love your other writing as well. i’ve sort of been just lurking on here for a while but i wanted to let you know that i think your writing is fantastic and i’d read books and books and books of it, sneeze related or not <333

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6 hours ago, Durlog said:

hi this is REALLY really good!! you’re an amazing writer!!! i love your other writing as well. i’ve sort of been just lurking on here for a while but i wanted to let you know that i think your writing is fantastic and i’d read books and books and books of it, sneeze related or not <333

Aaaaah thank you so much! It really means a lot to hear that people enjoy the things I write style-wise as well as content-wise; it gives me so much motivation to keep posting. I really do appreciate it!

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