Summary: A continuation of Sacrifice; Sometimes a war takes place within the ranks. Demon!US; AU
Once again he found himself pushed onto a dirty floor, his face scratching against the grain of wood as he was violated. Arthur bit back a cry as monstrous hands with clawed, angular fingers scratched at his flesh, his skin crawling as it always did during these disgusting sessions.
It had been three months since he had, in his desperation, summoned this demon from the pits of the earth. He had wanted a weapon to fight in the war – the one that, even now, waged just outside the doors of the broken cabin. The machines destroyed their homeland, slowly, inch by inch, burning the land and harvesting their people for sick experiments.
“Ahh – fuh! Watch what you’re scratching… you… ugh, beast.” A wet tongue trailed between his shoulders, and it felt as if poison and been rubbed against his skin. “Filth.”
There was a smile pressed into his shoulder. “You complain too much, mage.” The cock inside him thrust deeper as if to remind him of his position, to remind him of the dignity he no longer had. The demon above him hummed, a sinister noise in the back of his throat. “You’re not healing yourself. I wonder why that is?”
Arthur said nothing, his eyes focusing on the overturned table before him. He breathed in through his nose and let it go through his mouth as the demon said, “I guess I’m not being rough enough.” Arthur tried not to make a sound, reaching out with invisible arms for the magic in the air around him and pulled it to him, begging for it to heal and take away the pain as the demon cut and abused him. And when the demon was finished, he left Arthur to lie on the ground, wallowing in his self-pity and hatred for the demon spawn.
But he needed him. It was a destructive need, and he was bound to this demon by contract – the price: his body. It wasn’t until several minutes later when Arthur could shakily pick himself up, steeling his expression and got dressed. At times he liked to think that this bond of theirs was parasitic, that the demon was simply using him and he could break this contract at any time, but he knew that it wasn’t possible. The demon fed off of his magic, thrived off it even. The foul creature needed him as much as he needed it and they both knew it.
“A pity you cannot succumb to disease and die,” Arthur said tersely as he exited the building, fixing the cuffs of his red coat.
The demon’s name was Alfred, a little used term by Arthur; it was a name for emergencies only. He smiled maliciously from his perch on the broken roof. “I can’t and neither can you, mage.” The creature’s black, leathery wings stretched as it hopped from the roof, landing easily next to Arthur as he walked. “Are we doing anything today? I’m tired of waiting. I want to kill – those machines don’t bleed. I want to make things bleed.”
A grimace pulled at Arthur’s face as he walked, his jaded green eyes searching for his most trusted confidant. “We wait,” he snapped quietly. Their post was on the warfront, biding their time and regrouping while the enemy charged mercilessly forward – they needed an advantage, and while they had many, the enemy had position. He spotted his dark haired companion and went to him, ignoring the way the demon followed his every step. “Kiku, I’ve been meaning to speak with you.”
“Ah…” Brown eyes found his, a blank expression that hid every thought and emotion on the man’s face. “What did you need?” His hands were folded in front of him, his eyes sliding to the impatient demon behind Arthur before falling to the ground.
Arthur knew that Alfred’s presence brought mixed feelings; anything from hatred to rejoice. Kiku had known about Arthur plans to summon a demon since the beginning, never once fighting the blond Talented’s decision. “What news of the enemy advancement? How are –”
Suddenly there was blood curdling scream from the camp and quickly the demon put himself between Arthur and the commotion. Arthur pushed the demon away. “What’s going on here?” he shouted, watching people scream and scramble from their tents, running and watching alike.
A man was sprinting down the center of the camp, one that Arthur recognized as a Lieutenant within the Talented army. Arthur opened his mouth to shout again, but the words died in his throat as a massive creature in a shape that was a disfiguration between a hound and a snake lunged at the Lieutenant from behind a camp tent. It landed upon the man with a thud, the sound of bone snapping loud in Arthur’s ears. And with fangs that could penetrate even the sturdiest rock, the monster rendered the man’s head from his shoulders.
“And its contract is complete,” Alfred murmured from next to him, licking his lips fiendishly.
Arthur turned sharply to face the demon. “How so?” The air in the camp grew heavy as the magic began to stir, many of the Talented within the camp beginning to channel the magic into spells to cast at the monster. But the demon was approaching the abomination steadily, his hands laced casually behind his head. “Dammit you beast! Answer me!”
The demon placed his hand on the hound’s head; it’s bloodied, forked tongue darting in and out to tickle at Alfred’s wrist. “I know what you were charged to do,” he whispered. “And if you attempt it, I will kill you.” Arthur wasn’t sure what to do, but when the demon hound’s eyes raked over him with bestial intent, he suppressed a shudder. “My will is now yours.” Alfred pointed into the distance, holding the monster’s gaze with his own intense one. “Go. Kill or be killed.”
The snake-hound roared, its throat flexing as it did so. Its haunches twitched in aggravation, but Alfred never faltered, his expression stern and unwavering. With a rear of its head, it lurched towards Arthur and Kiku before changing its course on a dime and running towards what Arthur knew to be the last known location of the enemy camp. The magic in the air reluctantly settled; the entire group of Talented was quiet as Alfred returned to Arthur’s side. “You’ll have no qualms with that one.”
“What was that?” Arthur demanded, ushering the demon and Kiku into a secluded tent while the others found something to do with the corpse that lay strewn about. Arthur didn’t care. “What was that monster just now?” he elaborated when Alfred only rolled his shoulders and ran a hand through his sandy blond hair.
“A demon, of course.” He frowned in a patronizing way. “I thought you knew about demons by now!”
Before Arthur could retort, Kiku cleared his throat, his hand cupping his chin in thought. “A demon… such as yourself?”
There was a brief pause before Alfred’s head tilted back and he laughed deeply, the dark pitch making Arthur’s stomach drop uneasily. “No!” he snapped suddenly offended. “That creature was weak – a pathetic tool to be used. Its will was easily changed to mine, and my will is the mage’s.”
Arthur scowled. He loathed being reminded of his foul choice; summoning a demon as if it were but a weapon – he wished he had informed himself more, but desperation leads to desperate choices. “Lieutenant Hafingar… summoned that thing,” he said slowly as realization dawned upon him. “But why? How?”
“There have been… rumors in camp.” Kiku spoke hesitantly, his dull brown eyes concentrated on the ground. “They are… whispering about demons and their abilities. They spoke ignorantly, but… I did not imagine…”
“That they would try? Why would they not?” The demon interrupted, smiling ruefully as a clawed finger trailed across Arthur’s cheek. The blond remained stone-faced. “Demons attract sinners. We offer power for the lusting, the greedy, and even,” his nail bit into Arthur’s skin, “the prideful. We have what humans want, what mages want – but no one wants to pay the price.”
Kiku’s hands were pressed to his own chest, only the waver in his voice belied the calm he kept. “But Arthur’s price…”
“Is paid for behind closed doors.” With a jerk of his wrist, the demon ripped open Arthur’s coat, revealing his marred flesh, riddled with thin scars that were both old and new, cuts that had been too deep or too numerous to heal properly – even with the aid of magic.
Kiku blanched. “I must go,” he muttered hurriedly before exiting the tent.
The creature at his shoulder chuckled as Arthur pulled the lapels of his coat together to cover himself. “Do not touch me,” he said, even though he knew it would be futile.
In the course of a week, there were three more summoning attempts, which in turn led to three dead Talented. Each creature was unique, pulsating with grotesque and tainted power, and each was brought under Alfred’s will – with the exception of one, who wore a man’s face on the body of a bleeding lion. Alfred killed it and would not tell Arthur why.
Arthur didn’t understand, couldn’t comprehend why some of his most skilled officers would succumb to the (now obviously) false promise of demonic power. That was until one morning, when the world was quiet, and the sun was just beginning to pink the sky.
Kiku burst into his tent, white-faced and shaking. Arthur was dressing, glad to be rid of the demon that had become his shadow for at least a small while. “Kiku? What happened?” He grabbed his companion by the shoulders, willing the man to stay still and explain, but seeing Kiku this obviously distressed put on edge more than Alfred ever could. “Kiku!”
“I tried not to listen, Arthur-san,” Kiku mumbled in hysterics. “But he comes in the night and whispers into your ear. He tells you everything you want to hear. About the power, how everything you’ve ever wanted will be yours.” Kiku shuddered. “I resisted for so long… but it’s like a poison in your mind. Eating and eating and eating!”
Arthur shook Kiku, unable to think of a better way to solve the issue. He wanted the calm and collected Kiku to return, to stop babbling nonsensically. “Kiku what’s happened to you?” he asked when the dark haired man finally quieted. “Are you referring to the demons? And these whisperings? Whose are they?”
Kiku covered his eyes with his hands. “He makes you want to summon – to pay a price… any price…”
“Who, Kiku! Tell me who!”
There was a lengthy pause as Kiku fought himself for control. “Your demon…”
The name itself was like a summon, bringing the ill-luck and twisted fate to him that he had managed to escape for a breath. It wrought the demon from whatever wretched corner it had hid itself and returned him to Arthur’s side. It was a name he detested saying.
He could feel himself boiling with rage, the magic around him agitating as he watched the skies with narrowed green eyes. Finally he spotted the demon, swooping down nearby and landing easily with a push of his leathery wings. Arthur didn’t even give the demon the chance to saunter over to him with some snarky comment on his lips. He was furious and on some level, he felt betrayed. It was a situation he would rectify with swift action.
His hands lashed out, catching the magic in threads and thrusting them towards Alfred in buzzing currents, igniting the magic with a strum of his fingers. “You vile fiend!” Arthur shouted as the demon hissed in alarm, the flames licking at his pale skin before he could dodge. “How dare you turn my people against themselves!”
“How dare you attack me!” the demon howled in outrage, his skin beginning to pucker where the magically charged fire had burned him. It was very unlike the human fires – ones that merely singed his hair and little else, but he could shout nothing more at the enraged Talented as the magic scattered and Arthur pulled lightning from it, the destructive force jumping from a pocket of magic to the next, gaining power as it moved.
Alfred took to the skies, weaving between shocks of lightning and snarling in anger. He dove for the blond, only for Arthur to kick up dust and send a column of wind to catch his wings and throw him off his trajectory. Alfred was shaking in rage as he dove for Arthur over and over, only to be rebuffed again and again as the mage channeled the seemingly endless magic around them. “Stop toying with me!” In an act of blind desperation he waited for Arthur to send a bolt of lightning, catching it within his hands despite the painful burn and threw it back at Arthur.
In the split moment that it took Arthur to jump back and catch himself in a stumble, Alfred barreled into him, knocking him into the dirt of the secluded ravine where Arthur had decided would be the best place for such a fight to take place. The demon’s claw-like hands wrapped around Arthur’s throat, his long nails digging into the soft skin. “I should kill you right now,” he hissed, pushing his snarling face into Arthur’s.
“Do it,” Arthur rasped out, defiant and spiteful for everything he had to undergo these past few months. He was defiled and beaten, but he would never, ever break. “I know for a fact that you’re nothing without me. Kill me and return to your spawning pit, powerless and weak.”
Alfred made an enraged noise, kneeing Arthur in the stomach. “Shut up! You know nothing!”
But Arthur didn’t reply. Instead he leaned up, forcing the demon to choke him further before lashing out and biting. He caught the demon’s lower lip between his teeth and he locked his jaw, biting until the hands around his throat tightened, until he tasted fouled blood. His jaw was forced open by intrusive fingers, clawing at his cheeks and gagging him when his teeth finally unclenched. Alfred leaned back slightly, licking his bleeding lip slowly. “You need punished for this.”
“There is nothing you can do that I can consider punishment, short of killing me,” Arthur retorted bitterly. And for the smallest of moments, the demon hesitated. Arthur took the advantage and flung sparks into the demons eyes, scampering out of his hold while the beast was blinded. He had meant to throw actual lightning, but he was tired and it was becoming increasingly difficult to channel magic.
Alfred pounced on his back, pushing his face back into the rusty-red soil. “I did it for you!” the demon said desperately into his ear. “I made them summon demons to fight for you! It was your will to defeat the machines – this pathetic war is your will. I was obeying.”
The blond didn’t move, his muscles twitching as the demon’s hands began to roam over his clothes. He didn’t know how to respond – if he even wanted to respond.
“Fear me,” the demon almost begged. “Hate me. Don’t fight – feel. It makes us strong.”
Arthur rolled around to face the demon, weary of the sudden emotional change. He was so used and familiarized with the snarls and pointed, smiles of ill intent, that the look of confusion and worry seemed heinously misplaced. Alfred needed him to survive in this world, and he needed Alfred to survive in this war.
Steeling his expression and taking one of the few risks he had ever taken in his long lifetime, Arthur set his hand upon the demon’s shoulder. “There is a power in camaraderie,” he said in a pinched voice, hardly able to believe his own words. “Many Talented whom are close are able to draw and relay power to one another. It’s a bond that is forged over time and in the heat of battle.”
The thought that they could possess such a bond went unspoken, the idea settling hopefully in the backs of their minds to stew. “Okay.”
And for some reason it all seemed too hopeful, too easy. Arthur touched Alfred’s bleeding lip. “Will you stop using my body?” he asked, trying to keep all emotion from his voice.
“No.” The demon’s smile was sharp again, but somehow it was missing the malicious edge, or maybe Arthur was imagining it. “Our contract is still in place, mage. But perhaps I will be… more gentle…”
Arthur sat up, grasping Alfred’s chin in his fingers. “You may have more humanity in you than you think, demon.”