had more confidence in Asha’s magic than his own. She was a pure
blooded demon who had studied magic with a master. He was self-taught wizard
with mixed human blood. His father only taught him the basic runes before he
was killed by his fellow demons, and since then, Merlin had to teach himself.
He observed the runes that Asha laid out around their hut and he was amazed by the complexity and efficiency of her work. The runes she drew channeled her magic perfectly without wasting a single bit of her power. In comparison, even Merlin’s best efforts appeared like the work of an amateur.
Night soon fell and Merlin went to bed while Asha volunteered to stay outside to watch out for any angry townsfolk who might be coming their way. Merlin told her that he could do it, but Asha simply laughed in his face.
“A half-blooded wizard like you would only ruin my runes,” she said and turned him away.
He was used to her sharp tongue by now and simply listened to her. Deep inside, he wished that Asha would act more like the weak maiden he saw this afternoon. But he knew that if she did that, he would have to use runes to suppress his human blood again.
And so with the knowledge that Asha’s perfect runes would keep him and the pig safe, Merlin fell sound asleep. But no matter how deep his slumber was, Merlin still woke up in the middle of the night.
“Hnghh,” he groaned and opened his eyes. He didn’t know what it was, but there was something that woke him up. He looked next to himself. Asha was not there. Was she still outside?
Before he could get up, Merlin felt that there was something underneath the covers. It was a rather strange sensation. It felt as if there were hooks around his belt, trying to pull his trousers downwards. He lifted the blanket and he saw Asha lying on her stomach, with her head between his legs and her fingers trying to unbuckle his belt.
“Asha!” he exclaimed.
Surprised, Asha looked up with an annoyed expression, but she did not remove her hands. She tilted her head slightly, as if she was asking Merlin what the matter was. “Your belt is mighty difficult to remove.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m hungry,” she stated as a matter of fact.
“I was planning on getting my meal after we bought the pig,” Asha said. “But we were chased out of town because my identity was revealed.”
“So you are going to eat me?”
“Don’t worry,” Asha snickered with her hands continued their work. “You saved my life today, so I’m not going to kill you. I just need some of your life force to replenish my magic.”
“Wait!” Merlin said but Asha did not listen. She undid his belt and began to pull on his trousers.
“I said wait!” Merlin bellowed and in the heat of the moment, he pushed Asha off the bed.
Asha fell to the ground and scowled at Merlin.
“Hey!” she cried.
“I told you to stop,” Merlin panted. He couldn’t believe how close Asha had gotten to seducing him. If he had woken up even a moment later, Asha would have managed to unbuckle his belt and once she had his manhood in her mouth, he knew that there was no escape. Even though she claimed that she wasn’t going to kill him, Merlin knew better than to trust the words of a nymph.
Asha stood up and sat at the edge of the bed. She glared at Merlin as she rubbed her head.
“You know, this is the first time someone has been able to resist me when I had my hands on your belt.”
To Merlin, it sounded as if her pride had been hurt. But her pride was the least of his concerns right now.
“If you had been through what I had to go through to survive, then resisting the allure of a woman isn’t too difficult,” Merlin said.
“Truly?” Asha raised an eyebrow.
Merlin wondered if she was challenging him or if she was mocking him.
“Yes,” he said. “When King Arthur sent me to this forest to seal away all the demons in his kingdom, I didn’t have anything with me except my magic and some dried fish. I had to steal from the local town and nearly died several times.”
Asha regarded him with a doubtful expression. To her, nothing could be more difficult than resisting a nymph when she was only inches away from his manhood.
Seeing as Asha wasn’t convinced, Merlin decided to continue.
“Demons tried to kill me almost every night, and during the day I had to be wary of wild animals who did not fear my magic,” Merlin said. “My demonic father never taught me how to use magic to defend myself and when I was living in Camelot, I wasn’t allowed to experiment with runes and spells. Once I started living in the forest, I had to be my own master and teach myself everything.”
When Merlin mentioned his demonic father, it seemed to stir interest in Asha. She knew that the demons had banded together to kill Merlin’s father, but seeing Merlin mention him sparked a sense of curiosity.
“Your father died before he could teach you anything?”
“He did teach me some things,” Merlin said. “He taught me how to channel my magic and how to suppress its killing instincts whenever I grew angry. But he never taught me how to use magic to build things or how to fight if I was attacked.”
Asha’s eyes fell on Merlin’s naked arms and chest. They were decorated with scars and burns. It seemed as if Merlin had survived a war, when he in fact he never even held a sword in his hands. His wounds came from a lifetime of exclusion from both demons and humans.
And as Asha considered his wounds, for the very first time, she felt sorry for the wizard.
“Maybe we killed your father too early,” she sniffed. “If he taught you some combat magic before we killed him, then life might have been easier for you.”
“Perhaps,” Merlin smiled ruefully. “But you demons are not to be reasoned with. My father wanted to live, but there as no escape for him.”
Asha inched closed to Merlin. The story about his father was of interest to her. She had heard of the hunt for the demon who had betrayed his brethren and mated with a human woman, and even witnessed his execution, but now she had the unique chance to hear the same story from the perspective of the demon’s son.
“Tell me about your father,” she said.
“Why?” Merlin raised an eyebrow. “Of what concern is he to you? He is dead.”
“I’d just like to hear about your memory of him.”
For a moment, Merlin simply regarded Asha, unsure of what to make of her. Mere moments ago she was trying to take off his trousers in order to take him into her mouth, and now she was curious about his father.
“I only have vague memories of my father,” Merlin said. “I remember how he raised me in a cave before he delivered me to a person he could trust in Camelot. I remember how he told me that he was going to die very soon, and that from now on, I would have to do my best to live together with the humans who dominate this land.
“He left me, but I secretly followed him. I saw how he wandered into the forest and battled all the demons who wanted to kill him. He fought for as long as he could...”
“Before he was killed by a minotaur with a giant ax,” Asha finished for him.
“Yes,” Merlin nodded. “A minotaur with a giant ax...I was so frightened at that time. I was hiding behind a bush and bit on my arm to keep my teeth from chattering. I saw how the minotaur tore my father apart...and his blood and body...”
Merlin’s voice faded as he lived through the last bloody memories he had of his father. Asha simply sat the edge of his bed, observing him. It was the first time she had seen such horror on any man’s face.
“Before he went into the forest, I asked him why I should live with the humans,” Merlin continued after a few moments. “He told me that it had always been my mother’s wish for me to one day live with the humans rather than the demons.”
“Your mother?” Asha opened her eyes wide.
She inched even closer to Merlin, prompting him to elaborate. She had heard and seen so much of the demon whom all the other demons branded as a traitor, but she had never heard anything about the human woman he had mated with. All demons simply assumed that human men and women were filthy and their only purpose was to serve as food for the demons.
Merlin was rather surprised when Asha seemed even more interested in his mother.
“Y-yes, my mother,” he said.
“Tell me more.”
“I don’t have any memories of my mother,” Merlin said. “The Church was more efficient than you demons.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Church caught her and executed her about a year after I was born,” Merlin said. “Afterwards, I was raised by my demonic father.”
“But you have known her for two years,” Asha interjected. “Shouldn’t you have memories of her from when you were an infant?”
Merlin could not quite understand what Asha meant.
“Humans don’t have any memories of their first few years of life.”
Confused, Asha shook her head.
“I thought it was the same for everyone,” Asha said. “All nymphs remember the moment they came into existence. We remember our time in our mother’s womb and our first taste of milk. We never forget anything.”
Merlin was speechless. No wonder Asha and the other nymphs thought of humans as inferior beings. It appeared that nymph even had superior brains.
“I wish I could recall memories from back then,” Merlin eventually said. “I don’t remember what my mother looked like or even her name. All I know about her is what father told me before he was killed.”
“And what did he say about her?”
All of the sudden, Asha was smiling. Merlin noted that even though his mother was a human, Asha seemed to have a different attitude towards her than human men. Perhaps nymphs felt affinity towards women regardless of species?
“My father said that she had a kind and gentle soul,” Merlin said. “He told me that she never let me out of her sight when I was a wee boy and that she put me before everything else. He said that when they met, she was frightened by him, but it was her open heart that allowed her to slowly accept him.”
When Merlin finished, Asha couldn’t help but grin. The corners of her eyes turned slightly downwards and it appeared that she was trying her hardest not to laugh.
“Is that really so amusing?” Merlin asked, feeling offended that Asha was laughing at the only memory he had of his mother.
“I always wondered what kind of woman would cause for a demon to betray his brethren,” Asha said. “I just find it ironic that he betrayed his demonic brothers for a person he described as an angel.”
Upon hearing those words, Merlin couldn’t help but smile slightly. It was true. His father thought of his mother as an angel and that was why he loved her so much — even though he himself was a demon.
“But to fully grab his heart, I don’t think she was an angel in bed,” Asha bit her lower lip.
“What do you mean?”
Asha licked her lips.
“Do you want me to show you?”