night, things returned to normal. Merlin lay on his bed, pretending to be
asleep while Asha sat on the chair with the Grimoire book in her arms. To an
onlooker, Asha was simply holding the Grimoire book and using her magic to make
futile attempts to destroy the lock. Even her superior nymph magic could not
destroy the lock. The rune Merlin used for the lock was the only advanced rune
his father had taught him before he was killed. In hindsight, Merlin wondered
if his father knew that one day it may come to this, and that is why he decided
to teach his son such an advanced rune.
However, what wasn’t visible was that Asha’s magic was powerful enough to contact the demons inside the Grimoire book. For the past few days, Asha had been communicating with her many sisters, telling them of her seduction tactics and how she had been progressing with Merlin.
With her pure blooded magic, Asha managed to weaken the lock on the Grimoire book a tiny bit and the demons inside were now able hear whatever happened inside the hut.
Asha assumed that Merlin didn’t know about this ability of hers. After all, if he did, he would have stopped her from continuing, out of fear that she might actually break the Grimoire book’s lock
And even before Asha took the book into her hands, she knew that she was in trouble.
“My dear sisters, I am holding the book right now,” Asha thought and her hands glowed with a purple light. “Merlin is asleep. It is safe for us to talk right now.”
“What in the seven hells are you doing?”
“You fool! You fool!”
“Traitor! Kill her!”
The barrage of responses almost deafened Asha. Even while she was using her mouth to sincerely pleasure Merlin, she knew that her actions would be heard by her sisters inside the book and that they would be upset beyond soothing.
“Quiet!” Asha thought. “I cannot hear your voices in my head if all of you speak at once.”
The avalanche of angry threats and cries stopped and there was quiet murmuring as they decided on a spokesperson.
“Asha,” a nymph’s voice sounded. “I am Fefe, the Elder Sister.”
“Fefe, it is an honor,” Asha returned.
Asha swallowed. Even though none of the nymphs could do anything to her, she was still quite worried. She knew that in their eyes, she was most likely seen as a traitor.
“Asha, my child, we do not have much time...let me ask you; have you fallen in love with Merlin?”
Asha felt her heart thump. She glanced over to Merlin who was pretending to be asleep. Her eyes fell on his peaceful sleeping face. At first she thought he was only a normal man, but in recent days she felt that he was quite handsome.
“Of course not! What a preposterous notion!” Asha said. “How can you even suggest that. He is a filthy half blood, the son of a traitor who slept with a human woman.”
“Then how will you explain your actions?” Fefe asked. “You could have killed him last night, or at least you could have cast a spell. Why did you pleasure him as if you were his wife?”
“Wife!” Asha exclaimed. Despite the repulse in her voice, her face flushed red upon that word. “How dare you! The notion...how sickening!”
“And yet this is what you did last night!” Fefe roared. Asha drew a sharp breath, shocked at how the Elder Sister Fefe suddenly lost her composure. “You made love to him! This is something no nymph does with a man!”
Asha remained silent. She knew that she had broken one of the sacred rules nymphs lived by. But what Fefe and the other nymphs did not know was how careless Asha had been when she entered a human town and how Merlin was the one who saved her life. Originally Asha had planned on giving her sisters a full report, but seeing Fefe’s anger, she did not dare to.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Fefe said. “You drank his life force to replenish your magic, but you did not use that chance to free us from the Grimoire book.”
Asha gripped the Grimoire book tightly. Her heart beat so fast that she could hear it. She knew that she had no excuse. She had made an incredible blunder at the height of passion.
But it was more than admitting that she had made a mistake. She was afraid to acknowledge the fondness she felt towards Merlin. He was by no means ugly, in fact he was quite handsome. And both of these times when he could have easily let her die, he chose to save her life even if it went against his own interests. Even though Asha was a pure blooded nymph, it was impossible not to have her heart moved by his kindness.
“I...I have no excuse,” Asha muttered under her breath.
A damning silence came as a response from the Grimoire book. Even though she could not see the nymphs and other demons, Asha could feel the judgment and disapproval in their eyes. She could feel how she was losing the acceptance of her own tribe. Even if one day she returned to the Grimoire book, she might not be accepted anymore. The only way to become part of the tribe again was to persuade Merlin to unlock the Grimoire book.
Asha glanced over to the sleeping Merlin. Seeing him caused a surge in tenderness in her heart, and she felt torn. She knew that she was a nymph and Merlin was an enemy to her race, but she could not control her feelings.
It was just like she told Merlin. A nymph was also a woman.
“Asha...you know where your loyalty lies, right?” Fefe broke the silence.
Asha’s breath stuck in her throat. Her loyalty to her own race was being questioned.
“Of course,” she replied quickly. “I know that I have to free you and all the other demons from this prison.”
“And to do that, you need to seduce Merlin.”
Asha heard the Elder Sister take a deep breath.
“Asha, my child, you are so young and naive. Do not lose your heart in the game of seduction,” she said. “I know you cannot use magic, but never lose sight of where you’ve come from.”
“I know!” Asha snapped, louder than she would have like to.
“Hnghh...,” Merlin stirred in his sleep.
Asha held her breath and lowered the glow on her hands in anticipation of Merlin waking up. She did not know that Merlin had been awake the whole time and he was simply pretending to be disturbed by her outburst.
“I know,” Asha whispered.
Elder Sister Fefe said nothing. Asha knew what that meant.
“Forgive my insolence,” Asha said and bowed her head even though none of the nymphs could see her.
“Asha...do you feel affectionate towards the young traitorous wizard?” Fefe asked a second time.
“Of course not,” Asha repeated her answer.
“Asha, tell me the truth.”
Asha swallowed. She wasn’t sure herself if she as telling the truth or not. Her heart swayed whenever her eyes were on Merlin. She knew that she was a nymph, yet she could not say for sure where her allegiances lay.
“Asha...” Fefe began to say but Asha did not let her finish. She dropped the book to the ground and ran out of the hut. She ran deep into the forest, breathing in the cold night air. Asha ran until her legs could not carry her anymore. She collapsed to the ground and leaned against a thick tree.
“What should I do,” she breathed and sank her fingers into the soft dirt of the forest.
She closed her eyes and delved into the memories of the nymphs of her tribe. There was the Elder Sister Fefe and her friends Safire and Rubia. There was Ash, her teacher and Hermes, her personal tutor. All of these nymphs had been with her all her life and she knew that she should do everything in her power to save them...and yet, she could not summon the resolution to use her magic on Merlin when he was at her mercy.
She had always thought of men as smelly and simpleminded, so easily seduced by her charms and smiles. She would only have to sway her hips and show them a tiny bit of her naked body, and these men — just like animals — would flock to her, begging to do her bidding. Her magic made seducing even the most stubborn man a simple task, and she had never considered a mortal man to be worthy to be her equal, let alone her affection.
Perhaps it was Merlin’s demon blood that made him different from the other men, but so crude were his rune designs that it surprised her that he could use magic at all. She thought of him as nothing but another man, lusting for her body, yearning to have his way with her. And in spite of that, she felt her heart stir when she thought of him.
Asha took a sharp breath and turned to the source of this sound.
The pig she had rescued from the butcher at the marketplace had followed her.
“You’re a good pig,” Asha smiled and put her arms around his fat body. “You have pleased your master.”
Before she could enjoy the warmth of the pig’s fat, she heard approaching footsteps.
“Am I a good pig too?” Merlin asked.
“Merlin!” Asha exclaimed.
“Here,” Merlin said and offered her his hand.
“Why are you here?” she asked and grabbed Merlin’s hand. With a low grunt, he pulled her up.
“I heard you running out and I saw the pig coming after you,” Merlin shrugged. He took his blanket and put it over her shoulder. “Here, you will catch a cold like that.”
To anyone else, this may have been a satisfactory answer, but Asha was more astute than any other nymph or woman.
“Why did you come after me?” she asked and narrowed her eyes.
Merlin had expected a word of gratitude or at least a nod of thanks for bringing her the warm blanket, but instead she decided to question his intentions.
“I saw you arguing with your nymph sisters in the Grimoire book,” Merlin admitted. “You didn’t seem quite happy, so I decided to follow you.”
“You saw?” Asha exclaimed.
Merlin nodded. “I can sense your subtle use of magic when I’m asleep.”
Asha pouted and averted her eyes. She felt rather upset that Merlin knew what she as doing when she thought that he as asleep. It felt as if he was mocking her.
“Hmph!” Asha sounded and she kicked Merlin’s leg.
“Ouch!” Merlin cried out. “What was that for?”
“Foolish man!” Asha shot back and turned her back to him.
Merlin sighed and looked down at the pig. Right now, he wished that the pig could talk so that he would have a companion in this situation.
“We should go back,” Merlin said and patted the pig’s back.
Without waiting for Merlin, Asha strut forwards, creating some distance between them.
“Merlin,” she said.
“Yes?” Merlin sighed and prepared for more of her irrational demeanor.
“Thank you for worrying about me,” Asha said with her back turned to him.
Merlin opened his mouth to reply but stopped himself. He could feel his face flushing red upon hearing her words. He wanted to deny it, but he knew the truth. Asha was right. He saw her arguing with her sisters and was worried when she stormed out of the hut.
“Let’s go back,” Merlin said roughly and stepped next to her.
Asha smiled and grabbed his arm. Merlin did not resist.