so began the strangest chapter in Merlin’s life. He continued to share his
home with Asha and the pig, or rather, he did not see it as only his home
anymore. The hut belonged to both him and Asha.
If Merlin ever stopped to think about it, it seemed rather strange that he as living together with a pig and a nymph. But once he decided to ignore the ridiculousness of the situation, it did not feel odd at all.
Every morning he would wake up with Asha next to him in his bed. If she as awake, she would snuggle up to him and prevent him from leaving the bed. At first Merlin did not understand this game and simply brushed her aside. But after a few more nights of sleeping together, he instinctively gave into Asha’s spoiled behavior and learned how to cajole her with sweet promises.
They would eat breakfast together and then Asha would go out to hunt for her own meal. Sometimes Asha would bring back food she found in farmhouses and sometimes Merlin would go into the forest to hunt for his food. He even learned how to take care of the pig, even though he saw it as a meal on legs. There were many times when he was tempted to slaughter it, but he knew that Asha would never forgive him if he did that.
It was a strange thing really. Before, he only cared about the acceptance and forgiveness of King Arthur, but now the king rarely entered his thoughts. In fact, ever since he sent away the messenger with the note explaining that he was exhausted from locking all the demons inside the Grimoire book, there had been no messages from Camelot. Every now and then Merlin wondered if King Arthur had forgotten about him or if he had perhaps outlived his usefulness and now King Arthur had no interest in contacting him anymore. As long as he kept the Grimoire book safe, the King would pay him no heed.
The Grimoire book had also been less on his mind too. Merlin noticed how ever since the night when she dropped the book and ran out, Asha had not held onto the book like she did before. Every day he would see her pressing a finger or two on the leather cover with her eyes closed, but she never did it for as long as she did before. And as the days turned to weeks, she touched the Grimoire book less and less, eventually putting an end to her nightly conversations.
Merlin wanted to ask why she wasn’t communicating with her sisters anymore, but he felt it was not his place to ask as he was the one who had trapped the demons inside the book. Despite that, he felt his own curiosity nagging away at him. Every time she touched the book, he could sense that she was in a bad mood. She would not talk with him, nor play with the pig — who had grown very fond of her.
And as the days passed by, Merlin found that two things in particular had changed about him. The first was that he felt that his human blood had calmed down significantly. No longer did his heart beat like mad when he found Asha lying in bed together with him. No longer did was he forced to suppress his urges to embrace her whenever he saw her long raven black hair moving with the wind. He felt rather comfortable with Asha’s presence, even if she pressed her body against him. And even though did not notice it himself, he began to gaze at her with an affection he could not quite describe.
He could quite recall when he began to look at Asha’s with these feelings and even his will to remind himself that he had to be careful around her was crumbling. He knew that he should not trust this seductive nymph, yet he could not help but feel at ease with her.
The weeks turned into a their first month of living together, and the weather gradually began to grow chilly as the summer passed and autumn came.
“We should buy you some clothes,” Merlin said one night as they lay in bed together.
“Hmm, why?” Asha raised her head from his chest. In recent days, she had found it quite enjoyable to lie on Merlin’s chest. She could listen to his heartbeat as she pressed her body against his, teasing him with her body — a body designed to seduce men.
“Summer is ending and you are still wearing that silk dress,” Merlin said. “You will become sick if you wear this in the cold weather.”
“Ho ho,” Asha grinned and poked his chest. “Do you finally see me as woman now?”
“Don’t be absurd,” Merlin said and averted his eyes. He hoped that the darkness would hide the subtle blush on his face. But nothing would escape Asha’s nymph eyes.
“How cute, you feel embarrassed,” Asha grinned and poked his cheek. “I should reward you for your honesty.”
Merlin gulped. Ever since the night when Asha had used him to replenish her magic, she had never done it again and Merlin did not wish for her to do it again. Even though he enjoyed it very much he also knew the risks of letting Asha feed on him. If her magic experienced a surge whenever she drank his life force, then there was also the possibility that she would temporarily gain the magic needed to unlock the Grimoire book.
“No, I don’t need any reward,” Merlin said. “I’m fine.”
Asha narrowed her eyes and studied his expression closely.
“You still don’t trust me.”
Merlin swallowed. Sometimes it was frightening how well Asha could read his thoughts.
“Why makes you say that?” he returned.
“Because no man would be able to reject my mouth after experiencing it once.”
“I am no man.”
“Truly?” Asha asked and like lightning, her hand reached for his penis and gave it a strong squeeze. “This here says otherwise.”
“Stop it,” Merlin scowled and pushed her away.
“You fool,” Asha said and poked his sides. “You men are foolish beyond belief. You do not even know how to accept a woman’s…affection when she offers it.”
Asha felt her heart thump. She had to pause because she was about to utter the word ‘love’. It was on her tongue when she stopped herself. She knew that her nymph sisters were still listening to everything that was going on inside the hut. She was afraid that if she used the word ‘love’ — a word nymphs almost never used — she would be branded as a traitor once and for all.
“Aye, but you are no woman and I am no man,” Merlin said.
“Hmph, what a boring man,” Asha pouted and rested her head on his chest again.
In silence they stayed like this for a while, enjoying each other’s company. In all truth, Asha felt afraid. She was afraid of the swelling of this strange tenderness she felt in her heart. No longer was she sure if she behaved like this because she was doing everything she could to seduce Merlin or if she genuinely enjoyed being with Merlin.
Asha knew that she could easily find the answer to that question if she closed her eyes and thought about it for a while, but she was afraid of thinking. Deep down inside, she knew that if thought about it, then she would have to conclude that she truly enjoyed being by Merlin’s side. Normally a nymph would always consciously think about her actions, matching every word she said to the reaction of the man in order to seduce him as quickly as possible. But with Merlin, she no longer thought about what she said and did. Instead, she laughed and talked with Merlin in whatever manner she felt like. She teased him to her heart’s contents, even if that caused for him to grow a little angry at her, potentially lowering his affection for her and consequently slowing down the seduction process. But even when he grew angry at her, she felt quite happy about it, for it meant that truly paid attention to her and cared for what she said.
A nymph would never jump into bed with a man without a clear plan in her head. A nymph would always think through her actions first and then act. But with Merlin, Asha did not think for even a moment. She simply rested her head on his chest and inhaled the scent that she had grown to tolerate and sometimes even enjoyed. She simply did what she wanted to do.
Asha knew that she was acting on desire and impulse, and she was afraid of acknowledging this. She knew that if she acknowledged it, it would essentially mean to entrust her heart to Merlin. It would mean to betray her sisters and join Merlin’s side as his companion and wife.
When had she begun to act like this? Asha couldn’t recall. She knew that when she first met Merlin, all of her actions were carefully planned and calculated. She had her guard up and meticulously crafted every word and expression. And yet somewhere along the way, she had enjoyed the process of seduction so much that she had ceased to think and forgotten about her plans.
“Say Asha,” Merlin broke the silence. “What is your favorite season?”
“Hmm?” Asha glanced up at him. From her position, she could only see his chin. “Why do you ask?”
“It’s just something I had been wondering,” Merlin said. “Humans have their favorite seasons, I wondered if nymphs have their favorites.”
“Hmm...,” Asha thought for a few moments. “Summer is my favorite.”
“Because in the summer, all the young men are working in the fields and hunting in the forests,” Asha said. “That makes it easy for me to find them and seduce them. In the winter they are always huddled together in front of the fire with the other humans. I can’t have my meal if they are always in groups.”
Merlin let out a dry laugh. She saw human men the same way he thought of the pig; a meal on legs. By now, he knew of the habits and needs of a nymph, and he could find no fault in her reasoning despite the surge of jealousy he felt rising in his chest.
It was strange, really. He rarely felt this emotion. It was an ugly emotion, feeding away on him. It made him furious and anxious at the same time, consuming his every thought. It made him want to possess her, to keep her away from every man in the world.
And yet, he knew that if he did that, Asha would not live for long. He could not let her drain away his life force, for he knew if he let her do that, she would gain the power to open the Grimoire book. Even though she had openly stated her desire to free her brothers and sisters from the Grimoire book by seducing him, he had not seen her take the Grimoire book into her arms lately.
After hesitating for several days, Merlin finally decided to ask her.
“Asha...I haven’t seen you talking with your sisters lately.”
He felt Asha stir on his chest. He could feel her slim hands clenched into a fist and exerting pressure against him. He heard her breathing become heavy and uneven. He knew very well that Asha might be uncomfortable talking to him about this — especially because he was the one who sealed her sisters into the Grimoire book — yet curiosity nagged away at him.
“Yes, I haven’t talked to my sisters as of late,” Asha stated.
She fell silent and Merlin waited for her to continue.
“I...,” she began but her voice fell silent again.
Merlin waited patiently as Asha tried to find the right words. Even though he had spent most of his life alone, he wasn’t completely unaware of the feelings of others. If anything, his isolation had made him even more sensitive.
For Asha, responding to Merlin’s question felt as if she as on the cross roads of life. On the surface, it appeared to be such a simple question. If she answered it honestly, she felt that was choosing a side. Telling Merlin about her conflict with her sisters would mean to allow him to peek into her heart and let him see the internal affairs of the nymphs.
She glanced over to the Grimoire book. Right now, she was sure that her sisters were listening closely to what she was about to say. If she answered honestly, then she would be branded as a traitor. But in this moment right now, she knew that Merlin would not release her sisters no matter what. And as she spent more time in the human world, she felt her desires grow more selfish. She enjoyed her time with Merlin in the human world, and more often than not, caught herself forgetting about her sisters in the Grimoire book. It felt as if she was betraying them, and she felt incredibly guilty about it — yet she could not help but feel a sense of peace inside this hut in the quiet forest.
“I just haven’t talked to my sisters lately, that’s all,” Asha said.
“I see,” Merlin said. He knew that this meant that Asha had decided not to answer him.
He was about to close his eyes and resign himself to the fact that Asha had decided to keep him at arm’s length when he felt her poking his chest.
“Hmm?” he murmured.
“Let’s go to sleep,” Asha said and put her index finger to her lips.
Merlin remained silent.
Asha’s other hand reached for the side of the bed and drew a rune on the straw mattress. It pulsed with a purple light and before Merlin could object, a barrier formed around his bed.
“Asha!” he exclaimed and wanted to sit up, but Asha quickly straddled him and used her weight to keep him pinned.
“Quiet!” she hissed.
At first Merlin thought that she formed the barrier so that she could use her magic to break him, but he saw that her eyes did not have the slightest trace of magic in them.
Asha’s eyes glanced left and right and she felt the barrier around them.
“Good,” she said. “This way no sound will reach the Grimoire book.”
“What do you mean?”
“My sisters can hear everything that I am saying,” Asha whispered.
Using her fist, she knocked against the barrier her rune formed. “This will make sure that whatever I say, it will only reach your ears.”
Merlin swallowed. He could feel his heartbeat quicken as Asha told him this. This was the first time had been trapped with Asha in such a tight space. She sat on top of him, straddling his waist.
Asha took a deep breath.
“I haven’t talked very much with my sisters,” she repeated. “I haven’t talked much with them because they are growing impatient. I had the chance to bring you under my control when I pleasured you...but I chose not to. I have been accused of being a traitor and every time I tried to talk to them, it is always the same accusations.”
Asha rested her head on Merlin’s chest again. She could hear Merlin’s heartbeat increase and something long and hard rested in the valley her fleshy buttocks formed.
“That is why I decided not to talk to them for a while...maybe things will become better that way.”
Merlin simply lay there, listening to Asha’s words. He realized how difficult it must be for her to talk about this. After all, he should have been the enemy, yet at the same time, he was the only companion she had in this world. He could understand how her actions could be perceived a treacherous and the immense guilt she harbored.
He imagined that it would feel wrong for Asha to slowly drift to the enemy side. Right now, Asha felt that she did not belong to either side. This was something he could sympathize with. His entire life he had been accepted by neither the humans nor the demons. He had always been alone, only swearing loyalty to King Arthur with the vague hope of winning the full acceptance from Camelot.
“I’m sorry,” were the only words Merlin managed to find.
“Sorry for what?” Asha asked.
“Sorry for causing you so much pain,” Merlin said. “But I cannot release your brothers and sisters.”
“You will when I seduce you.”
“And you know that will not happen.”
“Oh really?” Asha smiled and bit her lower lip. She contracted her buttocks and squeezed Merlin’s erection. “And what is this supposed to be?”
“Asha...,” Merlin breathed.
“You want me,” Asha whispered into his ear. “I can tell from your heartbeat...you want to ravish me, but you are holding yourself back.”
As she said those words, she felt Merlin twitch.
“Move,” Merlin gritted his teeth. When Asha told him about the conflict she had with her sisters, Merlin thought that — even for just one moment — he could trust her. But even though she formed the barrier to tell him the truth inside a safe space, now she was using it against him.
“What a stubborn man,” Asha smiled.
“You are the stubborn one,” Merlin breathed. “You don’t know which side to take, so you act for both at the same time.”
Asha froze. Merlin knew that he had pointed out a hard truth. Asha wanted to side with Merlin and hence formed a barrier so that they could be safe from the ears of the Grimoire book. Yet she felt guilty about it and tried to seduce him inside the barrier.
It took Asha a few moments to fully absorb Merlin’s words, but she blinked and smiled.
“It seems that the foolish man has become smarter.”
“It’s just you who thinks that I’m a fool.”
Hearing the seductive tone in her voice vanish, Merlin reached for the rune and felt its magic. No matter how many times Asha did it, he was still amazed by the perfection of the runes she drew.
“Let me remove it,” Asha said and put her hands on his.
Merlin could feel the magic leaving the rune and returning to Asha. But just before the barrier dissolved, he felt Asha’s magic pulse.
“One more thing,” Asha said and raised her head. “I want to thank you for your kindness.”
She gently rested her lips on his. Merlin froze. He had not expected for Asha to do this. He had always thought that she might tease him in some way, but he never thought that she would kiss him.
He couldn’t believe how soft her lips felt. So close was she that he could feel her breath. Her raven black hair fell around him and they were sealed in their own little world.
It was his first time kissing anyone, and yet it felt natural. And it was this natural feeling that Merlin had to fight. He wanted to close his arms around her and embrace her. But he knew that if he did that, he would be lost. Even if Asha did not use her magic, he would lose himself in his bottomless lust and desire once he allowed himself to taste it.
“You’ve gotten harder,” Asha whispered when their lips separated.
“Get off me,” Merlin grunted, and with shaking hands, he pushed her away.
He turned his back to her and closed his eyes.
“Go to sleep, we need to go to town tomorrow.”
“Yes, yes,” Asha returned.
It took Merlin some time, but eventually he calmed down and managed to fall asleep. And once he fell asleep, Asha took the chance to say the words she did not want him to hear.
“You are a good man.”