Asha Swanwick: The Grimoire Maiden

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Chapter 3

That night, Merlin could not find any peaceful slumber. So intense were his dreams that he might as well have been awake.

He tossed and turned as he battled his nightmares. He dreamt that somehow the demons inside the Grimoire book had escaped and were planning on killing him. In his dream, King Arthur thought that Merlin had betrayed him and ordered for the royal guards to hunt him and kill him on sight. He dreamt of running in the forest, chased by demons and humans, with no place to call home, no friend to rely on.

Then the dream suddenly ended and he felt a surge in his chest. It felt as if there was something in his chest that needed to come out. Merlin wondered in his dream if this is what it felt like to be pregnant.

His heart beat like mad and for a moment Merlin almost forgot that he was dreaming.

Boom.

Boom.

Boom.

“H-help,” he gasped and he saw that there was a bright purple light glowing from inside his chest.

For a moment he thought that his demonic blood was rising to the surface, but he quickly sensed the foreign nature of this light. This was certainly demonic magic, but he also knew that this was not his own. This magic was weaker, but it was far sharper and more precise. This was the magic of someone who had been taught to master this power the moment they were born.

“No, no,” Merlin cried and held his hands on his chest. He could not allow for this magic to escape.

But no matter how hard he tried, he felt the purple light growing stronger. Whatever was inside him broke through his flesh and he saw a head forming on his chest. He could not see the face, but he could tell that it was a female demon. She had long straight hair and her face was slim and small.

“Hold me,” she whispered. He felt her magic laced voice digging into his ears.

“No!” he cried and pressed harder.

“Hold me,” she pleaded and resisted Merlin’s strength.

The purple light in his chest grew so bright that he had to shield his eyes.

“Hold me,” the female demon whispered again and he saw how she grew out of his chest.

He did not feel any pain. In fact, he felt relieved. After all, this was only a dream. Whatever happened here would not affect him in reality. Perhaps he could even make friends with this demon who came out from inside his body.

“Hgnhh!” Merlin collapsed to the ground. Suddenly, there was a tight feeling around his throat. He couldn’t breathe.

“Haaaaaaang!” Merlin ripped open his eyes and he saw that he was lying on his straw mattress in his safe little hut.

But he wasn’t alone.

A young woman was straddling him with her hands around his throat.

“Hold me,” she moaned. “Hold me...I need you.”

“Mmmmmm!” Merlin struggled but he could feel his strength leaving him. This girl wasn’t just strangling him. He could feel his magic being sucked out through his throat.

“Just die already,” she gritted her teeth and put her full weight onto his throat.

In that moment, Merlin realized a very important thing: he was going to get killed.

His entire life, he had not raised his hand against anything or anyone. He only remembered his mother’s gentle nature and swore to be like her. He believed that if he lived like that, then one day King Arthur and the people of Britain would accept him.

But this was the first time someone tried to kill him.

The primitive instincts of survival sprung alive in Merlin and he clenched hands into fists. Then, without holding back, he swung his fist and punched the young woman in the face.

“Ahh!” she yelped and flew across the room, crashing into the wooden table that he had built for himself.

Merlin coughed and he felt his aching lungs fill with air. His strength returned and immediately he shot up.

He now knew that his dream had not been a dream. While he was asleep, his mind had shown him what was happening to his body.

His gaze fell on the young woman who lay on the ground, underneath the collapsed wooden table. He didn’t know how it was possible, but it seemed like this female demon had managed to escape from the Grimoire book...and the first thing she did was to attempt to kill him.

His hand immediately grabbed the knife he had under his pillow. But unexpectedly, the girl did not move.

“Did I kill her?” Merlin wondered and carefully closed the distance between them.

The moment he approached her, he knew what she was. Her sleeping face matched the innocence of an angel and her features were refined and strong: the very definition of feminine beauty. Her slim frame and small shoulders begged for protection from a strong male, and her shapely bosom invited him to embrace her. Her raven black hair was long and lustrous, falling over her shoulders and creating a surreal atmosphere – almost as if he was peering into the strange imagery of a dream.

The only thing she wore was a slightly transparent silk dress, which only hid part of her body and outlined the curvaceous lines of her body.

Everything about her made the man inside him burn with tenderness and compassion. He instinctively wanted to protect her. Everything about her made her appear like a human woman, except for one detail: her ears. Hers ears were long and pointy, similar to that of an elf.

His hands dropped the knife and he kneeled down. It took every last bit of willpower to keep himself under control. The demonic blood in his veins was unaffected, but the human blood he inherited from his mother was drawn to this beautiful creature.

Merlin bit his lower lip. He grabbed a quill that lay on the ground and dipped it in ink. He then drew a rune on the palm of his hand and chanted.

“Oh Holy One, by the soul within me, I ask thee to fulfill my desire...,”

A wizard’s apprentice might have simply cast a protection spell to shield himself from the nymph’s magic, but Merlin was no normal wizard. The spell he had cast onto himself suppressed his human blood and stimulated his demonic blood. Since the nymph’s magic only worked on human males, if his demonic blood gained dominance, then he should have no problem resisting her magic.

The rune in the palm of his hand began to glow bright red. He could feel a glowing heat in his chest. His purple eyes began to glow brightly and his fingernails became claws. This was what he had inherited from his father.

Suddenly, the nymph opened her eyes. Her purple eyes had a hypnotic quality to them, singing to the human man inside Merlin even though he had suppressed his human blood.

“Hold me,” she pleaded while batting her eyelashes.

“Urgh...,” Merlin groaned.

It was to be expected. The nymph was a pureblooded demon while Merlin was a half-blood. Whatever rune he casted to protect himself would scarcely be able to stand up to the magic of a pureblooded nymph.

“Please...I need your help,” the nymph begged.

Her voice was laced with magic that turned the man inside him into a thrashing animal. Had he not cast a spell to stimulate his demonic blood, Merlin would have ripped off her clothes and ravished her.

“You’re not going to win,” Merlin groaned and he used the quill to draw another rune on his left hand.

“Oh Holy One...,” he said with much effort and the second rune began to glow.

Merlin closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief when the second spell finally managed to get the lust-filled man inside of him under control.

“Hold me...I need you to kiss me,” the nymph moaned.

“Stop it, nymph,” Merlin said. “I am not a normal man. You cannot take control of me with your seduction magic.”

But the nymph did not stop. She unbuttoned her dress and exposed her bosom to Merlin.

“I need you,” she whined.

Merlin felt a thump in his chest. Gazing at the bare body of the nymph even caused for the second rune to show signs of weakness, but he did not dare to activate a third rune spell on himself. He was afraid that if he suppressed his human blood any more, than his demon blood would permanently take control of his body.

Merlin closed his eyes and took three deep breaths. He felt his heartbeat slowing down and the man inside him calming.

“Hold me,” the nymph said.

Merlin sighed. This nymph really did not know when to give up. Perhaps she was so confident in her ability to seduce men that it would hurt her pride if she admitted that Merlin was someone whom she could not conquer with her magic.

Ignoring her pleas, Merlin moved the broken wooden table to the side and cleared away the mess. Plenty of precious ink had been spilled, but it was nothing he could not replace.

“Please...I need your help,” the nymph pleaded, her voice so heavily laced with magic that Merlin could feel it on his skin.

“Stop it!” he growled and held a knife to her throat. “I don’t care if you look like a helpless girl, but I will not hesitate to kill you if you do not shut up.”

He knew that he was bluffing and he knew that the nymph knew that too. Her glowing purple eyes did not show even the slightest quiver of fear. Instead, she simply gazed into his eyes, doing her best to hypnotize him.

“You really are a stubborn one, aren’t you,” Merlin sighed and closed his eyes.

He picked her up and threw her onto the straw mattress. Interpreting that as a sign that he wanted her, the nymph began to undress.

Merlin sighed again. No wonder so many men fell in love with nymphs and had their soul sucked out of them.

With lightning speed, he drew a series of runes around the straw mattress and activated them. The runes began to glow and formed a barrier around the nymph. Now, at the very least, the magic in her voice would be weakened before it reached his ears.

The nymph might be stubborn, but she was no fool. Once the barrier was up, she had realized that she could not seduce the man in front of her. The purple glow in her eyes faded and she buttoned up her dress. Feeling the chill of forest, she took Merlin’s blanket and wrapped herself in it.

“What a selfish girl,” Merlin thought. She immediately began to take whatever she needed without a care in the world.

“Such a dull man,” the nymph sighed.

Merlin could tell that she had stopped adding magic into her speech. For the first time, she spoke normally.

Sitting on his wooden chair, Merlin wondered what he should ask her first. How did she escape the Grimoire book? Why did she try to kill him? What was she doing in the human world?

“Say, do you not want to lie with me?” the nymph asked nonchalantly.

“You will only speak when I ask you a question,” Merlin said in a commanding tone.

The nymph let out a breath.

“What is your name?” Merlin asked.

“What is your name?” the nymph returned.

“I asked y-“ Merlin began but the nymph cut him off.

“It is rude for a gentleman not to introduce himself to a lady first.”

Merlin wanted to point out that he wasn’t a gentleman and nor was she a lady. But he decided to not be so stubborn.

“My name is Merlin,” he said.

“I am Asha,” the nymph returned.

There was a moment of silence.

“What is your last name?” Merlin asked.

The nymph laughed. Her eyes began to glow again, although this time it was not because of magic. Merlin wondered if her eyes glowed every time her emotions were elevated.

“YOU are the one who has locked us away, yet you do not even know such a simple thing about us?”

Merlin remained silent, waiting for her to continue.

“We demons do not have surnames, we do not have family,” Asha spat at him. “All we have is one name.”

Merlin looked at her very seriously. “Then I am the same as you. I was born to a human mother and demon father. I do not have a last name. I only go only Merlin.”

The moment he said that, he saw how Asha opened her eyes wide, her eyes glowing with intrigue. He wasn’t sure if that was a part of her seduction magic, for he knew if a woman displayed some sort of interest in the man, it was a way to stroke his pride.

“So you are the filthy half-blood I’ve heard about,” she said. “And here I thought that one of our brothers and sisters had betrayed us.”

She leaned back and lied down on the straw mattress. Merlin studied her with narrowed eyes. Judging by what she had said, he could conclude that she knew that he was the one who had sealed the beasts and demons into the Grimoire book, but she assumed that he was a pure blooded demon. This also answered the questions why she tried to kill him the moment she managed to escape.

But Merlin wanted to be sure, just in case.

“How do you know that I was the one who sealed you inside the book?”

Asha rolled sideways and gazed at him. “You really are a fool, aren’t you?”

“Answer me.”

Asha sighed. “You used your own magic to create the world inside the Grimoire book. The scent of your magic is woven in every fibre of the prison we are trapped in. No demon inside the book hasn’t memorized the scent of your magic. The moment I came out of the book, I knew that you were the creator of the book.”

Merlin decided to remain silent in order to hide his shock. He did not want Asha to know of this weakness of his. Because of his mother’s human blood, his sensitivity towards magic had been dulled. He could only sense when magic was used, but he could not, like Asha said, discern the scent of the magic. To him, Asha’s magic was no different from his. But it appeared that Asha and the other pure blooded demons could identity the scent of magic like human noses could tell apart different foods.

“And I assume you wanted to kill me because I was the one who locked you away,” Merlin said.

Asha flashed him a malicious grin. Her expression was one of spite and extreme hatred, yet it tugged at the heartstrings of the man inside him.

“Yes,” she said. “Killing you with my bare hands would have brought me much joy.”

“But killing me won’t release your brothers and sisters from the Grimoire book,” Merlin said. “The magic of the Grimoire book circulates by itself. The rune creates its own energy in the perfect circle.”

“I know that,” Asha said and her eyes smiled. “But revenge can taste so sweet, no?”

Merlin swallowed. Mere moments ago this nymph was acting like a fair maiden who was in need of a strong man to hold her and protect her, and now her mouth spewed poison.

There was only one more question to be asked.

“How did you escape?” Merlin asked.

“How I escaped?”

“Yes,” Merlin nodded, although he now realized that this was a foolish question. There was no reason why Asha would tell him the weakness of the Grimoire book. Why would she? If she was ever sealed into the book again, she needed keep her method a secret so that she may escape again.

“I did not escape, you let me out!”

“What!”

Merlin sprung up from his chair. How was this possible?

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Asha raised an eyebrow and sat up.

“You do not know?” she tilted her head.

“The Grimoire book’s magic is perfect, how would I let you out?”

Asha stood up and approached Merlin, but she only went as far as the protective barrier allowed her to. It was now that Merlin managed to take in her full beauty for the first time. Merlin heart beat hard. Every aspect of her was meant to seduce a man. She was quite short, her head only reaching up to his shoulder. Her body was slim and curvaceous, capable of making every normal man embracing her. She had long straight raven black hair that reached down to her buttocks and partially covered her pointy ears. Her bangs covered her forehead and partially covered her eyes, but instead of appearing disheveled, it added to her mystique. Her eyes had stopped glowing for the first time and Merlin could see her true eye color. It was a dark purple — the signature color of demonic magic — and her long eye lashes only added to her seductive allure. The only piece of clothing she wore was a white silk dress that was transparent in places. While it covered her breasts, the way it fell allowed Merlin to see an outline of her bosom, making him want to see what was behind this thin layer that hid these wonderful breasts.

Simply gazing upon her body should have brought Merlin to his knees had he not set up the filter barrier. Asha raised her hand tried to touch Merlin, but the barrier acted like a resistant force, pushing her back.

“You truly are a fool...,” Asha muttered and her gaze matched his. “Tell me Merlin, did you grow up with no parents, no master?”

Merlin thought for a moment. He wondered as to what her intention might be by asking him these questions, but he felt that there should be no harm done as long as he was careful with the answers he gave her.

“No,” Merlin shook his head. “When I was still a young child, my father the demon taught me how to use magic and my mother taught me love and compassion. But after they had been killed, I had to survive and study magic on my own.”

“So you had no master.”

Merlin shook his head.

“So the demon we killed was your father...,” Asha mused. “He was a fine demon...but he betrayed us and slept with a human woman.”

“You still haven’t answered my question,” Merlin said, his voice filled with agitation. “How did I let you out?”

A smile played at the corners of Asha’s lips. She knew why Merlin had become annoyed.

“You let me out because you are a fool,” she said.

“What do you mean?” Merlin scowled.

“I mean that you are a fool.”

“Answer the question!” Merlin roared. His demonic blood boiled and his eyes began to glow with a purple light. He could feel his claws growing longer and sharper.

“Ho, ho, just like your father,” Asha mused. “He reacted just like this when we threatened to kill your mother.”

Merlin had enough, he grabbed a nearby knife and pointed it at Asha.

“Answer the question or I will kill you.”

Asha regarded him with even eyes. “You won’t be able to kill me.”

Breathing hard, Merlin wanted to deny it, but he knew what Asha said was true. He might be able to resist her seduction magic the point where he did not become her slave, but not enough to lay a hand on her. Even when he instinctively punched her while she was strangling him, he did not continue with his blows.

“How did I let you out?” Merlin repeated the question again.

“You are truly stubborn and foolish.”

“I could say the same for you.”

Asha frowned. She turned her back on him and sat down on the straw mattress.

“In your dream, did you not see that I came out of your body?” she asked.

“Yes, I saw that,” Merlin answered.

“That meant that I came out from the Grimoire book because of whatever desire you may have in your heart,” Asha said. “I was able to come out of the Grimoire book because you wanted me to come out.”

“No, no, no,” Merlin shook his head. “That is impossible. I had the Grimoire book with me when I went to sleep. How can I wish for you to come out?”

Asha smiled. “You are more foolish than a wizard’s apprentice.”

She took his blanket and wrapped herself in it again. Immediately Merlin could feel his heartbeat slowing down. The man inside him stopped fighting against his suppression spells and calmed down.

“Your magic sealed me inside the Grimoire book, and only your magic can set me free. I came out of the Grimoire book when you were still asleep, when you made your desire known to the Grimoire and it decided to fulfill your wish.”

Merlin opened his mouth, but then closed it again. He didn’t need to ask more questions to understand. He may have been a fool in Asha’s eyes, but at the very least he understood his own heart. Before he went to sleep, he had cursed King Arthur and wished for a friend, a companion, a partner whom he could share his humble home with.

His gaze fell on Asha. Had the Grimoire book been corrupted by the demons sealed inside it? Why in the seven hells would the Grimoire answer his desperate wish with a demon he had locked away, and a nymph no less. It was perhaps the only demon that he could not bring himself to kill...even as she was trying to kill him.

“You are lonely man,” Asha stated as a matter of fact.

“How do you know that?” Merlin asked, but he already knew the answer.

“I can see it in your eyes, I can feel it in every word you speak,” Asha said. “You crave for a woman in your life.”

His gaze shifted to the Grimoire book, which lay on the ground amid the mess that Asha’s killing attempt caused. The Grimoire book was made using his magic. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Grimoire book was part of who he was. But why would his own magic summon forth a nymph to sooth his loneliness? He knew how dangerous nymphs could be, and a beautiful nymph like Asha would be very difficult for him to resist even if he had a wife, mistress and children.

“Heh,” Merlin laughed. Maybe Asha wasn’t so wrong in calling him a fool.

“You are right,” Merlin said. “I am lonely. I am so lonely that I feel that I am going mad. I am shunned by humans and demons. I have no place that I can call home, and no person I can call a friend. But I know where my loyalty lies. I will serve King Arthur until the end of my days.”

He picked up the Grimoire book. “And now it is time for you to return to the Grimoire book.”

“I am not going back,” Asha stated firmly and wrapped herself tightly in Merlin’s blanket. “Only a fool would expect me to jump back into the book.”

Merlin had expected this and placed his hand on the iron lock.

“Oh Holy One...,” he began to chant but almost immediately stopped. The moment he weakened the first rune on the Grimoire book, he felt an intense surge in demonic energy. The cover began to glow in a purple light and he could even hear some dark laughter.

“Damn!” he swore and quickly reactivated the rune. The glow vanished and Merlin breathed a sigh of relief.

“You fool!” Asha laughed so hard that she wrapped her arms around her stomach. “Merlin, you are the greatest fool!”

“What did you do to the book!” Merlin demanded.

“I did not do anything,” Asha laughed and lay sideways on his bed. Her silky smooth hair spread itself on the bed, inviting Merlin to join her.

“Why is the Grimoire book suddenly like this?”

“Merlin, Merlin...,” Asha breathed and calmed down. “When the other demons saw that you summoned me to your world, they knew that unless I go back into the book by my own will, you would have to open the lock to force me to go back. That is why they have all summoned every bit of magic they have to prepare for the moment when you open the book to send me back. Now when you open the book, all my brothers and sisters will burst out and tear you apart.”


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