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Sunset. 
 

The final hours of the fourth day.

 

Weary and low on hope, the hunter falls to his knees and washes down his face in the nearby stream. Sounds of the dense forest have come to a hush, the wildlife prepared for nightfall. The monsters of this region are ruthless, the strongest the man has ever faced, yet it won't deter him away from the goal. Countless new wounds, scars painted across tanned skin – trophies to forever mark his longest hunt. More satisfactory from the endeavors once his prey is captured.

Yet, it's becoming reckless and more dangerous then ever. Supplies are low, areas for shelter from the Night Beasts scarce. Chances of getting out here alive, with his target or not, are slim. But he has to keep fighting. He must.

I'll find you...! Even if it kills me!” 

A faint noise in the distance breaks the stillness, a splash further up the stream. A common noise, yet it startles the human. It's been all but silent besides the rustle of leaves in the breeze for the past hour.

Likely nothing,” comes in thought, “but better safe then sorry. Besides, need to keep moving.” After his canteen is filled and wounds patched, he moves silently through the brush. Within minutes does he arrive at a pond where two streams meet – the clear waters catching reflections of dimmed light. As expected, there's no movements, no sound. There comes a sigh, his thoughts were correct. Perhaps the exhaustion is producing noises, that or the onset infection of an earlier injury. “Should find shelter.”  Right as his back turns, that familiar splash is heard once again. Head whips over a shoulder, eyes at full alert and scanned all around. It doesn't take long to see a shape, the source of the noise. The hunter kneels into taller brush entranced by the beautiful sight.

Near the center stands a slender figure by its back at thigh height within the pond, sun-kissed skin peppered with umber freckles. A short, fluffed tail shakes away droplets as a hand parts through ashen hair – its pointed ears wiggling along under a pair of tanned antlers. 

A Cer-fae!” What luck! Exactly the creature he's been after. But is it the same one he's sought for these unmerciful days? Soon as it faces the hunter's relative direction, there's no doubt about it. The distinct marking under those honey colored eyes, petite nose and angled jawline – it's him. The mysterious deer-like creature that's captivated the human since first glance. 

“You...!” He no longer veils his presence and boldly steps to the water's edge. The fae's sight locks to the muscular figure, expression in shock. 

“The human,” he responds in a gentle tone. 

“The one and only! A bath before fleeing home?”

“Indeed.” Despite the initial surprise, the creature lacks any fear when approaching the other. He steps fully out from the pond and inspects the hunter with a keen gaze. “Thought you've given up by now.”

“Have no reason to.” Leaning to the side of the tree, he flashes a toothy smile in return. “Already told you I'll hunt you to the end of the world.”

“Your determination is admirable and also not one to underestimate. Yet...” Nose twitches for a brief moment as he gathers a set of leather garbs left nearby. “You won't be human for long.” 

“You Cer-fae keep surprising me. No idea you creatures possessed that power.” A hand comes to press over the armor at his shoulder, the leathers stitched and stained faintly with blood. “Can smell a Night Beast's bite?” 

“Us guardians of the forest are sworn to fight the foul plague of twilight along with any other threats that tread our land, you know well. We must know all signs. Funny, is it not? Try to kill me as human only for me to kill you once you've turned.” 

“Who said I'm out to kill you? Never did clarify my purpose.” A brow of the fae raises inquisitively. A mark of power for humans is to kill his kind, be it a Cer-fae or any other fae. But the hunter's intentions are clearly not that, otherwise there would already be a knife in his gut. Defenseless, not a stitch of clothing and distracted by causal discussion – what better time? Interest is piqued, golden eyes narrowed.

“Then tell me, human,” he begins placing the fur and scaled armor on, “while we're at peace, do remedy my thoughts. Why it is you hunt me? To sell my antlers or body for wealth? To drain my magic to further power your allied elven mages?”

“Neither,” he replies without hesitation, “I'm after you.” A vague answer, the fae grows ever more curious. 

“Then to keep me as a slave? Walk me around your stone cities like a pet and sideshow for the masses.” The human responds with a shake of the head and stands up straight, gloved hands brushed down his attire.

“Would never do such a thing to a gorgeous man like yourself. Your beauty is unworthy of shackles.” Yellow eyes round out, a faint dust of red grown at his freckled cheeks. Humans are known for their charm, yet to have flattery pointed at him is all too embarrassing. Not even his own kin has complimented his appearance in such a manner. 

“Gor-gorgeous? My beauty? Did you use the wrong terms? I am nothing of that.” The realm inhabits fairer creatures, ones less reclusive and roam the same streets as humans. Why him? 

“I beg to differ. You've captivated me since I laid eyes on you. The chase is kept because I want you. As you Cer-fae call it...” The hunter subconsciously licks over his lips. “... mating.” The stag is now unsure if to be disgusted or flattered, nose wrinkled up.

“You chase me, risk your life to... bed me? Interesting...” Not the answer that was expected by a long shot. So all this blood and feared nights are simply for sexual gain? Humans, brainless things they can be at times. Never-the-less, the creature puts on a smile. “Then answer me this. Why didn't you take me while I lacked garbs? Anytime during this peaceful conversation?”

“Simple,” the other responds with a nod, “because I want to gain it. The chase we've had has my blood boiling. The thrill is unlike any I've experienced! If I'm to take you, it can't be handed over without a fight!” The determination is more prevalent then initial belief, the fae muses. A fair 'huntsman,' in a perplexing way. Is this the meaning of this human's past pursuits no matter the prey? Regardless, this adds an interesting piece to the puzzle. Tufted ears give a flick.

“Strange human you are, but a motive is a motive. Then that shall be our deal. If you're able to catch me, then I'm all yours.” A mischievous grin creeps to his face, which is all too surprising to the hunter. Is the creature showing its true colors or are Cer-fae more fickle than stories play them out to be? “The thing is, you won't. You never will. And judging by that scent, this will be our last chase. A Night Beast you'll become within hours.”

“Then you'll run slow for me, right?” replies the human just as playful, arms folded over chest with a challenging look.

“You wish to gain, yes? I'll be running till breathless, hard and fast enough until my ankles are numb.” Those ears pin down and stance stiffens, as if ready to dart away at any given moment. The human's posture shifts as well, grin wild.

“Just what I wanted to hear...!” Gold eyes meet turquoise in an intense stare. Neither unmoving for seconds, what turns to a minute, only to be broken by a twig snapping nearby.

 

The chase is on.

 

The fae pivots at his heels and leaps through the brush, his opponent responding in a flash. There's a reach out, intended to snag an arm before it truly begins, but completely misses – fingers grabbed at air. Worth a shot, like hell that will ruin the drive. Without missing a step, the human is in full pursuit, heavy footfalls leaving the forest bed in crumbles. The tree line moves faster and faster as the pace increases, dead set on keeping his prey within sight. The summer breeze brushes hard against face and blows back unruly, viridescent hair. The final pursuit of the fae and his human life. It's all or nothing.

“Indulge me!” the fawn shouts, clearly heard like the forest itself is speaking, “With this being our last fight, please do tell your name!”

“Tch, how amusing!” he howls back, “Seeing as you asked so nicely, it's Basshi!”

“Hmph, for a human, it's not horrible! Then allow me to tell mine, that way you'll know the name of the one that slays you come your transformation!” His head turns over a shoulder, impressed he's able to keep up in spite of his injuries. This won't be boring. “I go by Ao'yagi, it's been a pleasure. Sadly, our time together has ended!” 

 

--- 

 

Faster, go faster!” 

 

The blur of the other figure is barely within sight as the hunter races through the forest brush, the soft glow of the setting sun guiding the way. The injury at his right shoulder is all but burning much like lungs and soles, but he has to press forward. A log jumped, a rock dodged – so close, yet so far. Passion sears his intentions, from the prize he may receive and the ring of his prey's name.  

Ao'yagi. 

It's beautiful, much like the fae himself. A rarity in it's own to hear the name of a supernatural creature, a blessing. Yet... this is it. His mortal life will end within hours, soon joining the monsters of the night. Mindless, only out for blood – his friends and family forever gone. Why? Why is he spending his last shreds of sanity chasing after a dream? A stupid one at that. Then again, there's not enough time to return to the city no matter how fast he runs before the curse sets in.

 

This is it. The final hunt.  

 

“Ao'yagi!” he screams through the woods, “Don't hold back on me!” The fae's agility is being tested to it's limits. With every turn and tumble he sprints in a way he never has before. He doesn't really understand it himself why the challenge was accepted. It reeks of absurdity unfitting for a high ranking warrior such as himself. And yet here he is. More of a thrill seeker than he made himself to be.  

"And you the same!" he calls back in a taunt as he glides seemingly effortless at the forest terrain. Steps light as the wind against the pursuit.  

For the passing days, all thoughts and movements have been pinpointed in capturing this stag. Unknown to Ao'yagi has the human watched, studied little movements from bounds over forest bed to how the elements themselves lift the Cer-fae into heights unimaginable by mortals. It's become predictable, in a way. Better, this isn't his first hunt of the elusive forest dwellers. Ao'yagi is skilled, definitely a warrior class, yet weaknesses can be exploited. 

 

That is... if the right opportunity arises. 

 

So he waits, seconds turning to minutes in pursuit – stamina drained to ceaseless puffs of airs for life. The fae is cocky, all knowing he'll win this battle, which is another card against the table. He'll eventually be open, the right time to strike upon him. 

Keep going, you can do this, Basshi! You aren't weak!!”

“You'll be mine!” he again shouts, “Only a matter of time!”

Ao'yagi indulged the human because he knew there's no way the other would triumph. He's been doing this for days after all, injured and spent. He considers this as a benevolent act given that he would have to say goodbye to his humanity, among other things. He smirks at the other's confidence and carries on. Despite self-assurance, he doesn't let up one bit. A high tree was in sight, so he opted to climb that. Surely Basshi can't reach that height with how heavy his being is at the moment. Agile and cleaver as ever, the fae escaped by doing much the same on an earlier chase. 

 

Not this time.  

 

Sights lock and study how the creature maneuvers up the bark – there's a pattern. To the trained eyes of an elite hunter, the subtle sways and leaps are easy to follow. Here's his chance, otherwise his prey will be lost within the canopy and take another hour or so to track if hidden in the tree line. He closes some distance, Ao'yagi around half way up the massive timber when a move is made. A throwing dagger – which he sparsely uses – is snatched up from his belt and thrown with precision, aimed at a looser area of the fae's armor near a hip.

Ao'yagi was sure he'd be able to escape within the canopy. Once he reached his goal it would be checkmate for Basshi and that'll be the last he would see of him at least in conscious human form. A branch was within his reach. From there he would pull himself and shuffle through the branches.  

But then he felt something snag. His belt was pinned on the trunk of a tree with-

 

A... dagger?!”

 

His footing loosened and he tripped on the next branch. The stem he's supposed to hold onto went pass by his fingers. The next thing he knew he was falling. It was unbelievable! How could've he miscalculated?! Time seemed to be in a stand still until he hit the forest floor on his rump with a rough thud. 

"Oof!"

From calculation did the human expect the fae to fiddle the knife, keep his grip with a free hand from until freed. Yet there he is on the grassy earth, belt torn to shreds and completely exposed. Better yet, the gap between them is minimal – a solid jump is all it would take. And that's the hunter's decision. Mustering whatever strength left, a last dash and leap of faith is undergone. Despite his injured and bulky form, leathered hands make direct contact with the fae's shoulders and slam down – upper body doing the same. Their chests meet, each hearts beating a mile a minute, turquoise hues fully embracing the golden.

 

Beautiful... absolutely stunning!” 

 

He's witnessed the creature lacking a stitch yet this... this becomes the highlight. Pupils dilated, the shock prevalent – the hunt is a success!  

 

Ao'yagi is his!  

 

“Caught... you...~" 

Chapter Text

Ao'yagi attempted to snap himself to awareness after his graceless landing in a pinch. Mustering strength and magic, an ornate spear is summoned to his hold; imbedded with enchantment that he could materialize anytime and would always return to him when thrown. A staple of Cer-fae warriors. But it was all in vain, grasped too late. The next thing he knew he is being pinned down and stared by those beady eyes. He was shocked and speechless, to say the least and his weapon is let go then disseminated. All he can do was lie there like a well... a caught deer. A summoned weapon, quite a large one for the situation, the hunter ponders. Did Ao'yagi expect to have the advantage in a limited space, like that would intimidate? Must be a defensive queue, but it's nothing new from these creatures. If anything, it's more knowledge. 

 

A spearman then, hrm?”  

 

If not for strength advantage at this very moment, agility would easily take him over in a one-on-one fight. Lucky him. Once showing a victorious grin, the human partakes in his prize by first dipping in between the junction of the fae's shoulder and neck. Nostrils flair, a deep breath taken – amazing. His scent is like the forest itself amplified, each flower and herb stirring his senses. 

“Surprised...~?” he growls lowly, voice strained with fatigue. The fae shudders with the skin contact, faced tinged with a blush and ears twitching in alarm. With these, he was still pretty much frozen in disbelief. The human was heavy and strong for his kind, almost bordering that of an ogre. For one thing, Cer-fae may possess extraordinary dexterity – more so of himself – but they aren't one for beings of brute force.  He inhales and sigh deeply, the reality of defeat slowly dawning upon him. He supposed he must keep his word. His kind was that of integrity above all else after all.  

"You win. A deal is a deal," he replies, defeated.  

A man of his word, how noble. Granted should be expected from the respectful creatures, yet his proposition wasn't what you call 'ordinary' or 'pure.' But as Ao'yagi said... 

“Don't worry,” the human begins in a hushed tone, “I'll take good care of my Bambi~.” Much as he wants to relish in the successful hunt, there's no time for it. The chase has lasted longer then warranted, the last sheds of sunlight out on the distant horizon. Any moment will the beasts of twilight awaken. Always the option of finding shelter, bound to be a cave somewhere by the mountain bed but who's to say the Cer-fae will follow? He'd have the prime opportunity to escape.  

 

No, it has to be this way. The clock is ticking.  

 

A gentle peck is given to Ao'yagi's cheek before withdrawing, hands now fiddling at the leathers on his midsection. The hefty belt is shed before the trousers are pulled, just enough for his shaft to spring. Looks like a buildup won't be necessary, every inch is already throbbing and ready for the other male. Guess the chase was enough stimulation as is, that or the catch itself. He pauses there for a moment, eyeing the fae's reaction. 

Ao'yagi also supposes the deed will be done here and now, given the circumstance. Daylight is on it's last shreds and certainly the hunter doesn't know him well enough to trust him. At least Basshi is still trying to be a gentleman about this, that much he can appreciate.  

 

...'Bambi?'”

 

He wonders why the other called him that. But it seems it was too trivial to ask as Basshi went down to business. The fae couldn't help but stare at it. He hasn't even encountered any stag of that girth. He couldn't help but gulp, his ears fold backwards in an obvious sign of nerves. 

Hm, no words? What a shame,” the human chuckles in thought.

Yet that intense look and pinning ears says it all, just as beautiful when nervous as well. No time to bask though, much as he desires. So he goes right into the stripping down of his prey. Unlike himself, each piece of the fae's armor is shed till all that's left is his bracers – don't need to worry about those. Luckily Ao'yagi is obedient in being undressed, even to the point he would maneuver his body so clothing will slide off easier. He figures no need to be difficult about this and give both of them a hard time. Besides, he wanted to show he wasn't a sore loser especially since he deemed his mistake pretty stupid.  

“Four days...” Basshi murmurs with a sultry grin, “Four days I've hunted you now. I've been blessed by the Mountain God himself... You're just as beautiful as him...~!” Greedy, hungry eyes scale down the beautiful figure beneath – noting the clusters of freckles at the chest and angular hip bones. Wouldn't be the first time seeing them, yet the hunter is all but in awe. Again, flushed and nervous, ears still laying flat with uncertainty. What did he get himself too? How humiliating! But then at the mention of a certain mountain god's name, alarm sparks. 

"Don't say that about Lord Toudou! He mostly doesn't care about what happens to the forest, but if he hears you, he will surely smite you. You don't want to be cursed twice, do you?" He couldn't help but warn. The god Toudou wasn't someone to be reckoned with even with passive naysaying. He's an envious god, and a powerful one at that. A scale that even fae were afraid of. 

“Tch, going to 'die' anyway...! What's another curse before I change? It's the bloody truth! You're too beautiful for this world...” A way of giving up on hope, makes all too much sense. No one has ever survived the cursed bite, the most powerful of mages and priests of the region have made countless attempts to come up fruitless – there's no use in fighting. By the end of this, he will be part of the pack; family and dreams nothing but empty thoughts. 

 

One moment to survive, to be part of the this world as a sane mortal. At least he'll get one good romp before then. Should have packed some grog too. 

 

"Mou! It's because of your ridiculous stubbornness that's why you got into this in the first place." Ao'yagi kept being his prideful self even with this shameful situation. Then again, it was also pretty dumb to make this deal. But of course, he will never admit to that. 

“Lecture me before I turn? You hoity-toity Cer-fae never change!” Basshi then reaches over to his discarded belt and rummages through a pouch, plucking up a small jar of translucent fluid. Herb extract, useful for healing wounds and to stave off hunger in time of strife, yet also a fantastic lubricant for machinery parts. In this case to assist in getting the most of their mating. The lid is unscrewed and a fair sum is smeared across a hand, first dipping in so a finger presses to the fae's entrance. Ao'yagi closely watches the hunter take out and apply the certain sap, all too familiar of both the substance and the gesture. An all-purpose herb for medicinal and industrial use, a necessary item for long trips. But he knew what it's meant for now.  

Not his first time to go about this anyway. 

Still, is quite embarrassing given he's going to do this with a stranger. As he felt the pad of the other's finger prodded into him, he reluctantly splayed his legs to avoid having this hurt. Dying of shame, features beet red, but in a twisted way he did deserve this after all. Thankfully the hunter isn't being a brute.

Basshi figures it's best not to have his last lay a painful, potentially bloody mess. And by no means does he want Ao'yagi hurt. From what he can gather, this has to be love at first sight. Why else would he chase down this particular fae? If he just wanted a good lay from one, there's always the underground markets where, if having the right amount of gold, you're allowed to do anything with the creatures. There's potentially more he desires from Ao'yagi, but sadly, their kind are not on the best of terms. Even if he survived somehow, he doubts those wishes will come true. 

Humans, they do tend to chase after outrageous dreams.  

A fair coating is applied to the ring and insides with a single thrust of the digit, his main focus not on teasing or warming-up. The chase already did that, but a little can't do any wrong. Ao'yagi grimaces at the intrusion but it wasn't enough to hurt yet. Legs spread even further by instinct, so as to make this less uncomfortable. So far so good. He can feel his insides being stirred and something else awakening.

 

Feels good...” he keeps hidden in thought. “No... it doesn't! Come on, Ao'yagi! This is humiliating!” 

 

The sounds of the nocturnal bugs start to buzz, a flicker of fireflies in the distant tree line. Can't linger any longer. Withdrawing, the rest is quickly wiped away on his girth before lifting the smaller's hips upwards – the tip pressed firm against him. 

“Do me a favor, will you~?” Turquoise eyes meet the golden ones in a fiery stare, the first few centimeters slipping in. “Say my name...” Having himself raised up doesn't look all too regal, but Ao'yagi supposes that only fuels the human's desire. He would rather have this end quick. He gasped the moment it enters and is stretched, the impressive girth a bit overwhelming. He relished the feeling at first, a soft moan tumbling from his lips, then to the human's request. Figures it isn't too much to indulge him since he was a dead man anyway.  

"Basshi..." he says in a hushed tone.

 

And what a fuel to the fire it is. 

 

Freckled skin splotched in red, lean limbs spread and vulnerable under his strength, the slick warmth of his shaft being engulfed. And then... his name, it's akin to a siren's song from the fae's lips or the sweetest honey from exotic realms. 

“Yes...!” From here does the brute side of the hunter awaken in a snap, the sheer size bucked fully into the tunnel without warning. The sap does miracles in access, but there's no denying how Ao'yagi stretches to unfathomable means to fit. So tight, the human can't help but snap his head backwards and groan out. “A-ahh-! Say it... again! Louder!”

"G-aahh!" the fae gasps, head rolled back as well. Now a pain settles in but nothing too unbearable thanks to the salve. This was all too much, but again, he isn't finding this unpleasant at all. How strange...maybe his own perversion is growing with this new experience. 

"B-Basshi..." he says with higher volume as requested, fisting clumps of grass to stabilize himself – along with his sanity.

So good...!! He feels amazing...” 

His shaft is kept deep, each sway of his large hips striking the furthest depths time after time. Why beat around the bush and waste precious time on intimate, careful lovemaking? It's all or nothing. During certain thrusts does he feel the slight tickling tip of the fae's tail up against his scrotum. How interesting! If only Ao'yagi was flipped over, wouldn't be able to keep his hands off it. At the same time, this posture is far superior seeing as he's able to relish the expressions. How the fae moans, those thin lips parted out for air, the flush of red at shoulders and chest. 

 

His beautiful stag.

 

“Mmmm, my Bambi...~!” he growls in fitted lust, “You like that, hm? Being violated by a human cock... so dirty, isn't it~?!"

"Y-you don't have to be so vulgar!" the other whines, though his expression thoroughly betrays him. He was panting, lungs on fire, more so now than during the chase. His mewls resonated throughout the canopy, ears and tail twitch in exhilaration. But the most obvious of all is that his own arousal has awakened stiff.  

Utterly humiliating! 

He's being ravaged by a human who would turn into a monster in any given moment and yet he was enjoying this. Obviously Basshi is drinking that up and rubbing it at his face. Yet, he couldn't hide anything at this point. How could he when every thrust of Basshi's length was stimulating his most sensitive areas so delightfully.

“Buaha! Is it too much for the fawn~?” The hunter shows the wildest of grins as a hand curves up Ao'yagi's hipbone to grasp the awakened manhood. And to think this situation would be one sided, he's amused by just how firm and needy it is. A fae who gets turned on by being screwed, let alone touched, by a human – it's unheard of! What adventures has this male undergone to react in such a way? 

Ao'yagi grows more interesting, a damn shame this will be his only day at his side. And over him. But like hell will he stop being vulgar, not when he'll die at any given moment. In time with the thrusts come the movement of hand, thick fingers firm around him. “You love it...your cock is throbbing for me~!” 

"Ahhh! Don't say that!" Deny as he might, what's obvious is obvious. Of course Basshi will really rub that in too. Why, it's part of the human's thrill – he's easy to read. The added grasp makes him wail even more, having to bite his lip and shut his eyes to not be so overwhelmed. But even that proves futile as he could feel the spasm below build-up that is threatening to erupt sooner than later. His toes curl and his leg raise higher out of reflex, now at the peak of arousal. "Basshi..."  

Oh no! Now he's even saying the human's name without being asked. This is a new low for him. But then again, if he just let go then maybe it'll be better. Besides, not like anybody will ever know. Soon the hunter will turn and he has to be eliminated. Then there will be no one who will taunt him of this shameful act. And by gods did Basshi pick the right guy to crush on – he's eating the attention up like sugar berries. Did he get that one perverted fae, the one who melts into a puddle of ecstasy from being violated? With those legs raised up, it's no trouble to turn in and streak a line of saliva up a calf – a dark chuckle caught in his throat. 

 

Saying my name like that... fuck!”

 

How that makes his cock pulse within, his own peak to come faster than he'd like. Dammit, it's too good to end!  

“Mmmm, you goin' come for me, Bambi~?” he says through ragged breaths. A thumb comes in to press hard against the slit and toys with the built up burbles of pre-cum. “I'll be sure to fill you up once you do~!"

The fae is speechless with the human's lewd taunting, but his body already says a lot for him. With the way Basshi is pointing it out and pounding on him, he's surely not going to last long. As if on cue when being asked does his length twitch and dribble with more pre-fluids. A little more stroking and pressing, all it takes for him to lose control completely. 

"Ahh...Basshi...Basshi...!" The fae arcs his back and shuts his eyes with the intensity of his climax. Ribbons of fluid spurts on the human's hand and on his torso, surely tightening immensely at the height of ecstasy. It won't be long until his partner would probably do the same. 

Yes, scream his name and feed his already overblown ego – that's it. With how the fae yelps, it's almost like the entire forest is doing so, the grassy bed below suddenly feeling akin to the relaxing comfort of a mattress. Try as he may to keep his sanity in check, but those walls become even tighter, sucking him and driving his manhood to the point of aching in all the right ways. 

“F-fuck... yes!” Blurred vision catches the spray of fluids and encouraged the hunter to assemble whatever remaining strength into the final bucks. Soiled hand makes way to the smaller's hip for leverage, the weighty girth mindlessly slamming within. Hot and compact, the human is left a breathless, shaky mess by the time his climax comes – gruff voice filling the tree line. “Ao'yagi...~!!”  

Wave after wave of warm fluids assaults the tightness until milked dry, his colossal form shivering. Ao'yagi's eyes begin to water from the sensations, the human's essence was warm and plenty churning his insides. The lasting dribbles of liquid spill over his abdomen, a last wave of pleasure before it subsides. He lays there on the grassy earth for a moment, trying to regain his strength and senses. Lower half is pretty sore, that's a given, but it'll eventually subside sooner or later. Cer-fae do have fast healing capabilities compared to other creatures. For something he was simply obligated to do, he ended up liking it too much for comfort. Oh well. Again, no one will know. 

 

His secret. 

 

Worth it, worth it...,” the hunter's thoughts repeat, the tension left to be replaced with the pain of a throbbing heart.  

That and the wound at his right shoulder, which has reopened under his armor. With everything rode out, panting out for dear life, he completely withdraws and falls back first to the ground – hazed eyes up at the thick canopy. 

 

Huh, barely any sunlight left. This is how it ends... huh?” 

 

To experience likely the best orgasm of his life, to bed a supernatural creature and lay here – for the inevitable death by the jaws of a Night Beast or by the fae's hand. What a way to go. 

 

Oddly enough, he can't help but smile. 

Chapter Text

The fae's attention returns upon the thud, the feeling of removal – the human must have collapsed. Slowly, he rises to his feet and immediately goes to the side of the other, an ear by his chest checking for a heartbeat. It's erratic, but still there. Then he checks the human's consciousness by shaking him gently and tapping a cheek in a light slap. 

"Basshi...Can you still hear me?"

Basshi is ready to embrace the jaws of death when there's a series of gentle presses on his exhausted figure. That... isn't a Night Beast, he'd be in shreds by now.

No, that's...”

Turquoise eyes flutter open, his pupils slit out like the reptilian creatures and receives a clear view of the beautiful fawn – still flushed and not wearing a stitch. Why is he still here? Shouldn't he have fled to safer ground or at least ready himself for the upcoming attacks? Only been a handful of seconds then, funny. Time itself seemed to have slowed down. Is this part of the transformation? 

“H-hey...” he replies airy and weak, “Get... out of here...! Can let... me die here before I try... to kill you...!”

For the better, Ao'yagi should end the hunter's life now to save both of them the trouble with him encountering a Night Beast and relieve the excruciating pain of transformation. It's the right thing to do. He summons his spear properly this time, then taking a stance aimed directly at Basshi's heart. He's ready to give an ending blow but as he stares at the human's face, he finds his hands unsteady. Why can't he do this now when he's done it so many times before? Killing a potential night beast isn't something new. 

 

... what's wrong with me?! I... can't!”

 

The weapon shines in the faded sunlight, the human knows the outcome. This works too, to be slayed now instead of later. His eyes once again fluttered close and lets his body relax, will make it easier that way. Don't fight. What's the point? One strike, all it would take. Near painless and the scent of his blood would be a great distraction for Ao'yagi to flee. It's over.

Sighing heavily, the fae released his weapon once more. Instead he reached for a pack on his discarded belt and took out a pill. A powerful tranquilizer both for hunting and healing, another survival essential. Sometimes he would grind it up and coat his weapon with it to derive sleep from a target. Other times he would offer it to someone in pain to alleviate symptoms of a sickness. He's not sure if it'll work on Basshi but he has to try at least. The item is placed in his mouth and then delivered it to the suffering human via a kiss. He pushes it within Basshi's throat with his tongue until he was sure the other swallowed it. Hopefully that'll buy him more time until he can think of what to do beyond that. For now, he begins to remove Basshi's shoulder armor to properly dress the wound.

Just what is the fae up to? Before he realizes it, their lips are locked in a sweet kiss – is this a goodbye gift? He all but melts into the warmth even with an item invading his throat. Plans to kill him off with a drug instead, he assumes – less messy that way. But then why is his armor being shed? 

There's so many questions but he lacks strength to ask. Simple words are enough to make his lungs burn, like they're draining his remaining essence out. The wound is indeed reopened, the blood a mixture of crimson and the sickly black Night Beasts produce. Around the bite mark are inky scales beginning to form, like moss growing up the side of a tree. An hour at most, the fae would conclude from his knowledge of the transformation process. Despite the pain of speaking, the hunter has to retort. 

“Stop...! It's... not going to... c-change anything!! You i-idiot!”

"Don't speak. It'll make things harder for you." the fae says firmly as he tended. He grimaced seeing how infected it is with Night Beast residue but makes a quick work out of disinfecting and bandaging it. 

Okay that's done. Now what?” 

Within minutes does the tranquilizer’s effect enter the hunter's veins. Whatever tightness in his limbs loosening and ache of his organs changing to a dull tingle. It's an odd mixture of relaxing and terrifying to be this helpless. He knows how it feels to be the prey now.

Ao'yagi mills for a moment who to turn to in this situation. Surely he must know someone who can handle a curse such as this.

Then his head snaps with an idea. 

He has a friend like that indeed, someone brimming of curse knowledge. An easy decision to turn to his forbidden, but closest friend. Surely he'd have an answer. In a jiffy, he wipes the excess stickiness from their mating and quickly redresses both of them, time being of the essence. Then he started taking Basshi on his shoulder. The human is heavy, but he's no weakling himself – even if he is lightweight. With that, they made their way towards the cave of his companion. The rest of Basshi's strength is placed into his legs in the shift and soon enough he's... standing? 

Why? What the hell is Ao'yagi doing?!” Each footfall is another wrack of pain shot through his spine despite the numbing drug, heart pounding just as fast during the mating. Drenched in sweat, vision blurred, the hunter follows along with the fae's pace somehow keeping himself conscious. 

“Where...” he growls under heavy breaths, “are we going...? Why... are you... t-trying to help me...?”

"I told you not to speak," Ao'yagi reiterates partly out of concern of added stress and partly because he's unsure how to answer him really. Why is he helping this lost cause of a human? Was it because of pity? Because they shared an intimate moment no matter how little it is? He really couldn't answer now for sure. He just kept walking and walking with Basshi supported on his shoulder, rushing as best as he could before things get worse. "...I refuse to give up until you've fully turned. If there's still a silver or humanity in you then there's still hope. I know someone who can help."

Help? No one in this world can!”

Well, by the 'natural' means of magic and people of the realm. In the depths of Hell, where souls and blood are currency, would likely hold the cure but not without a hefty cost. Forever a servant to a demon lord, your friends or family slayed – there's no way that's where Ao'yagi is taking him. Unless... is there a way he's close to a powerful entity without signing a contract? This fae is full of mysteries.

 

---

 

Not long after a cave was in sight, the pair immediately heading inside with the fae looking for something amongst the wall. When he located a certain stone, he pushed and a secret door opened – revealing a hidden abode. The place was fully furnished with heavy velvet draping all around modern and classy, almost fit for a King. A stark contrast to the damper cave outside.

“Junta, are you here? I need your help!”

From what Basshi's shaky vision can make out, it's almost like they walked into a fancy brothel on the richer side of the capital. Is an onset of a fever coming with the curse too or something? Or did he already go to heaven, because this is a form or paradise. His sense of smell is enhanced, a bonus to the transformation, and picks up whiffs of expensive cologne, wine and... is that peach tea? 

Yup, dead! There's no way a place like this is in a cave! I'm right!”

“Ao'yagi? What a pleasant surprise~!” From a side corridor does the slender figure of a humanoid creature come fluttering into view, his whip-like tail swished around in delight. His best friend coming to visit, how delightful! Things were starting to get boring, it's like the other knew. A grin, small fangs presented, leathery wings spreads as he circles the pair with a curious gaze. “And by what help do you need, hm? Where to hide the body?” he jests, “Where to lead his soul after death? This big guy doesn't have much left in him. Tsk, tsk.” He waggles a painted finger at the fae. “What kind of a Prince are you~?” 

“Very funny Junta!” Ao'yagi retorts, nose crinkled and brows furrow at the accusing finger. He can’t afford to dilly-dally right now even if he wanted to. He has a human to save. “He’s been bitten by a Night Beast. Surely you know a way to stop the transformation?” 

Or at least the fae would hope so. Is it wrong to place his hopes towards his demonic friend? Junta, whose formal name is Te’zhima, is wise beyond this mortal realm. They also have a deep bond they share since childhood, so Junta would never refuse him. It’s just a matter if his ability is up to par with the curse or not. 

“Alright, alright. If that is what his highness desires~,” the incubus says in glee. Junta has encountered this numerous times but never has he attempted to save someone inflicted of the beast’s curse, only to give them a painless passage. He thought this was a good opportunity to test his skill in curse breaking, he must. Never a dull moment with the Cer-fae. “Place him on the table and make sure his bindings are secure. I’ll see what I can do.”

The fae obliged without a second thought and hauls Basshi on an operating table-like furnishing after a short walk to Junta's study corridor – then strapping the large man with the leather belts provided. With that he prays the human to be cured. Somehow. The rest if up to Junta.

That's... an incubus? Great, just /great/!!” Basshi screams in thought.

Ao'yagi must be under a spell to come to one of these foul creatures. No wonder he's mysterious, he's being lead around by a demon – a powerful breed to boot. Incubi and their female counterpart aren't banished from Hell often – they enjoy their antics far too much to expel their contract and lose most their power – so this one... must be different. Perhaps out for something in particular? But what was it he just heard? 

 

'Prince'... 'your highness?'” 

 

Is Ao'yagi legit part of the royal family?! If that's the case...he – 

“G-gah!!” Lost in thought, he paid little mind to his surroundings and soon enough he's strapped down to the furniture. This demon has this laying around? 'Experimentation' or used for something more kinky perhaps? 

 

Gross, it's... best not to think of that. 

 

With the curse not fully settled in, there's no struggle – exhaustion and weary muscles speaking. If not for the tranquilizer, perhaps he'd be in a worse state. Then again, what's worse then being bound under the gaze of a demon? He grimaces at the creature, no longer able to speak due to pain, as it flaps around in another circle – as if sizing him up. 

“Be best not to give me that nasty look,” Junta sighs snapping on a pair of cloth gloves. By the demon lords themselves, he is /not/ touching a bloody, stinking human without protection. Even being from the underworld, gross things aren't his forte. The cursed area is no trouble to locate from the reeking black blood and emanating dark aura. A shoulder wound then? Must have faced the creature head on and came out the winner, tough guy this hunter is. And the signs of the curse are minimal for how long he's been afflicted, judging by the scent. Impressive. 

The incubus hums a soft tune as the armor is shed, face turned to disgust after the soiled bandages are removed. Night Beasts, disgusting things.

“Do tell, Ao'yagi,” he says with a covered hand hovering just above the bite, fingers twirling the invisible black aura unknown to mortal eyes. By this alone can he tell the potency, which isn't a curse so easily broken. He'll have to get creative with this one. “Why this human? Take a liking to him?”

The fae just stood there beside the other, ready to assist him in any way he can. He observed intently what has happened so far with Junta scrutinizing Basshi’s wound and the human still writhing in so much pain. The tranquilizer is strong, but the curse even more so. But then the inevitable question came as to why help this particular human. Again, he was baffled on how to answer, especially given it’s his demonic best friend asking. 

“W-well… he’s a hunter and we had a contest. He won and all but I just couldn’t leave him like this especially since he’s already enduring this for days. I wanted to at least try to save him.” He knew he was rambling and that Junta can see through him, even if he tried his best to sound as logical as possible. As an incubus, Junta is also probably aware of the mating and all and is just teasing at this point. That’s his very nature to tell after all. He’ll probably get taunted with that later on. 

But for now their focus is on the ailing human and how the incubus manipulates his aura into drawing the curse out until he deems it manageable.

Slit eyes shoot a judging glance over at the Cer-fae, a talk shall be had later indeed, before all attention turns to the suffering human. Taunts can be saved, curses won't. The more of the 'air' he toys with, the more Basshi wriggles and squirms in pain – head slammed against the table and screaming at the top of his lungs. As expected, this isn't an easy process to go through. Even the toughest of mortals are crying like a baby and pleading for death instead. Comes with powerful curses. 

The demon again sighs, a soft glow in his vision as he begins to weave the aura with skillful fingers. Three strands of inky mist turned to a braid then 'snipped' off by a scissors gesture to vanish into the open air, drawing out like knitting it up into a ball of yawn. As the process repeats, the hunter is even louder – gruff voice echoing off the decorated cave and down the maze of corridors. 

“C-could you...” Junta grumbles, brow drenched in sweat. This isn't easy for him either, he's tapping into areas of power that's laid dormant for years. “Try to keep him quiet... losing concentration!”

“Right!” He heeds Junta’s request and tries to find something that would pacify Basshi. He does sympathize with the human knowing how excruciating all this is so he can’t help but wail and cry out, but Junta is trying his best as well. He has to help out also. Lying around nearby was an extra leather strap, probably for additional restraints just in case if the ones on the table isn't enough. He then went by Basshi’s side, once more wanting to reassure him. “I know this is unbearable and all but please try not to scream so much. You also might bite your tongue off if you do. Here, bite onto this.” 

The sensation is akin to his organs being tugged from his very body, be it from gut or throat, each inch of his muscular form seeming to deflate like a lifeless doll. Blood and saliva bubbles within his throat, screams becoming fitted gurgles and coughs – soon enough vile stomach fluids are added to the mix. Instead of spitting it up, the disgusting mix is swallowed down as Ao'yagi approaches. Trying to impress even in this amount of pain? 

 

Stubborn human. 

 

The greenish hues of his eyes have turned into a crimson red, both lines of teeth turned pointed and the starting of scales grown across cheeks and jawline. The curse is expanding at a rapid pace, must be a fail safe in case of being messed with – much as it is at the very moment. Through it all, the fae's beautiful voice stands above all else – heavy trails of tears flooded down the sides of his face.

Ao'yagi places the strap in between Basshi’s teeth to serve as a mouthpiece to receive his wails instead. He also petted the hunter’s head just for added comfort, hoping to soothe him more in this ordeal.

The orders are followed, jagged teeth firm against the piece without hesitation. A majority of the shakes subside, voice muffled against the leather and he pushes back into the touch – as if a lost puppy needy for attention.

“Thank you,” replies Junta with a mischievous smirk. It helps tremendously, the incubus able to 'knit' the curse away at a more even pace. Although, around halfway through, there's a 'snag' – fingers frozen in place by the thick aura. There's a growl, wings splayed out and eyes ablaze and he pulls. 

And pulls, over and over. 

An invisible knot, this curse goes way deeper than the surface. Mustering all his energies and strength, the cluster is yanked free from the wound – it ripping wide open from the force and oozing with viscous fluid. 

 

Then... the aura is gone? Was that all, is the curse lifted?  

 

Ao'yagi continued to stay by Basshi’s side, brushing his thumb along the tear streaks to wipe it away. The fae really does feel sorry for this hunter. No one deserves this abominable curse even if he was a worldly human. To him, Basshi is an honorable one nonetheless. In a way, he thought he was just like Junta. Thoroughly misunderstood beings who happen to be one with an antagonizing race. After a moment of watching Junta in his machinations, Basshi seems to have stopped moving. Is he dead? Or better yet, cured?

A long moment of silence is broken by the hunter's voice, it turned deep and gravely like a Night Beast's call. No... there's another 'ball of yarn' inside, one the incubus can no longer reach.

 

It's too late.

 

“Move, move!” A hand snatches at Ao'yagi's wrist and drags him some distance away as the human wriggles and writhes. “He's going to change!”

Ao'yagi notices Junta's sighs of relief at first and takes that as a good sign. He was about to rejoice when Basshi starts to thrash about again and then the demon drags him to safety with distance. The fae is alarmed now, but he doesn’t know what to do. This is beyond his level of expertise. So he grasps both of Junta’s hands with a pleading desperate look. 

“Please, you have to do something Junta! I know if anyone can overcome this it’s you!”

All reality, the incubus could have ended him off before the transformation was able to progress, but his curiosity says otherwise. A good chunk of the curse has been lifted. Will it spread and return to normal or take on a completely different form? Experimentation at it's finest. 

But then his smile is washed out by the hands of his closest friend, gentle voice brimmed with concern and desperation. Ao'yagi's fondness for this mortal is almost pathetic, but also honorable. Besides the obvious stink of sex on them each, it goes deeper then that – for reasons unknown. Slit pupils go all but serious as he turns, gesturing the fae to stay in his place to again approach the tortured hunter. 

I /have/ to do something! For Ao'yagi!”

 

Even with the confidence, it's all but overdue. 

 
 

The change unfolds.

Chapter Text

Leg armor is torn to shreds in an instant. A set of scaled, talon clad feet replacing skin. The sickening crunch of bone and flesh fills the interior as a thick, long tail expanses from his tailbone; it giving the leverage to help snap free from the bindings. Like his feet, hands turn to the scaled black with razor sharp claws – which promptly shreds away any remaining straps for freedom. The table collapses to splinters, the hunter atop his shifted feet, nothing but blood lust shining in those red eyes.  

 

He's gone, the Night Beast has awakened. 

 

Surprised but not enough to be stunned, the demon bounds over Ao'yagi and lifts him up from the ground by under his arms – wings expanded to full extent to carry both their weight. Just in time too as Basshi closes the distance in an instant with a single leap and takes a swipe right as the Cer-fae's legs are out of reach. The monster roars, clearly upset by the cheeky escape. 

That was too close for comfort!” Aoyagi's mind screams.

“Ahaha!” Junta laughs with amusement, flight taken a little higher, “Would you look at that? Think I created a new breed! Half human, half Night Beast! Fascinating!” Demons, they never change.

The fae frowns with the way his companion still finds this all too amusing despite the height of risk. 

 

Yeah, demons will never change. 

 

But now this is a new problem. How the hell are they going to get out of this?! He looks up anxiously at his friend in flight. Junta is another one who seems lightweight, but is actually pretty strong given the power he has. Thankfully. Otherwise, this could have gotten messy.

“What are we going to do, Junta? We can’t just leave him like this.” Even if he was afraid for their own well-being, he still held concern for the turned beast. They could easily escape this anyway if the wanted to, and even kill Basshi if need be, but he just doesn’t want to go through that road just yet.

Won't be able to hover around forever, so Junta guides them into a higher cliff side edge of the cave wall and takes a seat atop it – slender legs kicking out gleefully once Ao'yagi is safely next to him. Interested eyes are glued down at the hybrid below who is now distracted by sniffing about the unknown lair on all fours. He locates the used bandages that dressed his wound and immediately starts gobbling them up.

Ao'yagi observes as well and grimaces at that disgusting act, even if he saw these beasts feast countless times before. Despite resembling that of a gigantic lizard, they're completely vampiric – blood the only substance needed to keep them sated.

 

Poor Basshi... he doesn't deserve this...”

 

“Hrrrm,” the demon hums with a tap at his lower lip. Like he knows? The easy answer is to kill the poor sod and end his misery, but he knows that's the last thing on his friend's list. “Would rather not have your life put at risk to bind the big guy up again and sad to say, I'm exhausted from that amount of magic use. My mana is close to tapped. So we'll have to wait this out. Luckily this place only has one exit so he won't be going anywhere as long as the 'door' is sealed. Wonder how this curse acts when the sun comes up... will he disappear, stay this way, revert back to a human? Interesting, so very interesting~!”

Usually Night Beasts disappear by daylight, so they’ll just have to see if that’s the case with this unusual hybrid the hunter has been turned into. For now, they just try to observe and fend off the exhaustion at the safety of the cliff edge. They were both uninjured too so the beast can’t sense their blood and come climbing up. Besides, Junta’s magic may be weakened, but there's enough to create a magical barrier for just in case's sake. It might not seem to be the best decision but it’s not like there’s much of an option anyway. 

“I’m sorry for the trouble I caused you, Junta. Hopefully things will turn out better in the morning.” The fae loosely wraps his arms around the incubus in a display of apology and affection. Both of them are now spent so maybe they could simply wind down like this until the situation is concluded.

“You know nothing you do can bug me, Ao'yagi,” the demon reassures nuzzling back, his long tail wrapped loosely around the other's waist. “I'm sure it will~.” 

Despite the onset curse, he's not a full form of the deadly creatures. There's still a human side, in some looks and thought, and all the creature wants now is to sleep. Four days without comfortable rest, aching all over from injury and strain, and now the excruciating pain it took to change into this form. The blood left on the dressings are just enough to sate the new hunger and he decides (or by instinct) to clamber up into a comfortable looking piece of furniture – a new couch Junta was able to drag in sadly – and rest up. Curled in a ball, the monster falls asleep peacefully. 

This happens only within an hour of sitting in the protective shell, which is more than curious for the still watching incubus. Night Beasts have never been seen sleeping, so there is indeed a mind in that twisted form. 

Ao'yagi continues to hold onto Junta for comfort and warmth looking down at what Basshi would do next. This time he could sense Junta grimace the moment the beast settled on his brand new couch. Yep, Junta was pretty fond of that piece of furniture alright. But besides that, he was just as fascinated as his companion with the way the half-Night Beast wanted to rest. They're relentless creatures, unstoppable no matter the situation. If they couldn’t find something to kill, then they’ll aimlessly prowl about seemingly never tired. But Basshi shows some of his humanity still peeking through. In a way that relieves the Cer-fae, noting things aren’t as far gone as they thought it would be. With his heart mildly assured, that’s when he starts to feel the fatigue wash over him. Unlike the incubus who revels in the night he too must rest.

With the chase, mating and carrying Basshi taking a toll on him, he doesn’t even recall falling onto Junta’s lap in exhaustion.

With enough rest under his belt, an inkling of his magic restored, the incubus is then able to silently lift his sleeping friend into his arms and flutter into another chamber. His bedroom to be exact. Like the entrance to the cave, a secret door is incorporated here as well – able to shut themselves off safely from the beast if it wakes up at anytime. 

Although, an eye should still be kept on Basshi. So once Ao'yagi is settled comfortably within the bed, it's Junta's job to patrol. Not by his own figure, no-no. He summons a sort of watch dog in the form of shadow-made bat, fitting well in a cave setting. His vision can be directed through it and heed warnings if need be. 

With both the safety measures secured, the incubus decides to curl up next to the sleeping fae and rest up himself. Unnecessary for a demon at his level, yet it's a way to pass time and revel in the warm company of his best friend. 

The experiment will continue in the morning.

 

---

 

A few hours is all the hybrid needed before he's back on the hunt, first starting off by wandering aimlessly through the adorned cave. Plenty of winding hallways to travel, an occasional rat to feast on or cabinet to dig through – another shard of humanity proven when he actually becomes bored. 

Some carpets shred into pieces, a swim taken in the interior lake where Junta takes his baths, furniture knocked over – like a disobedient dog. What a mess Junta will have to clean up. 
 
Minutes before sunrise, the sentry awakens Junta and he immediately shakes at Ao'yagi's shoulder.

“Pssst, Ao'yagi,” he says in a hushed tone, “It's almost morning~.”

Even under dire circumstances did the fae actually manage to get a good night’s sleep due to his weariness. With his companion nudging, he wakes up with a long yawn from being snatched away from sleep. As he wearily looks around, he realizes the familiar chamber of Junta’s bedroom. The incubus probably sent a wisp to patrol the Night Beast so they could rest instead, reliable as ever. 

“What time is it, Junta?” he asks sleepily as he sat up and stretched his dulled muscles. Before Junta could answer, he can sense daylight approaching. A gut feeling. With that, his concerns immediately draws forth to the cursed human. He quickly stood up, motioning his best friend to follow him. “What happened to Basshi? Come on, let’s check up on him.”

Junta gives a long stretch for his rested bones. It's been so long since he's gotten a sleep like that. But they may have to search for the beast so time isn't on their side – should have put that factor in when setting the 'alarm.' A minor setback.

“Ah, ah, safety first, your highness~,” the demon replies with a hover to his feet. Like earlier does he scoop Ao'yagi into his arms, much to his surprise and embarrassment, this time in a comfortable bridal style. And it's back off to the main chamber in search for the beast. 

In their luck, Basshi's right there clawing at the couch he rested on before – stuffing and tears of cloth strewn across the floor. The demon isn't pleased the slightest at the sight, brows furrowed with an icy glare down at the thing. 

“Pffft, I should kill him for that! Know what ugly of a rich man I had to seduce for that couch!?”

The noise catches Basshi's attention and those red eyes are straight up at the pair with a nasty growl. Flying enemies are a Night Beast's weakness. The best they can do is climb up rocky cliff sides and trees so all it can do is snap and snarl with fangs barred. Whatever remaining armor left on him is torn up further and drenched. A mess to match the interior.

“Ah I’ll pay for your couch and the other things he destroyed, okay?” the fae replies with a shameful look. Aside from being royal, meaning he’s automatically well-to-do in his standing, gold is a common metal with the Cer-fae – used for ornamental reasons rather than higher end currency for humans and elves. 

There's an urge to off the half-breed right there for the destroying of his lovely home, but then Ao'yagi brings up payment. That's far enough, furniture can be replaced unlike a life. Plus, may be able to get something more upper class this time around. Cer-fae are pretty much swimming in gold. What's a couple of bars to make-up for the mess? 

Basshi circles in an impatient stride, merely waiting for the couple to land, but then there's the shine of sunlight is outside the cave. Despite being under candlelight and magically made lights, it's felt. Another sheering pain is wracked through his muscles, enough to send him straight to the ground and writhe. But it isn't for long. The claws and tail seemingly vanish in a puff of black smoke – much like the monsters do at dawn – and his features are back to their human self. Red eyes shift to turquoise, them wide and stunned up at the stalactites. He's too in shock to move or even speak – just breath and attempt to register what the passing blur of hours were. 

 

What... just happened?” is his first sane thought.

 

They truly witnessed something extraordinary this time around. And to think they were supernatural creatures themselves who involves around magical phenomena?! Basshi looked like every bit he originally was before the transformation. So far nothing seemed out of place save for his tattered clothing.

With things looking in the clear, Junta lowers them down and carefully releases Ao'yagi – letting him be the one who approaches the human.

The fae nears the hunter cautiously least he still has some remnants of the beast within him. He kneels down and looked at him directly in the eye to address. 

“Hey Basshi, can you hear me? Do you remember who I am? What happened to you last night?” So far easy questions just to check the hunter’s level of awareness.

The coming fawn has him flinch, like a child approached by their parental figure, to have his expression turn to one of relief. He smiles, rounded eyes filling with tears, and he takes the fae into a loving embrace. Junta instinctively leaps in but only to stop once realizing it's merely a hug. Ao'yagi is startled as well, first believing it was an attack but breaths a sigh of relief and returns the gesture. Basshi is back to normal.

“Ao'yagi...! Ao'yagi!” the human repeats in a desperate tone, “Are you hurt? Tell me you're not!” 

“I’m okay! I’m not hurt at all. We’re all fine now thanks to Junta’s help.”

For what seemed like days in the bestial realms did the hunter experience, shards of humanity being pulled in to only snap back to primal instincts. A constant war, one that felt to never end. The relief is unfathomable, for still having his sanity and towards the fae left untouched. Able to speak, think clear again – it's a miracle! Now on any normal circumstance, the human isn't the touchy-feely type with a tendency to leave that side unseen – so this is a rare scenario. Ao'yagi should enjoy it while it lasts. 

Feathery kisses are all over those freckled cheeks to the tip of the nose. From the bits he can recalls, his vision was red – Ao'yagi looked nothing more than a meal. He was sure he'd do something regretful. The fae squeaks under the tight hold and random kisses. Is Basshi always this affectionate? Unsure, but he's glad he's like this rather than a brainless monster.

“Thank the Mountain God and thank... Junta? That's... you!” the hunter growls at the nearby demon, who in return points a finger at himself as if to say, 'who me?' “Have no sodding clue what you did to me, but I'll make this clear! You disgusting hell spawn are not to be trusted!” He takes Ao'yagi in a tighter grasp in protective instincts. “You stay away from him! Take my soul if you wish for payment!!”

"Pssh! I don't want your filthy cursed soul,” the demon jeers, “The only reason I helped you out is because Ao'yagi asked so nicely. And also because I thought you'd make a fine experiment. I was right!" He utters a snicker where he floated about, thoroughly amused by the scene unfolding before him. The fae couldn't take it, anxious an impending fight could break out. So he wiggles out of Basshi's hold and went straight in front of Junta as a shield between them. 

"You got it all wrong, Basshi! Junta has been my close friend since childhood, he saved me from a forest fire when I was just a buckling. As you can see, he is an incubus, but he was banished from Hell long ago and his intentions are pure. You have to trust me!" Junta continued to hover behind the Cer-fae, opting to wrap his arms around Ao'yagi for emphasis. 

"Mmm...that's right! Ao'yagi and I had always been close. Just because you've tasted our sweet little Prince once doesn't mean you know anything about him. The only thing you should be right now is grateful, since we decided to save your sorry ass." With that, the demon ended his statement with a small lick on the fae's cheek, just to taunt further.

The story leaves the hunter baffled for a handful of seconds. Is that all true? It's the demon that's doing most the talking, yet it's Ao'yagi words that are the louder. Most under the spell of an incubus, from what he's read, sound emotionless and lack empathy. Yet the admittance is clear as day. That's the truth. These two are friends, extremely close ones at that – the chemistry can be clearly seen without any stink of foul play. Who the hell did he get mixed up with? What Cer-fae could actually find a demon pleasant – let alone the lowest of the bracket in his boat? Filthy, disgusting incubi who toy with mortal's bodies for their own enjoyment and mana source. He lets out a sigh, defeated under the convincing speech and manages to find his way back to his feet.

“I'll believe you more than... that thing!” A brow twitches to the lick, unsure whether if it's jealously or simply his distaste for the creature talking. So Junta can sense their mating too, great. His gaze averts and examines the wreckage his primal form left behind. “I am... I still have my life, my mind. There's nothing I can do to repay the debt...!” Never before has his life been saved in a drastic measure. He's always been a loner despite his powerful clan, always striving to be one step ahead of his brothers without help. Of all things, he owes his very life to a Cer-fae and demon. A royal Cer-fae if that 'Prince' line isn't a pet name. If that's the case... 

He falls to one knee as if kneeling to King Fuku himself, head bowed to the lowest degree. His expression is veiled, thankfully, because he's scowling something fierce. It's the right thing to say, even if it hurts to do so. “I'm forever in your service, Lord Ao'yagi. And to you as well, Lord Junta...!”

Even with a royal status, Ao'yagi has always been peeved with people outwardly showing their patronage towards him. Even if he was the only son of the leader of their clan, he didn't feel worthy of it. He always wanted to strive to be recognized due to his efforts and not his status. Plus growing up quite isolated has made him socially awkward not knowing how to address others besides the formal ways of court. So a show like this makes him a bit uncomfortable. 

"Please Basshi, stand up! You don't have to do that. A mere 'thanks' is enough." As he tried to urge the hunter to stand, the demon can be heard snickering behind. Ao'yagi had to nudge him with the elbow as if to tell his best friend not to be so taunting. Junta cleared his throat, reading the cue, but not taking it that seriously until he had something else to say. 

"I agree with Ao'yagi, no need to go to extremes. And you're not out of the woods either, human. I'm only able to dull the curse, not nullify it. That means you'll turn into that mindless beast every night, an endless cycle until it's completely broken.”

But Basshi seriously owes them, what better than a life of servitude? Perhaps... that's too far? Apparently, given how flustered the fae sounds. If he truly is royalty, shouldn't he handle a situation like this more smoothly? Either way, the hunter finds his footing and stands straight up – posture prime and proper to those who saved him from the full force of the curse. 

“Then thanks...” he grumbles, mostly to himself. That's not enough for this man of loyalty, if you disregard the chaos he left behind. Seems the demon isn't too upset about it, but it's a possible way to make up for it. Pay and drag in some new furnishings? Consider it done if brought up. Eyes turn towards the mischievous creature, that reality sinks in. 

 

He's literally not out of the woods. 

 

Why go back home to his friends and family to leave every nightfall, to possibly slay them all in a blind, blood hungry rage? No, he can't. Even if camped out in the woods, the kingdom would be no trouble to reach by the means of his possibly faster, more agile night form. He'd have to be locked up, much as he was last night. Day after day, week after week. 

“Then...” he begins, uncertain of his wording, “You're a bloody demon! Isn't there anything else you could do?!”

The demon smirks once more. It's not that he wants to abuse the human's gratitude since he could easily manipulate any poor sod he wishes, but then helping the hunter out may prove advantageous to his research. Always seeking knowledge above all else, so an opportunity like this thrills him. Plus, Ao'yagi appears happy with this massive human around. 

"Mmm...lucky for you, I do have the basic structure of the curse in mind. It'll be no easy feat until I manage to unravel every bit of the curse. I'd say you have to consult me at least once a week to undergo the procedure you did last night. For now, I can prescribe to you some potions that would at least allow you to keep some of your focus and consciousness during beast form. They should do the trick, worked well in a differently cursed victim in the past." With that, the demon began to rummage through a ruined cabinet nearby for said items. While doing so, the fae looked on worriedly towards the hunter. 

"What are you going to do now, Basshi?"

Well, Basshi wasn't expecting the demon to be so friendly about it – just giving off advice and potions like he's a child in need. He flushes up, much as he doesn't want to, and follows the incubus with his eyes. Every week he'll have to pulled apart like a rag doll, to feel the unbearable pain worthy to be preformed in Hell? If that's what it takes, he's more than willing. Thankfully the hunter is a stubborn one, they'll be no tucking his tail and heading for the hills. Being able to please the demon's curiosity is all too sickening, but if he's close to the fae he – for some reason – holds so close, then he has to suck it up. 

“I'll pay for the potions!” he chirps in, “In whatever you want! The herbs, mana, blood, you say it, I'm gettin' it!!” 

"Hmm? You don't have to worry about payment Ao'yagi has that pretty much covered anyway..." The demon's voice trails off as he busies himself preparing the potions. Really, he's had it with indebted humans offering themselves so to say. Besides, by cleaning up this mess doesn't mean he'll do it himself. He could easily summon lower hell-spawns to do his bidding for that and his place will be as good as new in the morning.

Loyal and stubborn to a fault, just how this human works. He then looks down to the concerned fae with a huff.

“Guess I'll camp out until your... erm, friend figures this out. Can stock supplies during the day, but then right back out here I'll go. Try to find a cave to lock myself in every night so I won't hurt anyone probably...” He has no knowledge how to make an enchanted stone like the one in the demon's lair, but there's always mages to consult. Enough coin will get any information out of those walking books.

"Ah there we go!” Junta immediately follows, finding them in a jiffy. “Make sure you drink the one in the green vial morning and afternoon and the red vial before sundown. Then make sure you come to me when I ask and no complaining about anything!" The demon points an adamant finger then proceeds to give Basshi the prepared apothecary pouch. Ao'yagi now gives a true sigh of relief coming up to Junta for an affectionate hug and peck on the cheek. 

"Really, thank you for everything Junta! This wouldn't be possible without you." The demon smirked quite haughty but there's a fondness there nonetheless. 

"What can I say? Anything for you, my darling Prince." Junta coos back with a kiss of his own before letting go. With that, Ao'yagi turns back to the hunter once more.

"If it's not much, I can show you a safe place where you can stay for the time being. It's still my duty to protect the forest from Night Beasts, so I have to make sure you're secured as well."

Green, afternoon. Red, sundown.” Basshi internally notes.

That's painfully easy to remember. He's curious whether the stuff works as the demon says. For all he knows, this could make it worse or become a mindless slave to him or another demon! 

Stop, stop!”

Junta is only trying to help, he's proved that enough by ripping pieces of the curse out and no chewing an ear off from the mess he left behind. But really, Ao'yagi will pay for that too?! Come now, he has to do something to make up for all of this!

In another huff, he snatches up the pouch with a 'thanks' mumbled under breath and with a scowl from the affections – eyes narrowed in disgust. He's been though enough today, why must there be kisses too? He again looks away, ignoring that as best he could. 

“W-well... I'd rather not receive anymore help from neither you nor Junta, but I'm in the dark...!” he admits with a scratch at the now sealed wound on his right shoulder. Huh, it's still pitch black and lined with scales, but it's completely closed. Odd, another thing the demon can study he supposes. No need to fret on that for now when shelter is his made priority. He looks back over and musters a warm smile in return. “I'd appreciate your offer, Ao'yagi.”

"Then that's settled. But first we have to pass by my village to get some things and something proper to eat. Junta doesn't need food, so he pretty much only has wine and tea here."

 

The Cer-fae village told in story books, /that/ village?!”

 

A brew of curiosity and excitement stirs within the human, he'll go out in legend for finding it. Well, lead to it, but can always exaggerate the story a little. And 'food,' tell him about it. Has munched on nothing but rations and now... unmentionable things around the lair, can practically hear his stomach rumbling from the word. A good meal and bath would feel fantastic, along with actual clothing. With his luck there's an extra pair of leather trousers and sandals in the main pack of his intact belt which are hastily put on along with the remaining discarded armor pieces from earlier. Beat up, but does the job until proper attire can be arranged.

With that, the two are lead outside the cave and the incubus bid his adieu for the time being. The two begin to traverse a nearby trail under Ao'yagi's guide. Much to Basshi's delight, he's outside that stuffy cave – along with the demon – and bidding the morning a welcome with a long stretch. Already feels better, doesn't stop the empty stomach though. Still a bit weary from the pain suffered the following night. He isn't at his full stride – the hybrid naptime only doing so much. He lags behind, but Ao'yagi is kind enough to walk along side him. 

"I should warn you,” the fae begins, “humans are not welcomed in our village at all so I'll have to sneak you in. I trust being a skilled hunter, you have no problem with discretion?"

“Tch, like I don't already know that!” Basshi barks back with nose upturned, “Better be a back entrance without patrols or secret cave or something. Otherwise I'll stick out like a sore thumb!!”

"There are always guards around, that is why I have to go first and clear myself before I can lead you inside." 

Just how exactly does Ao'yagi plan to get a human inside his village then? Will this be a stealth mission or will the other decide to lead his kin to him being a human slave? Or for questioning, something along that line. All he can do for now is follow orders and be guided through the unknown regions of the forest – voice quiet in case any other Cer-fae are around. He's baffled just how his company breezes through the thick terrain and winding paths, must come naturally to his kind in finding their way home. If attempted to draw a map, it would be a series of squiggles and circles. Perhaps only a Cer-fae themselves can locate the village. That's why it's a myth in humans tales.

It isn't very long until they reach a clearing in the canopy, where the fae leads Basshi into a thick bush to conceal himself. 

"Stay here. I'll come back to get you once I'm inside." Basshi heeds the order and kneels, masking himself just enough to get a peak. Is there a hidden cave or something? A spell? He must know. 

With that, the fae pressed forward with what seems like just a wall of rocks and greenery. He takes a deep breath before calling out.

 

"In the name of the sixth heir of the Seelie court of the Sika clan; Prince Ao'yagi. I request you open."

And just like the announcement, the obscure wall opened into a gate greeted by a pair of Cer-fae guards as Ao'yagi went inside. In a moment, the moss and vine clad gates close – once again looking like nothing more then a hill side.


 

'Heir?' 'Court?' 'Sika Clan?' … 'Prince Ao'yagi.' He /is/ royalty!”  

Chapter Text

Basshi wants to gasp out but his sounds are held back. This... is insane! For one does the village actually exist and two, he bedded a prince! Silently comes an internal victory dance and cheer, that lasting the entirety of the waiting time – in only a few minutes does Ao'yagi show himself behind the other from a hidden door. A tapping is at the hunter's shoulder as a gesture to follow.

The door looks to be part of the earth, no way would anyone find it. A fae enchantment or simply well hidden? With a shrug, Basshi simply trails along the other – again keeping his mouth shut until he knows the coast is clear.

Ao'yagi leads him inside a corridor which eventually turns into a long tunnel. It goes directly to the Prince’s home, which is actually an emergency escape route only the royal family knows about. But Ao'yagi himself doesn’t live within the palace. Instead he has a quiet little tree-house nearby, supposed to be a resting area for nobles – in which Ao'yagi claimed as his home since he doesn’t want the fuss of aristocracy around. 

 

That and because he’s actually taking care of somebody else.

 

Right when Basshi thinks he's about to be led into some royal mansion decorated in gems and gold, past the series of tunnels and ladder is a quaint, extremely cozy tree home hidden behind a massive building – it looks to be a temple made of simple materials like clay, thatch and tile. Or perhaps that's the palace? Difficult to tell with Cer-fae architecture, which humans have only seen through books and rumors. 

Being used to large stone buildings back in the city, it's a strange change but not necessarily a bad one. It reminds him of a dream, to someday live off the wild in a cabin all alone and quiet. That is, once the Night Beast threat is vanquished. 'Funny' he counts as one of the monsters holding his dreams back now. 

“Welcome to my house. There are no guards here since I insisted, so please make yourself at home.” Wooden furniture was all around. It looks simple but there is also a touch of luxury in it fitted for a Prince. There, Ao'yagi is lax enough to shed his armor, simply going about with the more comfortable inner clothes he has on.

Curious eyes are all around, examining the architecture with a keen gaze. Just as the stories say, it's uncanny. Yet, this style of a home belongs with a different type of fae, a close ally of the deer folk. He can't recall the name just yet. Either way, perhaps he really isn't the first human to be within the gates. Everything looks copy pasted directly from illustrations. Distracted by the foreign surroundings, he pays little mind to a pair of eyes watching him from an opened room. Two sets of them, actually. Once the hunter is in clearer sight of the observers, a noise erupts.

 

A high pitched scream to be exact.

 

“AHHHHH!! Hmph!! Hmmmmph!"

 

Basshi jumps, clearing a foot off the ground and he's all by fixed on the now obvious pair. 

 

Bovi-fae....?!”

Just the type of fae he was trying to recall.

 

Teenagers or young adults judging by their looks, a sheep-like one cupping a hand over the other's mouth to muffle the scream – who sports features akin to a goat. Tufted ears are raised to the highest degree on them each, the 'sheepish' one trembling in fright. 

“H-h-h-h-human...?” he stammers, “... u-uh –!!” The human peers back to the Cer-fae looking for an answer. Ao'yagi didn't mention having... roommates? Assistants? Whatever these forest tenders are here for.

Naturally, the prince’s Bovi-fae companions would be around. Ao’yagi beckoned for them to come closer, which they follow skittishly. He sits down and welcomes the orange-haired goatling into his arms as a welcome hug and patted the other on the head. 

This breed of fae are nothing new to the human's eyes. They're spotted quite frequently out in these nearby woods caring for plants or injured wildlife. The nurses and doctors of the forest, they make sure every living thing is happy and healthy. It's a well-known fact they work together with the elusive Cer-fae by means of trade and friendship. Nothing new at least, just odd. Eyes follow the clip-clop of hooves over to Ao'yagi, who gives them both affectionate praise. Friends then, he assumes.

“Thank you Dan’chiku, you’re always so keen and reliable. And yes, this human is my guest. I know they are forbidden here, but he’s a special one and I have important business with him,” Ao'yagi patiently explains. He then faced the two youngsters in Basshi's general direction. “Basshi, meet my son, Kabu’ragi and his mate Dan’chiku. Guys, this is Basshi. He's a hunter and I am aiding him with something important.” Of course the goatling was all frown and distrust among the stranger. He’s always been quite protective of his father. 

“You better be nice to 'Yagi or else I’ll rattle you out pesky human!”

Dan'chiku offers a shy smile up at the Cer-fae, a light dusting of pink at his pale cheeks. The fluffed ball of white on his tailbone swishes with delight, hands folded neatly behind his back. That face has 'thank you' written all over, but that expression is washed off when turned towards the human. He instinctively grabs Kabu'ragi's hand for a means of comfort. 

“G-g-greetings...” the little guy mumbles, still shaken to the core with tufted ears pinned to his skull. His mate's attitude isn't helping at all either. 

Be polite please! This is your father's guest!”

First Basshi is utterly stunned by the mention of a son, but then the goatling is jeering at him. What a brat! Sure that 'kid' is in Ao'yagi's care, yet the sheep is the sweet one! 

“I deem no harm to the Prince, I promise!” the hunter yelps with a thumb pressed to his battered chest piece, “I won't be in your leg fuzz for long!”

Kabu’ragi continued to act suspicious with one hand holding onto his mate and the other to his foster father in a protective effort. He couldn’t read Dan’chiku’s nervousness at all and continued to jeer at the human in a haughty manner. 

“You better! Are you the reason why my Fa’fae didn’t come home for three days?! If ‘Yagi is upset in any manner, I’ll have you cursed so bad even Night Beasts wouldn’t want to have you around!” Talk about irony from the sassy satyr. Even Ao’yagi couldn’t help but snicker at that try as he might to hide it.

 

No, no Kabu! Knock that off!” Dan'chiku screams in thought again, too afraid to say anything himself. 

 

“Now, now don’t be rude!, “ Ao'yagi butts in, “I was just busy with a hunt and you know that Kabu. But now I’m really starving and so is my guest. Why don’t you and Dan’chiku get us some lunch in the meantime so we can all eat together, alright?” Attempting to pacify Kabu’ragi into a meager errand is the right thing to do, otherwise a fight is certain to ensue.

The ram stares at the larger, humans are not a force to be reckoned with – especially one of this size – he could snap them all in two if he wanted. Thankfully Ao'yagi steps in to give them a task and finds enough courage to step between them just in case the hunter decided to jump. Also, Basshi is too busy laughing up a storm over the goatling's threat. Hah, if only he knew! Good tongue on that 'kid' though, can give him that much. Another just in case measure comes into play as Dan'chiku knocks his horns up against his mate's affectionately – eyes locked. 

“I'm hungry too, sugar berry~,” he says sweetly in attempt to calm the audacious goat. That nickname usually does it too. “Don't you want to feed me too~?”

“But Daaaan~,” Kabu’ragi whines feeling conflicted, obviously buttered-up by the nickname by a light flush at his rounded cheeks. Reluctantly, he lets go of his father to focus on Dan'chiku for the time being. Ao’yagi couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the sickeningly sweet display of affection. 

“Come on you two! Go and get our meal ready so we can eat now. And no hogging candied fruits this time!” he said in mock scolding, playfully shoving the two towards the direction of the pantry. Before leaving for the errand, Kabu’ragi still had that menacing stare towards the hunter never cutting it off for a second until both he and his mate fully disappear on their way to get food.

Basshi can't help but gag a little at the Bovi-fae's disgustingly cute talk. Yeah, those two are mates alright – that says it all  along with the matching rings they wear as necklaces. An accessory or are they like wedding rings to humans? Different cultures, again hard to tell. 

Dan'chiku really can't blame his mate on the distaste for this guest, a human of all things, but he'd think his Fa'fae's words would calm him down same with his affection. A stubborn goat – be glad he's in love. The mention of the treat perks the sheepling's ears straight up. That's an idea! Would for sure warm Kabu up so he's less of a nuisance.

“Kaaaabu~,” he coos once inside the kitchen, “I hid some candied oranges from Ao'Yagi. He doesn't know where they went. Wanna snack on some while we get lunch together~?” 

“Uwaaah Dan, that’s amazing! Yeah, let’s get as much as we can. Fa’Yagi wouldn’t mind I’m sure. You’re the best~!” Once out of sight with the adults, Kabu’ragi immediately perks up with the mention of candied oranges. His favorite nonetheless and gushes over Dan’chiku with nuzzles and kisses along the way – his animosity towards the human seemingly entirely forgotten. That was easy.

Well, they didn't get much in the ways of wake up cuddles – the shuffling of Ao'yagi and the uninvited guest interrupting any means of that – so he soaks up the attention like a sponge. The ram nods and hums along while digging deep into a cupboard. A pan moved there, a pot shifted here and out comes the sneaky jar of the vibrant fruit. Fluffed tail wiggles along happily as it's popped open, the first slice of the candy offered to his mate. 

“Say ahhhh~.” 

“Ahh!” The satyr is all too delighted to receive the treat. His ears were held high and short tail swishing about in delight as well.

And pop goes the fruit into the waiting mouth, the tips of fingers grazing against Kabu'ragi's tongue to wipe off the excess sugar crystals. Surely he'd love to sit around all day and feed his precious mate, yet Ao'yagi sent them on a task. Best not to upset him or the unwanted guest. Who knows what that human can do. And by what was said, a 'hunter' was is? Not good! But humans are fond of meat, right? Being herbivores, the thought of feasting on flesh is downright disgusting. Best thing they have to mimic that is tofu, does make a great salad. Oh, pair that with a cucumber sandwich and tea, the perfect breakfast for a weary body.

“Let's make some sandwiches first,” he chirps as he gnaws on his own serving of fruit, “That human looked real hungry too. Don't want him upset, hrm?” Kabu’ragi was happily munching away when his mate had to point out they still have a task at hand, crimson eyes narrowing.

“Do we really have to feed that pig too?!” he exclaims with a huff. But supposes that is what his father wishes, so he really couldn’t go against it – begrudgingly bringing out the spiced tofu from the ice chest.

 

A 'pig', huh?” Dan'chiku snickers internally.

 

Strange, but fitting nickname for the beastly human. Sure he isn't just a well-groomed, tusk-less Ogre? But it seems Kabu'ragi is on the same thought line as him when the tofu is fetched, the 'special' kind too. 

“I don't like the idea of a human being within your home either,” he sighs while gathering up an assortment of vegetables and fruits to chop, “But we have to trust your Fa'fae's word. That hunter... must be special if gone through the hassle of sneaking him in.”

"Mmm yeah... Fa'Yagi does weird things sometimes, but he isn't stupid." Kabu'ragi concurred as he joined his mate in dicing, dividing their work in half. With both of them working together, it wouldn't be long until a meal is prepared.

 

---

 

Meanwhile in the living room, Basshi decides to settle down next to the Cer-fae – expression rather impressed. 

“So a son...” he begins, turquoise hues narrowed, “First I find out you're a Prince and now this. Any other secrets you wish to get out? Buahaha!”

Once again, Ao’yagi is reminded how thankful he is that his son has a fantastic mate. Aside from being extra loving, the young ram has quite a sharp pick-up. Dan’chiku can easily decipher he wasn’t at all upset at Kabu’ragi snacking before a proper meal, but rather hinting his son’s attitude would turn out better when given a few sweets as a distraction. The fae Prince would always contest that he brought up Kabu’ragi in a fair and righteous matter – which is not far from the truth – but it’s rather obvious he spoils the satyr rotten as well. It’s just Dan’chiku is more honest about it. 

Ao’yagi sighs, finally able to relax now that the kids are outside. He turns to Basshi, which expectantly has questions.

“Obviously he’s not my biological son. He’s actually the son of my nanny when I was a kid myself. Unfortunately, she and her husband died in an accident leaving poor Kabu’ragi an orphan. So I took it upon myself to formally adopt him. That wasn’t easy either, but I just couldn’t give up on Kabu. Nana took such good care of me when my parents are too busy so, I just have to pay her back in kind.”

Basshi cups his chin into a palm and embraces the short, loving story – his smile growing with every line. Damn, what do you even say in response to that? That's the kindest, most beautiful thing a mortal can do. Even if not being the biggest fan of children, he's clearly touched. 

“Ah, right...!” he grumbles in remembrance, “You Cer-fae live for hundreds of years, almost immortal! Bovi's live a good long life too, but...” He glances off towards the pantry, ears catching the ruckus. Guess the pair are making something instead of fooling around. Gods, does he hope so – his stomach is weaker after that lengthy walk. “How old are you anyway? If you're old enough to raise a child and be saved by a demon as a buckling, then... just how many years were in between that?”

Ao’yagi had to think for a while what to answer Basshi. He’s aware time moves differently between faerie and human, even more so for Cer-fae since their kind is known for their longevity. That is why his kind count off stages in life differently as well from humans that he has to convert it in his mind.

“Hmm…I’d say based on human years, you could count it off around six hundred years? Although I’m still considered as a young adult having my 'coming of age’ proclaimed around fifty years ago when Kabu’ragi was born. Of course Kabu’ragi is still considered pubescent for his kind. As for Junta, I met him around when I was about three hundred human years-old.”

If Basshi was sipping on something, it would have been spat across the room. 

 

Six. Hundred?! And he's still young?!” 

 

They weren't kidding in books where it said the same Cer-fae has been seen by a family generation for decades – heck millennium – are kept depicted. 

“What the hell is with you supernatural creatures?!” he barks louder than necessary, “Why the fuck do us humans get the short-end of the stick too?! I'm in my early twenty's, that's already at most a fifth of my life!” Whatever God that decided to make Cer-fae, screw them! Fae are blessed with natural magic too! Where's the balance in this madness? Ao'yagi simply shrugs at the hunter’s surprise, barely phased by the outburst. 

“I’m not sure how it works either, but for what it’s worth, it’s your kind who controls most the land of our region. You build your machines and walls, dictating how everything else is allocated when we forest dwellers simply watch by.” Ao’yagi replies as a matter-of-fact. It’s not that the Prince had any prejudice being friends with a demon and now Basshi, but is simply stating the current events on how humans compare to other creatures of the realm.

The hunter has a hum at his lips, Ao'yagi is right about that. With the boom in technology, new inventions being made weekly, the humans surely have advantage in that matter. They have numbers as well, to reproduce and grow up quickly – unlike fae – and have raw muscle strength to boot. Less reclusive to add in, new land discovered and conquered under their strong armies. Humans, they get around by brute force.

“That's true,” he says with a firm nod, “If any threat comes to our world, say the demons rise up and start a war, us humans are ready to take it on! We're the 'rulers' of this world! I'm right, buahaha!!” The fae rolls his eyes in response, clearly not amused.

"Is that so?" he simply commented, but added nothing else. Indeed, the arrogance of humanity runs deep. Time to change the subject. "After eating, I'll just get some supplies needed to lead you to the place you can stay. Anything in particular you need to get while we're here? I don't think you have enough time to return to your city today."

 

---

 

As the pair chatted in the other room, the Bovi's continued their meal making until an array is before them. 

"You think this will be enough?” Kabu'ragi questions, head tipped to the side. “Fa'Yagi tends to get really hungry after a hunt and that human looks like he eats like a pig too." Their teamwork was at its finest. Dan'chiku or his mate cooking alone can be a disaster, be it a mess or a cut finger, but it's easily breezed by at each other's side. The sweet sugars helped them press on as well. Surely it's a good pile for the four of them, but his mate brings up a good point. The vast majority is vegetables too, not the most filling for a tried an extremely hungry Cer-fae and questionable human appetite. 

“Can serve this now,” he nods getting the portions together, “and then have some cheese and crackers afterwards if so. Can brew up some tea or coffee to go with, think they'd like that.” 

“Hehe, right as always Dan~!” 

 

--- 

 

Hey, not allowed to boast anymore?” Basshi grumbles in thought.

It is a fault of human society to tend to get way too full of themselves – especially in the lines of strength – and believe any threat can be crushed especially by the mighty army of the capital, Hakone. And with the great Lord Toudou watching over, nothing can stand in their way! But fine, back on the more important topic. 

“Yeah, there's village just outside my city about a seven hours walk away? I believe... have no idea where I am now.” Hopefully the area he'll be staying is closer, otherwise he'll never make it back to his makeshift cell until nightfall. “Long as there's enough food to hold me through a day, I should be fine! As for the area... what is it exactly? A cave like Junta's, perhaps a canyon between the mountains?”

"Yeah, pretty much like Junta's lair if I have to describe it. But I'd rather show it to you than tell. I think you'd be in for a surprise,” The Cer-fae explains with a glint in his eyes. The conversation is cut short though with the return of the young Bovi-faes presenting the late breakfast on the coffee table. Ao'yagi helps along, quite the helpings to dish out, and settles back down on the couch – Kabu'ragi immediately taking the seat next to him and dragging his mate along.

"You better not eat everything mister human. We made most of this for Fa'Yagi so you shouldn't pig out!" The lively, but protective satyr is as boisterous as ever.

Basshi is about to add in when the clop of hooves becomes clear, the pair of Bovi-fae come with a (beautiful) array of snacks. And is that tofu? A food item created by the fae themselves and taught by the humans in long since pass before slavery and hunting of them became a sport, according to tales. Fitting. Not going to beat a roast turkey leg or steak, but he has to remember – they're herbivores. Luckily he doesn't have to cram himself on the couch with the fuzzy creatures. There's an arm chair all to himself. He first plucks up a stick of cucumber and munches it all the way down – his favorite. Tastes even better when tended by the fae too. And at least the orange goat called him 'mister,' but it doesn't change the fact he's still a spoiled brat. For someone around fifty years old, would think he'd have some manners by now. 

“Yeah, yeah...! Once I leave, I'll likely hunt for a good meal anyway. Say... a goat.” Eyes narrow to the little guy, then over to Dan'chiku – who immediately starts shaking. “Or... lamb.” 

“A-ahh-ahahaha!” the ram laughs nervously, “G-good joke, Sir Basshi! Hah-haaaa...”

Ao'yagi said his thanks to the gods for the meal then proceeded to munch away like there's no tomorrow. Not a very 'princely behavior' but hey, he's a starving deer. All of them began to eat when the hunting joke was made and immediately paused. The Cer-fae on the other hand couldn't help but scold.

"Basshi please!" Whether joking or not, there's a wary look on the human. 

"Ugh! I knew you were a disgusting pig! You came here pretending to be friends with Fa'fae just cause you wanna eat us." Ever the blunt one that Kabu'ragi. "Please Fa'fae, don't go anywhere with this man. Who knows what he's going to do to you. I'm sure he'll try to eat you when he sees an opportunity!" Ao'yagi just looked at his adopted son quite speechless and flushed with embarrassment. Luckily he had some cabbage stuffed in his mouth, so he had an excuse not to answer.

“Oh, so I'm the one who gets yelled at!” the hunter barks waving a carrot at them now, “Not your rude ass 'kid' who doesn't know how to keep his yap shut!” Either this is Basshi's normal behavior around folks or children in general. With tongue loosened, he pays no mind to manners anymore. His expression veers from anger to a sultry grin. "And believe me, oh-child of the Prince; I've already 'eaten' your Fa'fae in one way...~” 

Dan'chiku's ears shoot straight up and coughs with a face full of cabbage as well. Was that meant to be sexual, cause it sounded that way! And if that's the case. Navy blue eyes slowly turn to peer at Ao'yagi in a judging manner.

The Cer-fae continued to cringe at the banter. Kabu'ragi may not get the innuendo right away, but Dan'chiku certainly will. The young ram is quite a sharp one even for his age and proven enough times to be somewhat perverted. So he swallows his food and clears his throat.  

"That's enough! Finish your meal already Kabu, the food is going to get stale. Besides, I need to lead Basshi somewhere after this, so I'd appreciate it if there's no more dilly-dallying." The Prince's tone is firm this time. He had to or else there really will be unnecessary delay and probably more embarrassment of his part. Kabu'ragi's ears go flat with shame. His father rarely scolds him for real, so when he does, he knew that meant business. 

"Yes Fa'fae..." he said meekly as he finally ate his food in silence.

Dan'chiku sighs in relief. But... judging by how that conversation was cut off by the rarely heard scolding, then for sure something happened between them. Those eyes dart to Basshi, then back to Ao'yagi. 

Huh, who knew that's Ao'yagi's type...'”

Or is he over thinking this too much? Probably. Instead of pressing for awkward conversation, the ram joins Kabu'ragi in munching – woolen legs kicking against the side of the couch causally. 

Basshi gives his own sigh. The faster they eat, the faster he'll be away from this annoying goat and off to a 'cozy new home.' So he just stares Kabu'ragi down and joins in the feeding frenzy. 

 

Talk about awkward silence. 

Chapter Text

The rest of the lunch became uneventful thanks to the Ao'yagi's assertiveness. After a while they were already clearing out the table with the prince asking Basshi to wait a few more minutes so he could prepare his things before they depart. However, Ao'yagi wanted to make sure of something first. 

Very discreetly while Kabu'ragi was busy cleaning the dishes – and munching off some left-over candied fruits – did the Cer-fae pull on Dan'chiku. 

"Dan'chiku, I know you already think things are pretty suspicious with Basshi around and I don't blame you. But please trust in me that I know what I'm doing. The last thing I would want is for Kabu to be harmed or upset, so do try to talk to him so he understands? I may be his father figure, but you're his mate. And I know you're a mature lad. I'm counting on you alright, Dan?" He placed both hands on the rams shoulders and looked at him sincerely. Already does he see the blue-haired bovi like a son-in-law he could trust.

Dan'chiku was just about to help out his other half when Ao'yagi comes into the picture. Going by the serious look, this must be a personal matter most likely related to earlier events. And by the speech, he's mostly correct. Ever since the human stepped foot into the humble abode, he's been on edge. Ao'yagi is surely able to defend himself from his stature as a warrior, but Kabu'ragi? He's been to many of training sessions, yet knowledge barely sticks in that goatling's head. Better yet, there isn't much to fret over besides Ao'yagi's own safety. Basshi was sneaked in, no way he's allowed through the gates, so perhaps this will be their only meeting – himself and Kabu'ragi free from the hunter's stares and taunts. He hopes so. The praise has that poof of a tail waggling all about, ears straight on end. He was called mature! 

 

Ah, calm down! Be serious here.”

 

“Y-yes, Ao'yagi!” he chirps proud-like, “I'll be sure to keep Kabu safe and calm in your absence. Like I always do. You have my word.”

"I feel fortunate that Kabu has you as his mate. You always did make my job much easier." Ao'yagi gives the ram a grateful hug before letting him go off to the goatling. Kabu'ragi was only worried for a minute by the time he noticed Dan'chiku was taking a while. But here he is now, so there's no problem. 

"Oh Dan, there you are! I'm almost done. Help me get the plates in the cabinets." With the request, the two are once again happily doing their chores like a typical couple. Ao'yagi, on the other hand, got everything he needed. There were food, a first-aid pack, blankets and some magical items. 

In spite of the meal mostly containing vegetables and fruits, it's rather filling for the hunter. Has to be the lack of proper food for the past few days, can only go so long on rations and berries before it's too much. Granted there was a rat in the menu last night, but uncooked? Lucky the primal instincts masked how disgusting the ordeal was. Satisfied, Basshi waits around in living room – not wishing to be nosy of the fawn's home just yet. Rude, even for this brute. Beady eyes then follow everywhere the Cer-fae goes, but doesn't move an inch. Into a side room, then what looks to be a restroom, into the kitchen then right back to the front room. 

With everything in check he handed them to Basshi and went over to the Bovi-faes to give his farewell.

"I'll be heading out again. Please take care of the house as usual and I'll try to be back by nightfall. Be a good boy, Kabu." He gives his son a tight squeeze of a hug and a ruffle on his hair before he and the human hunter depart for the secret tunnels.

Basshi's a bit surprised at the generous offer since he just expected a satchel of food to be honest. Reluctantly does he take the pile and sort them out in the arrangement of packs at his belt. Oh yeah, the bag given by that demon is here – almost forgot. Which he shouldn't. Apparently these mysterious vials will keep him sane, better move them to the front. His first dose will come a little later. With everything in order, the human is back behind Ao'yagi, a wave given to the Bovi-fae pair. 

“Stay safe kids!” 

“Uh... you too, Basshi! And Ao'yagi!” the ram yelps back on reflex. 

 

Ao'yagi... that hunter reeks nothing but trouble. Be careful...”

 

“Come on Dan!” his mate follows with a tug at a sleeve, “My rhinoceros beetles need attention now!”

“R-right...”

 

---

 

Back inside the passageway and now knowing it's safe to speak, an elbow is prodded at the Cer-fae's side.  

“Your kid sucks!” the hunter says rather bluntly. Ao’yagi couldn’t help but snicker at the comment. He knows he’s not supposed to, but somehow he finds that really funny. 

“Well, Kabu is very energetic and outspoken and…maybe a little slow on the uptake but he’s always been a good kid. Quite naturally talented too! I was surprised on how fast he learns just by watching even if he doesn’t get a lot by explanation.” Time does go by when chit-chatting away, especially when it comes to things about the Bovi-fae. Sure the kid is the worst thing since an ear infection he suffered some months ago, but he's still Ao'yagi's child! And if he wants to get closer to the Cer-fae, it's best to learn as much as he could. 

What being a father is like, stories of how Kabu'ragi was raised and what he learned, how he fell for the ram – overall, not a bad person once gotten past his attitude. Bovi-fae are naturally jumpy and a bit rude on the uptake but once over that, there's a decent person there. Bad first impression is all. Will try to be more polite if ever seeing the goatling again.

In no time, they went outside of the tunnel in a place filled with compartmentalize caves with bars. It was quite dreary, but the fae is about to explain the advantage of staying in this gloomy place. 

“This used to be a prison during the warring days of old millennia ago. But since the court abolished capital punishment opting to exile criminals, this place hasn’t been used ever since so I thought it’ll be the perfect spot for you to bunk out. It may seem pretty glum but look over there…” The prince pointed into a series of openings besides the tunnel they came out of. “This place is also a terminal of portals. Space manipulation magic is also an ability of the Cer-fae. It’s not common, but powerful mages among our clan devised it to protect our village and easy transport. Each of these tunnels lead to a certain area. That one obviously leads back to the village from my house, that one somewhere nearby village, and that's around Junta’s area where we first met. There’s a river by there too where you can take a bath and get drinking water.” The fae explained intricately for each of the doors so far.

 


What a mess!” Basshi screams in thought.

 

Cob webs, vermin and enough dust to fill a region. It could be spruced up. Hell, enough to match the class of the demon's lair if so he likes. Couple of bookshelves and a nice kitchen could do the trick. Once past that annoyance, the series of portals are explained. This level of arcane magic can only be pulled off by the highest of human wizards, seems the same goes for the Cer-fae. Are a few questions though. 

“This place is more than glum,” he sighs, “but that can be fixed. Plenty of room to stretch my legs and tons to caverns to explore in my Beast form, so I can't complain too much.” The human is smiling quite brightly. “As for these 'portals', they like... speed up time, eh? You go down the tunnel, like we did before, and poof! I'm in a place in twenty minutes instead of a normal seven hour walk?” He shrugs, clueless when it comes to the topic of magic.

“More or less. I’m not very adept in complicated magic but from my understanding it also relies on space distortion. Like it shortens the space you’ll have to go through so you’re there right away. Remember our trail to the village? It would’ve taken an ordinary mortal to walk at least six weeks from where we were if you weren’t aware of that portal mechanism. The open canopy before the gate of the village is embedded with that magic that’s why you thought you just saw an ordinary rock wall. Same goes when we materialize our weapons and such.” The fae prince explained thoroughly as possible. It was not an easy thing to put logic on, but that’s the best he can muster. “Go ahead and pick a room for yourself. I’ll help you set things up for you to live on and I’ll try to bring more commodities and furniture in the future too if you’re to stay here longer.”

He's also curious why the enchanted portal-like tunnels are still being fed mana (if that's how they function) if the prison is no longer used. That means there will still be patrols or something of the like? Or is there another series of these tunnels in a different area within the village as well? Ao'yagi is confident he'll be safe here, so the questions are shrugged off for the time being. Insane, hurts to try and piece everything together. Yup, there's a headache brewing. 

Really now, six weeks?!”

No wonder when people go searching for the village do they come up empty handed! They're pretty much in a different region, a different forest! Would have to bring a mighty powerful wizard to track the trails of distortions as well. Guess to get to the village, a Cer-fae must assist.

Focus turns to the unmentioned tunnels, curious on where those lead as well. He'll have some adventuring to do, that's for sure. Rubbing a temple, he circles around until a certain prison cell catches his eye. Abandoned, but the cot is almost perfectly intact. Perhaps someone else found the prion and stayed for a few days? No matter, the cell door is open and he immediately plops down on it. Once getting the dust out, it's perfect. 

“Well, I'll be stuck here until Junta can completely expel this bloody curse,” he huffs. Speaking of which, time for his first dose of the potions. A green vial is snatched and drank down – not bad. Tastes similar to licorice.“You've done enough already, Ao'yagi. Thanks to those portals, I'll be able to drag whatever I need in due time.”

The fae was glad Basshi is pretty much content with the makeshift accommodations. But the hunter will certainly need something to direct with all the magic involved. So he goes forward and places two items on the human’s hand. The first one is an arcane looking lock. The second one is a compact compass of some sort both made with gold and quite ornate. But these are no ordinary items but magical tools to aide the human. 

“Here, you’ll need these. The first one is a lock similar to the barrier stone Junta has in his cave. I programmed it in a way it’ll detect both sunlight and your voice. So in case you need to quarantine yourself this will be very useful. Obviously you can only speak when you have your human mind so you can command it by saying ‘lock’ and ‘release’ whenever your wish. Even so, it’ll automatically lock when daylight is out and open once the sunlight comes through unless you override it with your command. The second one is a compass used for magical distortion. I know these portals can be confusing if you’re not someone who has magical abilities or know them by heart. So just simply tell where you want to go and it’ll point the nearest portal you’ll be able to take. Not only that but it also acts as a communicator. Just press this small gem on top and it’ll alert me with a similar device.” That was a handful to explain, but surely these gadgets will make things much easier for Basshi.

Just said he didn't need more help, yet two items are being shoved into his hands. Come on! Yet, they're more a necessity to get around the mazes of tunnels – more so the compass. The lock was likely issued here when the prison was active to better keep inmates in check – voice commands and all, the sunlight enchantment is probably an add on. That or they're used around various places just in case Night Beasts manage to get within the village. Humans seriously need locks like to this to keep idiotic children inside at night and not get themselves eaten. May have to bring the concept up to a mage, another wealth of gold could be obtained. 

Speaking of which, this compass! How much would these sell for? Isn't an appraiser by any means so he can only guess. A lot, that's the answer – especially with the magical properties. The lock is placed aside to ogle at the ornate item, eyes pretty much sparkling from the beauty. The gem is topnotch as well, it's really a communicator too? By what means? Curious beyond belief, he first presses the button without giving his thanks or questions first. 

Will Ao'yagi beep? Buah! Or light up? Does he have one as well?”

Well, he didn’t expect Basshi to test the compass right away, but supposed that’s just natural curiosity. Once the other pressed the gem, his own pouch by his belt vibrates and lights up. True to his word, he brought out the exact same compass as the one he gave to Basshi. He pressed the button on his device as well and spoke on it. 

“See? It works like this. Once I picked-up you’ll be able to hear me virtually anywhere.” The fae demonstrated as his voice echoed on Basshi’s own device. The compass-communicator always comes at least in pairs. They were used as travel gadgets that he always kept for navigation and sometimes relaying messages to Kabu’ragi. He didn’t need one of these for Junta though since there’s a special ritual for communicating with demons trough telepathy during long distance. Basshi stares at the matching device and all but leans back in disbelief when the fae's voice comes out of his! 

 

What sorcery is this?!”

 

A simple device to Cer-fae and advanced mages, but to a common hunter, it's stunning.

“Woah...! H-holy sodding hells!!” he yelps and throws the compass onto the bed – as if he touched something disgusting. “Handy, but freaky as fuck!”

“Hey don’t throw it like that! You might break it.” The fae catches onto the device as it bounces off the bed before it falls on the floor. He then promptly places the gadget back on Basshi’s hands holding it firmly. “These are really precious items even for my kind, so do try to take care of it. At least with this I’m hoping you’ll feel more secure about your situation.” the prince said adamantly looking at the hunter firmly in the eye.

Now he's being scolded like Kabu'ragi did earlier, his tanned cheeks flair up in red out of embarrassment and bit of anger from being talk down too. Who cares if it's 'precious,' it's damn disturbing that an item carries that sort of power. A person's voice from long distances without the use of a scroll or telepathy? Madness!

“I... can take care of myself, ya'know!” he growls, clearly agitated, “I'm a man of the wild, all prey are weak under my grasp! I'll be secure here without your cursed, magical item!” He huffs, nose upturned like he's the superior one here. Yes, doing that to the person who saved his life and is now offering a fail safe. Human pride, he's reeking of it.

Just like the humans, Cer-fae are known to be creatures of pride as well. Since Ao’yagi went out of his way to prepare all these, it did kind of set him off with the way Basshi turned his nose on him. Does he even realize how much he risked just for this human to have a decent living space that’s fairly secure? 

“Mou! Your arrogance will be your ruin! These things were not easy to get mind you. I know you didn’t ask for this, but will it kill you to have some humility to the one who saved you?!” The fae all but lashed out. He matched Basshi’s huff with one of his own turning around smug and with a flick of his tail. Arms-crossed with flared temper, he tried not to say anything more to argue and talk out of frustration.

Not the best idea there, Ao'yagi. Same time, he has yet to see the sort of rage that's been bundled inside the hunter for the past hours. Hand-outs here, magical items there and what does he do? Say thanks and accept. 

 

No, it doesn't work that way, not in his book! More importantly, the biggest 'why' of the them has been stirring within – one that's been around since he was dragged to the demon's cave. 

 

“I didn't ask for any of this!” he snaps back in rage, “You could have fuckin' left me to die, you bloody moron!!” The compass is then set (safely) aside with the lock before he counters the cold shoulder with a firm grab at the Cer-fae's tail. There's a decent yank, not enough to topple over but to at least make him stumble. “Why? Why the fuck did you save me anyway?! Answer me that, you fluffy bastard!”

Ao'yagi lets out an audible yelp. Even for a small tug it sends him weak in the knees with his tail being one of his most sensitive areas. It’s a weak spot, that’s for sure. He did stumble down on the cot ending up almost lying on it with a tremble. He looked back at Basshi obviously upset, but still tried to think about an answer to the impending question. 

“I’m not really sure, okay?! I thought I would end up killing you when you were turning but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Every part of me screamed it was stupid, yet somehow I knew I just had to save you. I couldn’t just leave you there to die…” The fae was downcast, but it was pure honesty. He really couldn’t clearly decipher what he feels for the hunter.

Noted for the future, Cer-fae are weak on the tail – least on this particular one. The loss in balance has the human smirk something sinister, that's something to exploit if able to get another holding. The fae is next to him rambling on like a child who stole from a cookie jar. He... really doesn't have an answer, does he? But – 

“I was turning into the most feared enemy of the realm!” he yells back, eyes flared with rage, “A never ending nightmare that kills with no remorse, thousands to millions have died under the creatures! You've slayed them, day after day, yet you spare me?!” A hand reaches out and knots into the collar of Ao'yagi's tunic, a quick grab at that. The smaller is pulled closer, their gazes locked in an intense stare. His voice dips to a gravely snarl. “Was it my stubbornness, my pride and sacrifice it took to hunt you? Did you find that appealing, impressive?!” That eerie grin only grows, the mixture of rage and dying curiosity fueling his words. “Or is it as simple as you loving the way my cock filled you...? Hrmm!? Hope to get fucked by me again, is that it?!”

Another yelp at the collar being tugged so both of them were eye-level. Even if he didn’t fight back, he matched Basshi’s intense stare with one of his own. Surely he was intimidated because even if the hunter used quite vulgar statements, part of him tells it’s mostly true. Face flushed and ears pinned back with agitation, he tries once again to provide a decent answer. 

“I don’t know, okay?! You think I’m not aware of all that? Maybe everything you said is true. Maybe it’s just because I never met anyone like you and thought it would be a shame if you expire so soon. If you really regret living so badly, then just tell me and I’ll gladly end it all for you tonight once you’ve turned again. I’ll fight you tooth and nail for it.”

The thing is, he's like most humans – kill or be killed. Slay for trophies, fame, to feed their families, how does that make him different? Because he specifically went after just Ao'yagi for those four miserable days? There's been opportunities to attack other his kin, along with the Bovi's, but no, he refused. It was all about this specific fae, even before knowing his name and the only talk being taunts and jeers. 

 

It... has to be, Ao'yagi must admire his perseverance. Fine, let that be the answer for now. 

 

“Regret? That's the last thing I have!” Even in the jump of confidence and clearly having the upper hand, his fist starts to tremble up against the fae's throat. “The generosity you and your friends have shared this passing day are feats unimaginable – even if we were all the same race! I... don't know how to make it up to any of you!! I offer my very body in service, to forever be under your boot, yet you shrug that off!” His pale eyes fog over, a trail of tears running down a cheek. "I want, no, need to do something! To feel like I've earned this second life, to truly give my thanks!!”

At first Ao'yagi thought the argument would go on and ready to defend himself on whatever Basshi throws at him – not wanting to go down on this contest of principle. He wanted to show the human that even if he wasn’t sure of his motive, his intentions always remained pure. Instead the human showed him something he didn’t expect at all. 

“Basshi?” His look of anger changed into a softer one filled with concern when he witnesses the human’s tears stream down his face. Basshi was probably acting out of frustration since he didn’t know what to do with his newfound gratitude. He couldn’t help but sigh with this and keeps himself in place. “It’s not that there’s nothing you couldn’t do. It’s just that we simply don’t desire anything from you. Despite what you believe in, we faerie folk are simpler with our needs and wants. We don’t like to take more than necessary. As for Junta well he’s…complicated, so I can’t really speak for him. But I…I’m simply acting with what I feel is right. The way I feel for you…”

“But... but...!!” There are no 'buts' in this situation, the fae explained it loud and clear. There's millions he could give, sacrifice towards him and the demon, yet none of it would matter. Perhaps there's a different means to approach this, to fill the empty hole in his heart and feel this life is deserved. To show the thanks he desperately wants to give. Between the fit of emotions and massive amount of explanation piled on before, the hunter is left drained. Now finally able to get the frustrations out, there's also a calmed feeling settled in – the hand withdrawing to wipe away the fallen tears. There's a sniffle, voice suddenly dropped to a gentle tone. “Look... I- need to... have some alone time, alright? Get my head straight...”

Even when Basshi released him, Ao'yagi wanted nothing more than to reach out and give comfort. For some reason seeing the other cry, this seemingly powerful human, tugs at his heartstrings more than anything else. 

“Basshi…” He murmured sympathetically reaching out a hand, but then withdraws at the hunter’s request of being left alone to gather his thoughts. Reluctantly he stood up and turned his back once more, this time heading towards the portal to his home. “You can call me anytime you need me, okay?”

"Y-yeah..." the hunter says before stripping down his belt, the supplies thud hard against the stone floor, to curl up on the dusty cot. The golden trinket lays up by headboard, still within reach if need be. He lets off a long sign of relief, ears buzzing in stillness.

 

It's good to have silence...” 

Chapter Text

As Ao'yagi exits the cell, at first he thought he would want to go straight home. But then realizes he prefers the same solitude Basshi requested, even with promising his son a return. Until now he couldn’t provide a clear-cut answer why he would save the human who hunted him and would want to make sure of his well-being. So maybe this was a good time to reflect on that while on patrol for awakening Night Beasts.

 

Basshi...”

 

Through the night he stayed, slaying all that faced him with barely a wink of sleep, and soon a new dawn was on the horizon.

That's when he opted to visit the pond where he met Basshi before actually returning home. Not like as if a long time has passed especially for him, but the fae already feels nostalgic. Due to being lost in thought he didn’t even realize he was being watched. 

On the other side of the tall bushes lies three hunters. Well, ‘hunter’ is more of a general term to describe these men – rather they were secretly mercenaries. With Basshi’s disappearance for days, naturally his family and friends got worried. News travels fast to the Captain of the Imperial guards, Izumida.

He's a family friend of Basshi’s clan and thus become his mentor training him in the art of combat. With that bond, the Captain was sure to worry as well. That is why Izumida sent out a search party to look for his pupil, but his mistake is not being thoroughly familiar of who he sent. With most of his forces stationed at neighboring towns for the sake of protection from the growing threat of the nightly hunters, desperation showed in hiring these mercenaries. They came off as one who held great concern, wishing to have the powerful hunter returned home, but this was all a guise.

They were jealous of Basshi’s skill and prestige, but the reward of finding him is much too handsome not to partake. Besides, if successful, Basshi would be at their mercy and indebted.

The three hunters tracked Basshi up to the pond. It’s not like they expected to see him right away, but what they find instead is much more extraordinary. There by the edge of the pond stood the mythical Cer-fae. They were so elusive that even catching a glimpse of one is deemed a miracle. And an adult male on at that, highly coveted for their antlers that can be used as powerful medicine.

Not only that, but there was something particularly different with this buck. He seemed more majestic and tantalizing from what they heard. Its beauty was simply breath-taking. Without a word it was unanimously decided that they will capture this buck. The quest to find Basshi becoming meager compared to acquiring a prestigious Cer-fae.

 

Lucky for the hunters, they came prepared for any prey.

 

First, one shot a long-range flare to distract the creature and so it did work. Ao’yagi too preoccupied immediately turned to the sudden noise and spark. The next one shot a fine, but heavy net in his direction. The prince found himself captured easily, unable to escape due to his antlers heavily snagged by the netting. He thrashed about looking for some way to escape but he was already way too tangled – summoning his weapon being at risk of self-injury. But then he remembered he still had the compass. Without thinking, he pressed the button and voiced his distress. 

“Basshi can you hear me? I need your help! I’ve been caught-“ However even before he could finish his call for help. One of the hunters shoved a rag on his face. It was moistened with a drug, a powerful sedative. Within seconds the prince felt groggy and weak. He dropped the compass as he began to lose consciousness. The last thing he saw before completely blacking-out were the three hunters who started to haul his paralyzed body away. 

“What the – ? Did that thing just talk?” One the hunters, a younger rogue-like human snatches the golden item up and gives it a look over. “Damn, this thing must be worth a fortune!!”

“Yeah, and this Cer-fae knows our target. Hear that?” says the bulkier one of the group who's doing most the dragging on the unconscious fae, “The thing said 'Basshi!' What luck it knows our target!”

“Lucky indeed...” grumbles the last of them, a lean and tall elven man armed with a staff. “We'll get much more for this fae then that idiotic hunter, but to bring in both...! We'll be swimming in so much gold, we'll need our own lake. Get this creature to our camp quickly, there's... questions in order.”  
 

The three laugh in unison. 

 

---

 


Alone time, the hunter's favorite. Only his thoughts and his alone, to brainstorm without interruptions.

 

Silence. Peace. Perfection.

 

A chance to focus and relax, nothing can be better. For hours he lays there, not moving an inch until the inevitable hunger sinks in. Didn't exactly check what Ao'yagi stored for him, so his curious nature is peaked as well. Snatching the pack, he locates the area where the stores are and takes a gander, an appreciative smile coming on. 

Candied fruits, pickled vegetables, an assortment of refreshing herbs and cheeses – he couldn't ask for more. Well, a slab of beef or jerky, but that's only in his human palette. By the time a snack is consumed and his picked cell is spruced up – cob webs cleaned, dust blown out via the blanket, cot straightened and orderly – the sun is setting on the horizon. An odd sensation tinkles through him, it's not long before he'll experience another change. 

That's when the red vial is taken, this one tasting far nastier then the previous. He tanks it, whatever it takes to have control during his new form. It's a hope. So he waits, armor neatly placed aside to not have it torn to shreds and lock ready on the cell door, just staring off into space. 

Any minute, any second.” The concoction of fear and anticipation rattles him to the very core. This will happen daily for what could be the rest of his life. That brings an odd question. Will the curse lower his lifespan or extend it? Perhaps the incubus will know that answer. A short prayer is given to the Mountain God for safety before the final glimpse sunlight vanishes and the change unfolds. 

The last of human sanity watches lines of black scales form over his hands, his nails to twist and bend into the razor sharp talons – to experience the pain of his muscles and bones aligning to take shape of his arched legs. It feels as if his spine is being torn and pulled from his very body to form out the bulky tail, jaw crunching as fangs grow. A sinister roar echoes throughout the chamber, the lock snapping in place. 

 

Then everything goes red. 

 

Like the first, only shards of humanity can be pulled from his reptilian mind throughout the night – the urge to sleep and boredom being his primary concerns. A good chunk of the hours are spent in slumber only to awake with his new found hunger. In his luck does a rat scurry into the cell and sate the thirst for blood, yet the beast remains savage. 

Ramming, clawing, gnawing – any means to escape the prison are fruitless. It leaves him to climb and dig into a rock face, a surprisingly decent chuck removed before the morning. That sheering, god awful pain of the shift is undergone – the human left to writhe on the stone floor in tears. 

The potions didn't do anything!?” If anything, it was worse than before thanks to being confined in the medium sized cell. Adjustments need to be made, along with a talk with that demon. A visit to Junta becomes his main priority. 

After a quick breakfast and his armor back in place, the compass is within grasp. The fear of the item will remain, but it's a necessary guide. Ao'yagi didn't give specific voice commands, so the best guess is taken. 

“Junta's lair?” he questions, uncertain. The magical device buzzes in his palm before the arrow curls due southwest, the direction of a tunnel the fae pointed out on first arrival. So it does work that way. Must have specific voice quirks due to it being owned by his new friend. Simple, he likes it. 

Into the tunnel he goes, a small amount of time taken before he's greeted by the morning sun. The compass continues to point thankfully. With only visiting there once, he'd be lost otherwise. So he follows and eventually finds the cave's entrance of the sultry demon. Through the dark and dreary does the device again buzz at a rock face, likely the secret entrance. Only a glimpse was caught of how to open it, a button somewhere, right? As he feels down the nearby walls, the compass again springs to life – this time with a voice. 

 

{“Basshi can you hear me? I need your help! I’ve been caught-”} 
 

“What?!” He fumbles to get it back into his palm, the gem pressed in panic. “Ao'yagi!? ….Ao'yagi, answer me!” Silence is in return. “Ao'yagi!!”

 

No no no, this isn't good. The way Ao'yagi sounded... he's in desperate need of help! Caught? But who took him? And to where? Other hunters? He's a buck, those horns are worth more than a castle in the black market. And more so, Ao'yagi is one of the fairest creatures he's seen – anyone has seen! His beauty is what captivated Basshi in the first place, don't tell him there's – “Shit! Shit!!” 

Every part of him tells him to book it, to find Ao'yagi to his last dying breath, but like hell he's prepared. For all he knows, the fae could be days away thanks to magical means. He can't run into this without preparation. It's like any other hunt. Except this time, the compass can lead him right to Ao'yagi – surely it can track the matching one. Something needs to be done first. Frantic, he again pat down the rocks for the means of entrance – breath hard and anxious. 

“Junta! Open up!! Please!” After countless pounds and slams, the hunter manages to locate the (very well) hidden button veiled within the rocky surface. “Come on, come on, come on!” he repeats as the boulder slowly moves out of view. With enough space, he squeezes through and bolts inside – his heavy footfalls echoing through the chamber. Along with his booming voice. “Junta!? You better fuckin' be here!!”

"I'm here human, no need to yell.” The demon retorted, already at his experimentation chamber answering loud enough so the human can locate him. With the telephatic bond he and Ao'yagi shares, he's already well aware his friend is in some kind of danger. He could sense a thought of urgency transmitted by the fae until he couldn't detect his thoughts anymore, so he figured Ao'yagi must have passed out. He would've been by his best friend's side in minutes if not for a fact that incubus need to be summoned

Under normal circumstances, all Ao'yagi has to do is chants a short spell and his formal name and poof, he's there. But that requires magic, so that means wherever the prince may be his magic is most likely suppressed. Thankfully he can still feel Ao'yagi's aura so that means the prince is alive. Right now all he can do is scry in order to locate him. That is until that hunter comes along.

Ears pick up the other voice quite easily due to his life as a hunter, cave exploration under his belt as well, and he rushes over to the location without fail. He doesn't take any note of his surroundings, may have trashed this area during his rampage the other night and it's now cleaned up – he immediately pulls Junta away from whatever he's doing and stare straight into those slit eyes. 

“Ao'yagi's been kidnapped!” he snaps, voice far too loud for the space between them, “I need to rescue him!”

"Don't you think I know that already?" the demon all but lashes out. Junta is already quite frustrated and worried with the way Ao'yagi's aura signal is suddenly weak. Either the fae is within some kind of barrier or his life force is dwindling. He sure hopes it's the former. "I'm already trying to find Ao'yagi as we speak. He must be unconscious with his magic inhibited, he already feels hours away from here. A mage is involved for sure.” He gives a roll of the eyes as he backs away. “And why the hell are you here?! Having 'fun' with your transformation?"

“I already got a solution to that!” From a belt pouch does Basshi pull out the golden compass to proudly show it off. “Ao'yagi's compass is exactly like this one, I'm sure it can find his! Now stop that useless other magical shit and help me instead!” His voice is firm, commanding – not the best tone when speaking to an unworldly creature, but this is an emergency. Junta is well aware of the situation, surely he can understand the hunter's distress. “I need to move as quickly as possible!” A finger juts to the apothecary satchel that the demon handed out last morning. “And your potions didn't do shit, you liar! Fix that so I can tear whoever did this apart!!”

"Oh, Ao'yagi actually gave you the compass! That's a big help. With this I can trace it's pair and teleport there no problem~. That is as long as the other one isn't broken." The demon finally perked up snatching the device away promptly to get a work on it. "Of course they won't work right away! I've diluted the potion's potency so it'll accustom to your body first. It'll take at least five more dosses until it effects. If you take it full-blown, you might end up insane; even when human. Also what do you mean you need to get moving?! Even if you manage to rescue the prince once you transformed you'll be a bigger threat to him than whatever he's in. I'm going after him."

“I don't have time for five more!!” comes in a snap back, “You're fixing this now!” Could have explained that part to him earlier, come on! How the hell was he supposed to know that? Went into the potions believing he'd be a little better by the first dose. Was that expectation flipped upside down. “If I'm sane enough to control this other side of me, Ao'yagi will go untouched! I'll know who he is! You'll just be assisting me!” The demon is once again dragged from his research by a shoulder to stare him down firmly. “He saved my life, so it's only fair I do the same for him. You have to let me do this alone.” Junta thought he doesn't have time for this either. But from what he knows of Basshi's character, the guy won't stop until he get what he wants. That means more useless arguments than focusing on finding the prince. 

"Fine! You wanna have a go at it? Here, eat your heart out." Junta plucked a medium-sized bottle filled with the potion and shoved it onto Basshi. "That's the potion in its purest form. It's so strong it'll actually induce transformation right away. If you can actually handle it, you'll be able to keep your mind the moment your body settles down from the change. If not, you'll remain an insane half-breed forever.” He juts a finger across the room. “See that cage? Go in there until the transformation is complete say 'release' to open, if you actually can keep your humanity. You know the drill. For the meantime, locating Ao'yagi will take a while even with the compass, so you do what you have to and I'll do my work. Got it?"

The hunter stares wide eyed at the undiluted substance, the explanation buzzing at his ear drums. Of course a demon wouldn't care if his life was left to ruins, to be forever trapped in the hell that's between monster and human. Junta would likely be the one to end his life if things turn sour. A thought crosses by.

 

Is... this going too far?”
 

Ao'yagi could have been captured by one lone mage, the transformation wouldn't be needed. Then again, the fae isn't a weakling – a warrior prince of his kingdom. No way, there has to be more. There's a question before diving too deep. 

“Would you...” he begins, voice finally softened to a reasonable volume, “know how many took him by... whatever you're doing? Whether they're human, elf?” Heck, even an Orge or Troll would kidnap a Cer-fae as a pet, he assumes. They do it to humans, why not them? And if that's the case, the transformation is a necessity – a group is needed to take down one of those brutal creatures. Junta continued to fumble with the compass and has started 'weaving' his magic on it. But his face can't help but turn into a frown. 

"Ah, as suspected, the other device is broken. I can still locate Ao'yagi with its residue magic, but I can't fully use it as survaillence. And since my magic is being blocked, that barrier theory is correct. Whoever took him can do magic and based from the aura, I feel it must be at least three people. I can say this will really take some time, so don't bother me for now I'll need to concentrate.”

Basshi clicks his tongue. At least Junta is powerful enough to track the essence left and get a general idea. He sounds confident on getting a final location as well. He's sure the incubus will do whatever it takes to rescue his best friend, so it's pretty much guaranteed. Three people is nothing to scoff at when the fight will only be against him, the use of magic being a red flag. Unlikely another Cer-fae due to their bonds and demons normally don't work in packs unless lessers like imps, so it's likely an elf. The lean, magically attuned race are close to humans – they reside in the same towns and cities. A tad more arrogant due to their natural power, but otherwise close and powerful allies. Magic is not a force to be reckoned with. He may not know much about it, but one thing's for sure. If a barrier can protect from the superior powers of a demon, this mage must be a formidable opponent. 

“Shit...” He takes a step away to plop down on a bench, the vial idly rolls across his palms. He'll need that extra push of this dire form to do this, a gut feeling. And if he takes too long, Ao'yagi could be moved even further away from Junta's distance. Or worse, dead. The extra fact that Night Beasts, being magically made creatures themselves for studies, are unaffected by the arcane. Would that mean he gets that power as well, or perhaps a resistance? “I'm... not taking it until you know for sure where our Prince is located! I'll sit right here and wait!”

"Suit yourself." The demon sighs, what a pain.

 

---

 

After some fiddling and scrying for a solid hour, he's able to pinpoint Ao'yagi's location.

"Aha found him! He lies by the cliff-side near this human village. I'm guessing it's a camp or some sort. Do you know of this area?" The incubus dragged a painted finger on the table, pointing on the exact location towards Basshi.

Lost in thought and worry, Basshi doesn't notice the passage of time – if there was that much to begin with. He's snapped back from the discovery, eyes immediately darted to the map. Due north of here, near the village Oya by the Tanza mountains – all too familiar. If Ao'yagi was kidnapped not that long ago, the band had to have used teleportation or distortion magic. A day by foot if cutting through the woods, but if in his cursed form who is more agile and quick, he'd be there by nightfall at the latest. He all but sneers. 

“Oya... a town full of low-lifes and thugs,” he explains in case the demon in unfamiliar, “Bloody mercenaries looking for coin, I'm sure of it. They're likely at the location for a pickup otherwise they would be in town already. Disgusting...!!” Then that's it, there's really no other choice, is there? A second shot at life to likely end it by the beast he was bound to become. A fifty-fifty shot this works, perhaps thirty-seventy? It doesn't matter, the situation calls for drastic measures. And if turns out to be forever trapped in the hybrid form, then so be it. Ao'yagi will be saved by his demon companion, simple as that. He gazes up at the violet haired creature. “You're sure this is where he is? And that this potion will do as it says?” Gaining a demon's trust, not going to be quick.

"I'm sure. You have my word." Junta is straight-forward as he is serious. Those low-lives are sure to be as bad as demons, he wouldn't contest. So he couldn't help but be anxious. With that, Junta stood back because he knew Basshi has already decided. It might be too late if he pursues the captors in human form. He will do this whatever it takes.

That tone says it all, much as the hunter hates to admit. Cheeky as the incubus may be, the desperation for his friend's safety lays thick in his words and expression. With reassurance, the human steps into the mentioned cage and slams the door shut.  

 

“Lock.” The magical device clicks into place. It's now or never. Whatever happens, happens. A deep sigh, eyes fluttered closed, hand shaken atop the glass vial. The cork pops off and skitters to the metal floor. 
 
 

Within seconds, the potion is drained.  

Chapter Text

By the time Ao'yagi awoke, everything was spinning. His head pounded and body felt like lead. Beneath where he lays he felt cold metal and what seems like a pile of straw. As he came to, he tried to get up only to get shocked with the limited movements of his limbs. He sat up and finally looks around. He was in a cage while his arms and legs are bound by shackles. Right now he was only in his inner tunic too – the kidnappers obviously ransacking his pack and armor. At first he tried summoning his weapon, but it was no avail. His magic wasn't working at all.

"Those shackles are anti-magic devices. You won't be able to do anything as long as you're bound by those." Apparently his captors are watching him all along. It was the tall elven man who spoke. Ao'yagi darted towards the bars, clamoring in between them. 

"Who are you people? Release me at once!" the fae cried out of desperation. He may try to sound tough but truly he is afraid of his fate. These guys have the words 'poachers' written all over them and the prince was sure they were up to no good.

"Release?! You must be out of your mind, pretty fae! You'll be cooped in here for a long time, so I suggest you get used to it. And if you're a good deer and cooperate with us, we might even consider to treat you a tad bit nicely." It was the young rogue one who snickered and jeered staring the fae down. Ao'yagi has his ears pinned downwards obviously threatened and nervous. He was powerless at the moment and who knows what these men have in-store for him. He could only hope Basshi heard his distress call a while back.

The mercenary camp is decent in size and well hidden – the only means of entranced being a narrow crevasse between the mountain side. Ao'yagi has been out cold for hours, the sun is now high in the cloudless sky. They sit by a roaring fire, tents and supplies set up in place. This area has been a camp for some time now, this isn't makeshift or temporary. 

“Yeah!” barks back the heavier male of the group, “And if you tell us how your shiny compass works, I'll consider not stabbing you for fun!” In the taunt does he waggle the device for the fae to see, the edges roughed up like they were trying to piece it apart. Ao'yagi tried to think about how to answer his captor. He couldn't just reveal the compass is for detecting portals and space distortion. That would put his village in danger and he would rather die than do that. 

"I-It's just like you said, a compass. It points towards direction with accuracy specifically for hunting Night Beasts." There. Hopefully his explanation is plausible enough for the kidnappers to buy it. The brute then bangs it atop a rock lined around the fire a handful of times – quite stubborn about getting it open.

“Pretty fancy for that purpose if you ask me! Piece of shite won't open either! How am I supposed to scrap it for parts?!” 

“Ahhh, stop ruffin' it up!” shouts the leather clad rogue, “Not worth the hassle! You should be focused on the other beauty we snagged. Right, little fae~?” He kneels in front of the iron bars so their eyes can meet, those green hues saying nothing but trouble. “Sure you're a buck, 'cause...~"

Ao’yagi grimaced with the way his compass is being torn apart from the inside with all that pounding. Sure it may look sturdy on the outside but within is a delicate piece of clockwork. That’s why he handles it with a lot of care. It’s sure to be broken by now and it was his favorite compass too. Wonderful. But as the rouge thug gets closer to him, his worries about the device are entirely redirected. Golden eyes narrow in caution with tufted ears pinned back behind his antlers. The Cer-fae backed up his cage as far as he could with a heavy gulp.

“W-What are you talking about?!” The thief tucks away red hair from his forehead with a wicked grin, a lick made over thin lips. 

“Just sayin', that pretty face of yours would look great between my legs~.” 

“Yorick, you're disgusting,” pipes in the elven mage eyeing through a scroll. Hard to focus when mindless banter is about, the banging isn't appreciated either.

“Come now Nym, ain't nothin' wrong for takin' a slave for a spin before the transport wagon arrives! Still got a long while and I'm itchin' for some fun!” The mage sneers, he's all too sick of his comrade's nature. But the guy's a world-class thief and poison expert, his skills are outmatched. It's worth having to deal with his rambunctious behavior in the end. The mage sighs out. 

“Do as you wish, I don't care for details either. Just make sure it doesn't escape or get killed. And be quiet about it, we clear?” 

“Got it, boss! Time for play time, pretty fae~! We're going to my tent!” The lock is removed with a flash of fingers, no key required, and a grab is made at one of Ao'yagi's antlers to pull him out. 
 

Hearing the rouge talk about his lewd plans for him makes Ao’yagi shudder even more. This will certainly not end well for him. Even so, he tried to pay attention to what’s going on around him as much as could as to perhaps pick-up some clues to help him escape. 
 

So the elf’s name is Nym,” Ao'yagi ponders, "and judging from his stance and aura, his power is undoubted. Enough to nullify Cer-fae magic. He's probably the brains of the operation too. The brute is probably just the hired muscle for his strength. He doesn’t seem to be very bright at all. Finally, the creep eyeing me, is Yorick. With the way his comrades tolerate him and the picking of the lock, he must be really skilled as a thief of sorts.” He was deep in his observation when he is dragged out from the cage, whining softly with his antlers being pulled.
 

A decent distance away for the campfire setup is where the medium sized tent stands, it is well-crafted from thick hides and fur. Yorick doesn't let go for even a second with the fae's legs still operational. Even if he did slip free, the weight of the magical-bond bindings are a burden by themselves – he wouldn't get far. Another fail safe is them being controlled by the elven wizard, they can always become heavier. Even painful if need be. 

“Hope you'll be comfortable,” he says with a slight sing in his tone. The flap is opened with care, as if welcoming Ao'yagi in a friendly gesture, to only downright tug and throw him onto the bear-skinned bedroll. “What the hell am I saying, you won't be!” From his belt does he snatch a small dagger and idly toss it about, menacing eyes all over the other. “May consider going easy on you if you're a good deer...~”
 

Being powerless in shackles, the only thing Ao’yagi can do right now is stare menacingly at the thief. He’s still debating whether he should put up a fight and make this difficult or just be obedient so everything would be over faster. And hopefully less painless. The way the other wields the dagger, it's a better option to lay low. So he just sits meekly on the bedroll and anxiously waits for the disgusting things his captor has in-store.

“No bites? Lookie that, you fleabags know when to keep your tongue.” Emphasizing the statement, the flat edge of the blade is glided across his tongue, the silver metal glistening with saliva. From here does he approach the Cer-fae and kneel down, the tip brought under the bottom hem of the tunic. In one flick does it tear through the material and expose Ao'yagi's chest; the thief perking an angled brow. “Tch, will admit, you're pretty cute here too~. Must be the freckles. A shame there's nothing to grab at. Then again...” Leather clad fingers roll over the tender, pinkish flesh – gentle at first to suddenly shift into a firm tweak and pull. “That works too...~”

“We’re not barbaric creatures, you know. And we certainly don’t have fleas!” Ao’yagi couldn’t help but retort at that. He’s still an honorable Cer-fae after all brimming with pride and refused to be talked like a savage. But then the thief starts to make his move. With a blink of an eye, his tunic is torn to shreds leaving him almost fully naked now. He shudders once again at the touch with a gag held back with much disgust. But then there’s a tug again at his skin this time and he yelps loudly once more.

“Ohoho! Sensitive are we? Those noises are just what I want to hear~.” Yorick returns to tenderly caressing the nipple, amused by how the flesh reacts instinctively to the attention. It stiffens and makes it all the more easier to tease. “I beg to differ, pretty one. Keeping yourselves cooped up in the forest like a group of primitive beasts... probably infested with all sorts of vermin. Yet... your beauty is unlike any other. Tell me about the women, hm? A little background to keep me entertained. How perky their breasts are for example...” A snicker erupts as the free hand dips between Ao'yagi's thighs and takes grasp on his genitals, by no means in a gentle squeeze either. “... how tight their cunts are, hm? Know how that feels, pretty boy~?”

Great, more vulgar talk and from someone he disdains. Ao'yagi really couldn't stand the way the thief disrespects his kin. Plus he couldn't possibly reveal himself to be the prince of their clan. That will most likely bring more trouble than it's worth. 

"I-I don't know what you're talking about..." he answers briefly and partly because it's true. He's never mated with anyone besides Junta and now Basshi. Not that he's all that interested either, being focused on his duties as royalty – a warrior and a father. Right now he couldn't help but writhe under the rough then gentle touch. The noises are soft and airy, enough for the thief to take his imagination into play – especially once his eyes come to a close. So warm, if only his fingers could sink into a wet cervical. 

“Hrm, riiiiiiight,” he draws on the word as the skilled palm rolls against the barely covered groin, “Then what's this I'm feeling? Must be thinkin' of sexy doe to have this reaction. Tryin' to make this easier, are we? Don't worry, I am too.” The hand at the fae's chest traverses upwards past collarbone and neck to kneed at a tufted ear. Interesting, should have taken off his gloves before handling. Probably just like a deer's pelt, rough yet soft – the perfect item to add to his collection. “Amuse me, savage. Moan, nice and loud for me~.”

"I'm not a savage and I'm not thinking of such things!" He exclaimed not being able to take anymore the verbal insults. But the ministrations keep on and it's only natural for him to respond especially given how sensitive he is. He wanted it to stop or at least for his body to stop reacting to the touching. He continues to squirm about from where he was seated, eyes shut from the kneading of his ear, a bite at his lip to maintain composure. Humiliating, much more from what he experienced from Basshi.

Holding back on me,” Yorick growls internally, “that's no fun at all.” He gave an order and he expects a delivery. Would find it interesting to a hardening shaft currently cradled, but alas, it does nothing for him unless the fae produces more noises. Where are those to be exact? Not happening, that's where. 

“Now, now... what did I tell you?!” On the emphasized word does the thief cup over the side of Ao'yagi's face and forcibly slam him to the side. By the angle and the amount of energy put into the shove, the antler on his left side bounces hard atop the wooden pallet underneath – enough for a small portion to crack and snap off. “You disgusting beast! You will listen to me!!”

Ao'yagi head racked with the impact and what's more he heard a crack. Once he comes to from the daze, he's horrified to see his precious antlers losing a chunk. He tries to sit-up again groggy from soreness just looking at the thief in shock. He wanted to lash out more than anything. But alas, he realizes a haughty, defiant behavior wouldn't do him any good. The gravity of his defeated reality sinking in. So he sits-up straight once more, but with a lowered head grudgingly acknowledging his captor. 

"Fine, I'll do as you say from now on..." The thug's eyes watch as the tiny segment goes skittering across the makeshift floor, yellowed teeth all showing in a wicked grin. 

 

Would you look at that? An accident, but an entertaining one...” As the thrall recovers and unwillingly offers his servitude, Yorick stands to pluck the piece up.

 

“You know, pretty one,” he coos as it's tossed like the knife before, “Why we hunt you? The reason why you precious stags are taken from their families to rot in a cell for the rest of their lives? This.” He holds it up briefly, showing it off. “The restoration properties of your pretty ornaments can heal a man from the brink of death. You probably know that part... but do you know the other? Hm?” His jade eyes lock onto Ao'yagi, a sinister glint within them. The fae should hopefully know by now. Entertain him, answers questions, or there's hell to pay. 
 

Now the thief is trying to make some small talk, taunts more than anything. He watched the bandit play with the broken chunk of his horn, all too despicable. Of course he's all too aware why Cer-fae are hunted for their antlers, the uncanny healing ability. But he's at a lost about the other reason. He never did care for the machinations of man. All he knew is they were to be avoided. 

"S-sorry I don't know the other reason..." he said sheepishly turning his head down again the moment their stares meet. This kind of attitude will be enough to get him into less trouble with the lecherous company, he supposes. 

“Why, a drug, my 'dear' fae! One that sends you higher than a shot of mana.” To humans, who lack the abilities to control the magics of the realm, certain substances take a different effect. To an elf or fae, the pools of pure magic known as mana are the restorative substance that recovers their taps at a quicker rate – nothing more than an aid. But to a mortal, the blue, sparkling substance is sold as a street drug, it's main effects being a hallucinogen. “Grind this up and mix it with the right things and bam~! You'll be hearing, seeing, smelling things us humans weren't meant too. Some are just plays of the mind, entertainment so to speak, but you know what? Some have glimpses of your people's villages.” He kneels back down onto the bedroll and taps the broken horn gently to Ao'yagi's freckled nose. “We know they aren't fake either... happens too frequently to merely be a vision. Once we find the mixture that's juuuuust right, we'll find you. All of you...~”

Use medicine for recreation? How absurd!” Ao'yagi has never heard of something so ridiculous in his life. The fae understood the primary reason for coveting their antlers for healing purposes but to induce hallucinations? Pretty counter-productive in his opinion. Humans are more idiotic than he perceived them to be. Maybe the elders were right about them all along as he's seeing the ugly side of man right at this very moment. 

"You can't say that for sure yet. You just said it was vile of us to coop ourselves in the forest, yet you imagine nothing less than to obtain our kind. Isn't that quite hypocritical of you? If you really think we're savage beasts, then it's funny with the lengths you humans go through to reveal our civilization." Whoops, too much. But he just had to say his piece. The way Yorik looks down on Cer-fae has becoming intolerable already. He's sure to receive a beating now, but at least he gave this uncouth bandit a piece of his mind. A hot flush of fury washes to the rogue's face, how dare him be spoken to this way. Within a split second is a leather bound hand curled into a fist and struck across Ao'yagi's cheekbone – the power enough to send him toppled over the fur bedroll. 

“You repulsive wretch!” he screams in return, “Beasts should learn who their master is!” Back on his feet, a soled heel comes to stomp down on the fae's ankle. Once, twice – a repeated process as he continues to jeer. “You flea ridden creatures deserve to be caged, to learn that humans are the masters of this world! Slaves, all of you will become! To writhe in pain and fear!! This is where you belong!!”

Ao'yagi cried out in pain. By no means his legs are weak with his pristine agility, but when abused like this, the hurt is intolerable. Still Ao'yagi didn't say a word in retort and especially not an apology – even with the spew of threats and harassment. He simply lays low on the bedroll enduring the beating until the thug's anger is lessened.

The blows keep coming until the skin at Ao'yagi's ankle breaks, rough scabs and splits running heavy with blood. When it all seems to pass, the human's breaths heavy and the beating subsiding, that boot comes crashing into the fae's stomach with a mighty kick. 

“Worthless thing! Not so high and mighty without your magic, huh?!” As Ao'yagi recovers, trembling and gagging, Yorick stomps off to a table to snatch up a weapon. Larger, heavier and more intimidating than a silver dagger. A hand-axe, freshly sharpened and without a speck of blood or dirt. This man takes good care of his weaponry it seems. A maniacal chuckle flows loose from his dry lips. “Now what part should I keep... that cute fluffy tail? Perhaps an ear? How about you pick, little deer~.”

Ao'yagi raised his head a little and saw the axe with the thief's explanation. Finally, terror washes him at the thought of mutilation. Golden eyes wide with fright and ears alert, he crouches as low as he could to show submission. His earlier pride leaves him, unable to handle the idea of his body parts being cut apart. 

"No please don't! Anything but that...I'll do as you say, say what you want just please don't!" The begging has the man's grin spread to something sinister. Much better, entertainment at its finest. Although, a thought comes around. Almost forgot. 'Good thing' he didn't, otherwise a swift punishment would be in order. 

“Ah, wait. I must not... you're probably wondering why I've told you all of this, yes?” He again kneels before the injured thrall. “Where you're going... across the sea you'll sail to our neighborin' continent, along with other of your precious kin. You'll be treated like a king, pampered and adored by all. Then once you arrive to your 'humble' new home...” After pulling the fae's head back by an antler, the keen edge of the weapon presses to his throat and breaks a layer of skin – the thin trickle of blood traveling down to his chest. “You'll be dissected, an experiment for our gains. No part of you will go to waste, I can assure that. What a shame... was banking on keeping a piece to remember our fun. Of course...” His grip tightens on the decorative horn, eyes wondering up towards it. “Can always take more of this~.”

Ao'yagi listened intently as the thief explained his supposed fate. So this is what he’ll be coming to, be smuggled and then used as a commodity. His lineage, his achievements, hopes and dreams all come to naught. 
 

The mighty Cer-fae merely reduced as some kind of livestock. 

 

In a way it is ironic even if it’s cruel. Images of his loved-ones came to mind; Kabu’ragi, Dan’chiku, his parents, comrades, Junta…He’d have to say goodbye to them in his mind. He even remembers Basshi who for a brief moment warmed his heart. Even with those thoughts, his fear didn’t waver. Sure he was a warrior used to enduring battles with Night Beasts, but it was all too different in this vulnerable state unable to do anything but tolerate abuse. He whipped his head back along with the tug. The wound on his neck stings but only for a while until he bled. Tears start to stream down his face, not from the pain, but from the realization of his doom. 

 

His hope slowly dwindles.

 

So quick to make his spirit break? Cer-fae clearly are the lesser of this world, Yorick muses. The beauty of the creature seems to heighten with those droplets, how those golden eyes shake and shimmer in fright. Here's the expression he's been waiting for, any shred of hope snatched away to leave him a hallow shell of his former. Perfect. 

“Aww, don't cry little one...~” he coos with voice caked in sarcasm, “Your pain is still for some time, I won't hurt you further. The loss of your precious antlers can also wait, they still have a use.” With that, the axe is placed aside for the time being before he stands – fingers fumbling around the strings and buckle of his leather trousers. “How about it, pretty fae? A little fun before your loss and go back to sleep~?”

Supposed this is the bad effects of being isolated. Ao'yagi has always been socially awkward, but he's used to being shown respect at all times nonetheless being the prince. Junta has always been nice to him too and in a way, Basshi is as well given the hunter is clearly infatuated. This is the first time he's truly been subjected being treated like a lower kind of creature. The thief must think all Cer-fae are emotionally weak because of this display. Still, the tears won't stop even if he tries to hold back. 

Just get this over with...” he thought, remaining unmoving the moment his captor lets go. He simply gave a small nod of acknowledgment and resignation to signal he's ready for whatever perverted deed the other has planned.

“What a good boy you've became...” Yorick chuckles, “Better knock that off before I drop the gold to own you myself.” In a tug does his shaft spring forward, already in full from the buildup. Turned on from seeing someone cry and afflicting pain? He's a special kind of vile. His girth is nothing extraordinary, yet nothing to scoff at either – especially for his plans. In a step forward does the tip press to a tear stained cheek, jade hues narrowed down to his current plaything. “Would you like that? I'll buy you an expensive leash, one worthy of a beautiful fae~. Coated in gems, fit for a king.”

Ao'yagi feels his gut churn. He still couldn't believe that he was reduced to this, but supposed he needs to thread carefully now. He knows where this will lead to anyway, so why delay the inevitable and bring more pain upon himself? If he just shut his mind off, taking nothing but the role of a whore, it wouldn't affect him so much. Besides, he was promised sleep after this so the sooner this gets over with the better. So instead of answering the thug's taunts, he takes in a breath deeply and gingerly wraps his hand around the shaft. He then took the head in his mouth, as vile as it is, and began sucking lightly. This heathen better keep his word and at least not hurt him any longer as long as the pleasure continues. The bound hands coming over him makes a relaxed sigh slip from the human, a delighted shiver to shake him to the very core. More so once those soft lips meet the smooth and suckles commence, the perfect vision of his perverted cravings. 

“Mhmmm, yeah you would,” he answers for the busy fae, “This is your treat for being a good boy. Already love my cock, I can tell~.” With Ao'yagi 'comfortably' settled, the thief does the same by wrapping a hand over either antler near the base. Thumbs brush to the stray golden strands strewn there. “You better moan for me this time, beast. Let me hear how much you yearn for it...~”

By the Gods, this is even more humiliating. What would his family and friends think of him should they find out? He felt like he's ruined forever sinking this low. No, Ao'yagi shakes those thoughts away, he tried to convince himself. As difficult as it is to act out this role, he tries to tell himself over and over this is just pretend. He must dissociate himself for the sake of his safety and even possibly his people. He matches the rhythm of his suckling with every tug on his antlers so there's less resistance on the pull. He strokes a bit faster with one hand while his other hand rests on the thief's hips since they were still chained shortly. He really hopes this will be at least worth it rather than be beaten to submission.

“F-fuck, that's it...~” As the attention becomes more fervent, the rogue pulls and pushes by the horns at an even, comfortable speed. Inches of the girth sinks into the warm throat to withdraw to tip, a rhythm to let him indulge every breath and sleek dribble of liquid that coats. “Such skilled hands, I'm impressed... you do this often, am I right? Aha, a pretty boy like yourself must crave cock instead...” Those cruel eyes never leave Ao'yagi's face, entranced by how beautifully those freckled cheeks and lips cradle his shaft. With those long locks and soft features, from this angle does the fae come off as a female – just as he wanted. Deep voice can't help but shift into mewls, seems the thief's last encounter has been time since past. Amazingly pleasurable than what is should be, strings of translucent pre-cum are smeared across the fae's tongue. “Likely... a-ah, wishing you were stuffed somewhere else, hrm? Too bad...~”

He briefly scoffs hearing the comments, the thief is taunting him with the truth – given he only has experience with men and in a way prefers that. But then he presses on fearing any displeasure from his captor will result with another harsh punishment. However, his abuser's idea wasn't so bad. If he just lets his mind wander somewhere else maybe it'll make this ordeal a lot easier. If he just imagine he was doing this with Junta instead. Or hell, even Basshi, it'll get his acting more effective and would take things less personally. So he does just that closing his eyes for a second picturing himself on a nice bed perhaps his own room instead of this musty camp and with someone else he likes. His tongue presses further on the cock's head making him take more of it bit by bit. The increased pace doesn't bother him so much anymore. Yes, mind over matter does work. 

 

Funny thing is the one he pictures to be his partner with this is... Basshi. Strange but at least it works and that's all that matters.

 

Oh, what's this now? Ao'yagi was hinted on the ways of begrudging at first, but now... he's taking this at full throttle. His throat feels tighter, those breaths hotter and greedier – the thief's thoughts must be true. This male is loving it, perhaps himself getting aroused by shackles and servitude. Yeah, that has to be it. His slave is loving it just as much. 

“Fuck... you fleabags are good for something besides these horns,” he sneers in an amused manner, "Y-you're.. probably rock hard, just aching for attention. But you're f-fine with that... enjoying m-my cock far more...~” His head hangs back, focus turned to the ceiling in hopes of holding back. The heat and wetness, it won't be long at this rate. Tugs at the Cer-fae's antlers become ardent and forceful, every inch of his cock now slammed deep into the 'waiting' throat. “... t-take it... yes~!”

Ao'yagi isn't as hard aroused as the thief puts it, but he can't deny some of the small spasms in his stomach mainly with the thoughts of thinking about doing this with someone else. He has already completely attuned his mind. Besides, if talking about impressive shafts his hunter friend would win that hands down. Still, it doesn't help much from him being overwhelmed with the way the thief slams himself onto him. Eyes begin to water once more as he balks and holds back gagging – trying his best to breathe through his nose. Both his palms were on each side of the thief's thighs, giving it his all not to throw up – especially since his captor is firmly holding him in place via his horns.

Spots form, vision stirs – within seconds the tunnel is assaulted with ribbons of viscous fluids. The thief groans, deep and foul when hips come into play. Hard, desperate bucks as his leather grip tightens at the decorative antlers, sweet lips and nose of the fae pressed firm against flesh. 

“Sh-shit~!” Spent, the lithe man reels back in uneven steps and falls back to a kneeling position. Red locks stick to his forehead, lips turned into blissful grin with a hazed look at his slave. “Y-you... better... swallow all of that, beast...~”

The fae was almost choking on the foul tasting liquid. Since it was shoved deeply into his throat, it was inevitable he'd swallow most of it – as much as it repulsed him. That is why the moment the human withdraws, he coughs and balks spitting some of the semen on the flooring even before he could hear the thief's demand to swallow it all up. 

"Eh?! But it was too much!" he whined unwittingly wiping away tears and stray fluid with the back of his hand. But then he realizes the thief would take this as disobedience, so by reflex, he curls up once more shielding his face with his arms out of fear – bracing himself for a myriad of blows.

Preparation, a smart thrall who clearly knows his place,” Yorick muses. Ao'yagi's fate, how he'll remain for the rest of life until organs are placed in jars, for skin to be flayed and bones to become dust. Livestock, nothing more than a pawn under the powerful hands of the superior race. A moment is all that's needed for his breaths to catch up, the pleasure to subside into gratification of his next actions. 

“You speak the truth...” he growls while finding his footing, “Shhhh, it's alright. You've been good to me, my pretty deer~.” A bit drowsy from the after effects of a potent orgasm, the thief stumbles to cover himself and again off to the table from before. From there a task is taken, one hidden from Ao'yagi's view. “I'll spare you this... keep your little self there and let Yorick take care of you~.”

“T-Thank you…” Ao'yagi couldn’t help but sigh in relief, tentatively lowering his hands the moment he was told he wouldn’t be hit. The fae followed the thief with his eyes, he knew whatever the other was doing wasn’t for his view, so it must be pretty important. Fatigue caries over inquisitiveness as his bruises were aching, especially his scathed ankle. So he simply opts to rest for now and recover. Even without magic, Cer-fae still have their extraordinary regenerative ability. It’s in their blood. The fae prince knew as long as he has ample rest, his body will repair itself until the wounds would be barely noticeable. So he lies down on the bedroll nodding off for a quick nap for the sake of healing. Yorick mulls about the work station until the other is peaceful in slumber, much to his surprise.

Look at that, my pet needed a rest. How adorable~.” To think he was about to give him a dose of tranquilizer he used earlier. “Nothing wrong with a double hit.” 

He kneels behind the sleeping male, a cloth infused with the chemical pressed to the nose and mouth without a struggle – Ao'yagi forced into unconsciousness. Too bad 'important' parts of him can't be harvested, but a set of gorgeous antlers on his wall is nothing to pass up. So the axe is back in hand, the human hovered above with that ominous grin. 

 

“Time to get to work.” 

Chapter Text

Stop, make it stop!!” 

 

With the thick substance down Basshi's gullet, the effects of transformation are in full tow. The hunter falls to his knees and hurls, chunks of the morning meal and acidic fluids drenching the metal floor of his cage. Talons form. The armor he neglected to remove torn to scraps within moments – the leather at his chest staining an inky black from the wound at his shoulder reopening. Throaty and powerful does his voice ricochet through the incubus' lair, screams ripped from the very core of his being. Immediately does his vision turn red, any object with the smallest source of blood radiate. Nourishment, the primary concern rattles his mind and threatens to take over whatever parts of humanity. The weight of his  massive form slams against the iron bars, over and over with no avail.

“B-... Blood!!” the half breed manages to speak through the strikes. He's clinging, just by a thread – the potion's effect being the hardest of blows to his senses. Crimson eyes shift onto the demon on break from the rampage, extended tongue hung loose from his lips. Has the hunter lost his sanity already? That's up for Junta to debate.

The demon fervently observes Basshi’s transformation. It was as hideous and as painful-looking – his change is far from those romanticized, glamorous ones masked by fiction. Looking at him it’s as if you can feel the hurt yourself from the distortion of skin and bones. At first, Junta thought the human is already far-gone with the way he’s losing control. Junta would give the hunter a chance until he’s fully turned and if not he’ll finish him off then go after Ao’yagi himself. But then there’s a surprise. As much as Night Beasts crave blood, they are never coherent with it. So hearing Basshi voice out with words means there’s still part of him still in there.

“Oi Basshi, can you hear me? If there’s still some of you left in there, would you care answer me why you’re doing this again?” Junta’s questions seem taunting, but in reality, they were a test of focus and a way to guide the hunter’s ego back. The secret to overcoming this lies within Basshi’s willpower alone. The potion can stop him from losing his mind by cutting off the curse that goes to the brain, but it’s the bearer’s responsibility to reel back his intelligence amidst the suffering.

The ungodly amount of pain is enough to drive a man to his level of insanity. As potent as the potion is, there's the dwindling sides of the curse creeping in and weighing his mind – enough to effect. A constant struggle between human and beast, his body driven to the brink of destruction and coherent thoughts to be a thing of the past. It hurts, every ounce of body and soul is ripped to pieces to be stitched together. The demon's voice is blends in with the silence, questions an enigma, yet–

“Ba... Basshi...?” His name stands through the slur, head tipped and eyes wild at the other. Like a curious animal. He pants, like a dog about to receive a treat, and stares at the demon more like a companion rather than his next meal.

The potion is definitely working!” Junta celebrates in thought. As meager as this seems of mentioning someone's own name, this is considered a huge breakthrough with someone afflicted with the Night Beast's curse. Junta is even surprising himself with the way he's cheering on for the human, wings flapping in anticipation. But then again, if this actually works, it's his creation's success to brag. 

"That's it! That's the spirit! Remember who you are, Basshi. Why you're doing this. Save Ao'yagi." The incubus continued to encourage on wanting this to succeed – as much as the hunter himself does. Turquoise eyes round out to the mention of the other name, one that's recognized in almost in an instant. Heart thrums at a different level than to deal with the excruciating experience, the skin not etched with scales are flared with a blush. 

“Ao... yagi? Ao'yagi, Ao'yagi!!” he shouts in excitement, clawed feet curling against the alloyed floor. 'Save,' that's another term. As in... rescue? Yes, right! The Cer-fae, the person he currently holds the closest is in danger. As if a natural response, the hybrid's lips curve into a warm and smile, voice clear as the summer's day. “Release...!” In this does the lock snap, the cell's door to squeak open. Excited at the discovery of simple words, his human mind yet to be set into place, he promptly pounces the demon down by his shoulders. Junta can tell it isn't in any means of harm by the playful body language, more so as Basshi's tongue runs stripes against a cheek. That blunt tail is going mad with energy, shakes consistently like the excited pup he apparently became.

A resounding success!” Well, close enough given Basshi still acts like an animal, but the intention is clear. He recognizes himself, his comrades and his objective, so that's good enough for him. 

"Calm down Basshi, you did it!" the demon says, amused with the unexpected coddling. But this is no time to rejoice, they have a prince to save. Lightly pushing the beast off, Junta returns to his workstation and snatches up the compass. "Here, take this. If only the other compass was still intact, I could've teleported you there myself. But for now, I can only lead you to the nearest portal by the end of the barrier. I've already programmed your compass to lead to straight Ao'yagi. Be careful and go get our prince back." With that, the demon hands the half-beast back his compass and lead him to the nearest tunnel portal. He could only hope they're not yet too late.

How can he be calm when the realization is this intense?! There's someone saying his name and there's an important job to do! 'Important.' The dilated pupils of the beast turn back to slits, the significance of his duty sunk in. As primal as his thoughts may be at the given time, the task stands above all. Cradling the compass in his talons, he's escorted back towards the entrance – the orders echoing on. Basic commands, those are understandable enough, them registering fully as the magical device spins and points off to a direction. Follow, that's where.... the prince is. His prince is. 

“Ao'yagi...!” he again says in that gravely tone before bolting off with the compass cradled between fanged teeth. This thing will lead with too him, the one he... loves? Adores? The person he cares about! From the cave does the afternoon sun take him, scaled areas singed and stung with pain. A Night Beast during the day, they normally disappear, yet the hybrid stays intact. Minor discomfort, nothing more. Determined more than ever due to the pain, he leaps through the thick brush – on course to rescue his beloved fae.

 

---

 

Time passes, yet the same remains. Ao'yagi awakens from the drug induced sleep in the area he dozed – the leather clad tent of the rogue figure. Except there's a slight difference, there's a lack of weight. His antlers are shed, nothing more than stubs akin to a growing youth. 

“Waking up now?” says the voice of Yorick sitting up next to the shackled fae, “You sleep well, my beauty~?” Gingerly, Ao'yagi places a hand atop his head to massage his temples to alleviate a headache. But wait... instead of feeling the base of his horns, there's nothing there at all! All Ao'yagi feels is a stump and the rest of his hair.

"Y-you cut them off?!" He looked at the thief with much shock and disbelief. It's like he's emasculated with his sign of pride and majesty forcefully taken away. All he can do was huddle down once again and grieve for his loss.

“Hello to you too by the way~.” Aside the distressed fae does the rogue fiddle with some items, two to be exact. One being the sharp dagger from before and the other a chuck of the lost antlers in the crude shape of what looks to be the starting of a bear figurine. Shavings are strewn across his lap and floor, he's been sitting here for a while. “Of course I did! You think I'm leaving our afternoon together empty handed? Lookie, one step towards no longer being a savage~.” The small weapon is waggled over at Ao'yagi like a scolding mother. “Shouldn't be upset, you look far cuter without them! Now if only those ears were missing... tsk, tsk. Not allowed. Poor Yorick must suffer instead~.”

Ao'yagi voices a quiet whimper once more grieving for his precious antlers. But supposed he shouldn't sulk about it anymore. Antlers grow back after all. As long as he's still alive and functioning well, there will always be a chance of escape. But that will diminish if he's invalidated especially due to his foolish pride. So he has decided to keep on being the 'perfect little pet' as a façade until he can find an opening to escape this. That was his plan. 

"Please don't cut-off my ears or tail? They don't grow back unlike my antlers." He pleaded kneeling and bowed in front of the thief. Supposed if he butters-up his captors enough, he could go through this with less pain as possible and even make them lax enough to provide an opening until he can get away.

“Oh no, I won't be doin' any of that,” he answers with the smuggest of grins. Damn, maybe he should drop the gold to purchase this fae – what entertainment! Now loyal too, far as he can tell. Another shaving ravels to the wood floor. “I mean, I may if you're a bad boy before the pickup arrives. Just don't make angry again, ok~?” Talk about cuter without those antlers, so close to being the female counterpart. Enough to... huh. The work in progress figurine is placed aside for a hand to pat at a thigh. “So how about you come sit in ol-Yorick's lap, hm? Your 'babysitter' wants a smooch~.”

"I won't. I'll be good!" Talk about revolting, but he has to keep in mind this is all an act. The more his captors are seduced, the more opportunities for them to lower their guard and find an opening.“Ugh no, the despicable thief wants me on his lap...” But then again, this may also be taken as an opportunity. Maybe find out something to pick the lock on his shackles or any other helpful tool. Has to be extra careful though, he's still dealing with a master thief. Ears perk up in fake enthusiasm as Ao'yagi drags himself to do as he was told and crawl up to the thug's lap.

Ah, those ears!” Internally is the human giddy (that was cute?) and still holds onto his snarky act. Never before has a creature captivated him this far. Would blame it on magical influence, but this little deer can't carry an ounce of it with those shackles. More so, his wounds healed so quickly. Much fun could be had in his future... 

“Who's a good savage? This boy is~!” he taunts in a sappy tone with nose brushed against the other. “Gimme a biiiiiig kissy and I'll reward you with some water. How thirsty you must beeeee~.” Ao'yagi thought if he wasn't captive and inhibited, this guy would've received a beating from him ten times over in a fair fight. But alas, for now he has to rely on his wits and acting skills. He already sucked the filthy human's dick after all, so what more for other lewd deeds? He winced at the nuzzling but leaned in closer anyway, opening his mouth as offering once more and connecting it with the other's lips. All the while he was taking note of Yorik's tools.

Perfect, those lips are already parted and ready – what a gentleman. In no time is the sleek heat of tongue pressed within the waiting maw, a vile groan rumbled deep in Yorick's chest. Surely has the 'just woke up' taste, yet faintly he catches the mild burn of his earlier seed. Or that's his disgusting mind talking. A hand slithers over Ao'yagi's lower back to squeeze and kneed his backside, a bit surprised by how perky it is for a male. Huh, maybe should have taken him from behind, it's convincing enough to a female – he assumes. The fae took in the thief's tongue letting his dance along in response. He also let out a small moan when he felt his buttock's massaged. It was purely out of reflex, but he supposed Yorick would like that too.

The visible portion of the rogue's tools are placed inside a bandoleer, various lock picking devices – useless on the type Ao'yagi bears – and spare throwing daggers inside the loops. Otherwise he's in full, studded leathers and no sign of any escape tool – if weapons don't count – are decorated around his tent. Although, there's one strange item that slightly sticks from a pocket. A parchment, worn and crinkled as if centuries old. More specifically due to the fae's knowledge, paper specially designed for scrolls. 

Now why would a human thief have one of those? A 'just in case' spell perhaps, another means to his arsenal?” Ao'yagi had a vague yet fairly good guess on what it was, some kind of a fail-safe spell. He couldn't snatch it right away though. Timing is crucial. It must have gotten rattled due to the earlier adventure and didn't notice, otherwise there's no excuse to neglect what could very be an important magical item. It sticks out just a hair further when the rogue shifts his hips to before holding the slender fae, that tiny mewl enough to fuel his skillful hand further. It slips under the insignificant amount of clothing to take a full grab of bare skin – thankfully to him no longer wearing gloves. Not as good as he wants, but hell, will take anything at this point. So after giving a good feel does a finger slink downwards and arch to press at Ao'yagi entrance. The pad rubs soft circles as if to tease his partner. 

“Mhmm... still worked up...?” he questions during a break for air, voice throaty. “Does my pretty fae want my cock here now~?”

Just a little bit more and surely the parchment would be shaken loose. But Ao'yagi has to be sure the thief won't ever detect it was missing or that he's the one who takes it. Will have to give that a little bit more time. He draws in closer until he could press his chest against the rogue wanting to take a better peek at that parchment in the guise of being into the fondling. Indeed, it's a parchment known for scriptures of powerful spells. He will lock on that target for sure. But then he feels the prodding on his entrance and naturally he understands where that will lead to. Whatever, he has to keep the thief excited and preoccupied. 

"I-If you would like to then I'll gladly receive..." He used a coy tone that says shy yet needy virgin. He would not let go of this chance until he could take it. Mouthwatering, the thief can't help but to lick his lips – also pondering if that fluffed tail is wagging in excitement. 

“Then, my pretty, I won't hold back on you...~” In the mist of the sprung desires does the rogue begin to hastily strip down. The bandoleer is unbuckled, it pooled to his waist, and the leather constraints of his chest piece being undone. It's when he gets caught up, arms tangled a moment to remove it in full, does Ao'yagi have an opportunity.

Now's my chance.” Ever so slightly, Ao'yagi twists his body, making it seem like he's giving room for his captor to undress. Little by little does he stretch out fingers to reach the parchment when it was still on a blindspot. To his surprise, he does manage to grasp it. “Success!” But then it turns out the parchment got caught-up on a leather belt and surely his captor would feel it if he were to tug it harder. So he withdraws for now, retracting his hand back to himself. Ao'yagi wanted to make sure he wasn't noticed, so he fidgeted a bit more as if to denote how nervous he is with the on-coming act with a matching sheepish smile. 

"P-Please be gentle?"

As dexterous and swift this man may be, leather armor isn't what you call 'easy' to take off – especially ones at the level of tightness he adorns. Figured if they're about to go full throttle, it's best to not leave a stitch on. Better that way. The piece flops to the ground to join the bandoleer, the wildest of grins spread across his flushed cheeks. 

“Mhmm, I'll try to,” he reassures softly, 'just for you, my sweet~.” The attempts to snatch go completely unnoticed, along with any slight crinkles the paper may produce – how lucky. Their bare chest come to press together as he again has their lips lock into a 'passionate' kiss. Hips roll and press the obvious bulge against Ao'yagi, the heat and friction building bit by bit. Ao'yagi goes all out with the second kiss, grinding up and moaning as loudly as he can. He has to be as distracting as possible, another chance for a snatch. He pushes up further, masking it for throws of passion, as he reaches out once more for Yorick's discarded clothing. Just a little bit more...

 

Suddenly, a booming growl rattles throughout the valley – an oh-too familiar one that can cause the bravest mortals to shake in their boots. Yorick pulls back with eyes blazed. 

 

Was that... no, it can't be!” the thief screams internally, “There's still a few hours before nightfall, there's no way that was the howl of a Night Beast! Uncanny, whatever 'that' is perfectly matches one. Illusion magic perhaps? Why the sound of a creature that only comes out at twilight though? Strange... a prank?” He waits, just holding Ao'yagi close like a protective parent. 

“What the hell are you?! No, g-get away!!” shouts the voice of the burly mercenary some distance away. Another roar shakes through before it all falls back to silence.

 

Ao'yagi hears the howl again and now even smells something vaguely familiar. That's no typical Night Beast... could it be?

 

“How is a Night Beast... f-fuck!” Yorick outwardly curses. Arousal flips to fright as the second roar is produced. There's no doubt about it, that's one for sure. But the sun is still up, how? No matter, it's fight or flight mode – fight being his choice thanks to the urge to protect his new pet. Even so is Ao'yagi shoved to the ground like a sack of potatoes to redress himself – frenzied but still in control. Daylight or not, there's a monster to be fought. Nor would this be his first battle with one. 

By the time the leathers are back in order does the heavy thuds of footfalls near the tent. Yorik snatches onto Ao'yagi's arm and quickly leads him off behind a pile of crates to safely be out of view. From his belt are two beautifully crafted daggers taken from their sheaths and a fighting pose is taken – alert as ever when the creature enters. The crimson splotches of blood match perfectly with the gleams of his eyes, black talons and fangs drenched and trickled onto the floor. Surprisingly does it not attack in sight of the rogue, head only tipping off to a side before speaking.

 

“Ao'... Ao'yagi...?” the hybrid says in an almost innocent tone.

 

“W-wha-?!” Yorik quickly glances over a shoulder to stare off where his slave was hidden. “Is that the Cer-fae's name? What is this thing anyway?! It's unlike anything! Part human, part Night Beast – some mad experiment gone wrong? And it speaks, that makes the abomination more disturbing. Despite being head to toe in the blood, it's... friendly? What a nightmare of a creature. Where the hell is Nym? He could blast this thing apart in no time flat!” The rogue stands ever vigilant, an inch never moved and watching carefully.

Things were happening too fast for Ao'yagi to comprehend at first. As he was being pulled and shoved down, it wasn't easy at all to drag his heavy shackles. But for now he thought the smart thing to do is go along with the thief until he can assess what's truly happening. He listens close from behind the crates, the smell of blood thick in the air as the beast nears. Despite that he recognizes the scent beneath, earthy and all too recognizable. The fact a Night Beast is present in broad daylight and finally that voice... his suspicion is made clear. The fae prince musters all his strength to find his footing and come out in the open. He stood there tall and proud, golden eyes brimming with determination as if the ordeal he went through didn't faze him and calls out to the top of his lungs. 

 

"Basshi, it's me!"

 

Basshi falls back to all fours and immediately starts sniffing about, the familiar scent of the fae all over the leather tent. He crawls up closer to gives a hard sniff of the torn linens scattered about the bedroll. This is the Ao'yagi's tunic! And that's... his name!

“B-Basshi?” he growls with a glance up, now fully understanding that is indeed Ao'yagi's voice as well when eyeing the freckled figure. Maroon eyes light up, lips turned to a smile. “Ao'yagi!!” A thrum of excitement drives him to outwardly sprint past the rogue – who just stands wide eyed in confusion (that's Basshi?) – and takes the fae into an embrace. In this mode does he not realize there's blood being smeared all over his loved one, but it does indicate one thing. He's almost completely naked. Did that human...? “Hurt? You hurt Bambi...?!” The beast is back on defense, the fae released to guard like his life depended on it. Fangs bared, talons to full extent - he's ready to pounce. 

“Woah, woah!!” Yorik barks back, “Calm down, big guy! No hurt! Look!” The pair of daggers come clattering to the ground to raise his hands in surrender. “Ao'yagi is fine! Tell him, fae!”

If Basshi recognizes him like this and able to retain his form at this hour, then it only means Junta is successful in helping. Far from perfect, yet he knows Basshi's feelings are clear. He's all too happy to nuzzle up to the embrace despite the blood with such relief knowing his friend is rescuing him just like he hoped. But then attention turns back to the cowering Yorick. By all means is he ever so tempted to sic Basshi onto this despicable person, but violence against someone weaker is not in his credo. Besides, he needed his captor for something more important. 

"You... if you still value your life in spite of everything you did, then release me from these shackles. If you do, I'll tell my friend to spare your life and possibly even let you go unscathed."

“I will!!” the rogue yelps back in an instant with a rapid nod, “Just keep that.... thing away!” Eyes don't leave the pair as he side steps off to the table littered with weaponry. Would have easily snatched up the scroll instead, but with a glance, it's missing. “Shit! Did it fall out of my pocket during the redressing? Great... no getting out of this easily.” By all rights does he have a perfect shot to embed a dagger in either of their throats, but who's to say the hybrid would be affected. Regular Night Beasts walk away from that blow, the same could go for Basshi. No choice left, there's no way to escape even if he pulled every trick out his sleeve. That creature is unpredictable, unknown – time to surrender, that way he may make this out alive. His hands are raised the entire time – the beast panting and remained in fighting stance – until they must fall to open a small compartment underneath the furniture. From it he plucks up... a twig. Looks to be an ordinary tree branch! Basshi snarls upon seeing it. “Calm down! Watch!” With that it's snapped in two, a spark of arcane erupted at the breaking points. When the flash fizzles, so does the weighted chains at Ao'yagi's wrists and ankles. The rogue smiles, uneven and filled with fright. “Ta-da! Ehh-ahah-haaaaah... magic...~” 

 

The moment the shackles snap off does Ao'yagi feel his strength and magic make a glorious return. In an instant does he materialize his spear ready to fight again. 

 

"Thank you." After saying that does the fae, with his lightning quick movement restored, kicks the thief on his gut and sends him hauling to the ground. Before Yorick can stand, he draws the spear point blank on the other's face. "Stay down if you know what's good for you. Don't follow us." 

The fae's weapon comes without fail, Yorick's face lit further in shock before he's sent to the floor. No attempts to recover, that weapon is close enough to take his head off with one wrong move. All he does is nod, completely vulnerable and scared to wits end. Even if he wanted to get a cheeky dagger thrown in once their backs are turned, his hands and pained body are trembling in fright and pain. When the prince knew his warning heeded and the thief immobilized does he come to Basshi's side, tugging on the half-beast's arm to lead him. 

"Come on, Basshi. We have to get my compass before we get out of here." Indeed his gadget cannot be forgotten. It wasn't because there's sentimental value, but because he knew even when broken, it's magic can be tampered to lead to the Cer-fae village. No way he can afford to risk that so he has to retrieve the item no matter what. For sure the elf-mage has it with how meticulous he seems. So with Basshi as his companion and bodyguard, the pair heads off towards the main camp.

“Stay, stay! Buah!” Basshi taunts with a gurgle of a laugh. To add insult to injury, the blunt force of his tail comes crashing onto the thief's head before exiting – which funny enough knocks off his consciousness. A happy accident. “Compass! Find!” The mind of a child he's apparently stuck in, but it's something. Orders are orders, simple words his expertise, now that tail wriggles with anticipation. The main camp, not surprising, is in complete chaos. Tents thrown down and torn to shreds, the fire stomped through and put out, and the remains of a human corpse scattered about. “Mean guy dead!” Basshi yelps with a talon pointed at what looks to be a severed foot, “Tasty!” There's a hearty laugh, so proud of his accomplishment, to have fade once assessing the situation. 

 

That mage and compass are nowhere to be seen.

 

Ao'yagi simply sighed at Basshi's antics knowing he doesn't fully realize what he has done. Supposed that can be adjusted later as they solve the enigma of the curse. But then the elf is nowhere in sight. Ao'yagi did a thorough search for his compass, even going as far as checking the corpses if one of them is the wizard. Alas, nothing was found. He sighs, again feeling frustrated, but he thought it was about time to retreat for now. He's quite spent even if his magic has returned to him and Basshi's state is still quite unstable. They'll deal with the compass later once they're fully recovered and a plan is in place. Earnestly, he held Basshi's talon-clad hand the best he could.

"Let's go meet up with Junta for now. It's been a long day."

Basshi did his own set of searching during his partner's, turning up empty handed besides a satchel of gold pieces and a few books – mainly guides to the land. Survivalist books, how handy. The beast has no clue what they actually are at the moment, but they're slide off into a pouch anyway. Rewards for his rampage! A giddy smile comes to his face, contrasting the blood and gore, and carefully curves around the held hand. 

“Erm...” he begins, trying to remember something. A claw comes to scratch down a cheek, think! Think! “Thief!” He points off at the tent from before a bit desperately. “In... information! Tell where compass go? We capture?!” Basshi has a pretty interesting idea there, that would certainly help a lot with their situation. But then Ao'yagi's moralistic side is nagging at him that forcing someone into talking is never a good practice. Besides, he doesn’t really have any experience on going on about this. Maybe he can talk to Basshi about it once he's back in human form. As he mills about it, he remembers his demon friend once more. Junta likely already knows of his safety, but it’s best to tell him personally. Other than that, surely the incubus would be best to consult about coercing a human for anything. He will leave this decision with his best friend. He lets go of Basshi and takes deep breath before chanting a prayer. 

“With bonds entrusted deeper than blood, as strong as fate let me hear your voice. I call upon the demon Te’zhima…” Once Ao'yagi felt the incubus connect with his thoughts, that’s we he spoke his mind. “Junta, I’m safe now thanks to you and Basshi! We’re heading back to your place soon, but my compass was lost unfortunately. We apprehended one of my kidnappers though. Do you think I can turn him to you for questioning?”

Basshi blinks over at the fae as the chant commences. What's that all about? Ah well, looks like they're not leaving yet, so the hybrid is off to do some more adventuring for loot. This time inside that rogue's tent, there looks to be tons of goodies. Plus, they may bring Yorick with them. With this attention span the fae is going to need a leash at this rate. 

The sting of his true name rouses Junta from concentration, the weaves of magic over his current project coming to a halt. His thin tail whips, wings stretched out, more than relieved to hear the voice of his dearest companion. 

“You're welcome~,” he first replies in a playful sing, “And how surprising! Banked on my experiment to slay anyone and everything, expect for you of course.” The loss of the compass is troublesome. He's well aware of the potent magics attached within the clockwork. In the wrong (or right) hands, secrets of Cer-fae magic and the village could be compromised. Difficult to track it down himself without a lead, which sounds to be the case with this 'captive.' The demon is all but smiling. “If you find the means to drag them along, then I'll be happy to, your highness. I take it you'll be able to with the that loyal hybrid at your side.”

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’ve planned this all along. We’ll be back with the hostage then. I’ll leave that part up to you.” Ao'yagi jeers back, but really just ecstatic to hear his best friend once more after that bleak moment he went through. Since Junta agreed with the interrogation he’ll just count on his friend’s demonic prowess for that. Ao’yagi cuts off the telepathy link before turning his attention back to Basshi – who's now missing. “Now where did he go...?”

By the time Ao'yagi makes it over to the tent, it's like the rest of the camp – torn apart. At least, in the inside is. Yorick lays out like a burnt candle as the hybrid sniffs and digs around, actually managing to find some items for their journey back. Some dried food stores (for Ao'yagi of course), some first aid and even Ao'yagi's stolen gear. The things are dropped to his feet like a dog bringing over a master's slippers. For a moment does the beast look heartbroken when spotting the chunks of Ao'yagi's beautiful antlers. So that's where they went. Carefully the figurine the rogue was working on is plucked up and set into a pouch, now the trinket belongs to him. They find the means of binding Yorick up in a series of ropes, him being no trouble for the burly monster to carry over a shoulder.  

 

Ready to go. 

Chapter Text

A few minutes outside the camp does a scent pass by Basshi's nose, fresh water – must be a stream nearby. Ao'yagi must be thirsty after all his troubles. Plus, he isn't exactly the most hygienic, the left over blood is tempting to lap off. 

“Ba... bath...?” he questions down at the fae, “Night soon, Night Beasts come. Bambi smell like blood, attract!” Ao'yagi's idea was to rush to Junta’s liar as quickly as possible and just refresh themselves there. That is until Basshi suggested something brilliant yet again. He has a good sense of smell given his race but no means as keen as a Night Beast’s, even with half-breed standard. So he was glad to know Basshi detected a stream nearby heading there for a quick stop without hesitation. Thank the gods he can wash all the blood off and refresh himself now because besides safety concerns, he is pretty uncomfortable with his own filthiness. 

Once reaching a small pond connected to a stream, Ao’yagi laid out his supplies and promptly stripped whatever clothing he has left to douse himself in the water. It felt great to get cleaned-up again and quench his thirst after what he’s been through. But then he turned to Basshi who is also drenched in blood and called out to him. 

“Oi Basshi, you can put the thief down for a while and join me. You smell of blood too. Even if you’re strong it’ll be a hassle if Night Beasts come for you too.” The beast happily guards the fae and their items, blunt tail squishing away. The simple mindedness keeps his sight fixated on what's important, Ao'yagi's safety and wellbeing. Reaching Junta's lair is one hell of a walk still, even if they sprint at full speed. They'll still be adventuring at night no matter how fast they traverse through the forest. Better safe then sorry, the less trouble they run into the better. 

“Oh, oh! Yes, Basshi bathe too!!” The rogue is laid up against a tree some distance away from their items, another happy accident, and his own scraps of armor and belt are set down. Difficult to fully strip due to the talons and arched legs, so his trousers are left on. Close enough! They need a wash down anyway, the thief needs a spot cleaning as well. That can come after their 'break.' Open canopy, the settling sun glinting off the still pond – it's rather relaxing. But the monster is about to break that peace. He steps back before charging into a sprint, powerful legs sprung off the dirt to dive straight in. The water is rather shallow, so he bounces off the bottom to emerge with a laugh – grin spread from ear to ear. “Fun! Bambi have fun?”

This is the relief the fae was looking for as he indulged himself soaking for a while just letting the bad memories of his capture get washed away. It was all too peaceful until the half-breed dove in splashing water everywhere. Ao’yagi had to shake himself off before turning to Basshi. He was about to scold him for that antic until his companion brought up the question. Somehow the purity of Basshi’s words touched him akin that to when he was taking care of Kabu’ragi as a toddler. 

“Yeah…I’m having fun!” he replied warmly reaching out for the larger man. He noticed some blood crusting and grime from Basshi’s knotted mane and behind him seemingly unable to reach. So Ao’yagi went close and started picking and scrubbing away at the dirt with his own hands. “You can’t get this out right? I’ll do it for you and make sure you’re nice and clean.”

“Bambi safe now, Basshi worried.... now Bambi has fun!” The warmest of smiles is on his face when the feeling of Ao'yagi's hands are against the grime. He sighs in a calm and relaxed manner, baths are always the best – even in his dire form. He leans back into the touch and sinks a little further down so the fae has an easier time on the task. “Basshi wants to clean Bambi too! More handsome! Then Bambi eat, energy for travel!” Ao'yagi makes a quick work getting out all the grime. Now that the blood is all gone, how the half-breed’s scale shines midst the setting sun with the fae nodding approvingly. But then for Ao'yagi, it was his turn to get scrubed off so he obliges switching their positions so that he was in front of the large man.

“Alright. But after this we really got to hurry back. The sooner we get to Junta’s the better.” As he was to move his hair away, he feels at the horn stubs on his scalp. He sighed forlornly remembering his loss. Oh well, at least it’ll grow back sooner or later.

“Hurry, have more fun at Junta's place!” Very carefully, making sure his razor sharp talons don't hurt the freckled skin, his palms come to rolls across Ao'yagi scalp and down to his shoulders. Passing over the small stubs makes his smile melt to a frown, crimson eyes reflecting his concerns. “Bambi still pretty, still handsome! Hurt, no get hurt, yes? Big antlers gone... thief guy mean!” The fae leans back, grateful for the other’s kind gesture and words as simple as they may be. 

“Mmm, thank you… and don’t worry I’m not hurting now, so it’s alright. Besides, I shed my antlers every year so they’ll grow back soon before you know it.” Scaled hands traverse the soft figure of his companion and wash away whatever grim left that Ao'yagi missed. The more stubborn of the flaked blood are instead lapped away with a broad stroke of the tongue, much easier! 

“Grow again! Very good! Basshi glad!” Squeaky clean! Before exiting the water is a gentle kiss given to the fae's forehead. “Basshi protect you, get to Junta!” 

“Thank you, Basshi. I trust you.” He relishes Basshi’s touch and kiss even the lapping knowing that’s also part of his companion’s affection, what a change from only hours ago.

With armor back in place, supplies set and captive back over the beast's shoulder, the group makes their way through the thick of the woods – Ao'yagi opting to eat as they walk as to save precious time. In both their favors is Basshi's compass passed off to the fae instead for him to lead the way, hard to hold it with meaty talons and a body lugged over a shoulder after all. Soon enough the sun vanishes over the horizon and the threat of night is upon them. Thankfully this dire form comes with night vision, but what about his partner? 

“Dark... Bambi see, yes?” Trekking through the thick of the forest, Ao’yagi carefully navigates the way using all his skill and instinct to take the safest route possible. Of course it’s natural for Basshi to get worried so he turned to him with a warm smile knowing the half-breed can see him as clear as day.


“I’m fine, I can see well enough.” Probably not as good as Basshi with his Night Beast prowess but he could manage all the same.
 

“Well I soddin' can't!” comes the voice of the now awake rogue, “Can walk on my goddamn own too, so put my ass down!!” Lively, how different from his cowardly self not too long ago.  

 

“Nighttime! Keep voice down!”yells back the hybrid shaking the lithe human atop his shoulder. Great, now this idiot is awake and Basshi is riled up. Ao'yagi narrows his eyes at the roused and whining thief. No way he'll indulge their captor for a second knowing how sneaky and skilled Yorick could be. They'll have to suck up to the thief's obnoxiousness. 

"If I were you, I'd listen to my friend and keep quiet. We certainly won't hesitate to drop you like this should a threat comes looming. Besides...I can't really answer for my friend's actions so that's up to you." The fae prince warned sharply. Yorick is rattled around like a rag doll, which doesn't help Basshi's cranky mood, but the fae's words snap whatever retort he may have had back into his throat. He's likely being dragged off for interrogation, but for what purpose? He's just a mercenary, what information does he have that will possibly help these... things. Whatever, his fate is sealed no matter what he spews, may as well have a decent conversation instead. A sigh, then to have his voice lower to a murmur. 

“Can you gentleman be so kind and tell me where we're going? Didn't pack for an overnight trip, ya'know~.” 

“You see when get there,” replies the half-breed with a firm nod, “I'm right!” Then again, it's only right to acknowledge how Ao'yagi takes this too.“...right, Bambi?”

"Yeah..." The fae prince opted not to address the thief unless he truly needs to, simply acknowledging Basshi alone. With how upset he is with the thug, no one can blame him for not wanting to do anything with Yorick. The rest of the walk is in silence, besides another occasional grumble from Yorick, and without a single disturbance. Either the Night Beasts haven’t reached this area of the forest or they're extremely lucky. Another factor could be Basshi's form. Do the creatures believe he's an ally? That human and fae being his 'kills'? More questions added to the table. They arrived at the clearing on the face of the cliff at their destination in no time. And like usual, they entered the cave with Ao'yagi pressing the right stone to reveal the secret door and coming inside. "Junta, we're-"

Ao'yagi doesn't have to call out seeing as the incubus resides on a newly acquired couch not too far away, a delicate teacup in hand. He offers a wave and welcoming smile to the three, much as the thief is probably panicking. A demon's lair, great. Guess his soul is forfeit now. 

“My sweet Ao'yagi,” beckons the demon, “What timing, I just made tea~. Come sit, you must be exhausted. All of you!” 'Timing' his tail, can easily tell where Ao'yagi is at any given moment thanks to their bond. A little telepathy joke to break the ice?

 

The moment he saw Junta for real this time, the Cer-fae got emotional immediately leaping onto Junta for a heartfelt hug. He couldn't help but be this way since just a few moments ago, he thought for sure he would never see his friend again. 

 

"Junta it's really you! Thank you for finding me. I thought I was done for this time..." As he pulled away though, Ao'yagi began to feel shame. Of course it would be obvious given his lack of antlers. He's sure Junta has an idea now what happened to him this time. With that he glanced away turning to thief. "I-I was pretty careless, wasn't I? But at least maybe this guy will know where the compass is taken." Yorick can only look on nervous from Basshi's shoulder, at wit's end for now being suddenly surrounded by these supernatural creatures.

“W-woah, watch the tea!” Junta yelps as the hug is suddenly upon him, but not like he minds. The cup is placed off on an end table to give an embrace back, much to Basshi's displeasure. He huffs, nose upturned with sights away. Hmph! “Of course it's me, silly. I'd never give up on finding you, even if it took a century.” And look at that, all of them are cleaned up! How delightful, he won't have to force anyone to take a bath before they get started. His smile widens with a pat atop Ao'yagi's head, now too surprised by the lack of horns. He was taken by thugs, there's no doubt they'd be after something extremely valuable to human society. Must admit the fae still having freckles and facial markings without them is rather cute, it's unlike his winter form. “Careless or not, no matter. As long as you're safe.” A quick peck on the cheek is given before looking over to the hybrid who is less then pleased. There must be one hell of a crush on Ao'yagi to grant that reaction. How adorable. “Basshi, could you bring our captive over? Pretty please~?”  

“Junta say please, so Basshi do!” Hey, can't say no to someone who said please. He still doesn't look over towards them when plopping the bound rogue onto the loveseat across Junta.With one final twitch of his ears and a faint blush of delight, the fae finally moves onto more pressing matters at hand. He looms over the bound thief wanting this to be as quick as possible. He really doesn't want to see this thug any more. 

"We brought you here for one reason alone. Where is my compass?" Yorick snickers out of nervousness once more. Of course the fae wants his trinket back, it must hold a great value. He eyes between the beast and demon, not at all in the presence of good company. But even if he wanted to spill the beans, Nym is just an enigma to him since he just teamed up for that search party gig and for their further black trade smuggling project. 

 

"Uhh...would you believe I don't know?" The hybrid huffs once again, what kind of answer is that?  
 

“You know!” he snarls with talons up against Yorick's throat now, “You tell!” 

 

“Take it easy, Basshi,” the incubus responds calmly, “there's no need for violence. Yet.” Junta isn't one for messy means of interrogation, much like his best friend, but if push comes to shove – there's no holding back. He knows just how precious that compass is to Ao'yagi, in magic and personal value, so anything will go if this rogue doesn't speak up. He reaches over and retrieves the tea from before, a sip taken with a pinkie raised. “If you are telling the truth, then at least say what you know about the person who stole the item. Where he's from, his intentions and goals. Surely you have information around those lines." The rouge gulps a handful of air quite unnerved. Between these savages it doesn't seem like they'll take no for an answer. So he clears his throat threading on his words very carefully. 

"A-As I was sayin,' I only met Nym when Captain Izumida from the castle assembled a search party for his missing student, Basshi. After we caught the fae, the only deal we had is to split the fortune three-way when we auction him off..." The thief's voice trails off as he recalls something. They call the beast 'Basshi' as well. Is it just a mere coincidence? Ao'yagi himself is shocked to hear, he turns twice in disbelief. As for Basshi, his eyes light up at the mention of the familiar name with tail immediately starting to waggle like a puppy who saw his master come home.

“Izumida... Izumida!?” he shouts before getting to all fours and sniffing the lair down, like the knight captain is somewhere close. Junta can't help with snort at the beast's reaction, hopefully his mind won't remain that way once the potion's effect lingers. Should happen by morning, so they're stuck with the simple-minded creature until then. Least there's no furniture being wrecked yet. 

“Ah, yes...” the incubus goes on with a leg folded over the other nonchalantly, “From the capital, Hakone. Have an old colleague who's stationed there...” Whoops, this is no time to reminisce, keep the topic on serious matters. Another sip of tea is taken, tail lightly tapping at the couch's surface. “So what you're saying is you know nothing about him, a meet up for coin and fame. Has he said anything about himself besides a name? Anything at all, hm~?”

Talk about the surprise of his life and the Cer-fae is six hundred years-old. So from what he picks-up Basshi is the imperial captain's student, who Junta knows since he has a colleague there... talk about coming full-circle! But the interrogation isn't over yet. The thief surely has something else to say. 

"That's what I'm telling you. But from what I know, Nym is from an elite group of wizards that usually helps out the King. That's why he promised me we'd never get in trouble even if we dealt with the black market as long as we keep our end of the bargain. It's simply too good of a deal to pass." And with that Yorick practically told them everything he knows. Now he wonders if the demon would steal his soul next. Or any other ungodly acts.

“See? Was that so hard to say~? Looks like you have a small lead, Ao'yagi. Didn't need me after all.” With that the rest his drink is drained to the final drop, a satisfied smile tugging at his lips. No violence, no brutality – wonders what a tea break around the table can produce. Not the gold mine of information they were hoping for, but you have to start somewhere. And this thief sounds earnest, can sense that much. Curiosity gets the better of him, which may be for the better as for tidbits could be brought out. “If you were hired by the lovely human captain, then you must have spoken with Ashi'kiba – the court wizard. Or 'Shikiba,' his nickname. Did he happen to grant you anything to aid in your search?”

It's not really difficult for Yorick to sell out his comrades. Not like he feels he owes them a thing anyway simply working with others to get the upper hand. He was a mercenary through and through without a care for co-workers especially if it meant saving his own skin. All he ever wanted is quick gold and a good lay, so whatever happened to his two team mates, doesn't bother him and neither does the people who hires him. 

"You mean that oaf of a wizard? Nothing really except for that escape spell in a parchment since it was pretty much a free-for-all mission. I lost it in the scuffle though if you're going to ask." Ao'yagi cringed at the memory of the parchment. He almost slept with this creep just for that. So if he did snag, would have wound up somewhere near or even inside the human capital, unsure if that would be better or worse. More so 'Ashi'kiba?' In their centuries of friendship hasn't Junta shared this information with him. The fae vaguely wonders why his best friend didn't mention such a crucial tidbit. Even so, he simply gave the incubus a stare.

'Oaf' is one way to describe the wizard. Instead of any elf with a nose shoved in a book, his is up in clouds – would swear he specializes in air magic. As much as he trips over his own clothing and bonks his forehead on everything in sight, he's talented beyond belief. A good reason he works right along side the King. The hybrid's head lifts to the mention of the elf's name only to put it back on and continue sniffing about. Where's Izumida, has to be around here somewhere...

“I see, sounds like him,” Junta continues pouring himself a fresh cup, one made for Ao'yagi as well. When pushing it over does he get 'that look' from the fae. What did he– oh right, the 'Shikiba' part. That's a story for another time, he just smiles in return. “No matter, the information he may have can come later. Now then, matters turn to a different one. One that's been bothering me since you arrived.” The incubus gaze snaps onto the thief's face, slitted eyes dilated. His voice dips to a fearsome growl for that extra intimidation factor. “You 'reek' of Ao'yagi. What did you do to him...? Care to say before I force my hand?”

As Junta turned to him, the fae continued his small pout but retrieves his cup uttering a thanks nonetheless. The incubus loves his tea alright. Ao'yagi slowly sips and is immediately warmed by the mellow beverage. But then he hears Junta interrogate the thief about 'other matters'. This part he doesn't want to hear at all, so he distracts himself by turning to Basshi – a hand reaches out. The hybrid's attention from the fruitless search changes as his beloved fae turns to him, scaled face lit up with excitement. Better take advantage of this now before the incubus is all over him again. He comes in to press his head atop the hand affectionately, then to gently lick the tips of fingers. A sloppy way of saying hello.

"A happy ending! All's well that ends well, right?" Yorick tried to divert the demon's focus to the very obvious. Of course he would know, he's a bloody demon! But why is he so protective of the fae, he wonders. Same goes for the beast as well. Is the Cer-fae contracted with Junta, that's why all the savages here obey him? "Ah, you know sir demon, just had a little fun with your cute fae is all! There's no harm in that, right? I'm sure you understand being an incubus."

Junta takes a brief glance over his now distracted best friend, it's obvious the shift in conversation is an unwelcome one. How disgusting, humans are awful, sinful creatures – and that's coming from a demon who specializes in the means of sex. Never in his lifetime, when even under the heel of a demon lord or desperate for energy, has the incubus taken advantage of someone in that way. A speck of magic to convince sure, but never to hypnotize or make a victim completely vulnerable. If he was one for violence, this thief would already be in pieces. His sights fall hard on the captive, fangs barred. 

“Molesting a helpless person is nothing to be thrilled about, you waste of a mortal life!” Anger does take the better portion of him, yet he's still in control. With any other person, such acts would be shrugged off. But not Ao'yagi, not his closest companion. That tail is whipping like mad atop the cushions, wings splayed by instinct to make the illusion of him being larger and in control. “Give me one good reason not to rip out your soul and bury it in the deepest layers of Hell!”

Once Basshi has his greeting, Ao'yagi promptly wrapped his arms around the half-beast's neck and nuzzled the scale-clad shoulder. He was like a child seeking comfort as earlier memories flashed in his mind. At the couch a heavily trembling Yorick stared at the demon wide-eyed in fright. What has he gotten himself into? If he only knew the type of company the Cer-fae dwells in, he wouldn't have touched a single hair on him. 

"C-come on now, sir demon. I did everything y'all asked of me, right? A-and the fae doesn't seem to have any grudges. Why, that's because he has a kind soul! Surely you wouldn't want to waste that when he's already forgiven me." That's one hell of a wrong assumption on the rogue's part still underestimating the fury of his current company. Only time will tell what the demon's judgment will be.

The half-breed blinks at the sudden embrace, a tad confused on what this is about. Ao'yagi just wants a hug and promptly cuddles back into the attention. But then something feels off. Not that the fae is trembling or giving any signs of discomfort, but the beast gets a sense of worry. His human side catching on or the primal instinct that comes with protecting? Either way, he's sure Ao'yagi wants nothing to do with the current conversation. 

“Bambi...” he begins in a soft tone, “Want to lay down? Different place, away?” Hearing Basshi's broken sentences, the fae took it as his human side speaking – not an ounce of Night Beast despite his appearance. He pulled away and gave a nod, back on his feet. He then tugged on Basshi's clawed hand to lead him to a guestroom.

The monster gives one last glance over a shoulder at the maniacal demon at work, rather not be around the filthy magic to come, and more than happily is he lead off. Oh, didn't explore this room during his destruction day. Merrily does he roam through it, nose pressed up against anything he can find. Carpets, furniture – the scent of Ao'yagi is everywhere!

 

This particular room is a special one since it was given as a present of sorts from Junta in their younger days. It was only a few years after their first meeting with the demon's residence of choice newly set-up. It was during that time Ao'yagi lamented to Junta how he couldn't find a place for himself sometimes back at his stuffy palace. So the demon made this room as his own personal space until he acquired his own house; a home away from home. The furnishing is simpler with a lighter shade of color compared to the demon's gaudy fashion, obviously catered for the fae prince. Ao'yagi plucked a book from a nearby shelf and gets cozy in bed. He simply allowed Basshi to look around, but makes space for him anyway should he choose to join him. 

The closet is what truly sets off the earthy scents of the other once Basshi's face is burred within the hung garbs – Ao'yagi's extra clothing. One in particular was the right blends of his natural scents mixed in with what seems like an incense? A perfume or cologne? Can't exactly pinpoint it, but one thing's for sure, it's lovely. Gently the item, which is actually blanket, is carefully tugged out by teeth and brought up with him onto the bed. It's dropped to Ao'yagi lap, tail swaying about.

“Smell nice!” he chirps, “Bambi favorite blanket?” The fae was simply browsing through the picture book when he felt the cloth laid out. Ao'yagi feels a sense of nostalgia as he runs his fingers across it. This particular fabric was made by Kabu'ragi's mother back when he was very young, so this brings back fond memories. Just what he needed.

"It is...thank you Basshi." He beckons the half-beast to sit on the large bed as he drapes the blanket on both of them. From the praise comes more rapid wags of that meaty tail, he's done a good thing! Without hesitance does he snuggle up close and let out a relax right, seems like ages since his last time in a comfy bed. The cot back at his makeshift home wasn't horrible mind you, this just takes the cake. Helps he's completely worn out from an entire night of travel and finally is able to relax with the one he cherishes. There's a hefty yawn. 

“Bambi tired? Basshi is...” Ao'yagi didn't mind much his fatigue until it's pointed out. There were a lot of things on his mind that kept him from feeling tired. But now that he's finally able to relax, the weight of the travel and ordeal felt, so he nods to Basshi in response. If he's tired, surely the half-beast is twice as much given double the walking distance and combat. Not to mention the transformation he had to overcome. Before settling in completely, Basshi sheds his armor and haphazardly drops them to the floor. The blow probably cracked a vial or two, but he's too exhausted and nowhere in the right mind to care.

They shift their position on the bed until both of them were lying comfortably. Basshi's large form still came a little short for the bed, but at least he's able to lay down properly. Ao'yagi is half-lying on the beast for a better fit and comfort. He wanted to have a talk, especially since they cut-off on sour terms last time the other was human. Supposed it's still quite a few hours until then.

It didn't matter that his large talons come hanging off the edge, it doesn't change just how cozy it is as a whole. Warm, snuggled up against his treasured fae, what a paradise it is. There's a growing hunger in the pit of his stomach, one from lack of proper food and the beastly side yearning for blood, but those calls go ignored. Sleep is more important, being next to Ao'yagi more so. Within moments he's out like a light.

Ao'yagi, although peaceful within the embrace, still had lingering thoughts in his head. He thought of the things he wanted to say to Basshi and Junta once they had a moment to themselves. He also thought about Kabu'ragi and his people on how he's going to explain his cut-off antlers. But it seems he wasn't really coming into a conclusion for now, not with how strong the call of slumber is. And soon enough, sleep overtakes him as well.

 

---
 

In the meanwhile is the cauldron of Junta's mind bubbling over. This man deserves punishment, a way to make him regret such actions, but how? Simply killing him is in no way rewarding, or fun for that matter, no. Different, creative – also one to be sure Ao'yagi is no longer bothered by this wretch. 

“All the more reason why you shouldn't have laid a finger on him,” finally answers the demon with a huff. The teacup is set aside to the table to have his fingers busy 'weaving' strings of magic, the aura thick enough for any mortal eyes to see. Spin, knot, twirl – as if he's experimenting. Thinking. “Even if he does forgive you, which is unlikely still, I won't.” It's now time for Yorick's judgment call. It seems he didn't pick the right words, agitating the demon all the more and vaguely wonders if he could've said something else to change his fate. But alas it's too late for him now. He can only watch in awe and fear as the incubus weaves his spell awaiting for what will befall on him. 
 

"W-What do you plan on doing with that?!"

“I'm not sure yet, if I'm to be honest,” Junta answers with a gentle hum at his lips. The strands form into various patterns and shapes, always to unravel into something new. Seems the incubus can't make up his mind. A weighty curse, that's a given, but what kind? The necessity of Ao'yagi involvement is there with a single strand of golden hair, once plucked from the couch of course – the inky magics lightening to a pastel purple. “Help me decide, human. Just how much you should suffer... constantly sick? A streak of bad luck? Hrm, perhaps your dashing looks to vanish...~?”

 

Yorick is still at a lost for words. How can he even answer the demon's question with that kind of inquiry? Supposed he could give flattery another go. What's there to lose anyway?

 

"Well, I'm just simply at your mercy, sir. I know you are wise beyond our realm to give appropriate punishment. Why, I'm even willin' to serve you for atonement since you've enlightened me in my wrongdoings!" The living room's air is thick with foul magic, enough to send any mortal the other direction as it shakes the senses. 'Too bad' for Yorick, being bound up and all. The demon smirks at the offer, as if to accept, only for it to curl into a dastardly grin. 

“You mortals are so predictable,” he says with a gentle shake of the head, “The bargaining stage I see. Tsk, I have no use of petty humans, even your soul alone is a mere gain of power. Your suffering from afar can be my entertainment.” Ah. here we go. Fingers stretch and display a thick net of the 'substance,' elaborate designs woven inside. “This should do the trick. You like it? It's just for you...~” Yorick once again gulped. 

"Supposed it's too late to say I'll make it up to you and never do it again?" One last plead for mercy with a nervous laugh wouldn't hurt. From the couch does the incubus leap to hover mere inches from Yorick, hands outstretched to so his handy work closer. And closer, the sickly weave is a centimeter away from his nose. 

“Even if I did believe you,” Junta coos, “better safe than sorry, hrm? This... this is to make sure you don't. A trigger, so to speak. Shall I tell you what it does~?” The rogue at this point had nothing else to say with both the demon and his reckoning so close. The only thing he could do is back-up his neck as much as he could and to shake it vigorously.

Junta can't help but snicker at the response, humans are entertaining when they're in fear. He's overall a decent demon, never going out of his way to torture or harm, but this is a different case. This bloody, revolting thief deserves it in every right. What gorgeous entertainment. 

“Ah well, it's like a switch.” The magic is flexed between his digits, the threads tensing and radiating an eerie glow. “If you come within ten feet of Ao'yagi, you'll regret you did. I'll spare the details... that way it will be more of a surprise.” Suddenly the weave is tangled around Yorick's head, like a blanket smothering a fire. Despite it being translucent and possessing gaps, it feels as if he's suffocating – air supply completely cut off. As the magic sinks into skin, a burning pain is felt throughout his entire body, yet there's no blood or marks to be left. The demon cackles, loud and guttural. “And who doesn't loooove surprises~!?”

The searing pain is unbelievable, unlike being being stabbed or slashed by weaponry. Yorick wailed and thrashed about as much as he could given that he's still tied up. It was like a hot noose on the gallows and he's at the brink of death. He foamed at the mouth with the intense sensation along with pupils going white. He felt both fear and fury for the devil who is bringing him so much suffering right now. But alas, from now on, Yorick's 'normal' life is over.

Amusing, seems the poor thief has went into a seizure. Not the toughest mortal around, is he? Then again, not many are strong during the sweet embrace of a demon's curse.” Junta watches with glee, every passing second something else to enjoy. The purity of white eyes, spasms of throat in desperate gasps, the heat pooling of his cheeks – never gets old. But all good things must come to an end. When the curse settles in full, the thief is left a lifeless doll and won't be waking up anytime soon. The demon yawns, not amused by how short of a run that was, and knots a fist into his collar. From there is he dragged back to the entrance. “Now get the hell out of my house!” 

 

And thud, Yorick is tossed into the inky darkness of the cave. In his luck will no Night Beasts come to play, but it doesn't stop other creatures to get a little nibble of it. The rats will bite tonight. Hands are brushed down his attire as heeled boots clip through the tunnels to locate the others. As expected, he finds them in Ao'yagi's private room fast asleep. It's been a long day, for all three of them, Junta is forced to rest from draining mana reserves. Too bad there's not enough room to snuggle up with them given Basshi's size, but no matter. A finger is raised to his lips. 

 

“Sleep well~.”
 

With a single exhale, the candles go out.  

Chapter Text

What seems like hours of agony is only a minute or two in reality. 

 

Before Yorick could realize, the curse has settled within him stopping all of the torture. At the same time he was already being dragged out of the demon's home. Bloody bastard didn't even bother to untie him. Luckily, some of the rope was singed during the spell so he was able to break out of his binds. The rogue wobbled about making his way out of the cave thinking he never wants to encounter those sodding creatures again. Safer, that way he never finds out what this curse is all about. Then again...

 

Hard to take revenge if distance is kept. That decision can come later.

 

--- 

 

A night of peace Basshi so desperately needed. Yet that peace is broken upon the first hint of sunlight outside the cave with a guttural scream. Basshi thrashes awake, voice alight in pain as the transformation back to human is underway. From his beast form taken for a longer duration, the ache is doubled than the usual hit. The wound at his shoulder again breaks, a vile mixture of black and crimson staining the sheets. Bones creak, muscles snap, scales and talons dissipating to fine mist. Through the agony he wishes Ao'yagi isn't caught up and suffer an injury in the writhing.

Even in slumber, Ao'yagi's instincts can sense if there's any imminent threat. His ears perk up at the sound of Basshi's cries and was able to back-up automatically even if he was still half sleep. He watched the ordeal the hunter had to go through to return to his original self. Once everything is settled, the fae is ready to go by Basshi's side to support him. 

"Are you alright?" The aftermath has the hunter shaking with head hung over the bedside to spew an acidic mix of digested food and blood across the floor. Which is right when Junta steps in, the candles flicked back on, only for him to walk away in a sigh. Going to need some towels. Messy humans. 

“Fu... fuck!!” Basshi gasps through the attack. His stomach is drained to a hallow shell, tanned skinned pale as snow and he's left to pant for life. It feels as if his organs and bones have been beaten to a pulp, then that to be reassembled just to be smashed again. Soon enough he'll have to grow a tolerance, this is his life now. Despite a rude and draining awakening, he still has the energy to yell. "Already... buah, fuckin' sick of this! One of these times this shit will actually kill me!!”

"Now, now. It's not good to strain yourself further." The Cer-fae rubbed on Basshi's back to soothe him after all that. It's a good thing Ao'yagi isn't the squeamish type and has a pitcher of water nearby which he promptly offered to his companion. Despite all of Basshi's complaints he knew with the way he's handling things that he'll be alright once used to it. "How are you feeling? You're doing much better than you did before though." Internally Basshi thanks the fae for the assistance, the pats and the offered drink. Without a blink is the entirety of the pitcher drained to the last drop, not a second taken to catch his breath. The hydration and wash of the revolting taste brings a goofy smile. 

“Ahhh, that's the stuff!” he says with pep, “Nothin' like some spring water to start the day!” He blinks a handful of times. “Better now, ignore the messes I made. Buahaha!” It hurts to talk, more so to laugh, but screw it. He's thrilled to have his old self back. Thoughts clear, tongue working as it should – the best Basshi. After the pitcher is set aside, an arm casually hooks over Ao'yagi's shoulders and draws him closer. “Still like I'm havin' the worst hangover ever... and once you think about it, sort of came off drunk in that form, didn't I?” Ao'yagi gave a small 'oof' as he was suddenly pulled closer but mostly out of surprise. 

"I guess so? I'm not sure..." The fae isn't a heavy drinker after all mostly opting to consume alcohol during festivities, so he doesn't have much of an idea what a hangover is like. The only casual drinking mate he has is Junta and naturally being a demon, he doesn't get drunk easily. "Why don't we cleanup for now and look for food as well? Also there are some things I wish to talk about if you don't mind." The incubus again enters with a stack of towels in arms and now seeing that Basshi is still bleeding all over the place. A thin brow twitches. 

“Oh, for fu-! Ahhh, I'll get a first aid kit too...” he grumbles when placing the cloth to a table. Time to flutter back for more stuff. Next they'll be wanting food! “… they probably are pretty hungry.” Too bad food is pretty much non-existent here. May be a conjuring scroll collecting dust on a shelf somewhere, no harm in taking a glance while he's on maid duty. “I'll see if I can feed you mortals too!!” 

“Buaha, looks like Junta has us covered that part!” the hunter snickers, “Looks like that talk can be taken care of now, yeah?” With all that's happened in the passing day, there's plenty to discuss. How Ao'yagi got captured, what those fiends done to him, the compass retrieval – the list goes on. He ponders which is first on the fae's mind. Seeing Junta come in, Ao'yagi smiled sheepishly at the incubus feeling a bit bad his friend is taking care of everything being the good host. He would've opted to help out but that talk is inevitable. He got one of the towels and gently padded it on Basshi's shoulder to halt the bleeding as he spoke. 

"Umm...I guess what I wanted to say first of all is thank you for saving me. Now that you've repaid your debt I guess that makes us even now, right?" The hunter flinches to the pressure but otherwise shows no signs of discomfort. Heck, hardly released he was bleeding to begin with by that calm expression and playful tone. Gotten used to that part too, seems to reopen every time. Quite the tolerance this human has built from the harsh years of being a survivalist, there's a reason he's considered an 'elite' back home. 

“To be honest...” he begins in a sincere tone, “I originally wanted to rescue you so my debt was fulfilled. So I felt like I didn't have to owe you anymore. But as I sat there pondering on Junta's solution...” A hand comes to join atop Ao'yagi's, either to hold it or help stop the bleeding. Done so passively, it's difficult to tell. “I... stopped caring about that. I just wanted you safe...” Part of him was surprised to hear that from Basshi however somewhere in his heart of hearts he expected that as well. 

"I truly appreciate that. To be honest I wasn't really expecting anyone to rescue me especially not by you. But somehow you were the first person I turned to when I was in trouble. At first I thought maybe it's because of our argument... but then oddly enough, I wanted to be saved by you as well..." The fae's voice trails off gently since he felt a tad embarrassed admitting that but it did feel good to finally say what he's feeling to Basshi now that the human is able to understand clearly.

By anyone? But Ao'yagi's a prince! Surely they'd send a search party like they did for me!” Same time, the fae can be gone for days straight without any worry it seems. Except for his adoptive son of course. In that case, then he could have very well been left for dead or forever bound to slavery without a trace. Then he did make the right decision. A risky one, yet it all turned out right in the end. The missing compass is a minor setback, that can be replaced if need be. Ao'yagi can't. 

“Great minds think alike, ehhhh?” he chuckles to cover up the embarrassment, “To think, a fae prince wanting to be saved by a human like me. I should be flattered!” His fingers tighten over the other set, his gaze not leaving the other for a single moment.

"Well another part of that is I didn't want the kidnappers to know my status or of my people knowing I was captured by humans. The consequence would've been catastrophic especially since the relationship of humans and fae-folk are already shaky enough. I would rather be enslaved than have war break out." Ao'yagi didn't move his hand nor did his gaze falter from the other. Surely Basshi must've thought as a prince he would've received special attention but even if that was the case, it's unwarranted for him – especially if the price is too great. "I didn't count on you because you were human, I counted on you because I considered you as my friend..." Now this time his gaze did turn slightly since he was getting more embarrassed.

A fair point, the small ties between the two races are easy ones to snap and King Fuku would have no worries of bloodshed under his rule. Avoid if possible, but if push comes to shove, there's no qualms if the leader of the fae tribe declares war. Oddly enough, the hunter would be a traitor in that scenario, more worried about Ao'yagi's safety than his own people – likely, given his sudden obsession. Luckily none of that will transpire. Friends after two days, the vast majority being hardship and immense favors on the fae's part? Either the prince has low standards (no offense) when it comes to companionship or he's picky about who he associates with. Either way, the flattery touches the hunter – a spark of heat at his cheeks contrasting the currently pale state. 

 

“Yeah... I do too!” he chirps back with a fond smile, “And as your friend, I'll do whatever it takes to return your compass. You have my word, I'm right!”
 

"Thank you, I humbly accept your assistance." Ao'yagi mirrors the smile and gives Basshi's shoulder a gentle squeeze below his wound as not to aggravate it. "Also...I wanted to say this before I was captured, so I'll do so now. I'm sorry if it seems I underestimated you with your survival methods back in the cave. I just thought it was wrong that the life you had is suddenly taken away by some stupid Night Beast curse. I wanted you to get back on your feet as soon as you can and live a nice normal life regardless of that." Again a tinge of blush on the fae but his words were pure honesty and sincerity; something that he thought he ought to say to Basshi for a while now.

“A-ah...” That's all he can respond with right off the bat, those being the lines that break his gaze. In no way did the hunter take it that way, he admitted to being lost and unsure of what to do with the new found form. And Ao'yagi helped in more ways than one. A safe haven, supplies and generosity so rarely seen in these selfish times. What more could he ask? A moment of silence to assemble his words. “And you did in a way. I mean, the plans I got ahead are by no means normal, but it's a life! No more stone roads and comfort of home, yet I couldn’t care less.” Long as they're being honest, and how awkward this may come off, it's best to get this off his chest. There's a deep breath, sights back over at his companion. “I will have a nice life, long as I'm... I'm beside you. To hear your voice, to know you're safe. That's all that matters to me now.” It wasn't the words Ao'yagi expect but words he wanted to hear nonetheless. It felt amazing to hear such things that the fae pushed forward to give Basshi a hug. 

"If that's the case then, I promise I'll never abandon you. And I won't stop at nothing until you are completely cured." He wanted to do this ever since he saw Basshi during his rescue, and in a way he did, but it's far different in Basshi's original form. He thought perhaps it wouldn't be so much when the hunter manages to take control of the curse completely and retain his sound mind.

The human squeezes back into the embrace with a soft chuckle, the fae's returning words warming his heart oh-so-dearly. Surely he'll miss his family, friends, the city folk and bustling streets , but as of now, none of those loses weight. In due time he'll be healed, go back to his normal routine. Same time, the hardships he's already overcame with the fae are all the more satisfying. If only he could stay, become Ao'yagi's bodyguard and live among his people. To be with him until his dying breath. Only in his wildest dreams. 

“Thank you, Ao'yagi...” Basshi's warmth and affection feels good to bask in least they finally cleared out that misunderstanding. He noticed the hunter leaned in closer on what seems to be a kiss. The fae didn't think about it anymore. Was about to do the same to meet Basshi half-way until their lips connect, but the clicking of Junta's heels snapped him out of it promptly detaching himself and sitting up straight out of courtesy for the host. Good thing those heels he wears make a lot of noise? Junta carries a tray lined with a kettle, tea cups and bowls; utensils at the side. Looks like the first aid won't be needed either, the wound already sealed up. Power of Night Beast regeneration.

“Here's the scoop,” he says placing it down at the table next the spare towels, “managed to find some food that's suitable, knew a scroll was lying around, the problem is...” He gazes at the warm food, which happens to be a soup, grimacing. “There's meat in it. Sorry Ao'yagi. Could always pick it out?”

"Thank you, Junta please don't worry about it. This is already too kind of you." He smiles warmly and helps the incubus set up their meal. “Beggars can't be choosers.”

Finally, meat!” That word is like a song to the hunter, he's immediately seated over to go right in. Hands clasps together in thanks, but then a thought finds himself stopping right before the first bite. 

“Ao'yagi visits you all the time, doesn't he?” he questions with a squinted look over, “Why don't you have food stashed away for him?” 

“Ah, you see~,” snickers the incubus retrieving his drink, “he brings his own over. Granted, there could be old jars of dehydrated fruit, which could have gotten exposed, and stale wheat crackers from his previous visits if you prefer that?” Basshi scowls, that's an obvious no. The demon takes a seat nearby, tail gently wrapped around his own waist with a hum. “That's what I thought. But if you visit often, which you should thanks to your weekly visits for 'curse therapy,' I'll be sure to have some stuff around. Plus, gives an excuse to actually make more things in the recipe books I tend to find myself drawn to.” Junta always had a knack for chemistry from potions and apothecary to mortal cuisine from different races; the demon has a refine and precise taste. Even if he didn't need to consume mortal food, Junta would get it right every time with just a meager taste. 

“That'd be... real nice of ya! Thanks for finding this by the way!” Looks like Basshi is finally warming up to the creature.

“Hrrrm, not a trouble~. Once you two are filled up, we'll discuss our next plan of action.” The soup itself is thick, more a stew actually. Potatoes, carrots, onions – the staples to a hearty vegetable based meal for any Cer-fae. Problem is the obvious meat chunks and scent. Basshi finally takes the first bite, eyed lighting up in delight. Sure this is conjured food? Because wow! Tastes home cooked, like he made it himself. Ao'yagi also gave his own gesture of food gratitude and began sipping on the soup. It was really good and the meat chunks didn't bother him so much since they were big enough to set aside. Junta did know him well enough to know what he can tolerate and can't. When their meals are pretty much consumed, that's when the topic at hand is brought up. 

"How do you think should we retrieve the compass? Do you remember what the thief said, Basshi? He said they have some sort of connection to your mentor."

“Hrrrm, if only I could have house parties...” the incubus mumbles mostly to himself, “No, not with other demons, most of them despise mortal food. Should see if there's other human's I can befriend, tie loose knots with Shikiba... hm, hm...~” He's preoccupied mulling about ideas of the sort, mentally bookmarking a few recipes he ran into, as the pair munch away at the much needed nutrition. Basshi practically licked the bowl clean of any morsel and more than happily picked off any pieces of meat Ao'yagi moves away – which is happily offered. How the fae hates wasting food. Basshi's fingers are being licked clean when the fae speaks up. 

“Connection my ass!” he barks in defense, “Captain Izumida would never associate with lowlifes unless necessary! Which... he did. The troupes must have been off on other patrols or guarding the nearby towns from Night Beasts. Little to spare, had to turn to strangers...” Once he thinks about it, one of those tunnels near his new 'home' comes close to a small town by the name of Suso – which is around an hour's walk from the Capital. Can get there in no time without the threat of falling daylight. “Could visit him today and give him the clear I'm alright, same with my family. Unsure how to explain how I can't stay at night though...” 

If he's to be honest, there's sure to be someone who's skeptical and already call him akin to the monsters. Then chop, he's left to bleed out on the streets. And what excuse could he come up with? Could say he's on a high hunt of Night Beasts for pelts, but then he'd have to bring them back as proof. What to do...?

"I think it's good to reassure your family. As for staying out at night, maybe tell them you've discovered this kind of treasure that only appears at twilight and you made yourself to pursue it. Surely knowing you're a hunter others can respect that." The fae suggested. As for the issue of his captors maybe now is a good opportunity to investigate as well given Basshi is coming to visit his home. "They said the elf-mage has some status as an elite wizard right? A group that helps out the King. I'm sure if you ask your comrades we'll find out something or at least some clues that will lead to the compass."

That ain't a half bad suggestion at all! Wouldn't be the first time Basshi put himself in the dangers of night for days on end, so surely they'll understand. Especially if a treasure or trinket is involved, the hunter is one for 'fairy tales' and fruitless hunts . Stubborn and venturous, typical Basshi. 

'Think I'll use that one! Sort of sounds like me too. You readin' my mind, Ao'yagi~?” he teases with a prod at the fae's side. He's back onto the serious matter though, not a time to be joking around too much. There's a glance over at the incubus, who stares back with an inquisitive brow raised. “One comrade our little demon friend brought up last night...” 

“Ah yes~,” responds Junta with a flick of his tail, “Ashi'kiba, the court wizard of the Capital. Used to be rather close to him, you see. He's sure to have information on this 'elite groups of wizards' if the King is preoccupied. Human duties and all that.”

At the mention of ‘close’ and ‘Ashi’kiba’, the fae couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow towards Junta once more. He still felt he was someone held back at with the way his best friend never mentioned something this important before. But true to his personality, the prince doesn’t mention it in the slightest save for his skeptical reaction. 

“So how do we go about this? I can set the pair compass to detect the other but since mine was destroyed I could only do it manually with the presence of my magic,” Ao’yagi explained. They were back with a minor pinch since they can’t really relay to the humans that they’re looking for a Cer-fae’s magical item. It’s crucial whether to know if they’re really close to the real thing.

“As a suggestion,” Junta can't help but include, “I'd avoid putting any magic near the stolen item. If taken by so called 'elites,' they'd be sure to catch on. Detect you, trace you down and take the pair. Even kidnap or slay you. Will have to find it manually, otherwise there will be trouble down the road. So whatever information you find will be crucial, Basshi.” He gives the human a hard look. “And the faster the better. Another set of ears around would help as well.” Then his sight is on Ao'yagi. “A 'furry' set, perhaps?” 

Ao’yagi wholeheartedly agrees with what Junta has said. Wizards are highly trained to detect magic after all – more so with elves. The moment they find some kind of anomaly they are sure to be alerted and revealed. But then Junta’s next suggestion makes him look back at the demon with even more suspicion.

 

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean exactly that, my dear Prince~.” He hovers over to the Cer-fae and gives a gentle tug to a tufted ear. “Without your antlers, a cowl could fix you right up! Have to wear a sash or bulkier armor to deal with that tail though...” 

“Why Ao'yagi?” the hunter buts in, “Can't you demons shapeshift and junk like that? Why don't you go with me?” 

 

“First, that's not within my specialties. Incubi are gifted with the power of illusion magic yes, but I'm out of practice. My infiltration wouldn't last long.” Not much a 'demon secret,' just information. “Second, while you two are scouting for info, I can whip up many potions and enchantments to aid in your adventure. They need time, much like the retrieving of this information. I'm sure Ao'yagi can agree, yes~?” He then tugs at both ears with a wild grin. There's a heavy sigh at the proposition but Ao’yagi supposes this is the best method so they could obtain the compass back as quickly as possible. As much as he isn’t all too into the idea, the fae thought it couldn’t be so bad given that Basshi would be accompanying. He does trust the hunter with his life. 

“Fine... I guess additional clothing wouldn’t prove much of a bother. A headdress or cowl and a sash would do. But what about my markings, wouldn’t that be suspicious?” Ears and tail are easy, but his facial markings can be recognizable as Cer-fae to the curious and informed.

“Excellent! Time to raid our closets for the perfect apparel~.” In a chuckle does the demon drift over to Ao'yagi's closet and rummages the inside. Something classy, but not too much otherwise he'll be a walking target for thieves. So many choices. “And your Majesty is getting a makeover for that. Get to borrow my makeup~. I suggest a proper bath, for the both of you, along with some armor stitching on Basshi's end. May be able to thread you some new items if need be as well. Have to look presentable if you want to impress.” 

“That would be great... never got the chance to replace my under gear,” the hunter mumbles eying his torn trousers. He liked this pair too, ugh. “You don't have to, ya'know. You've done quite enough.”

“Nonsense! I'm immortal and don't have to sleep often. Keeping my fingers and mind busy is a welcomed gift!” He shoots a fanged grin over at the pair. “Then I'll get to that while you two bathe, alright? “

“If I didn’t know you any better Junta, I’d say you’re doing this more for yourself than anything. And please don’t go heavy on the rouge?” The fae said with a slight eye-roll. He’s not that annoyed with his demonic friend so to speak, especially since he is doing this for their sake. Ao’yagi is merely pointing out his friend’s antics as jesting but he’s fine indulging Junta’s amusement once in a while. “Thank you again, Junta. We’ll come back right away when were done. Let’s go, Basshi.” With that he leads the human to the natural lake within the cave which serves as the demon’s luxurious bathroom, leaving Junta to his own devices for a while. 

“Make sure to get behind your ears~.” Junta offers a stick of the tongue and lazy wave to bid a short farewell to his company before tearing through the closet once again. Ao'yagi brought over so many clothes, never noticed until now. “Oh, this is adorable!” he comments to one of the garbs, “And this is too! So borrowing these one day...” 

The last time the bathroom was inspected, it was a mess due to Basshi’s rampage but now it’s as spotless as ever. Junta loves his lux indoor pool as well so it’s not surprising he would spruce that up right away. Ao’yagi gathered soap and oils by a nearby basket and started stripping beckoning for Basshi to do the same. At least this time Basshi won't be a blood thirsty monster who only swam around for a time sink. And have to admit, through the eyes of human, what a beautiful cave lake it is. 

Crystal stalactites, magically burning candles and lanterns, luxurious furniture and products. Once he's settled back in his 'prison,' he has to scout from a steady water source to make one of these. Right as the fae strips his first piece of clothing, the human again hints a flush of red. Doing this yesterday was all fine and dandy in the half brain dead state, was easily shrugged off, but now is a different story. Obviously not his first time seeing the other naked, yet he can't help but feel a tad embarrassed. Out of respect, he turns away to strip down and let's Ao'yagi get inside the waters before stepping in himself. There's a good distance between them, eyes anywhere but over at the fae. 

“Ya'know, you're... real lucky to have a friend like Junta. Actually inspired me to, I dunno, talk with other demons sometime. Some can be real friendly, I guess. Or is that only him...?” Ao’yagi’s ears twitch with curiosity otherwise pretended not to notice not wanting to embarrass the hunter or anything. The prince continued to move quite casually proving his ease around the human that he indeed acknowledges Basshi as a friend. The settled by the edge of the small lake talking across each other as the fae started to lather his hair with shampoo as they continue with the conversation. 

“What did I tell you? Junta is great but supposed it’s understandable he doesn’t get the best first impression. That doesn’t mean you just can come up to any demon that you encounter. Even Junta warned me about that. As far as we’re both aware he’s a special case. I’m sure there are other demons like him too but it’s quite a risk to go looking for them.” Basshi leans back onto the seat-like ledge to first indulge the clean waters, he'll scrub up in due time. They're still on a time frame like the first, but there's less panic now. A few minutes to relax can't do much harm.

“A very special case,” he beams, “Incubus aren't the most... trustworthy and caring creatures. They care about two things. Sex and their mana stores. And in some cases, coin for material gain. Guess Junta took that rare case and overblown it!” Seriously, how much fancier can a cave be? And really, if Junta mustered the will to steal a few souls and study on it, he'd be able to maintain an illusion spell for a near entity. Could live in the city then, obvious he enjoys socializing and knowledge. Then again, wouldn't be able to perform more 'risky' magic and experiments without drawing suspicion. Perhaps that's the reason he choose a cave to begin with. The hunter shrugs at his own thoughts. “Buah, not like I'll try to encounter them, just if it happens, it happens! And after all I've been through with you...” Time to get this tidbit out for the sake of his conscience. “I won't be huntin' anymore Cer-fae. Or Bovi-fae for that matter! You folk are more than reclusive creatures, you're mortals too! Not some trophies for us humans to gloat over!”

“You could say that. Junta is all about discovery and living to the fullest. He doesn’t want to be bound to stereotypes and what a demon should be. Even so it’s not as if he doesn’t indulge on his basic instincts every now and then.” the fae said with a slight chuckle. Ao’yagi continued to scrub himself down making sure he gets every nook and cranny now that he’s actually properly bathing himself. A fastidious creature really, most Cer-fae are and even more so given Ao’yagi is a prince. “I appreciate that very much, Basshi. I’m glad I opened your mind in a good way with regards to my people and respect towards nature in general. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe hunting is an honorable profession but there is a difference between doing something out of necessity and consideration rather than simply out of greed and self-interest.”

Junta's already proved that a handful of times, mainly towards the 'fun' he was 'sharing' with Yorick. But demons will be demons, as fae are fae. Respectful, courteous, well-spoken individuals who ask nothing but thanks and friendship. At least, that's what the human believes. Sadly, the ones kept as slaves, are just as peaceful and kindhearted – it's rough to see. Such tender creatures, they don't deserve shackles. 

“Very honorable!” he barks back in defense, “But after so long, enough is enough, ya'know? Can only have so many animals mounted on your wall before it loses the charm. Start forgetting the thrill and experience of a hunt to start focusing more on numbers and size. Why I rarely hunt these days. Was actually out doing my job of collecting Night Beast hides until I ran into it. You interrupted my work, buahaha!”

“Mmm…try living like that for hundreds of years I reckoned you would’ve changed profession numerous times if you get easily bored. And do I owe you an apology for the interruption?” The fae jested feeling a lighter ambience is in order from all that heavy talk before. Cutting themselves some slack isn’t such a bad thing. Once done washing his hair, the fae rinsed off the shampoo and was about to scrub the rest of his body when he noticed Basshi hasn’t done so yet. So he scoots closer to the human with a sponge in hand already lathered with soap. “Would you like me to wash your back? I’m sure you deserve a good scrub down with all the moving around you did.”

Yikes, if he's already bored being a usual hunter after five years and had to turn to the thrill of death for a job, doesn’t want to imagine being near immortal. Five years, something new – rinse and repeat. How do Cer-fae do it? Heck, even Bovis had a good three hundred years under their belt! Actually, that sounds more appealing seeing by half way through a human's life span do they start to 'slow down,' can't imagine that from a fae. Unsure, never seen one that's shown any signs of aging. Maybe there's a reason behind that... Lost in thought, he didn't realize Ao'yagi got closer until there's a voice. He visibly twitches, obviously surprised by the closeness and offer. 

“A-ahhhh, nah! I'll wash myself up once y-you're done! Despite bein' huge, can still reach my back! Buahaha!” Ao’yagi pouts at being declined. Did Basshi not want him assisting still? He didn’t really realize it was a matter of modesty just wanting to be of service to the hunter. The fae remained in place by the other's side hoping to convince further. 

“Are you sure about that? I mean it’s the least I can do when you traveled all that distance for me even being half-beast and all. Besides, I already helped you wash last night so I really don’t mind doing this for you again. Won’t you let me do this for you?” His tone and gaze was extra pleading for efficacy.

Why does Ao'yagi want to wash me down so badly?!” A kind gesture and all sure, but there's other means he can do. And to mention how he handles it so causally, is this a Cer-fae thing, his fatherly instincts? Or just enjoys doing it? Doesn't matter why, it's impossible to say no to that face and needy voice. So he sighs, giving in by turning his back to his companion with arms stretched out. 

“You got me! Have at it! Clean me!” he announces like a criminal who gives into arrest. Ao'yagi hums at the approval and proceeds to do just that. He glides the bubbly sponge across the hunter's broad, strong back. He was meticulous with the scrubbing as expected but he did it gently as well akin to a massage. Ao'yagi finds knots in those impressive muscles soothing them down as well with kneading motions. 

"Is this alright?" Despite this being slightly awkward, the hunter is all but melting into the attention. The airy suds, the gentle and refreshing scrubbing, the beautiful atmosphere – it's too comfortable to feel uneasy. Especially once the massage comes in. 

“Mhmm, yeah...” he all but sighs, “Going to need a hammer to get those out though, buhaha!” Feels like ages since a full relax in this manner, a week to be exact. It's enough to doze off too. “It's great regardless. Scared if I gave one in return, I'd break you in half! Then again...” He glances over a shoulder with a cheeky grin, a brow waggled suggestively. “You can handle that, can't you Bambi~?”

“I can try!” He jeered back playfully as the fae kneaded on the muscles with added pressure. He’s a warrior anyway so by no means a weakling even if he isn’t as strong as Basshi in spite his normal human form. After a good couple of minutes of massaging and washing, Ao’yagi is pretty satisfied with his work and must admit even enjoyed doing that. For Cer-fae, helping to bathe and wash close friends is a sign of bonding. He does this almost every time with Kabu’ragi and sometimes with Junta if the demon feels like it so it’s also a pleasant experience for him. But then Basshi turned to him speculating he’d be too rough on the fae should they switch positions. Ao’yagi raises an eyebrow like the human doesn’t know what he’s talking about. “What are you saying? Don’t you remember washing me last night in your half- beast form? See for yourself then!” With that, the prince promptly turned around offering himself to be washed as well.

Woah, now that's the stuff~!” Ao'yagi's hands may look delicate, but they're one of a warrior – years beyond of fighting under his belt. Again, must be a Cer-fae thing given all the ones he's seen have been lithe and agile. Makes sense given their ancestral sister is the deer. Those tight bundles are loosened to a wobbly slack. Can actually roll his shoulders again, what sweet relief. That along with being squeaky clean. Except his hair, that can wait, Ao'yagi just issued a challenge! 

“And I went easy on you!” he declares with a firm nod, “Can't rub someone down with claws, ya'know!” The question is if Ao'yagi ignored the sexual innuendo or didn't understand it. Likely the latter given his closest friend is the master of all that is time between the sheets. There's a job to do, so he'll let that one slip by. After cracking his knuckles down his board hands sweep down the expanse of the fae's freckled back, getting a lay of the land of sorts. The tightest are felt at the edges of his shoulder blades, which the hunter digs right in with hard rolls of thumbs. “You're clean enough, means I can focus on getting rid of this tension~.”

“Hmm thanks…” He felt those large hands sweep away on his back with just one move before the other starts to give a massage as well. Just as he suspected, Basshi’s large hands are doing the trick to ease out the tension of his own muscles. He gives out a delighted sigh enjoying this just as much as when he was doing this for the human. But then he hears that peculiar nickname again ‘Bambi,’ which isn’t in his vocabulary so a dormant question in his mind surface. He glanced a little behind towards the hunter to express his inquiry. “Basshi, why do you keep calling me ‘Bambi’? What does that mean?”

“Oh, you fae don't know that term? Strange, a human thing I guess.” With the knots lightly loosened does his palms and thick fingers come into play. Rough, but not enough to crush or pinch the fawn. “'Bambi' is a pet name for... well, deer. Particularly young or cute ones.” Once he says that part, that comes off as rather rude does it not? He bites at his lip for a moment. “Hope that isn't offensive, I mean it in a good way! Really!”

"Oh I see... if you put it that way, then I guess it's fine. I don't mind at all!" Ao'yagi isn't one whose quick to judge verbal offense unless it's downright vulgar. Despite of that, he couldn't help but blush at the notion of being referred to as 'cute' so he quickly turned away to hide that. When he recovers from his bashfulness that's when Ao'yagi starts to thoroughly relax under Basshi's ministrations. He sighs a bit louder this time expressing his delight as if to tell the other he's doing very good with this.

“Then you'll stay Bambi~!” Fine with essentially being called a cutie, the strangest of Princes this fae is. That kindness and acceptance is his biggest fault yet greatest strength, Ao'yagi is truly a wonder to behold. And how lucky he is to get this close, share their tight bond that happened so suddenly. And to think, this all started with a long chase that ended with... something he shouldn't be proud of. Now that he gets to touch Ao'yagi so intimately, there's a reflection on his first actions.  

 

He's no better than Yorick, to take advantage of this sweet creature is one action to haunt him. 

 

Yet it shouldn't, the threat of death was knocking on his doorstep. There's no chance to return home and give goodbyes to the ones he loved, so why not enjoy himself? Wouldn't anyone do the same out of desperation, to have your last moments with something pleasurable and fulfilling? Again losing himself in thought, those large hands managed to wander further down the specked back all the way to the tailbone. He peers down and catches the glimpse of the stubby tail under the water's surface, a smile coming along. The one time he touched it wasn't on good terms. Anything that will happen when he's gentle? Curiosity gets the better and a light grip is given to it, a thumb stroked at the base.

Ao'yagi nods and hums once more with the pet name decided. It really wasn't a big deal to him and somehow even makes him glad a close friend would address him so affectionately. All the while this brings him into his thoughts as well. Why would he allow Basshi, a human who chased after him this kind of closeness? Ao'yagi has always been known to be recluse even among his kin. Maybe he's just really that fickle and chooses people who are different. Come to think of it, his loved-ones are Bovi-faes, an incubus, and now a half-beast human. He truly is a strange one, he mused. And somehow, he admits to himself now that Basshi has captured him in more ways than one; mainly his heart. Ao'yagi is deep in reverie that the gentle tail grab surprised him. He was really sensitive there and with the tender touching he couldn't help but elicit a moan. 

"Ah sorry! My tail is pretty sensitive..." Basshi is caught off guard by the noise, which actually fuels him to continue the caressing. Can't exactly pet or fluff it due to the bath, but can still stroke over it like you would to a cat's tail. The other makes way to sit at an angular hip, just in case Ao'yagi intends on falling over. Just how sensitive is it? 

“Noticed!” comes in an amused chirp, “Sorry, but... it's too tempting! Human curiosity, eh?”

"I-It's okay, I was going to wash it anyway." Ao'yagi tries to overcome the tingly sensation swishing his wet tail a bit in order to adjust. Usually his tail is just there and it doesn't bother him but for some reason there's a lot of stimulation there with just touching. Maybe he just has a lot of nerves at the base of his spine. Either way he tries to act more steady this time and pretend it doesn't get him weak in the knees.

“Then I'll make sure it sparkles!” This time around there's a different reaction, Ao'yagi came crumbling to the cot before. Perhaps because he wasn't caught off guard or he's holding back that urge. Either way, the human is all but smiles as the tugs become a tad harder to see if any more noises can be produced. Letting him experiment is a bad life choice.

The fae wonders if it was a good decision. On one hand it's a pretty hard to reach place and sometimes he isn't satisfied that he couldn't tend to it the way he wants to. On the other hand, Basshi touching his tail like this is making him feel things other than just getting clean. 

"Nggh..." He had to bite his lip to hold back another groan just akin into a soft mewl. Now the human is pondering why having a tail touched could be so enlightening, the fae is practically goo under the touches. By no means is the base of a human spine like this, yet during certain circumstances such as intense pleasure does it prickle – an odd sensation of good and unnerving. Is that what Ao'yagi feels, is this a type of erogenous zone? Tempting as it may be to continue, he backs off once a note comes to mind. 

 

Ao'yagi's experience back at that camp. 

 

He doesn't know how far the rogue went when it came to personal boundaries invaded and he'd rather not trigger him in any sense. Perhaps another time, same with what exactly went on there.

“T-there, all clean!” he chuckles a bit awkwardly, “You have my guarantee!” After a while did Ao'yagi get used to the ministrations at his tail but Basshi was done with it before he knew. He swishes and shakes his tail a few times once let go to wring out any excess suds. Then he absently reached out for it as if to inspect the human's work. It feels soft and light as it should, how satisfying. 

 

"Thank you. Let's finish up here so we could go back to Junta." 

Chapter Text

“Y-yeah... sounds like a plan! And no pr-problem, it was my pleasure!” Ignoring the embarrassment, Basshi goes off to gather the bottle used before and lather up his mane of hair. Such a hassle, should really consider cutting it, yet it's in the style he oh-so adores. Wild and all over the place. Somewhat silly when it's wet though given all the poof losses life and is left flat and boring. Once thoroughly rinsed, he presents a thumbs up to show he's set to go. “A brand new Basshi!”

The fae hummed and nodded approvingly when Basshi was showing off a bit. The hunter did look pretty different with his hair laid flat that Ao'yagi thought it was refreshing to see. It made the other's features 'softer' somehow compared to his preferred look. With both of them done, he stood up and handed a big fluffy towel to his company as well as a robe since Junta still has their change of clothes.

No such thing as a 'soft' Basshi, that cleaner look is quickly changed with a few fluffs of the given towel. Poof, almost back to normal – needs a serious brushing though. And as for the robe, good luck trying to get that thing over his massive size, so he opts to just tie the towel around his waist. Does the job just as well. When back in the guest room, the incubus is nowhere to be found. The closet is back in order and laid neatly across the bed is the set of clothing meant for Ao'yagi. The major portion is the fae's own attire while the accessories, including the sash and cowl, are from Junta's collection. Nothing too flashy but definitely not one for an ordinary commoner. The perfect blend of silk and linen. 

“Well, you're going to be one handsome Bambi~,” the human comments, amused by the choice in fashion.

Ao'yagi wore the robe still drying his hair (and ears) with the towel as they walked back to the room. Glancing at Basshi, his hair returned to his normal style the moment it was relatively dry! How curious, he mused but supposed that fits the human best anyway. The fae inspected what Junta chose for him and let out a sigh of relief knowing the demon didn't pick anything too gaudy. Was afraid his friend would go over board as he usually would in fashion. Basshi's comment made him flush for a second though. 

"I just wish I wouldn't go undetected." Speak of the devil, where is Junta anyway? The prince called to find out. "Junta are you here? We're done with the bath."

“I'm sure you'll blend in! This style is pretty normal in the city, especially from the Castle District – which is where my home and the obvious castle is! Buaha!” Junta sure knows his stuff about fashion then, huh? Current trends as well, then he must visit often enough to notice. Of course when you're an immortal, this demon has knowledge of most things. A few seconds after the call is made, the smirking face of the incubus comes into view. In his arms does he hold a fancy looking box, one usually to stow jewelry. 

“Sorry, sorry!” he says fluttering over to the vanity, “Had to make sure everything was in order. Like the outfit I picked?” Placing the chest down and flicking it open, a large array of makeup is piled in – everything from nail polish to face paint. “Get dressed first, then I'll make you the prettiest 'human' around~!”

“I’ll be happy just to look ‘normal.'” The fae prince proceeded to dress-up as instructed. There’s a light linen undershirt along with relatively loose pants then topped with a kimono-like coat bound by a sash. The pants were loose enough to accommodate his tail with the sash to secure it. All in all it was rather a comfortable outfit so he was thankful for that as well. Ao’yagi then sat at a table and gives the incubus a hard stare. Now he really wishes Junta wouldn’t go too heavy because heavy face paint tend to get irritating and hot – even during the current cool, Autumn season. “Okay Junta, ready when you are.”

As the outfit is assembled, Basshi's cheeks become more and more flushed. Ao'yagi looks absolutely stunning in such apparel. Could be the fact he's only seen the fae in armor and under linens, which aren't exactly the prettiest. He turns away and sits across the way on the bed to observe the further transformation. 

“Fine, normal it is then...” Junta sighs, “No experimental fun for me today~.” He digs through to find a concealer relatively close to Ao'yagi's shade, can always clean up any discoloring with powder, and starts layering the stuff on. The question is why these items are in an incubus' possession, their skin is never flawed. The eye-shadow and liner is understandable, but this? A question not to be answered. “And as for your attire, Basshi, the patterns are being cut as we speak~.” The hunter flashes him a confused look. Is there someone else living here or-?  
 

“How are you–”  
 

“Magic, do I really have to explain?” And that's that, but there's another thing to note.  
 

“Buah! How do you know my measurements?!”  
 

“I... have an eye for detail~.” Bodies, they're easy to read when being alive for this long; and to mention his skilled craft as a tailor. Far better at say knitting or crocheting, but he sure knows his way around a sewing needle. The freckles are easily covered up, but those darker markings are proving to be a trouble. “Speaking of eye, these markings are not being nice!” His tails flicks in agitation and snaps against the ground. “Will have to go a bit heavy on cover sadly.”

Ao’yagi relished the feeling of Junta’s skillful fingers when applying makeup. It may be a tedious process for him but with the incubus doing it, his expertise is making things a tad easier. But then he sighs because he knows it’s inevitable that the makeup will have to be caked on the markings on his face. 

“Alright Junta, just do what you have to.” The fae sat up straight and closed his eyes for ease of application and he felt a sponge, brushes and Junta’s fingertips glide along his face. It wasn’t all too comfortable with the poking feeling on his eyes but luckily the demon is quick on his work.

Extra splotch there, a bit of highlighter here to even it out, a hint of blush to bring more color and done! Well, not completely. He fishes out a brush and does a quick run through of the fae's golden hair, ridding of any leftover moisture in the process, and positions in a way that the main portion rests atop shoulders. And with the pull over the silken cowl, the transformation is complete. 

“Human Ao'yagi, how lovely you look! Ah, can't call you that now. 'Ao' is human name, is it not?” He looks over to Basshi, who stands up to get a better look of the change. 

“Yeah, it's passable! Works as a half-elf one too, so I guess weeeeeeeeelll....” His voice trails off upon staring off at the fae's face, eyes jutted open and jaw hung agape. Talk about stunned speechless. 

“Heh, looks rather nice doesn't he~?” Junta snickers and taps a painted nail to a compact mirror, “Have a look, your Highness~.”

After everything was done, Ao’yagi is more than happy and is able to blink and move about freely again. He gave Junta a skeptical look though not sure if his best friend is simply exaggerating to tease or genuinely complimenting him. He turned to Basshi next since he wanted to inspect anyway wanting some kind of approval because he is a human after all. All he got in return is gawking stare which confused the clueless fae all the more. Did it look off somehow? Nothing to it but to see for himself in the mirror. Looking at his reflection he too is stunned for a second because he doesn’t recognize what he’s seeing. Well he still kind of resembles himself from prominent features but he wasn’t looking like any human he was used to from what he knows about. Does this pass a young man? Nevertheless he does agree it looks pretty nice. “You really think this will work? If this is fine then we should get a move on, Basshi. The more daylight, the better.”

“Given your softer features,” Junta says to finish Ao'yagi's thoughts, “You pass as a young adult, seventeen to eighteen at most. Agree, right Basshi?” Talking, what's that? The hunter continues to be bug-eyed without a single word. And to believe Ao'yagi couldn't get more attractive, but now he looks like his race! “... alright then.” The demon clears his throat. “Know you're eager to get going but Basshi needs his own apparel ya'know. Less a towel is the 'in style' for armor. Will only take a few minutes, I promise you that. Gives time for this big lug to get used to the new you~.” The makeup is stored away and he's off towards the door. “I'll be back, play nice~.”

Oh that’s right, Basshi’s attire.” Guess they needed to wait a little longer which is fine too. “Alright Junta, thanks again!” With the incubus out once more, Ao’yagi figures now is a good time to think of some sort of ‘script’ they need to make out in preparation. He’s still not quite sure why Basshi remains frozen with only a towel on. So he comes closer to the human and waves a hand on his face. “Basshi, are you alright? What are you going to say when your people see me accompanying you in your village?"

The hand gesture makes part of the hunter snap back to reality, yet it doesn't change the infatuation. He's back to staring for a moment, this time with more clarity, to suddenly spring out. A hand comes to cup the back of the fae's head and drawn closer so their lips meet in a forced kiss. Naturally Ao'yagi is surprised by the sudden affection, but despite of that, he didn't resist. Instead the fae finds himself kissing back as fervently circling his arms around Basshi's neck for support. After a few moments of just lingering in the kiss, he pulls away quite flushed and eyes glazed. 

"Basshi...?" Not exactly the most appealing way to share their first kiss, yet that's been on Basshi's mind ever since the interruption earlier. It needed to get out, and by gods, was it worth it. Seems the fae has been holding off as well due to the intensity; those arms are around him and holding on so lovingly. He swears there's a skip in his pulse, for his heart to leap and settle back with a hard thud. The pull off is disappointing, but understandable, Junta could walk in at any given moment. Granted, all he intends to do is keep kissing his dear fae, express the unjustified love he's obtained that can't be put into proper words, yet that can come off as odd. He stares deep into those amber hues.

“S-sorry,” he begins, voice soft, “I... just wanted to get that out.” Ao'yagi stares right back into those beady turquoise pools full of emotion and meaning. He shakes his head with a slight smile wanting to reassure the other. 

“It’s alright…I wanted to as well.” He reiterated and once more feeling he didn’t get enough, leaned forward for another kiss. Ao’yagi did so slower this time just to relish their connection and warmth. One more time couldn’t hurt, right? He kissed in a way he could taste Basshi with all of that pent-up emotions they were holding back all this time. In this one does Basshi pull back the cowl to bury a hand within Ao'yagi's hair and keep them as close as possible. It's perfect, just as he imagined, the others' lips sweet and soft like candied fruits. Just as addicting too. Thick lips curve to gently suckle only to push into a harder, more desperate lock. But then they have to withdraw, it isn't fair. Right as wants to plunge past the barrier and take this a delicious step forward. So instead his tongue pokes out and gives the fae's lips a gentle lick for a brief taste.“We really have to figure our trip now…”

“Yeah...” he mumbles, eyes hazed and needy, “Sucks, doesn't it? And erm- sorry about messing up your hair... buah.”

"Mhmm..." Ao'yagi gave a coy smile and gently bumped their foreheads together before reluctantly parting from Basshi's clutches. He then combs out his hair with his fingers until they fall neatly back into place and rearranged his cowl. It was all good timing too since they started hearing Junta's clacking heels signaling his return just as Ao'yagi is presentable once more. (Though the prince thought the incubus is more or less aware of their activities already.) The fae clears his throat and brings up the urgent topic again. "For real Basshi, what are you going to say to people who ask why I'm accompanying you? I'm sure they will."

No doubt about it, those are the incubus' heels clipping their way back into the room. This time he carries a bundle of plain linens, along with Basshi's armor from before, and with with a hefty sewing kit. He shoots the pair a cheeky grin (oh, he knows what went on) as he takes a seat and promptly gets to work – first repairing the torn areas on the hunter's belt and shoulder apparel. Basshi straightens his posture, like nothing happened, and goes about the conversation like they've already been in the middle of it. 

“Have to get used to calling you 'Ao,'” he says with a shrug, “But can always call you my 'treasure hunting partner,' yeah? Or someone I met in my journeys who doesn't know the lay of the land yet, like I'm your escort, bodyguard, tour guide kinda thing?”

Ao'yagi quickly turned to the incubus once he arrived only to be met by Junta's smirk. His best friend definitely knows so he quickly turned back to Basshi emphasizing he's been caught all the more. But then that was easy to ignore as the conversation went along. 

"Oh that works. I guess just say I'm from another city or something."

“Yeah, easier that way! Plus if you looked baffled by our architecture or culture, you have backup in case anyone asks. From across the seas, say you're a traveler from... our neighboring continent, Kor'nelia. Not too far-fetched, there's plenty who come tour the great Capital of Hakone! Be better if you weren't from Ja'pa!” He has no knowledge when it comes to their overseas brethren, yet he can see everything lining up exactly the same. Trade partners on relatively good terms, so there's many who comes over to adventure or move over. The fae's attire is acceptable with that story as well, tourists do tend to follow whatever is 'in' at the given time to feel like they blend in. “We'll stop by Suso first, the village just on the outskirts, to grab a proper bite to eat.” 

And within moments is Basshi's armor back in working order and the linens are next to put together. For a moment does the demon come to circle around the towel clad human, double checking the measurements, to go right back to stitching with a hum at his lips. Sure does love to sew, especially for a different body type then his or Ao'yagi's. So big!

"That sounds plausible. You can also teach me along the way as we reach our stop." Ao'yagi concurred. As Junta was finishing up with Basshi's garments, he smiled amused that his best friend is genuinely having fun with this. Being a demon, it's in their nature to get easily bored plus with Junta's insatiable thirst for knowledge even more so. That's why for the meantime, Ao'yagi gathered what he think they'll need. Not too much, better to travel light. He got a small satchel and placed the pair compass there, some apothecary for first aid just in case and hefty pieces of gold but not before showing them to Basshi. "This works well as currency in your area, yes?"

Enough supplies are on Basshi's pack for the brief journey, including the loot he stowed from the poacher's camp, yet some extra can't do any harm. Especially those riveting pieces of gold the fae has apparently been carrying around. His eyes round out with a heavy nod. 

“Yeah, that's the most common! There's other means like trade of goods, but all vendors will take gold! Be handy to have a stock pile just in case we need to bribe.” 

“You humans and gold...” the demons sighs out on the final stitches of the attire, “Yet I can't be one to judge. Without the metal, I'd be without the luxury I currently hold.” Done and done, the incubus flutters over and drops the load onto the hunter's lap. “Tell me if anything is off, will be in the main chamber readying some items for future travel~.” To be busy again, he has yet to stop smiling. With a little spin, he's again out the door – the pair left to their own again. Not close to a make out session this time, Basshi gets right to dressing himself. Not bad. A little tight, but he's not going to complain about free wears. And it fits well with his armor pieces, a win-win situation. “Let's just hope your disguise works...”

Taking in the human's advice, Ao'yagi was mindful of how much gold he was bringing. He doesn't really get the notion of currency either since fae-folk use the barter system for any kind of trade. They believe that brings out more equity. Once the prince inspected everything he needed he turned to his companion again to check on things on his side. 

"You look great, Basshi! And yeah I truly hope it does." Ao'yagi peered over Basshi's pack nodding in approval before heading out the door. "Make sure you don't forget anything. Also I think you still need to take your potions from Junta."

“Of course I look great, buahaha!” Sure the boast seem genuine, but internally, he's shuddering. A compliment from Ao'yagi, it's like his life is complete now. He flashes a toothy grin over to his companion as Junta scurries throughout the front area of his lair. Collection of items, cleaning up along the way, a preoccupied demon he'll be for a while. Basshi blinks over and gives a shout. “Do I still need to take these potions?!” A finger gestures at the satchel given before, which the incubus nods in response in the midst of minor chores. 

“Keep at it, you won't be the same man you were last night unfortunately. Temporary setback, you'll likely be mindless tonight, so make sure to get to your safe haven before dusk. Oh, and do protect Ao'yagi. He's quite dear to me~.” Instead of flying over, he blows a kiss off towards the Cer-fae. “Safe travels~!”

“Thank you, Junta! I’ll be sure to keep in touch.” The fae prince waves back at the hovering incubus as farewell. With everything in order, the pair sets out for their journey. They made their way out of the cave but instead of their usual route, Ao’yagi led them to a detour by the side of the path. “There’s a hidden portal area here too, set-up by Junta of course. This should lead around near the town by your city.” The fae explained as they headed towards what seems to be a small canopy but for sure it’s different from the others. As they went through it, the two ended up by a cliff-side forest overlooking the small town. “I remember coming once here when I was younger. Would you believe I met a werebear? He was really nice too and showed me around the forest here. I wonder how he’s doing?”

More portals, but what else does he expect from a Cer-fae? Now having knowledge the creatures are adept, same with local forest incubus, wouldn't be surprised if they are hidden throughout the entire continent. Interesting and efficient, are there side effects to this? Everything is still in on place, so can't be too harmful. A broad grin comes upon seeing the familiar town, the population under a thousand people. Quaint stone work homes and cobble roads, can't get more relaxing than this. The hunter has considered moving out here actually, still within walking distance of the Capital and pretty much silent. Perhaps after this 'curse' situation is sorted. 

“A werebear, eh?” he questions with a perk of the brow, “Know a couple myself! Them and werewolves are allowed within the city because their 'night forms' are harmless. They have control over their primal instincts, unlike my new self. Yet. Bit jealous, buaha! People mistake me for one due to my size, they tend be to larger than average humans. If only I was...!”

Ao'yagi immediately perked up hearing other supernatural beings are comfortably dwelling within the city. Based from the teachings he received, it is very rare for other beings to interact with humans or at least not openly. Based from Basshi's experience, that's obviously not the case. Now he wonders if that was a deliberate bias in teachings due to their race's xenophobia. 

"I'm sure you'll be able to control your form sooner or later. You're pretty much doing what is deemed impossible already so I know you'll be able to attain control in no time." As they continued their small talk while trekking towards the town. The Cer-fae slowly inched closer to his companion anxiety getting quite obvious in his features. "I've never been inside a human town before. This is as far as I've been even after all this time. I only learned about humans through books and experiences from friends; mostly Junta.”

The positivity is something to grasp, hold onto and never let go. In every right Basshi should have died that night, to join along the plague that can kill hundreds in one night. Yet here he stands, fighting to defend his sanity and the one he's found love(?) for. Stay strong and you'll live strong. At the outskirts is the fae's nervousness at all ends, can practically feel that aura. He ponders how much those ears are twitching under the cowl, which makes him utter a snort. 

“Sorry, it's just... heh! You're real adorable when you're nervous! We humans ain't scary, not much different, I can assume. We're... lively! Sure you figured that part out already!” A comforting grin, much as this brute can produce, is down at the smaller. “Need to hold onto my arm? I don't mind.”

All-in-all Ao'yagi has never been one for prejudice against other races which probably what sets him apart the most from other Cer-fae. Though the fear of humans has been mostly justifiable given how those mortals have always treated their kin. Still, even if the prince wanted to digress his first-time anxiety is pretty hard to ignore. Despite trying to put on a brave front and frowning at Basshi's comment to show offense, the fae still gingerly wrapped his hand around the hunter's arm muttering a thanks. He pretty much kept quiet after that feeling quite embarrassed by his actions although doing so made him feel a whole lot better either way. After a few more minutes of walking, they finally arrived at the town entrance. They were greeted with a welcome arc bearing the town's name and a handful of people going about their daily routine. Ao'yagi can only stare in awe at the brand new sights before him.

Even offered, the hunter still flushes up a tad. Less of an escort and more a significant other now by this look. 'Ao' is shy, that's all there is too it. And frankly, he'd likely be on edge too if in Ao'yagi's shoes. Say if he was in a disguise, somehow, wondering through the Cer-fae village. Talk about a boot shaker. Walking along the pebbled road that cuts through the eternity, the few townsfolk wondering about pay little mind to the pair. Early morning, most are out preparing their day on chore duty. In their more regal attire comes a bow or two to offer respect, which the hunter nods back in return. Humans can be civilized creatures too. One person does more than look, the figure comes running up to land a firm punch to Basshi's shoulder like they've been friends since birth. Cer-fae do that as a greeting too? 

“There you are, meathead! Know how worried sick your family's been?” The male is few inches taller than Ao'yagi sporting short silver hair, a common color among elves, and blue eyes. From the cut comes the short spikes of ears, far tinier then those of a full elf. A halfling then, no doubt about it. A leather courier’s bag is lugged over a shoulder, filled to the brim with letters and parcels. 

“Kuro!” the hunter shouts with a punch back, “Had nothing to worry about! Was busy with a new gig!” He gestures down to 'Ao.' “Body guarding this fellow who arrived in Ja'pa not too long ago. Ao, this is Kuro. He's the best deliverer around!” 

“Ahhh, of course I am,” the other sneers with a finger rubbing under his nose, “Welcome to the continent then, little guy.”

By the time Ao'yagi is full-on sight-seeing mode, his nerves start to dwindle down in his fascination that he wasn't too aware anymore he's been holding onto Basshi the entire time. He would even nod with the greeting people albeit shyly since it was the courteous thing to do. But then the half-elf came rushing in at the hunter and he was pretty startled with that. He only noticed the silver-haired boy is probably Basshi's friend when his companion actually returned the casual greeting. Upon introduction to the halfling did the disguised fae give a polite bow to return the gesture. 

"Thank you for having me."

“Hey, he's like the total opposite of you Basshi,” the half-elf snickers, “You two make a great pair!” The human perks a thick brow, stare intense down at the other. “You know what I mean! Jeez, lay off on that look. Really it's a pleasure you gave this lug a job! Been needing a real one in my opinion.” 

 

“I hunt goddamn Night Beasts for a job!” Basshi snaps back with a huff, “How about you get a 'real one?!'"

"Thinking of retiring soon, actually. Settle down in a fancy cottage, a good book in hand, you bringing me my slippers and getting a pat on the head for being a good boy...” Not this joke again, the hunter all but sighs. 

“... don't you have stuff to deliver?” 

“Yeah yeah, I get it. Want to get back to work as much as I do. Should grab a mead sometime soon, eh? Catch up on your adventures thus far. And you'd be welcome as well.” Kuro wipes hand down his side before offering to 'Ao' for a friendly shake. 
 

Ao'yagi is very confused to say the least. He looked at the two friends back and forth with their heckling. Not that he didn't understand they teased each other because they were close but because he couldn't get the joke at all. Either it's a culture thing or a private matter Basshi and this Kuro shared. He did get a tiny bit flustered at the mention of 'making a great pair' but not enough to be noticeable. Either way the half-elf seemed like a good guy overall, so the fae welcomes the handshake as well. 

"Thank you for that as well. It's nice to meet you Mr. Kuro." A thin brow plucks upwards, the half-elf clearly a bit thrown off. Well-mannered for a human or is he a halfling as well? Peculiar but more than appreciated.

“The pleasure is all mine, Ao. Can drop that 'mister' though, never was one for formalities.” He shoots a toothy grin, the faintest of fangs presented before vanishing – in the moment did a pair of black feline ears jut up as well. A whiff of arcane is around to disappear like the rest. “Take care of Basshi as he does to you.” He begins to walk away but stops a few steps in. “Oh, need me to stop by your folks and the Castle to give the 'good news?'” 

“Heading there right away, don't worry about it. Keep at your crumby job!” Kuro responds with a click of the tongue before sauntering off, there's work to be done! The hunter gives a sigh, hard to tell if one of relief or appreciation, and looks to his companion with an apologetic look. “Makes a good first impression, doesn't he? Halflings for you, can be just as mischievous as Imps.”

"I will!" Ao'yagi waves to the halfling as he darts away in the jiffy noticing the changes the other undergone in that brief moment. “A shape-shifter huh?” He ponders what's Kuro's preferred formi is. From the looks of the ears and fangs probably a small mammal like a dog or a cat. Once Kuro was completely gone did he stride once more by Basshi's side. "Kuro seems very nice. Where to next?"

“Tch. Seems he put you in a better mood....!” Now he's the one to hold onto Ao'yagi and lead them further through the town. At least the most embarrassing of his acquaintances, besides one of his brothers, is out of the way. There's a long roll of the eyes. “I suppose if you can deal with his snappy comebacks and 'I am better than you' attitude, then sure. A good drinking buddy, that's what I call 'em.” Ao'yagi got startled when he was suddenly being led by the arm. He simply hurried his pace and remains close.

"It does show you two are good friends but why does he tease you like you're some kind of a pet?" 

As much as the fae prince was inquisitive about Basshi's relationships, something else brings about his attention. Ao'yagi's stomach started to rumble quite considerably. It seems Junta's meal didn't sate him by a long-shot so he looked at his companion quite embarrassed.

“Looooong story,” Basshi replies, “It involved a lot of mead and spirits, don't regret it a single bit though! Just wish he'd drop it every now and again!” He grins foolishly to the thought, it's a welcomed wave of nostalgia. But it snaps upon hearing the noise, which in turn makes his rumble as well. Are hunger noises contagious now? He gives a firm pat to his stomach with a hearty chuckle. “Let's grab that bite before we hit the road to the Castle. Only an hour walk, but I think neither of us will make it on an empty stomach! I got a place~.” Ao'yagi is pretty excited at the notion of food. Not only did their walk took what little they have eaten but to try out human cuisine seems enticing – especially since he heard they were exceptionally delicious. Junta would sometimes replicate the real thing and he may be good at it, but having to try the real thing should present a new experience.

From here Basshi leads the fae off to the market square, a handful of vendors setting up their wears from vegetable stalls to crafted goods. A charming stone bakery is the goal, where a heavy set man is lugging in an array of boxes and sacks. The hunter beams at the realization of the familiar face. “Two people already? Ao'yagi is getting fast introductions!”

“Oi, Tado!!” Basshi yelps with a wave of a hand, “Fancy seeing you here!” The other looks over, sporting a matching smile, and immediately sets down a load to close the distance. He's just a hair shorter than Basshi in terms of height and large in a different aspect, this human must have a hefty appetite. He shakes away at Basshi's hand like his life depended on it.

“Ahaha Basshi!” he says in a booming, deep voice, “Knew you couldn't be gone for long! The smell of strudel make you come running back?” They share a brief laugh before the baker peers down at his companion, nose twitched for a brief moment. “And who's this? A new friend?”

Already enticed with the delicious aroma permeating from the cozy looking shop, the fae couldn't wait to munch on foreign goodies. Once again Basshi introduces him to an acquaintance; the proprietor of the shop it seems. Ao'yagi had to stare up again fascinated by the figure of the shopkeeper. Humans sure do come is large sizes. But as he lingered on, something was awfully familiar with the dark-haired man. His features are somewhat familiar, more so his scent. And did Basshi just call him 'Tado'? 

 

Could it be?” It was a long-shot but it couldn't hurt to ask. "Sir Tado'koro, is that you? The legendary werebear of this forest?" 

“Hmm?” The mention of his full name quirks a thin brow from what looks to be a stranger, more so the knowledge of his standings in the supernatural world. Only close friends and relatives know of his nightly transformation, so how does this little hu– ...wait.  

 

Another sniff, this one deeper and closer to the cowled figure. His nose wasn't playing tricks, this isn't a human at all! 

 

A Cer-fae... here in a human city? A big risk, for one, and two, why is being accompanied by an elite hunter?” In this closer inspection in sights and smells does a familiarly strike him as well. A past scent still holds through the maturity, those amber eyes speaking of long since passed. 
 

“By my best selling bread, is that really you?” he questions in a kneel, voice lowering in case of any eavesdroppers. “Prince Ao'yagi of the Sika?” 

Chapter Text

Basshi blinks at the pair, what's going on? He's aware of Tado's form yet never heard his entire title. And, oddly enough, these two seem to share a connection. Werebears and Cer-fae are natural allies, but no way these two know each other. Right?

"Yes it's really me! See?" Out of excitement of seeing an old friend does Ao'yagi partially draw back his cowl flashing the tell-tale tufted ears real quick before putting it on again just to confirm his identity. The old werebear was someone the prince met one hundred and fifty years ago when he got lost among the unfamiliar forest close to human borders. Tado'koro served as sort of a guide and mentor albeit briefly to the clueless prince making him someone whose unforgettable and he very much admires. "It's been so long sir Tado'koro it's so good to see you doing well." He then turned to Basshi all too pleased with this happy coincidence. "He's the werebear I mentioned to you before, Basshi. The one who taught me a lot especially about threading unknown territories."

Confirmed indeed, those tufted ears say it all. Tado has to admit that disguise is pretty convincing, especially the makeup work. And he's lacking antlers. On purpose perhaps? Must have went through a lot of trouble to achieve this look, the matter of 'why' shall come later. For now, what a reunion this is! 

“It's been so long, princeling!” shouts Tado as he outwardly scoops the small fae into his arms for a 'bear hug.' “Or shall I say 'prince' now? You're so big, no more frumpy child you are! Ahahaha!” Basshi again blinks, obviously a bit stunned by what's happening. Who knew a simple baker could be a type of mentor to Ao'yagi, and person he knows pretty well too. First Junta knowing the court wizard and now this. Fate? Luck? Doesn't matter what it is in the end, he can tell just how happy the fawn is. Better yet, they have another ally on their side. 

“Well, well, ain't this a picture perfect moment?” sneers the hunter. “Shall I go hire a painter to capture it? Buahaha!”

"Sir Tado'koro, I'm really happy to see you too!" Even with a yelp from the hug, the prince's delight can't be contained. He especially liked the way the baker acknowledged his maturity, that makes him feel like he did the other proud. But the pleasantries can't go on while time is of the essence. "I'm really happy about meeting and all... but things aren't going well as they should...” The fae continued on to briefly summarized what he had been through to his mentor from Basshi being a Night Beast, his kidnapping and loss of antlers, up to the missing compass. He trusted the werebear that much and Ao'yagi knew it'll pay off to tell him. "...And that's what happened why I'm here, sir Tado'koro. Any clues of this wizard-elf and the bandit poachers?” 

 

During the story, Tado offers a seat on the edge of his wagon – his curiosity growing with each passing sentence. Ao'yagi has been through a lot, just in these few days too! Even being unseen or hear by the fae in all these years, the baker holds a concerned expression. This prince was akin to a son during their time together, the memories they share are ones to forever remain. As much as he'd like to catch up on happier sentiments, time is of the essence. That compass is more than some material gain. It holds power not to be held in the wrong hands.

“I see...” he begins sorting through the slew of information, “Sorry to say I have no idea of these men you speak of. They're from a different region of forest, one that's not guarded by my presence. I'm sure you'll be lead in the right direction once getting to the city.” He grins reassuringly and pats atop a wooden crate. “And the faster, the better! If you two pitch in with the unloading, I'll happily give a ride! And a meal, can hear your stomachs rumbling!”

“Sounds perfect!” Basshi chirps in with a nod, “Some labor is right up my ally!” The fae prince was a little downcast since Tado'koro responded with no information. It can't be helped and he's sure his mentor only wants to be of assistance, but it seems he underestimated how vast human territory actually is. But then he perks up being offered a ride and a meal in exchange of a small errand. That will certainly save them a lot of time rather going on foot.

"We would love to help you out. I wish we could stay longer and catch-up, but hopefully we can still do after all this has been resolved."

“Can still chat on the ride. Putting on some good vibes for a while can't hurt!” With that, the three set on handling the unpacking – which doesn't take long at all thanks to the walking pack mule that is Basshi. This gives plenty of time for Tado to borrow the shop's kitchen and gather a hefty meal consisting of a bacon and vegetable sandwich (scratch the meat for Ao'yagi's), a cup full of spiced, fried potatoes, a chocolate coated pastry with vanilla pudding and a thermos of coffee for them each. Easy to snack along on the ride, so they load up on the wagon – Tado first handing off a carrot to his horse – and they're out on the dirt path just outside. Even from here the massive structure of Castle Hakone and the Mountain Temple can be seen.

“Good ol' Pan here will have us there in thirty minutes flat,” the werebear chuckles with a gesture at the mare, “Will be your first time visiting the Capital, right Ao'yagi?” With Basshi doing most of the unpacking the chore was done in almost a jiffy leaving very little work to the fae prince even if he really did want to help out too. So with the hunter busy, Ao'yagi opted to receive their meals and dividing them at the back of the carriage. With everything set, off they go.

"Actually it's my first time being in a human town ever since you guided me on the outskirts when I was younger." The fae started nibbling on the potatoes first – which he found incredibly tasty – so they'd downed in no time as he looked towards the distant structures. Hakone, the largest and most famous human city on Ja'pa. A small town was enough to have the prince on edge, what's in store here could be all too overwhelming.

“Not surprised from a Cer-fae,” Tado continues, “and unsure if Basshi told you, but the district you'll be spending most of your investigation will be unsettling.” 

“What do you mean? You said the Castle District, right Basshi? Something you didn't tell me?” The fae looks to his companion, worry welled up in amber hues. Basshi stares back, his meal placed aside for now and puts on a serious tone.

“Is the best time to tell you. I'm sure you've heard tales of your people sold into the Black Market trade. The thing is, this isn't some secret organization that's hush-hush and run by shady, underground thugs. Their operations are legal and shown publicly in the district. And being an area of nobles and businessmen, you'll likely see a Cer-fae or a Bovi-fae kept as a 'pet.' Magical shackles like you wore, leashes, shock collars...” Raised around slavery, the notion never bothered him. It was just what humans did. But now, a bitter disgust wells up inside. 

“Yes... I've heard...” Numerous times over his life has a fae escaped and returned back to the village on their last breath and savagely beaten. They brought tales of their time with humans, how they were forced to nothing but playthings. Malnourished, caged, raped and publicly humiliated for entertainment of the sickness that is humanity. While some believed these stories were true, others were skeptical and thought to be over-blown for the sake of keeping them in. Yorick's taunts flash through his mind. If not for Basshi, he would have suffered the same fate. “But sir Tado'koro, were-folk are our allies! Why aren't they helping my people? Bringing an end to this?” Grim as the topic may be, the baker offers a smile over a shoulder.

“We are.” His hands grip tight over the reins. “Some of us to be exact. An operation far from human ears and eyes. After all that's happened, I'm trusting you'll keep this a secret, Basshi. Your clan may be the greatest of hunters in the city, but I can see you'll do whatever it takes to protect Ao'yagi along with his people.” 

 

“Damn right I will!” the hunter barks back proudly, “I've seen a new light and it's all thanks to our dear prince!” A fond smile comes way, which the prince immediately mirrors. 

 

“Good.” Tado reaches into a pocket and plucks out what looks to be a ordinary stone. “If you ever need a safe haven while in the city, if you feel you're in danger or simply want company, you come find our organization. You're welcome to join too, Basshi. Were-folk like myself and a handful of kindhearted humans and elves against this bloody slavery gather to plan how to take down the business once and for all. We've already saved a dozen or so fae and we'll continue to do so.” He passes the item off to Ao'yagi. In closer inspection and through the eyes of a fae, small runes are etched upon the surface – the language of his people. It's a spell of location, much like the ones Cer-fae have memorized to find their way back home. 

“Thank you, sir Tado'koro,” Ao'yagi responds with utmost respect. Seems there's no matter on how much time has passed, the prince can always rely on his old mentor for advice and safety. Basshi gives his own regard in the form of a bow. 

“Thanks Tado! Be happy to visit sometime. That is after we settle our main objective first!”

“Of course, of course! That compass is number one priority. But as said, don't be afraid to bunker down with us and Ao'yagi can learn a lesson from this meathead. Call me Tado!”

“... Tado it is then.” 

 
 

--- 

 
 

Reassured and back to their meals, the rest of the trip goes as planned. Causal conversation from Tado's success as a business owner to Ao'yagi becoming a father. Were-folk are allowed within fae territories. They're the guardians of the forest while they rest at night, yet Tado has only visited the Sika tribe on two occasions – both while Ao'yagi was still very young. Given his brash personality and charisma he's better suited for the city life among humans. But for centuries has he guarded the forest surrounding the great Capital from threats, be it bandits, Night Beasts or demons. 

Much as the Cer-fae, hell-spawn creatures – their formal race name as whole being 'Outcasts' – are not to be trusted. From understanding, the demons that walks this plane were banished by their lord either to 'suffer humanity' or punish the unworthy. There are summoned ones as well, but their contract is only temporary to the warlock who called. As for the Outcasts permanently here, memories of their life in Hell are wiped clean; so the civilized individuals say. 

While some are pure like Junta and grew to enjoy their banishment, they're far few from the majority. Exiled and scorned by mortal races, they stop at nothing to torture and hunt others for sport. And by the law of the human and elven kings, they must be slaughtered without question. 

 

Arriving at the city's entrance, a situation such as that was undergone. At the gatekeeper's feet is the shriveled body of a creature with fire red skin and cloven hooves – the demon classification known as an Imp. The weakest breed in terms of strength and magic, but their small size and quick reflexes make them fantastic infiltrators. Either this one was an idiot or recently banished, clueless to the laws of this realm. 

A standard affair to the caravan as Cer-fae follow the same practice. Nevertheless the scene is disappointing to Ao'yagi. There has to be other demons like Junta out there. Question is who will give them a fair chance at their new life; much as those afflicted with the Night Beast curse. If Junta were able to advance and bring his discoveries to apothecaries without skepticism, the world would overall be a better place.  

“Back from the morning grind already Tado?” questions the guard as they pull up. He gives a kick to the corpse, clearing it from the path for someone else to pick up, and has quick notice of the two stationed in the back. “And who do we have here?” 

“Hah! You don't recognize the great Basshi of the Masa Clan?!” The hunter stands, chest proud and high – the watchman turning to awe.  

“Sir Basshi! Apologies for the misjudgment, I humbly welcome you home!” Ao'yagi, discrete under the dark cowl, stares to his companion all the same. Well aware his family holds power but enough to have a common guard's praise? In a way, Basshi is like a prince too. The gatekeeper salutes and continues on. “Speaking for all of Hakone, we're overjoyed to see you safe and sound!” 

“Buah, happy to be back!” Causal as ever, he takes a seat next to Ao'yagi and wraps an arm around his shoulders. “Got a fellow from Kor'nelia I'm escorting. Excited to see the Capital for the first time, Ao?” Suddenly placed in the spotlight all the disguised fae does is nod shyly and offer a weak smile. Knows Basshi is doing so to disclaim the guard's suspicions but doesn't change it from being embarrassing. 'Friendly' introductions are the best route to have this go over smoothly. Luckily Basshi's upbeat attitude makes him a decent actor too.

“No wonder you went missing,” chortles the guard motioning for the gates to open, “do enjoy your time here Ao. You're in good hands!” With that the decorated metal structure parts, gears grinding and rumbling the ground below. Ao'yagi is again in wonder, the machines of man only a tale or heard from Junta. To see a massive construction move without an inkling of magic is a sight to behold. Junta once told him these cities are powered by steam and natural electricity, the proof is right here. Simple as it may be to a human, excitement brims inside the fae. This is only the beginning of a journey he'll never forget. 

Through the entrance is a long stretched path that leads to another set of gates, a row of guardsman on the high walls armed with crossbows and rifles – a line of defense in case any unwelcomed guests get by. The second process is as easy as the first, especially with the return of the elite hunter, and they're soon inside the hustle and bustle of the vast city. Unlike the town, energy is all around from horse drawn carriages and chatter of cityfolk. The prince squeezes hard on his companion's arm and examines the foreign structures that pass. 

“Here's what we call the Trade District,” Tado chirps in, “busiest area of them all. We'll be stopping at my shop, still got a business to run so it's up to Basshi to get you to the castle.” Ao'yagi being distracted, doesn't answer. The sights, smells and sounds – the complete opposite of his quaint little village. His head jolts around like a curious bird and clings closer to the hunter, the mix of excitement and anxiousness plain to see. 

“I'll thank you properly for the assistance with a mead sometime. Also for keeping Ao'yagi safe way back in the day, buah!”

“Hah! I look forward to it!” 

 

 

--- 

 
 

They traverse smoothly through the streets and arrive at the heart of the district, a large circle of buildings designed for higher ranked establishments in the field of trade. Here is Tado's bakery, easily twice the size of the one prior in Suso. For the umpteenth time, Ao'yagi once again stood astonished in front of the building. Besides the difference of architecture from the one he's used to in his village, all his senses are invigorated with the display presented within the shop. There were an array of bread and pastries both out in the open and currently baking. Needless to say it was sight to behold and the smell even more enticing for the fae. Without thinking does he peer close to then press himself to the store window; much to the amusement of his companions.

"See something you like, young man?" Tado couldn't help but tease and snicker at eager prince. Inevitably, Basshi is the same as well much to Ao'yagi's embarrassment.

"I-It's nothing! It's just another new thing that fascinated me spontaneously. That's all!" Again, with the fae prince's alibi attempt. His two companions see through him all too well and are aware novelty isn't the only reason that's raising Ao'yagi's interest.

After that small teasing fiasco, the three made their way inside. Now more than ever is Ao'yagi allured by the sweet smell all around, he felt he absolutely needed to hold back else might end up salivating on the spot. Chuckles rouse from Tado and Basshi yet again.

"Don't you have these kind of pastries where you're from eh??" Basshi asks inquisitively with a hint of taunt. How can he resist when the fae prince's myriad of expressions are all too entertaining? Ao'yagi first shook his head.

"Well, we do have pastries back in our village as you saw, but nothing as delectable looking as these." The prince really wanted to know what these delicious smelling bread tasted like he could hardly contain himself. With one last amused huff, Tado grabbed an éclair from a cooling tray and handed it to him. 

"Here you go! Have some and tell me what you think of human pastries." The prince looked absolutely grateful and took the treat as if it was a treasure. He took a small bite and his face lit up immediately, devouring the whole thing in a flash and noticeably wanting more. This earned him another hearty laugh from Tado and a heaping serving of various baked goodies. "Go ahead, lad! There's plenty more where that came from." Ao'yagi feeling bashful, hesitated to take the offer. 

"Are you sure si- erm, Tado? These look expensive." Far as he can tell by the excellent craftsmanship. 

"Of course! It's not every day I get a visit from my favorite prince. Also, you enjoying my bread so much flatters me all the same. So help yourself! There's plenty more where that came from." The werebear urged the smaller one with gusto. And with this, Ao'yagi can no longer refuse. Basshi watched fondly off to the side nodding approvingly. A pleasure to see the fawn spoiling himself for once.

 

 

--- 

 

 

After Ao'yagi was done munching and sampling on all the delicacies Tado has to offer, they notice time's ticking and that they shouldn't delay their quest any further - much as they want to relish Tado'koro's company and products. So this time they truly bid their werebear ally goodbye for the moment as they turn their attention back on heading for the palace and getting the information they needed. But not before Tado gifting the duo another large bag of bread and pastries to nibble along the way.

"You sure love those pastries, huh Bambi~?" Basshi jested further as they resumed their walk on the busy street leading to the castle. Of course along the way, Ao'yagi is still snacking on the goodies, namely those cream-filled buns he finds oh-so yummy. 

"I do. There isn't anything like it I've tasted. Junta has told me a lot of human food tasted much different compared to my people's I'm used to having, even if they are the same kind. I mean, Junta has given me human food before, but this is on a different level. Or maybe Tado just makes them extraordinary." 

 

As the two continue their merry chatter about human cuisine, Ao'yagi wasn't exactly paying full attention where he was going and bumped onto a figure. The bag of pastries tumbles out of his hands and was about to apologize to the one he collided with and gather what he can of his goods, when the other immediately fell to their knees as if they were going to be punished on the spot.

"I'm terribly sorry! I didn't watch where I was going. How stupid of me!" The frantic voice belongs to a woman and it seems she dropped a hefty amount of baggage as well. Ao'yagi was too focused trying to salvage as much of the pastries as he can that it took him awhile to acknowledge the other and give his apologies in return. 

"Not at all ma'am! I was the one being careless and wasn't looking where I was headed-" The moment Ao'yagi looked at the said woman, he was taken completely aback at what he saw. This woman is a Cer-fae doe, a slave given the shackles on her ankles. She took Ao'yagi's pause as one who has taken offense being bumped onto by a slave. So she cowered now more than ever, utterly fearing for her life.

"Please take pity on me?! I swear I didn't mean to sully you in any way, sir! Forgive me, I beg you!" Even with the doe terrified out of her wits, that didn't hinder her from noticing something obviously off from the other. Now that she was face-to-face with the disguised prince, the scent and the aura emanating from Ao'yagi is now impossible to hide. "Y-you...You're a Cer-fae too aren't you?! But you aren't restrained at all. Don't tell me...You came here to save us, did you? Please save me, sir! I've been enslaved for what seems like centuries!" 

Ao'yagi still couldn't react from shock even after the doe's hysterics. A lot of thoughts were swimming in his head all at once; from the time he was kidnapped and tormented by his captors to the abuse stories of his kin he heard from others. Basshi had to snap the prince out of his unwarranted trance, urging him to address the situation.

"What the hell are you doing, Ao?! Get up so we can get outta here. Buah!" Basshi tugs on the prince's arm, raises him up and quickly pulls him to his side. He knows all too well this is an alarming moment, worried about his partner now more than ever. "I know what you're thinking and the answer is no. We've come too far to risk having you blow your cover. It's what's best for everyone." Basshi's voice was low enough to be discreet, yet made sure to be firm.

With Basshi's stern warning, Ao'yagi was able to calm himself down and think clearly. He knew his partner is right and any brash movement would only result in catastrophe - let alone reveal his true identity. So the prince cleared his throat and straightened his stance, finally addressing the doe slave without a glance in her direction. 

"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about ma'am, but I don't think any of us was hurt. Now if you'll excuse me, we'll be on our way." As reluctant and against as Ao'yagi was with his reply, he knew he made the logical decision. He would've opted to walk straight away after that least his guilt rattles him further, but things were about to be more complicated than it should be. 

 

"There you are, you filthy beast! Are you so pathetic you can't even carry a sack of potatoes properly?! I oughta give you ten lashes for that." 

 

When Ao'yagi turned around, he witnessed the doe being pulled by the hair by what seems to be her 'owner'. Now this was something the fae prince could no longer overlook. He stomped right back to the maltreated Cer-fae and got in-between her and her master; much to Basshi's disappointment who could only follow along. 

 

"Ao'yagi... don't do anything stupid...!" 

 

"Please wait a minute, good sir. The only reason your...servant failed her work is because I was clumsy and bumped into her." Ao'yagi tried his best to sound convincing despite his shaken nerves. In return, the owner paused at the young man's words. For a moment Ao'yagi thought for sure he managed to persuade him to let her off the hook, but in the end it seems he had made things worse. 

"You incompetent bitch! Even inconvenienced this fine gentleman with your waddling. Should have stepped aside like any good slave would. It's back to the training grounds for you. Maybe another round there will teach you to act better among humans." After a resounding smack at the doe's face, the owner went back to roughly dragging her by the hair across the stone road. Ao'yagi follows suit. There's no way he'll leave things like this, at least not making it more hellish for the doe than it already is. The prince tugged at the man's sleeve wanting to coax him not to punish his thrall anymore.

"Good sir! Please believe me when I tell you what happened is purely an accident; one of which was mostly my fault. If my words are not enough, then maybe this will convince you." Without a moment of doubt did Ao'yagi pull a couple of gold pieces from his purse then placed it within the owner's hand. At first, the man was skeptical with Ao'yagi rather than impressed, because who in their right mind would defend a beast-slave to the point of bribing with gold? Fortunately, this is where Basshi finally steps in. And with no surprise does he recognize the hunter all too well.

"Buah! It seems you have a problem with my companion, sir?" Basshi stared the confused man down with every intention of intimidation. And perturb the owner he did with the way he released the doe immediately and pocketed the gold pieces.

"S-sir Bassh, it's you! I didn't realize you were back already. And you're with this young man, you say? N-no wonder he looks... distinguished. He must be awfully important then if he's with you!" The man fumbled with his words, unsure of what to say.

"That he is. Let's just say he's a dignitary from another country, that's why I'm here to escort him. For your information, my guest isn't used to seeing such barbaric acts from where he came from." A pause to crack his knuckles, glare steely. "So if you would be so kind to stop such unsightly treatment of your servant, I would highly appreciate it." Now there's some smooth talking from Basshi once again, coercion at its finest.

"O-of course, yes sir! You will never witness such thing from me, from now on I promise! Welcome back sir Basshi and.. a-a fine day to you too, young sir." The owner tried to be on his best behavior, seemingly heeding Basshi. He lead his slave away from the two, gently this time. Also it seems he didn't have any suspicion with Ao'yagi, taking the foreigner simply as a slave sympathizer thanks to Basshi's convincing.

 

When the Cer-fae slave and her master were finally out of sight did the duo gave a huge sigh of relief. They were about to press on, but not without another stern and questioning stare from Basshi. Ao'yagi would surely have some explaining to do.

"Please don't look at me like that, Basshi. What was I supposed to do?"

"Buah! You know damn well what you should've done in the first place. And that is not to get yourself involved! Don't think I need to tell you twice how grave the consequence would be should you have been found out. You even told me that yourself."

"I know... but I just can't leave her after hearing that. I'm certain that doe thinks I betrayed her. How I hate being helpless on my brethren's state here like this..." A sigh escaped Ao'yagi's lips. Frustrated as he is, he knew Basshi has every right to tell him off. For now he's willing to accept that. At least he managed to not get another Cer-fae in deeper trouble. There was quite a pause and an even bigger sigh on Basshi's end as well. 

"You know, would've done the same thing if in your shoes. Least now I would. Knowing me, that ruckus may have ended with that bastard beaten bloody! But what's done is done, so don't fret about it. Sure there will come a time humans will finally realize their mistakes and end slavery all together, I'm right!" Hearing those words from Basshi perked up the prince in an instant. He realizes with that statement Basshi has already forgiven him and even saw through his point. The fae returned the gesture with a warm smile, wrapping an arm around his companion's. 

"Shall we continue on?"

"Thanks to those distractions, will worry about stopping in with my family if there's enough time after visiting the castle. I'm sure you'll also be surprised meeting the people there, so try to keep yourself in check this time Bambi. Buah!" The hunter pointed out the scene of the castle on the horizon indicating they are indeed nearby. It would only take a few more minutes of walking before they arrive at the gates. Basshi gently squeezes Ao'yagi's arm against his, wanting to assure the prince everything will turn out alright despite what happens. 

 

With that, the two head on to the palace with renewed hope. 

Chapter Text

Like the gates to the city itself, there's no qualms in castle's opening with Basshi's presence while also serving as a foreign escort. Kor'nelia and Ja'pa rest on fairly good terms, the majority ruled by humans, though differences can still rouse scuffles. Someone returning to their homeland with a praised outlook in turn causes less. But little do they know this 'outsider' is from the forest humans threaten day by day. Only on rare occasions do fae manage to slip inside the city, so the townsfolk turn a blind eye to Ao'yagi. Due to his extravagant attire and a high-class hunter at his hip, there's no reason to bring up suspicion; even to elite guards. Tourists are a staple to Hakone as well, curious glances and questions expected. Almost too perfect. 

“It's huge...” Ao'yagi comments ascending the large staircase leading to the palace doors, “This is designed for only one king?” He may be royalty, but Cer-fae architecture doesn't compare to the structure that feels like it reaches the clouds. 

“Not exactly. While also housing for servants, visiting emissary and main station for royal guards, a section is dedicated to imprisonment. Harder for criminals to escape literally surrounded.” Basshi's expression forms into a nasty scowl, best to warn the fawn about 'him.' “There's technically two kings here, but best to stay clear of him.”

“How are there two? I thought human capitals were ruled much like my village.” 

“Thing is, he's not the human king. Hakone has the highest residents of were-folk compared to any other city, so only fair he lives here too. I guess. Using the wrong term, 'pack-leader' or 'alpha' is more suited. Named Ara'kita, ever heard of him?” The prince shakes his head. 

“By the titles I'm guessing he's a werewolf. Cer-fae may be allied with were-folk, yet my clan doesn't associate with them unless necessary. Never... got along so to speak.” While werebears are typically kindhearted and independent mortals, the wolves currently are the opposite. Having a pack mentality, they follow the rule and attitude of their leader; who's current is not exactly the most approachable. Brash and foul mouthed, akin to a gang of hooligans. The prince furrows his brows. “Assuming he's not on Tado's side of saving fae from slavery, given he's living the luxury life among humans.”  

“And that he is. Keep that assumption and avoid him at all costs, will keep a lookout. His nose is the sharpest around and may be able to sniff you out. Not taking that risk! In our favor, he's usually out hunting in the earlier mornings. Our safest opportunity to get what we need.” 

They share a nod once at the threshold, a series of steam powered gears activated and the massive doors parting – revealing yet another baffling sight for the fae. Ceiling as high as the forest's canopy, tapestries made from the finest silk, walls lined with high class paintings and mounted heads of exotic beasts. The entrance hallway alone has Ao'yagi in shock.

So this is how human royals live... excessive!” 

There isn't time to adjust to the new surroundings, for in the few seconds they step closer to the decorated throne, the clatter of armor and footsteps draw close. Not the typical march of a soldier either. A full on dash! A name echoes off the stone walls. 

 

“Basshi!!”
 

The hunter, what seemed like a blink of an eye, is embraced by the guard – nearly toppling him over from the brute force. Luckily Ao'yagi promptly unlatched himself, fingers folded into the cowl's hem in case it slipped out of place. A close one. 

“H-hey!” Basshi is equally surprised, prior to knowing who the man is. No doubting that voice and ability to sprint at full speed in bulky plate armor. The man's face buries into Basshi's chest and begins to sob, a series of words muffled by leather. “Come on, didn't miss me that much. What kind of captain are you?”

Captain...?” mumbles the prince in disbelief. Him? This crying mess is the captain of the imperial guard?! How informal! He could never get away with such behavior in Cer-fae noble society. But he also has to remember that he was Basshi's mentor and close friend, as so is Tado'koro. Though this human is quite the emotional type...

“Abu... abu...” comes in chaotic cries, gauntlets wrapped to suffocating levels at Basshi's waist. The discomfort is clear, facial features strained looking to his fae companion.

“This is Captain Izumida...” the hunter clarifies in labored breaths, “As you can tell... he's quite fond of me. Bu-buah...!” A raspy gasp is the queue for the other to let go, hazed azure eyes up at the large figure.

“Apologies Basshi,” Izumida begins wiping tears off his full lashes, “I've been worried sick! My search party has yet to report so I assumed the worst. You made it back in one piece, I'm so relieved! Abu!” He's about to go in for another hug before stopped by Basshi in the way of a halting hand and appearance one of importance. Warm welcomes are sweet but a serious topic is at hand.

“About that search party...”

 

From here is when Basshi explains the recent events, minus the details of his curse and Ao'yagi's true identity. He's not one for lying. The honest and blunt type he is yet for the sake of safety to himself and the fae he is willing to do so. For everyone really. A captive prince would surely shake up the already rocky relations of Cer-fae and humans, can be the pivot point into a full out war. Another being an elite hunter suffered by the Night Beast curse necessary to be killed; the creatures can easily be blamed on the fae in attempts to take over the kingdom. The speculations, the panic that could ensue, honesty can wait until a better time.

Instead he fills in that the search party had intentions of kidnapping 'Ao,' a foreigner lost in the woods, and make quick gold of selling him. Fae go for the highest price, goes without saying, though any race is profitable to the right person. After Basshi recused him, an important item was stolen and has sworn to retrieve it back – the first step tracking down Nym.

 

“Abu...” Distraught, Izumida hangs his head in shame. “My efforts to return you home have turned to this... I have failed you, Basshi.”

“You did what you had to do, there's no shame in that.” The hunter lays a hand on the other's shoulder in comfort. “There was no telling that an elite wizard like Nym would betray us and the kingdom. To go as low as kidnapping and thieving! His treason won't be overlooked, I'm right!”

“You are.” Izumida straightens his posture, an air of seriousness only a royal guard can bring despite the welled tears. “We've tried contacting Nym numerous times but ended up fruitless. I understand why he's vanished now.” Basshi and Ao'yagi share a glance. As they expected, this won't be easy. “This item must possess great wealth for someone already high-class like Nym to steal.”

“A family heirloom,” Ao'yagi includes, “I always bring it with me when traveling. This is the first instance of it being taken so aggressively... sorry to intrude. I can get it back myself.” 

“Already said.” Basshi sports a loving smile and offers his arm like before, which the prince instinctively wraps around with. Already became a comfort zone. “I'm getting it back with you! And there's no stopping me!” The devoted scenario is intentional improvisation, simply going with the flow to perhaps tug at the captain's heartstrings. And does it work.

“I've trained you well, Basshi. You've made me proud.” He salutes, in turn Basshi mirroring the action. “Ashi'kiba is in charge of connections with the royal wizards. I'm sure he'll have information that will lead you down the correct path.”

“Thank you. We'll talk to him straight away.”

“I appreciate your kindness, Captain. Your generosity won't be forgotten.” Ao'yagi adds with a bow. A polite gentleman, a strange type to be in Basshi's presence – Izumida muses. Be a change of pace for the better.

“Good luck. Abu!” With one last salute, the captain returns to his station at the throne's side as the pair make their way to Ashi'kiba's chamber – determination on the rise. 

 

---

 

Down a short corridor is the residence of the court wizard, the aura of magic emanating towards them. Familiar as it is to Ao'yagi, the elves twist the natural mana in different ways; the same being for demons. While Junta's lair is thick, even to say a heavy feeling in the air – something he has grown adjusted too – a sense of what he can only be described as 'whimsical' overtakes once entering. Innocence, soft as a summer's breeze. Memories of days of his son learning his first druid spells flash by. Adding to the lax atmosphere is a gentle hum of classical music on a record player and scent of fresh herbs tickling his nostrils. 

How strange. Past elven encounters has left Ao'yagi with a sinking sensation – drowned in excess mana and overwhelming power. Here? It's homely. Any anxieties of meeting the wizard fade away, knowing this man must be a generous soul. 

“Shikiba? Where the hell are you?!” Basshi roars. Walls are lined floor to ceiling in books and trinkets, shelves go on for what appear to be miles – hard to track down a single person in the pseudo maze. Fortunately the hunter's yell reaches out and returns a response.

“Just a moment! Got to finish fin- ahh!” A yell followed by a crash of falling books, the mayhem partly seen down the room. A concerned look comes from the fae while Basshi remains unfazed.

“It happens. A lot.” Not always on the scale of full on book destruction though.

“I... see.” Another strange character added to the list of Basshi's acquaintances then, can tell that much too. Proven more so when the elf shambles through the chaos and bonks his head on a low shelf. The pair watch deadpan.

 

Interesting... this was Junta's friend?”

Our mighty court wizard never ceases to amaze me...”

 

“Ow, owwww...” Another shelf would have been stumbled upon if not for Basshi stopping him midway – the elf bouncing off him instead.

“You went blind in my time gone? Know how to pull off an interesting welcome back, buah!” 

“Hrm? No, I was-” Purple eyes flutter open and stare at the figure below for a long moment; a smile soon formed ear to ear. “Basshi! Oh Basshi, you're safe~!” Like minutes before, the hunter is taken into an embrace. This time thankfully not crushing his rib cage.

“Oh now notice it's me? Tch, you airhead...”

Now I see where the 'oaf' title came from.” Ao'yagi smiles at the reunion, Basshi sure has a colorful list of people he considers friends. And to think his height was intimidating, Ashi'kiba sets a new record – far as to tower over the already imposing Basshi and above average for elves all together. The prince's small stature is amplified when the mage approaches him. His ears would pin back if not already held down by the cowl.

“And you brought a new friend! Waaah, so happy Basshi is getting out more~.” Bright and bubbly, a hand extends. “Pleasure to meet you. I'm Ashi'kiba, court wizard of Castle Hakone. Shikiba by my friends.” A sweet gentleman pass the clumsy, so Ao'yagi's instincts didn't fail him. He smirks and accepts the handshake.

“Ao, a traveler from Kor'nelia. The pleasure is mine, sir wizard.”

“A tourist,” Ashi'kiba gasps, “you must tell me of your adventures! Of your homeland. How you met Basshi too!” Eyes sparkle with hope and anticipation, assembling new tension for the disguised fae.

“W-Well... uh. It's a long story a-and-”

“It is a long story,” Basshi butts in, “but we're on an urgent mission. Old stories can wait. We need your help, Shikba.” The wizard's demeanor flips in a split second as he turns to Basshi; voice weighty.

“This is about Nym, isn't it?” May be simple minded at times, though can be keen when a situation calls for it. Basshi answers in a nod. “Come, I'll get us some drinks.” 

 
 

--- 

 
 

Once a table is cleared of tomes and half scribbled parchments, the group take a seat and fill in the situation. First up is Basshi, a repeat of the account told to Izumida prior. The only difference being the reaction. As the captain was sentimental and full of emotion, the once high-spirited Ashi'kiba keeps the image of a dignified scholar. Trapped in thought and in constant calculation. A completely different person from the introduction. Ao'yagi, much as the captain beyond his quirks, understands why this elf sits on a higher seat of power. Furthermore, he can't shake away a sensation; comforting as it is not. Ashi'kiba occasionally passed glances towards the prince during the catch up – as if suspicious of his true identity. 

 “Could be possible with his magical aptitude...” Ao'yagi mumbles in thought, “but he trusts Basshi, right? There's no reason to observe me in detail... unless his abilities are far beyond what I can sense. I'm simply being paranoid... that's all.”

“So you see why we must find Nym,” finishes off Basshi, along with the given grape soda. “I'm devoted in getting back what was lost and bringing justice to the traitor! Nothing will stop me.”

“You've proven that already,” the elf says in a nod, “and I know you won't. Your stubborn nature is a weakness~.” An elbow playfully prods at Basshi's side, a brief lightening of the mood before pushing forward. “It's true that we've lost contact with Nym, as if he's disappeared off the map. Let's see... start with the background we know.” From here the wizard fills in.

 

Nym Ebonfeather. Skilled warlock and teacher at a location that even the King is clueless to. A high-class society of gifted magicians, a neutral faction where any race can join. While they work hand-and-hand with the kingdom, their true intentions have been a mystery. They've been loyal – with the right amount of coin; never caused trouble and have been serving for over a century. The only true suspicious activity being until now. 

There's something special about Ao. And this 'heirloom.'” Ashi'kiba pauses in thought. 

 

For a warlock of Nym's caliber to turn to petty thievery is beyond his character; even knowing little about him. It doesn't fit. A last skeptical look is made towards the concealed fae before coming back to focus on Basshi.

“Now I've turned to contacting the society he's associated with. Well, trying... being the secretive types they are, it's not an easy task.” 

“And we appreciate your efforts. Any information will be vital. We'll be in the city trying to dig up any information as well. Right, Ao?” The prince perks up from the negative thoughts of the court wizard, a smirk and a nod presented to the company. 

“What you've told us already is one step closer,” Ao'yagi responds sincerely, “We'll scout as you attempt getting in touch with the fellow wizards. We'll update if we find anything vital, yes?”

“That exactly!” The bubbly personality of the elf returns in full force, giving a smile that can light up any room. “I'll get right back to it! Will you be staying in the city?”

“At my own place near my clan's main hall, to be exact. Won't give details to my family though... rather not have them involved too.”

“Understandable. Knowing you're back and staying for a while will be enough. Speaking of which...” Ashi'kiba stands and turns towards the scrying station he was at before. “Say hi to them for me~.”

“Will do, thanks Shikiba.” With minds at some ease, Basshi and Ao exit the wizard's chamber; continuing a private speech. “As you heard, have a home within the district. Long as I'm locked up at night there won't be trouble. Junta's damn potions better work...”

“I'm sure you'll be fine. I believe in you and Junta's magic. We'll find a way through this...and thank you, Basshi.” The fae wraps himself close once more, the sincerity of those words having the hunter's heart skip a beat.

“...you don't have to thank me yet. This is only the start.”

 

And one start hasn't been given a proper ending.

 

“There! There they are!” A recognizable voice rings through the main hall as soon as they step in. “I'm not lying! You damn privileged bastards prove me wrong!” A figure struggles under the seize of two armed guards, one that immediately has Ao'yagi's grip tighten at the hunter's arm.

“Basshi...” A whimper, fear overtaking the once confident prince. “No... this could-”

“Keep calm,” Basshi interrupts, gaze burned at the constrained man. Of all people, it had to be him. There's no mistaking who the man is, even if their meeting was in Basshi's half-breed, simple-minded form. Someone that vile can't be forgotten. Basshi remained in front of his companion as if shielding him from imminent harm. “Damn bastard..."

Before them, the hysterical man reveals himself to be none other than Yorick on what seems to be a coincidence or rather a mocking ounce of fate. As alarmed as the pair were, they're aware that they have the advantage of higher stature – especially compared to a renegade thief. At least for now. 

"I'm telling you blokes, you have the wrong guy! These are the men you want, not me!!" Yorick continued to thrash about amidst being restrained, all the while pointing out at the duo before them. Both the hunter and the fae did their best to put on a collected face but if one looks closely, their expressions start to crack with that of concern. Still, they did not waver to the accusation. Who would believe such a rouge anyway? With all the commotion caused by the prisoner, it was only a matter of time before Izumida's attention was caught.

"What's all this ruckus about? Surely you'll disturb his majesty needlessly if this goes on." The captain is particularly stern this time, unlike his earlier show of emotions, proving his rank deserving all the same. The castle guards filled Izumida in, and everyone present in the room really on how Yorick barged in the castle all disgruntled and unruly accusing Basshi and his companion of telling lies and conspiring against the kingdom. As expected, Izumida looked at Yorick and treated his words as nonsense.  

"You don't fucking believe me?! By the gods I was with your damn search party! I saw Basshi there got turned into a Night Beast and that little freak he's accompanying is actually a bloody Cer-fae in disguise. You should be thankful I'm kind enough to warn your asses of their treachery. They tortured me endlessly and now they came to get the bigger prize here at our kingdom." Surely a tall tale Yorick has spewed out. But in his hysterics did he manage to worm his way out of the guards' grasp and directly come for Ao'yagi.
 

And that's where Junta's curse come into play. 
 

An excruciating, searing pain shot through the rouge's entire body starting through his facial muscles where Junta touched to place his curse. The nearer he gets to Ao'yagi, the more intense the pain gets until it's utterly unbearable – leaving him unmoving except for mumbling curses. Everyone looked at the criminal with an even more critical stare rather than pity. 

"I heard noises. What is going on?" Within the chaos, the court wizard got curious enough to check out the commotion. He too has been briefed more or less of the situation. But even before half-way heeding the explanation, Ashi'kiba recognized that demonic energy coming from Yorick's curse all too well. That pretty much cemented his doubts on Ao's true identity and the pair's real intention. "Ahh! We should really keep such a dangerous man away. He might end up hurting someone." The elf wizard interjected with as much worry as he could muster with his voice. Not that his worries are any less of an exaggeration having an idea of the truth. With this, he also gave a quick glance at Basshi as if to tell him of what he knows. Basshi in return, gave a doubtful glance back unsure whether the elf is trustworthy or not. Only time will tell for now. 

"J-just reach out and pull that fellow's cloak down, will you? If I'm really lyin' then it s-shouldn't be a problem. What d-do you idiots have to lose?" As choked up as Yorick is with his discomfort, he's now more than ever determined to exposed the hunter and the fae. Especially when he's this close. 

"Alright, you heathen,” Izumida answers, “if what you're saying is true, then you will be pardoned from all your crimes and will be rewarded appropriately for aiding the kingdom. But if all these things you say turn out to be false madness, which I personally assume mind you, you'll be prosecuted with defaming these righteous people and pay dearly with your life being locked away and never seeing the light of day." The captain has truly had enough and wanted to put closure to this case once and for all.  

The pair remained silent pretending they were clueless of all this. But in reality the disguised Cer-fae is nervous out of his wits. He's done for this time and along with Basshi too. They were surely at the end of their line that is if not for the help of their new elf wizard friend. 

Without a moment's delay did Izumida reach out pass Basshi and pulled down on Ao'yagi's hood. The fae prince closed his eyes and swallowed hard, bracing himself to face prosecution as his real identity is exposed. A few seconds passed in silence. The blonde opened his eyes curious why he isn't getting the reaction he's expecting. He looked up at Basshi with that question in mind but his partner only looked back in disbelief. Perplexed but having an ounce of clue of what happened, he took his glance to a nearby hall mirror and now he too was shocked by what he saw. 

 

His ears were that of a human's. It's as if his disguise is complete and didn't carry any features of being Cer-fae at all!

 

"There's your answer, everyone. Now I officially proclaim this case concluded. You shall take your punishment as agreed now, criminal!" Izumida stated without missing a beat. 

"But...But I'm telling the bloody truth! That Cer-fae played you all for fools. Him and his accursed magic with his demon friend. I'll be laughin' my lungs out when this freakin' kingdom comes into ruin because you didn't listen to me!" Along with Yorick's violent protest did the guards restrain him with more vigor. With the rouge presented as nothing more than a madman, they had no reason to be careful with him anymore. 

"Again, I owe you another apology Basshi. And even more so with you, Ao. How unprofessional of me allowing this heathen to harass you under my watch. I'll be more vigilant from now on, I promise. And if you ever need more assistance, you know who to ask." Sincere as ever with the esteemed captain of the guards. 

"As said, it's not your fault Izumida. And with that creep all locked up, no need to mention it anymore." Again, Basshi placed a friendly pat on the captain's shoulder to reaffirm. 

"Right, I'm just glad this incident is all sorted out. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make a formal report of this. Castle protocol and all. Have a good day, gentlemen." With another salute, Izumida went with his men to finalize their duties and incarcerate Yorick for what he committed.  

When out of sight only did both Basshi and Ao'yagi released another great sigh of relief. But this time they turned to the person they owe as well as the one who discovered the fae's identity. 

"Supposed just a thank you wouldn't do huh, Shikiba?" Basshi retorted only to be met by the wizards uncharacteristic sternness.  So knowing how indebted they are with the elf, they were obliged to tell him everything from what happened with Basshi to Ao'yagi's true name and being. The true explanation.

"Ahh I was right all along, you truly are Jun-chan's friend! I could sense him from you anywhere." The wizard was back to his gleeful personality. And with no one around along with a protective cloaking magic casted on the room they're in, Ashi'kiba released the glamour he hastily placed on Ao'yagi to reveal his real features being his deer-like ears. This earned Ao'yagi a hefty hug from the towering elf. 

"I-I couldn't thank you enough Ashi'kiba, from keeping our secret and protecting our real cause." As smothered as the fae prince feels, his words reign true.  

"Oh no, think nothing of it really! A friend of Jun-chan's is a friend of mine. Your secret is safe with me. I'll also keep you updated if anything comes up as promised. Now you guys better hurry along. Daylight is closing in and you still need to see Basshi's family right? Maybe we can all tell our stories when this is all over. This time say hi to Jun-chan for me too~." 

With that, the cheerful elf bid them farewell, more than happy to have another true ally they can depend on.  

 

--- 

 

With the continued path of distractions mingled with explanations, the sun now sits at the highest point in the cloudless sky. This wouldn't be an issue if not for the season, dusk happening earlier than desired. No need to rush, yet the last set of introductions are in order.

“Buah... how the hell am I going to payback Shikiba?” the hunter grumbles, now making way through the royal district to his home. “Seriously saved our asses.”

“As he said, it was out of friendship. His ties have remained with Junta too, that's for sure.” Far as to refer to him as 'Jun-chan.' Curiosity again stirs. What happened that would make Junta disregarded him all together? Generous as he is powerful, much the same as the incubus. Another story for the future. “Perhaps your 'payment' can be officially reuniting them? Help sort out whatever tore them apart.”

“If they both agree, then it will be that. Least I could do. Tch, will find a way to properly repay Junta too. I'm right!” He peers down to his partner, expression brimmed in affection. “But can say relieved knowing that bastard Yorick is locked up in good hands.” 

“Indeed... you humans really are stubborn.” Ao'yagi replies in a playful tone. It does bring comfort knowing they can leave that foul rogue behind them. And won't admit it aloud, but watching the curse take effect was beyond gratifying. Be sure to praise Junta for his hard work. “But now that's over...”

“Been a busy day already, but one last step. An easy one at that. Promise my family won't be intrusive. But will warn they're a lot like myself!”

“To think one Basshi was enough~.” Good to see Ao'yagi is lively through the strife, showing his ways of a prince and patient father. The hunter takes him by the hip in their stride, protective as he is tender.

“But I'm the only Basshi for you, right~?” he teases back with an arched brow. The prince's cheeks dust in pink.

“... Right.”

 

As foretold, the hunter's family – his mother and middle brother present – matched some personality quirks. Loud and boisterous, but having a heart of gold; a feast for lunch provided at a moment's notice dedicated to Basshi's guest. The image Ao'yagi had for his mother is shot out the window too. Instead of a large, imposing woman, she was petite but beautiful nonetheless. Her fierceness is one for matching Basshi's physique as well! Going from his older sibling being just as massive, the traits from their father are impressive.

Introductions and meal finished – Basshi taking over the story telling to avoid Ao'yagi having to make up tales of traveling – the pair head to the hunter's private home to settle down. Unlike the clan's hall, personal touches are all around. Expensive pelts, mounted beasts, cozy and tidy. Ignoring the layer of dust due to him being gone for some time that is. Fit for a high-class huntsman.

Curtains drawn, windows and doors locked – preparations are double checked to house Basshi during his nightly transformation as well as Ao'yagi able to shed his disguise. Prying eyes can mean life or death. Thankfully the human has control over the beast in a way, though the saying 'better safe than sorry' speaks loudest in this dire time. This is their safe haven within the city, but thanks to Tado'koro, a backup plan was made. The generosity received in a mere few hours won't be easily forgotten by the Cer-fae. Humanity may have it's bad eggs, but they're few and far between. If only everyone can realize that.

Exhausted further by undergoing the transformation at nightfall, the now hybrid beast heads straight upstairs to bed – balled up as if a feline. That is until Ao'yagi steps in too. Basshi's home has a guest room, but much like Junta's, there's no need to use for sleep when can be with a partner. Plus adds extra safety. Soon after Ao'yagi nuzzles under the covers as his companion follows suit – tenderly holding the prince in slumber.

 

Soon they'll have the answers they seek. 

Chapter Text

“Goddammit!”

 

In a swift kick, the door to the hunter's home is swung open, the key chucked against the side table to come scattering to the ground. Three days, three whole days without a trace of information on the mysterious Nym except for rumors. Brief ones at that, they have no leads besides a vague location somewhere north of the region. And that wasn't even consistent! Basshi has had enough. In a frenzy is his shoulder armor and belt tossed off to land face first into the leather couch inside the cozy front room. He groans, deep and gravely, the frustration near too much to take. If it wasn't for the fae close behind, he'd be in a worse place. “Something! Can we have fuckin' something!?”

It had been a long day to say the least. So far the gods apparently have decided to hold out on their search as it seems to be fruitless with each passing day. At least Basshi got to fulfill his other task of reassuring his family and friends but the compass is still very much at large. Ao'yagi followed his company into the other's home locking the door behind him as he enters. Only when he was sure there would be no prying eyes abound did he remove his cowl and loosened his sash. It was good to have his ears and tail moving again. Then he sat at the couch besides Basshi to share the frustrations.

"The search isn't going well but at least all your friends and family were happy to see you. Right?" At this rate, their only means of dependability is the court wizard, but who's to say he'll find an answer. Points are on Junta as well, surely he's aiding in the endeavor besides the offering of equipment. Just a waiting game then, isn't it? More hours and days to tick by as that filthy wizard plucks apart that compass. His intentions are a mystery yet a hunch points towards disaster. Elves are hungry for the unknown, for power – as much as they don't show it as humans do – and what better to gain such than from the enigmatic creatures that are the Cer-fae? Thousands could be at stake, for all they know. The reassurance has the man sigh out. Least that's one comfort. At the same time...

“I guess....” he grumbles, head turned so voice is clearer, “But to isolate myself from them during any minute of the night is... wrong! I'm here, in my beautiful city, yet I'm stuck here!” Which reminds him, almost forgot about the dose of medication. He sits up and grabs for the satchel at his belt. The last of the potions, guess tomorrow he'll have to take a visit to the incubus and check up on how his curse is being handled. Great, likely to be another session of being strapped down and torn apart from the inside out. It's downed in a single gulp, then peers over to the Cer-fae. “You should... go see your son soon. He must be worried sick.” As much as he may despise the goatling, he's still Ao'yagi's child.

The prince watched Basshi go about his chore for the curse and listened to him lament. He agrees thinking it's not fair at all for the hunter to be cooped in his own home but that's simply the best way to manage the curse. Hopefully with these set of dosage finished will the other's condition improve. But then the issue of Kabu'ragi is brought up so he mulls over that too.

"Yeah but there's still no sign of the compass and that worries me too. It is also for his sake I'm doing this. Besides, I entrust Dan'chiku with him and he is very dependable." As the fae prince thinks through more on this issue, he loosens his clothing as well since the fall nights had been pretty warm lately. With the city having less trees and more concrete, it wasn't as cool as it is in the forest especially with his restrictive garb for disguise. With the worst case scenario implanted in Basshi's mind, the threat of the Bovi-fae's lives are at stake as well. There's a shred of comfort knowing the kid is safe in the arms of his life-mate, so the hunter puts on a smile.

“Still doesn't stop him from missing you!” he chirps, “Once we find a lead, would be best to take a quick visit. To know you're ok, same with your family members. I mean, you're the prince after all!” Just how is Ao'yagi allowed to be gone for long periods of time? From stories, it says Cer-fae don't reproduce quickly due to their superior lifespan. Shouldn't the precious blood of royalty be safeguarded? Internal questions are interrupted upon the slacken on the fae's attire, turquoise eyes finding themselves pinpointed on the pattern of freckles at his collarbone. “... Can wash that makeup off too! No more info hunting today!” Not as good of a job as Junta did prior, but the artistic nature of the fae played a vital role in making sure his markings went unnoticed once acquiring their own set of makeup.

Cer-fae perceive time quite differently given their longevity so a few days is nothing to write about with them. Plus with the prince's known eccentricity, his family and friends already stopped hassling him about his presence and formalities as long as Ao'yagi is alright and is fulfilling his duties. Regardless, he does miss Kabu'ragi despite being focused on their mission.

"You're right, I was thinking the same actually. I'll go see Kabu the moment we find something." No use lingering over worries at this point and the fae was only too happy to rid of his disguise. Caked makeup on a warm, humid day isn't the most comfortable. Ao'yagi fully sheds the outer kimono and untucks his shirt so his tail was peeking through the loose pants. He then got a small towel and sauntered to the nearest sink washing his face and wiping himself clean. Much better indeed!

 

Just as Basshi will say a more formal goodbye to his family. Who knows how long they'll be missing once getting proper intelligence. The hunter isn't known for missing, a full night at most seeing as his kills are near the city, so obviously his friends and families would worry. Hell, the reason why Ao'yagi was captured in the first place, why the compass is long gone. If only he could explain that part instead of being mysterious. No matter, his acts are for Ao'yagi, that's all he cares about.

Vision follows the disrobe, then along as the fae wanders into the kitchen for the cleanup. A good idea. Between grown frustration and humid nights, the hunter is just as uncomfortable. His tunic is rid of and thrown to the couch before coming alongside his company to fetch a glass bottle from the ice chest. He nabs out a glass for them each and pours out a serving, the liquid a pastel pink.

“Would normally be my hour for an ale, but Rose Water does just as well,” he comments with a snicker, “Way to get some energy back and kill off this heat. And to think Fall would be chilly!” Will take it over Winter, but still. Between makeup and confining garbs, his poor fawn must not be in a happy place. “I'll treat you to best night at the tavern once all this is over!”

"Thank you." The fae is only too happy to receive the glass. A refreshing cool drink is just what he needed to relieve himself of the stuffiness. They took their refreshments to Basshi's bedroom opting to lounge there instead as they wait for the night. It was still a good hour or two before dusk so they have time before the hunter turns. All that information hunting was tedious to say the least so this is a good time to relax. "Hey Basshi, how does the transformation feel at this point? Is it still excruciating?"

Well, there's hope the humidity will break by nightfall, but how the day has shown, it's bound to stay. At the very least has the Mountain God blessed them with high winds, so a small window at his bedside is opened to break the thick air. The human outlooks the last shreds of daylight reflected off the stone road and glass windows with a prolonged sigh. One day... one day he'll be able to roam at night without troubles. Return to his normal life. And yet... gaze is back over to his company, his first true smile of the day coming to life. Being here with Ao'yagi, he hasn't been happier. Through the struggles, the weight heavy at their shoulders, there's still joy. Comfort. Can it remain like this even after their task is fulfilled?

By accident does he find himself lost in the land of daydreams as he stretches out across the comfort of the bed – still unmade from this morning. Not the tidiest man as of late, how untypical. Eyes flutter open to the question. Did he fall asleep for a moment there?

“Hrm? Ah, it's been better,” he answers with a shrug, “I'd still rather be out of your sight when it happens. Not a pretty process I bet, buaha!” Excruciating enough to hear his bones and muscles shift, to watch it is a different story. He sits up and runs a hand through his frizz of green hair. “Still grasping my sanity, but the actual change feels... well, now it feels like I'm being crushed in a vice grip. Before it felt as if I was being burned alive in the core of a volcano!”

 

Hearing Basshi's descriptions, the prince was unsure if that can actually be deemed 'better,' but he supposes progress is progress. The fae finishes up his drink leaving the glass on the table. He notices Basshi's frustrations is still showing so he opts to cuddle up beside the hunter, nuzzling his head under Basshi's neck hoping to show comfort. Their friendship keeps growing on the fae prince as he realizes the hunter's devotion for him.

"At least things are showing for the better. And I don't mind seeing the transformation. It goes to show you're able to retain your mind a little more with each time." Basshi's own glass is set aside the other before more than eagerly coming into the loose embrace, an arm at the other's waist to keep him close. Just what he needed right now, like Ao'yagi knew. Then again, they've been pretty much like glue since their first encounter. Easy to read the signs by now, huh?

“Better in that department,” he chides, “If only we could get a lead...! I know we'll find one, long as we stick together and keep trying! The great Basshi never gives up!”

“Yes I believe so too!” Ao'yagi huddled in closer with the embrace relishing the comfort it brings upon himself as well. His tail and ears would twitch in delight at the touch just enjoying each other’s company. Basshi’s skin is warm but it felt so nice against his despite the heat of the weather. The hunter’s presence is something he learned to cherish the more they spent time with each other. So cuddling up like this after a long day is all but welcomed. Even so, Ao’yagi craved more affection just for the sake of it so he circled his arms around Basshi so he would draw them even closer.

The added attention has the hunter's heart jump and slam back into his chest, the result being a dusting of crimson at his tanned cheeks. Not the first time they've snuggled up after a fruitless endeavor, yet this time speaks louder than before. Ao'yagi seems more eager or is that whatever thoughts left behind speaking from his daydreaming? No matter, there's a pull – one he won't ignore.

“Hey Ao'yagi...” he begins with a soft caress up and down the fae's side, “How... did you feel during that kiss we shared back at Junta's place? Never elaborated on it.” The prince was simply basking when the sudden question has him thinking good.

"What I felt? That time I was really happy to be able to come back from that incident and of course very grateful for your rescue. But then I-" A pause for a moment to find the words describing the emotion he felt. He recalled it was a lot and he simply went with it. "I'm not sure how to describe it but that time all I knew is it felt...right."

'Right,' the word Basshi came to describe it as well. Sudden, sure, once the realization of his action set in, that's all that rang through his head. Through the infatuation of Ao'yagi's guise, a certain feeling – one pure – held him there. Kept the fae there. And at least, left him wanting more. A question follows up without an ounce of hesitation.

“Would it still feel that way if I kiss you again?” In the fae's heart he knew Basshi would probably ask that again because that is exactly what's on his mind as well.

"Who knows..." As vague as his words are, the fae's answer is followed by action. He propped himself up so he was eye level with Basshi and tenderly pressed his lips to his. He lingered that way for a while before lazily moving to caress against the other pair oh-so intimately.

 

As Ao'yagi moves in, the hunter's body reacts the same. Like clockwork, his hands rest at the fae's angular hips with a tilt in, meeting those lips half way. So tender and warm, what strange but lovely contrast as they are to his own. His breath slow, much as the air does around them, and only allows the kiss to project his emotions. Can't put them into words either way. His own brush comes to then pull away, half lidded gaze meeting amber.

“... Feels right to me...” he says in a whisper. Again Ao'yagi replies with movement rather than words. He connects their lips after hearing the whispered phrase opening his mouth so he could taste the hunter as well. His fingers buries onto viridian tresses with his front firmly pressed against the human's torso. This time the kiss draws deeper as it was longer as well. This won't be a brief encounter unlike last time that's for sure as desire presses them to continue to push further more intimacy.

Good thing Basshi already stripped away his tunic, that way he can feel the warmth of the fae's fingers on bare skin. And now his taste, that lovely mix of his nature with Rose Water – what sweetness. The temptation is all too much, his lips part in time to have his tongue swipe at Ao'yagi's lower lip. A hand snakes around to meet a tail instead of lower back, thumb brushed against the base as it did during their time during the bath. Not exactly his intention, but hey, roll with it. And if their previous times have proven, the fae is quite fond of it.

He receives Basshi's tongue well darting along his own as the hunter swipes it along his lip. Besides the rose water, there was a hint of smoky meat flavor from the meal Basshi had. He didn't mind it at all and even found it a tad interesting. But then he had to pause from the kissing since he gasped from the contact of his sensitive tail. This made him flush vivid pink along with a relentless swish. Not so much since he still had his pants on. But he figured at the rate they're going, their clothing wouldn't be a problem any time soon.

That flush looks all-too-perfect with those freckles, that energetic tail being a sign. Excited or is he misjudging again? But why linger on questions when more important cards are on the table. In a swift motion does the thumb instead take under the hem of the trousers and tug, granting the nub of fluff more room to move. 

“Ao'yagi...” he mutters against the fae's lips, “I... I'm glad I met you. You're... buah, I don't know what to say. I just...” He again strokes over the smooth fur as his other hand tangles within strands of golden hair, their foreheads knocked together. “... need you.” More than the surprising gesture, those words felt like it struck Ao'yagi to the core. No one has ever said that about him in that oh-so sincere manner. It was a new feeling but somehow it felt all too familiar at the same time – there were no words to describe it. That is why along with the tug, he too kicks off the constricting trousers then raising a bare leg amidst Basshi’s thigh. Turquoise meets gold.

“You’re the only one who made me feel this way…” Again does it feel like the hunter's heart may jump out and beat lifeless, the small of pupils dilating to full size. Him and him alone? Through the years the fae has undergone, he is the one to bring... this. What is this exactly? At first he was to believe it was nothing more than infatuation but as he first undressed Ao'yagi – to speak more than taunts and share company – a foreign sensation has bubbled over. This could be actual love, perhaps why they can't explain it in speech. It's not just words, to have bare skin touch, it's everything. Every little thing about the fawn leaves him breathless, from simple smiles to unnecessary thanks. All are welcomed. His to enjoy. And this situation proves it further. There's no focus on the lack of garments, the hunter is locked on the gaze as if his life depends on it. His nose brushes to the other, his normally gruff tone dipped to a smooth purr. 

“I'm flattered, I really am. And truthfully, can say the same. I...” A pause, mustering words.

 

Just say it!!”

“... love you, Ao'yagi.”

 

It always lingered in Ao'yagi's mind to ask himself what he feels towards Basshi. It started when he was about to kill the hunter due to his Night Beast infection. Everything screamed within him this human is special and not just out of pity. With each day he knew Basshi the feeling grew. Along with his captivity does he think of the human despite barely knowing each other. It was a similar feeling he shared with Junta, but at the same time, there was a difference to it. It was a more urgent and needy feeling. He found himself yearning for Basshi. That is why hearing those exact words of love did his heart skip a beat. He didn't know how to reply since the word 'love' is such a weighty term to him. But then again what else could explain this emotion if not anything else?

 

"I...I love you too..." There, he finally said it as well! In his embarrassment and overwhelming emotion did he punctuate his sentence with another passionate kiss.

This can't be a dream, it feels too real to be so. Their stammer of hearts, the glow and warmth of comfort, how the fae's lips repeat those words despite being against his. 

 

Love.
 

Through the heated air does a shiver jut through his spine and leave him limp, left to pull Ao'yagi atop of him without breaking away for a second. No more teasing flicks, he barges past those lips and relishes every taste the fae offers. Over teeth, roof, tongue – slick warmth mingled in desperate breaths. Ao'yagi matches the voracity with his own when pulled. He tasted every bit of what the other has to offer as well truly surrendering himself to the throws of passion. All the while he tugs down on Basshi's trousers to coax the other to take them off. Eyes flutter on the euphoric feeling this new revelation brings them. Only then when he needed to come out for air did he part, flushed and panting – starring deeply nonetheless at those turquoise hues.

Never before has a kiss been so magnificent. From tastes, smells, the aspects blend into a euphoric palette that sates a hunger never felt until this very moment. It's beyond gratifying, yet it doesn't quell the growing 'problem' somewhere else. The pull further emphasizes, he makes short work in the full removal – after a few kicks and flicks at his ankles. Not fully aroused, but that's soon to change without a moment's notice. He breathes along, a quiver at his lower lip, as an idle trace of fingers is down Ao'yagi's freckled cheek.

“... So beautiful,” he mummers, voice drenched in sincerity, “My handsome Prince~.” The moment Basshi did away with his pants, the fae also took this chance to discard his shirt. For a moment he just laid there on top of Basshi relishing the pure skin to skin contact. But then his partner's idle compliments left him a bit self-conscious still not used to being praised for his looks – especially not from the one he deem he loves. Still, he leaned into the touch despite turning away for a fraction of a second. When he'd overcome his embarrassment, that's when he showed initiative once more. He caressed the hand, touching his cheek, then drew those fingers to his mouth licking lightly on each finger tips.

"Do you want me Basshi?" Enthralled by the sight and gentle attention he oh-so craves, it takes a second or two to register the question. Isn't that obvious? Saying it aloud does bring more satisfaction in the end. His other hand travels from the tufted tail to be at the curve of his lover's backside – caressing the soft skin as he puts on the tenderest of smirks. 

“Yes,” he replies gently, “I want all of you, Ao'yagi...~” A fire is lit inside hearing those confident yet wanton words. The fae felt the same after all. Even the slightest touch sent shivers down his spine leaving him wanting more. From here on, he sucks on those fingers a bit more fervently as if displaying what more he had to offer to his lover. That is why he can say what he feels now with just as much confidence and raw honesty. 

"Take me again Basshi?" Don't have to ask him twice, that smile grows on the edge of wild. Pure honesty, it emanates off that sweet voice and echoes through – a potent desire threatening to bubble over. Ah, but preparations must be made. And thanks Ao'yagi, the first step has been taken.

“C'mere...” He gestures for the other to scoot up further before taking the readied hand down towards the other. Accommodating to Basshi's ministrations, a leg is raised and seeks a comfortable position. The pad of a slick finger prods and locates the fae's entrance, paying little time to push past the muscle. The thick digit sinks in, almost to hilt, and moves at a plodding speed – cherishing the noises and flinches it elicits from his lover. “That feel good~?”

The initial penetration made the prince wince at first, just adjusting to the intrusion. By and by as he grows accustomed, that's when he started to experience the delightful sensation. He mewls and writhes under Basshi, stirred from within and time to time hitting that bundle of sensitive nerves. 

"Y-yeah...more please~?" At the back of Basshi's mind comes the memory of their first time, how regretful it has become. Like some animal, those vulgar words through the action – how could he do that to the one he loves? There was no telling he'd still be alive, let alone fall completely head over heels, there really isn't a true reason to linger. But now, he can make up for all that. Love Ao'yagi how he's supposed to be. 

“Mmm, Bambi~.” More already? So greedy, by no means will he complain. Once enough fluid is spread and Ao'yagi has relaxed, another finger joins – snug up against the first. The affection expands when the hunter brings his lips to the junction between the fae's shoulder and neck. His voice ghosts against the tender flesh. “I'll give you more... as much as you want~.” 

"Nggh..." Ao'yagi trembles at the further stretch. The fae is getting more excited as they move on. His neck cranes back to give access, melting under the attention. Through all this the thought of their first time passes his mind. Now that he thinks about that he concludes it wasn't so bad after all despite his reluctance. The thrill he's feeling now is akin to that time but much better all the same since the feelings they have for each other is clear and reciprocated. The fae prince doesn't hold himself back anymore, revealing his most secret side to this man he came to love – no longer afraid to show his not-so innocent side. With his free hand, he slinks it downwards to grasp and slowly stroke Basshi's cock wanting to pleasure his partner as well. "What about you, Basshi? What would you want?" 

Another obvious answer, the hunter can't help but chuckle before planting a broad lick – the fae's flavor enough to make him shudder. So earthy and pure, like he's consuming the beauty of a forest as a whole. A hunger grows, boarded between passion and vulgarity, and the area is taken between the flat of teeth. Nothing too fierce, enough to draw out a reaction, the hunter gnaws with lips enveloped in a firm suckle. Voice vibrates as he arches into the venturous hand, the girth trembled within grasp. Delicate but strong, truly the touch of a skilled warrior. It encourages the sunk fingers to reach further and locate that sensitive area. They arch, the pads rubbing out harsh circles to surely make Ao'yagi whimper. 

“You...” he finally answers during a short break for air, tongue darted to lap the swollen flesh, “Already said... I want you.” 

And whimper he did with the overwhelming sensations coming all at once. Basshi’s bites and fingering made him feel weak in the knees that he had to bury his head on the hunter’s shoulder just to get a hold of himself somehow. Every touch was relentless but somehow it left him craving more. Along with his reactions did his grip tighten around Basshi’s cock, accompanied by more languid strokes with the member now fully erect. Glad to know he’s not the only one being thoroughly affected with this because they both know they were only getting started. 

“T-Then you can have me any way you want. Just tell me.” 

'Any way' the fae says, hrm? Oh, it's not best idea to give this human that amount of power – his mind is now brimmed with possibilities. But one stands above all, an older thought that flashed by during their first encounter. So he pays no time in sitting up with Ao'yagi in tow to let his grip falter, the smaller sat neatly across his lap. Their foreheads again meet in a fiery stare before words spill from his lips. 

“I'd like you... bent over, your arse nice and high up for me~.” He leans out so teeth can nip at the tip of a tufted ear. “... I want to taste you first~.” 

 

“Bent over?” The fae repeated curiously more than anything else. That was an interesting proposition he thought, but not without shuddering with his ear being nipped at again twitching with much of the anticipated thrill. “As you wish~.” He replied along with a peck on the lips before doing as he was asked to. He got off Basshi’s lap then crouched down on all fours with his head resting on a pillow and his behind up in the air just as he was instructed. It was a bit embarrassing finding himself in this position, so the fae couldn’t help but get more flushed. Still he couldn’t deny how much excited this is making him. “Is-Is this okay?” Hungry eyes watch the act unfold, desires raised once that perky backside is presented.

“Hmmm, yeah...” Basshi whispers before hunching in, a hand planted on each of his partner's freckled cheeks. Rough palms massage and part them open, examining the lovely view for a long moment with a hum taunting his lips. Gorgeous. He dips and lays a hot streak of saliva up the patch of skin nestled between the regions to settle at the slacked hole. Given the warm-up, it's no trouble for his tongue to slip inside and relish the taste. How mouthwatering, the hunter groans deep in approval. 

Good thing he has a pillow so he can bury his head there instead as he keeps on shuddering with the ministrations. By the gods this was so embarrassing! Nevertheless it feels amazing, he can't bring himself to tear away. Basshi’s tongue is hot against his skin plus having someone put their mouth in a place they normally shouldn’t makes him feel incredibly warm all the same. 

“Basshi…” Ao’yagi’s tone came out as a whine partly from being conscious about his position and partly from being aroused at the same time. This was not his first time in this kind of act, however, this wasn’t something that’s been done often – actually just the second time if counting. That is why he couldn’t help it that his tail was swishing around restlessly along with Basshi’s licking. 

Through the haze in vision does he catch the energetic tail, the reason for this position to begin with. Didn't forget. A hand passes over to take hold, first at the base and stroke, then to upwards like one would do to a cat's. So warm and poofy, will be difficult to stop loving it. Praising it, brings so much joy to hold it alone. After a long suckle around the rim, one last full flick of tongue, his free comes to press and gradually move the thumb inside. 

“You like this, Ao'yagi~?” he asks slowly moving the digit, “Does it feel good~?” Amidst squirming and muffled cries does Ao’yagi give an enthusiastic nod to the questions, still too embarrassed to say it out loud. It was a strange sensation in this both aching into tickling and pleasure at the same time. By and by as he was able to adjust himself further, he lifts his head turning to the hunter curious what Basshi looked like doing these lewd actions. Enticing to say the least.

“Basshi?” he once again said, needy yet inquiring. He wondered if the human is really enjoying himself and it does seem like he is with that grin on his face and the way he’s been non-stop teasing his tail and behind. But right now the fae thinks he’s ready for the next step. “I…want you inside…” When the fae's gaze meets Basshi's, there's no use in holding back that loving grin – for cheeks to take on a darker shade. The need in his voice steals away a heartbeat, an ache to fulfill his partner, yet it's too easy to tease. And there's nothing wrong with more build-up, right? 

“Silly Bambi,” he replies, tongue darted out to lap around the base of tail, “I am inside you...~” With that does his thumb proceed with more purpose, it pushed down to the knuckle and stroked steadily amongst the tight interior. The attention lays away from the fluff, can always come back to that later, to instead spread his cheeks once more. He disappears between the curve to lap continuous stripes across the taint – so swollen and warm. 

"N-no what I mean is... Ahhh...~" He knew Basshi was teasing on purpose, but as soon as he was to clarify himself, he feels that large wet tongue in his crevice once more fully distracting him from giving the message. Well, it's not like he could say it direct to the point anyway since it was too embarrassing to say. Although... he's fully aroused. Feeling Basshi play around him just using his mouth and fingers were driving him to the point of desperation. If he was forced to express himself directly then so be it. "Please Basshi, I...I really need y-your cock inside me...pretty please..." There now he's resorted to begging. Surely the human would deliver this time. 

Every now and again does Basshi's mouth lay open mouthed kisses and licks to his scrotum, amused by just how weighty the flesh has become. Ao'yagi enjoys the teasing, much as he hates to say aloud, his body says otherwise. A bit amusing it's right when his jaw requires a minor break that those sweet words flow from the fae's lips – this time fuelling his animalistic side. Lewd and desperate, yet innocent. The hunter is all but stunned by the allure for a few solid seconds.   

“Fuck...” comes almost inaudibly. He pulls backs completely and repositions directly behind, the tip of his girth rested atop the slackened entrance. He finds himself lost here, sight traversing the speckled skin like a wondrous treasure – one unmeant for mortal eyes. As impossible to put his love into words, the same goes for Ao'yagi's beauty. But this isn't the right time to bask, he was given a request that can't be ignored. Each hand plants firm at sharp hips, steadying before his pivot in. Slowly, it sinks in – tightness and heat generating an erotic groan. “Mmm, Ao'yagi~.” 

Ao'yagi braced himself for what's to come with a deep breath. Basshi's girth is still impressive as the human stretched and filled him in a way no other could. He gave a yelp at the initial penetration even if Basshi was already going at it slow. They both knew he would need time to adapt with the other's girth. Around half way in when the breather is taken, and boy, is it needed. Not only to readjust to his size, but to also get his head back on straight. If a deep inhale wasn't taken, he's almost one hundred percent sure he'd come right then and there. Luckily that embarrassment is avoided.

"Ngghh Basshi..." He grasped the pillow once more to cope. After a minute he feels he's ready to receive anything Basshi has to give. "Y-you can move now..." For just in cases measures, a quick succession of licks are made onto Basshi's fingers – being sure each is coated in saliva – and smeared across the open flesh before Ao'yagi receives the full hilt. Much better, now things can get real interesting. 

“Bambi~.” With grip secure, knees pinned at the sheets below, he begins to move at an unhurried pace. That's right, start slow – make sure his fae is comfortable and enjoying every second. “A-ahh, you know how hard i-it is to control myself?” he asks through gentle pants, “You're so sexy...~” 

There was a slight discomfort from being stuffed but with Basshi lubricating it further, the pain is dulled until it is completely ignored. Somehow he feels bad for his partner having to hold himself back. He knew it wasn't easy. But the compliments he's receiving is making him even more self-conscious about it. 

"I'm n-not...You're the one good at this..." He retorted arching his back further to feel more of Basshi's slow grinding within him. It didn't take long before he was softly moaning again as it was starting to feel good being stimulated so deeply from within. 

“Yes, yes you are, Ao'yagi...” he corrects in a heartbeat, “... you drive me crazy~.” Letting active hips and Ao'yagi's arch do the work, he's free to roam in other areas. Calloused, battle-worn hands come to pass down the length of the fae's back, then upwards to gently scratch at his scalp. He lingers there to entwine fingers in strands of golden, a smile never leaving his lips. “You make such... beautiful noises~.” The flattery and lewd statement struck the fae.

Don't hold back...”

His hips pivot in time with Basshi's slow thrusts, encouraged him to moan louder; those rough hands soothing him yet arousing the fae more at the same time. 

"Ahh Basshi it's so good~." The hunter can't help but tip his head back and let a moan flow loose, Ao'yagi's actions and words being a draw, like a classy wine. Sought after, craved and unbelievably satisfying once acquired. Grip hardens, lightly pulling at the locks as he rocks at a steadier, faster pace. 

“Yeah? I'm glad... it's good for me too,” he hisses, eyes blinked up at the ceiling, “I... just, don't want to hurt you~.” The tug on his tresses only intensifies the feeling as Ao'yagi let out a groan, making his hips jerk higher. With the increased pace, Basshi was starting to hit him deeper making those delightful sensations more pronounced. 

"I-I'm alright! You know I can...ahhh...take it a little rough.~" 

Rough...?” What he's internally been wishing for. With permission does his motions pick up, time after time hitting the sensitive nerves within his lover. 
 

But then, right at the peak of ecstasy, does a sensation burn through Basshi's veins. As expected as it should have been, the lovers didn't see this coming and such at a crucial time as well. 

 

How time flies. 

Chapter Text

Vision goes white, then red, then a mix between the two. This... isn't climax, nowhere near. That vice grip, the one mentioned before, has overtaken the human – heart and lungs struggled to keep him intact. Nostrils flare. Scents amplified, the breeze from the open window emanating more than the city life. Auras. Blood, the butcher's cuts at early evening danced at taste buds. Delicious

“Ao- a-ahhh.... B-ba..... Bambi~!”

The thrill of going rougher got to Ao’yagi, making him lose more of himself in the act. His tone gradually increases in volume giving a lewd cacophony of squelching flesh and fervent moans. The fae slinks a hand on his cock, pleasuring himself as lust increases as well. Little did he notice the oncoming change of his partner when he was so thrown into their act of passion. The Cer-fae was even barely aware of the fading of daylight, the tightening grip of the hunter and the growing scales on the other’s skin.

“Ahhh Basshi, Basshi!” 

Organs feel as if ripped from Basshi's very being, muscles to strain. The light chirrup of bugs ringing at ears, ones only that arrive at... nightfall.

 

No, not now!”

 

Much to his resistance does the transformation take hold, nails at Ao'yagi's scalp shifted from blunt to keen. With the last of sanity, aware of the change, the hand jerks back and returns to a spotted hip. Blackened scales uphold arms, surrounding the scar at right shoulder and feet in shift into deadly talons within seconds. Blood curling sounds ripped from throat, sickening crunches of bone and flesh. By angle do the silken sheets and blanket begins to shred, the puff of feathers mingled within blurred lust. Clear sight turns to nothing but crimson, the veins of his partner pulsing – subsistence right under. Waiting... blood, blood! Yet another desire is above all else. For the other. For Ao'yagi. 

“Bambi!” comes in a howl.

The scream and the difference in sounds cut-off the fae from the lust-induced trance. Now he is all too aware with the lack of day light and the excruciating transformation his partner is undergoing. He breaks from his reverie all too alert now with the intention to flee himself from possible danger and assist Basshi with this godforsaken curse. 

“Basshi stop!” the fae prince demanded eager to avoid violence to himself or to his partner. He tried to pull away but the other’s grip has already tightened on his hips with seemingly no intention of letting go. Fear starts to wash over Ao’yagi not sure of the outcome of this unforeseen event.

 

Stop.

 

The command is undergone in an instant, like an obedient dog at his master's heels – the half-breed's movements come to complete halt. Strained and in recovery, he pants as if his very life depends on in – clawed hands trembling like a leaf. Luckily most his sanity remains intact, able to understand the situation and realize said actions. He's... within Ao'yagi, throbbing and greedy. Yet he doesn't cling to why the fae wished for him to stop, the transformation not registering as the cause. 

“Bambi...?” is questioned in a throaty growl, hunching in so lips are up close to a pointed ear, “Basshi stop?” Ao'yagi released a heavy sigh of relief hearing Basshi talk. He was almost sure back then that the other would run wild letting his Night Beast's nature take over, so he was thankful that's not the case. But he supposed a break was needed to assess the situation just to make sure. So the prince pulled out and gently laid on top of Basshi like he did earlier just for a breather. 

"Sorry Basshi, I just got scared for a second there. But it's alright now. You still recognize me right?" Ao'yagi cooed, reassuring the half-breed to make certain he keeps calm, peppering the other's face with kisses. He did feel a bit bad for the other having to hold out when they were both almost at climax, but precautions had to be taken with Basshi's delicate mental state. 

'Better safe than sorry,' again, would the full side of the hunter say; but instead comes a confused noise as Ao'yagi comes to relax instead. Was something wrong? Is the fae alright? Seems to be given how he lays so peacefully, how his voice is as sweet as ever. From underneath does the blunt of tail wriggle, not upset in the slightest about being held out. Long as his prince is fine, there's nothing but joy. His expression lights to a giddy smile, big and wide to show off his fanged teeth. 

“No scared, good!” he barks back in the assault of affection, “I do! Ao'yagi, pretty Bambi!” He reaches up to poke the tip of the others' nose, extra careful not to break the soft skin. “Basshi sorry too, no pay mind to night. Distracted, heeeeh!” Ao'yagi crinkled his nose just staring at Basshi for a while, surprised the half-beast retained enough understanding for the gesture. But then he chuckled all the same realizing Basshi was stable. But then again...was he alright enough to 'continue'? The Cer-fae considered the thought, since lust still pretty much flowed in his veins. Ao'yagi thought just maybe it was safe enough to go on making love even if Basshi was in this state. 

"Yes, everything is fine. Don't worry Basshi, I'll make you feel good again." With that, the prince dips for a kiss carefully gliding his tongue along that fanged teeth; hand slipping back down to reawaken the arousal. The moment isn't lost.

The passing days have made the change easier to manage, especially after the hell that was the forced one necessary to rescue Ao'yagi. Surely there's pain, some muscles and bones strained, yet that will fade off in time. He'd be content just lazing about for the rest of the night, snuggled up to eventually snooze, but there's still desires swelled within. And it seems the same holds for the fae as well. 

A sigh of relief puffs from nostrils on contact, the warmth of the fae's mouth producing a delighted hum. More than eagerly does his tongue dance along, claws glided down the length of the others' sides. Gentle, be gentle – just as they were in the stream. The last thing on his agenda is to harm the fawn, with all his reasoning or not. It doesn't take long for any hardness to make a return, the eagerness clear as delicate fingers glisten with pre-fluids when passing over the slit. 

“Bambi...” he whispers against those lips, “Feel real good... Basshi want Bambi feel good too~.” Ao'yagi lingered on for a long moment, focused on his blood red hues before turning to coat the erection in his fluids. Though via exploring does his fingers run into something... different near the base. Gaze wonders down for his heart to skip.

 

In Basshi's half-beast form, does his cock have a knot. Like a canine's.

 

The question is why? Mammals and lizards, who lack a penis, can't possibly have this feature. Sure he's seen the hunter naked like this before, though this was completely unnoticeable. Only when erect then? Another strange side effect of being a broken curse? Do Night Beasts naturally have them? The details aren't to fret on. In his lecherous state, the addition is... enticing.

"I... I'll feel really good with Basshi too.~" The fae then sits-up, even more eager to continue where they had left off. Once properly lubricated, the fae aligned his entrance and carefully lowered himself down till he reaches the new feature.

 

Wait... it can wait...”

 

An inkling of hesitance resides on the monster's face as his length is again readied, the keen of feet dug deeper into the mattress. With the pain easier to handle, his strength is a different story. Being cooped up inside the city, there's been little area to hone his new power – his home not exactly what you call a training ground. What if he bucks too hard, accidentally has a claw slip? Then again, this position sports an advantage. Ao'yagi is the one in control here. Oh boy, is he drinking it up. 

Crimson eyes fall half lidded and scan every inch of beautiful skin lowering onto him. Strong thighs, flat stomach, that angled collar bone that forms out to board shoulders. How those golden locks splay out upon them, those tufted ears twitched and alert. Lips curl into an uneven, bubbly smile. 

“Cute...~” Scaled palms come to rest at Ao'yagi's hips, more to aid in stability than anything else. On his end, he's almost sure that the fae is tighter, hotter than before. The reason, who's to care? The add-on to his cock goes ignored too, like it's not even there. Does he know it exists? It feels amazing and that's all that matters. “My Bambi...~” The fae lets out a groan and a tell-tale flush brought about both by the sensation of being filled and that compliment that makes Ao’yagi all bashful.

“Basshi…~” Ao’yagi replies just as sincerely as the spasm gave way into a more pleasurable one rather than of discomfort. The fae pressed his palms against Basshi’s well-defined abdomen as leverage and slowly starts to rock in; rekindling the moment before the transformation.

Here it is, that oh-so wondrous sensation overtaking, more so intensified due to the predicament. Never before has sex felt this gratifying, intense – mentally and physically. The mingle of love and lust, the new feelings traveling through tail and talons, the hybrid finds himself lost in the act. Much as he told himself to stay collective, the craving is one hell of a pull.

 

One that can't be ignored any longer.

 

Without much warning do his hips come to thrust when Ao'yagi falls, the knot partly taken in to slip back out. He growls, vile and greedy; tail arched up to press on the fae's back for extra support. Ao’yagi was simply basking on the new sensations that are literally filling him when Basshi gave out a sudden jerk sloping to the violent thrust. An audible yelp, all too shocked to protest at first. But as Basshi’s hips start to piston even more to the point it becomes ragged and somewhat painful, that’s when Ao’yagi started to panic once more. 

“Basshi please slow down!” he pleaded, holding onto the half-breed’s side. He was being stretched like never before and although not yet intolerably hurting, the line between fear and thrill was blurring.

The order passes by, muffled heavily due to the ring at his eardrums, but the monster withholds. The bucks do slow down, if only by a hair – they remain just as savage. Especially with Ao'yagi now laying atop, granting plenty of leverage from powerful thighs and assisting tail to keep him in place. With one claw at the hip, the other free to wander up to his partner's shoulder blades. From there do his the honed nails sink in, just enough to break through layers of skin and draw blood. The intoxicating scent mingles in sweat, the hybrid all too entranced and swelled with hunger. So delicious, he could eat him up right then and there.

Basshi slowing down brought enough slack for Ao'yagi to rid away his panic and enjoy the act again. He leans back against Basshi's tail immersing himself and meeting each savage buck with a downward thrust of his own. The sharp sting of the cut on his shoulder blade was felt but it wasn't enough to dissuade the prince. Slight pain mixed with intoxicating pleasure served as an emphasis rather than a deterrent. The fae let out a whimper, finding his own hand stroking his cock to up the ante of the euphoria.

It's too much... but...”

Basshi's grip slackens as the fae rises, motions slowed only a brief moment to clean up part of the mess he made. Eyes lock with the other set as he laps away the coppery fluid at his talons – a grumble held deep within his chest. Tastes just as good as it smells. Doesn't help the beast has only feasted on hog's blood since cooped up, the flavor can't be compared. So rich and vibrant.

A little bit more wouldn't hurt, right? Instead of reaching back, a fresh wound – minor in length and depth – is racked open across the top of the fae's thigh. A sinister smile is plastered across scaled face, pleased by the amount flowing across freckled skin. A fair amount is swiped and eagerly suckled off, eyes threatened to roll back. Mix this in with the hot, snug squeezing of his cock and the beast has found heaven.

“Tassssty,” he hisses between laps, “Bambi... so good~!” Ao'yagi continued to bounce off Basshi fervently enjoying the feeling of being stuffed as he pleasures himself all the same. He let out a hiss from the new cut, but it only made him plunge to hilt; knot fully immersing.

 

The fae's mind turns to complete, raw ecstasy.

 

“Basshi, you feel amazing~!" Out of passion does the fae swoop down to deliver a torrid kiss, tasting that metallic tang of his own blood as he licked away on Basshi's lips and fanged teeth. With his cock firmly pressed and grinding against their bellies, Ao'yagi feels it won't be long until he comes. Basshi aids in the motion, size differences and all, by arching up his hips – in turn tearing the hole at the edge of the bed even larger. 

Damn talons, he'll sob over the loss of his comfortable bed later. 

Also hunched in, he meets the kiss with just as much passion, not mindful of how rough or sloppy it may be. Fierce thrusts grow more uneven, ragged as seconds tick by, the monster's voice desperate and waning to incoherent syllables. Try as he may to hold back, but the fae is crushing down – cock drove to ache in all the right ways.

“B... Bambi!!” Then a gasp, one that shakes him to the very core, and waves of hot, sticky fluids are buried within the abused tunnel. Ao'yagi feels his partner's cock throb, keeping contact of the kiss; driven with intense emotions. The more violent thrusting – knot buried deep – sends him into spasm with his cock feeling delicious friction in between the skin of their bellies. Finally Ao'yagi felt the surge of fluid within him. It was hot and viscous and mingled wonderfully with his insides.

"Ahhh Basshi~!" He cried out as his climax fills his senses. His vision turns white as an incredible sensation runs down in his veins like being burned from the inside. He felt like he was melting from pleasure simply flopping down on his partner as soon as he was spent. 

Every drop of essence is released before lazily lifting the smaller up, just enough to detach. It's then the beast splays out, wide open in vain attempts to catch air. Lungs akin to stone, muscles raw and twinged – finally able to recover after such intensity. Once his vision becomes more than mismatched shapes and colors does he haul the fae further up his chest so an array of kisses can be made to his forehead and cheeks.

“Bambi...” he says dreamily, “Love... I love my Bambi~.” Ao'yagi huffed as much trying to catch his breath as his partner does. Despite with how relatively rough their love making was, the fae was thoroughly elated and his minor wounds totally ignored. He is all too happy to be coddled and showered with kisses by Basshi even in his beast form. It just felt absolutely soothing when his whole body is feeling like jelly.

"I love you too Basshi~." The fae uttered just as giddy nuzzling against the hybrid and returning the kisses. There's little mind to the slew of fluids coated on them each, how his muscles sting from enduring the unprepared transformation. There's just Ao'yagi, the man he dedicated his life and soul to. Within this form do emotions hit harder than ever before, more spastic and unjust, the beast finds himself sobbing without warning. There's a sniffle which breaks into a hard cry, thin lines of tears stained across scaled cheeks.   

“I-I... love you... s-so much, Ao'yagi,” he stammers, his best attempt in speaking a fuller sentence. The prince was simply basking in the afterglow relaxing and drawing lazy patterns on his chest when he heard the whimper. At first he was alarmed thinking his partner could be hurting somewhere, concerned on what's causing his distress. But then those heartfelt words bring ease – his heart is touched all the same.

 

"Shh...It's okay Basshi, I'm here. I won't leave you. I promised I'll take care of you, didn't I?" The fae soothes, gently running a hand through the viridian mane. It was his turn now to shower Basshi with light kisses from his temples down to his neck. 

“No leave... Basshi take care of Bambi... too.” Lips form into a bubbly smile, reassuring the fae that nothing is particularly wrong, but it's quick to vanish as scent wafts by. Blood, still delicious as ever. He reaches back and runs fingers mildly over the wound at the fae's back. The regenerative ability has already sealed most, but a deeper area is still slick – a thin trail swiped onto his forefinger. Even with the comfort of kisses does he sob louder, breaths panicked. “B-but... Basshi hurt...! Bambi hate Basshi now...!”

"No it's alright, Basshi. I don't hate you at all. It doesn't hurt. See?" He lifts off the hybrid and turned around for the other to get a clearer look. "You can kiss it better if you like." 

Basshi along sits up, some stray tears wiped away on a scaled palm, and inspects the left over damage. Guess he wasn't too rough then, there's no exposed muscles, yet it doesn't stop the beast from feeling guilty. He could have done far worse. May have gotten lucky on this round. It's best not to linger on that. Ao'yagi's fine, that's enough. A light stroke comes across the fae's back to shoo away his hair before he scoots in close. 

“Basshi sorry...” he murmurs, “Basshi no do again.” Taking the offer, he leans in to pepper kisses down the claw lines, tongue flicked when blood is found. Regardless of the statement, the tug is too much to bare – a bestial sound rolls from throat at the first taste. Without realization does he begin to suckle hard at the opened skin, drawing out a steady flow of the crimson fluid. Ao’yagi gasped at the suckle. It didn’t hurt, just simply a reaction. He expected this much after all knowing his partner can only resist his beastly urges for so long. The fae thought he can further sate Basshi this way.

“It’s alright, I trust Basshi very much. I don’t mind if it’s like this. I want to take care of Basshi this way too.” He leans and hums against the beast's massive shoulder, somehow oddly finding this activity relaxing as well. This is still Ao'yagi after all, through of the haze of hunger is that part clear. Calm down, be gentle. Basshi's lips ease off a bit once the wound is fully broken, instead lapping up the streams like a kitten drinking milk. Like a treat – the monster all but hums and greedily takes in the necessary nourishment. In his own sign of trust, powerful arms wrap loose at the fae's waist in a sweet embrace. Internally does he thank for the more simple phrases Ao'yagi uses when in this state, makes understanding easier. 

“Bambi so nice,” he whispers in between licks, “Basshi glad there's trust.” 

"Basshi is nice to me too.~" He retorted in a light tone nuzzling further within his lover's embrace while holding the clawed hands which held him. He thought this is nice too and amidst all this, he was rather proud with the way Basshi progressed from his transformation. It's a miracle that keeps on going, he mused. Basshi must really have a strong resolve with how he is overcoming his ordeal as a Night Beast. Sure he needed Junta's help, but going past that in itself required nerves of steel. Ao'yagi thought he could've dozed off like this but the stickiness is still bothering him. He really couldn't get over the messy part of sex no matter what. "Tell me when you're done. I'll clean us up after." 

Once the beast thinks he had enough to keep him full for a few hours, barely a loss to the steadfast and quick healing Cer-fae, he pulls back with a satisfied hum. Good timing too, looks like it's sealing back up. His chin props up against a shoulder, soft scaled cheek pressed lovingly to his partner's. 

“That part clean!” he says boastfully like it was an achievement, “We bathe now?” From this view does he finally get a glimpse of what his powerful legs have done to his poor bed, shreds of sheet and feathers caught between toes. He could cry again, but it's sucked back into a whine instead. “Basshi bad again! Bed no deserve mean claws!” 

Ao'yagi nods calmly against the scaled cheek opting to linger in that position for a while relishing the comfort before slowly standing up to get cleaned. He could feel his wounds dissipate into nothing now, proving they were really light for a Cer-fae to begin with. Looking at the bed Ao'yagi can see where Basshi was coming from. He hugged the hybrid sympathetically feeling just as bad for his treasured furniture. 

"There, there. We'll get you a new bed. Basshi is not bad. It was an accident." Pout, huff. Basshi really liked this bed, was a move-in present from a brother! How on Earth is he going to explain how it became stuffing?! More so, his fae still needs attention over it. He stands, shoulders and head slumped in defeat, to be latched into a hug. That brings a smile back and for tail to shake energetically in spite of exhaustion. 

“Accident! Yeah, yeah! Unhappy bed, Basshi fix later!” Pulling back from the hug, he gingerly takes one of Ao'yagi's hands in his. “Bambi walk? No hurt much?” 

“Right! We’ll make your bed as good as new later on.” Ao’yagi encouraged. Now that he tried to walk by himself and that the endorphins from sex has dwindled down, that’s when he started to feel how sore and cramped he was. The mating they did was rather long and intense compared to the first time which is brief. The fae’s legs wobbled weakly and he had to close in on Basshi again to support himself. “Err…Maybe I need some help in walking.” 

Can be a team effort! What a fun little activity to fix, once the beast thinks about it. May be annoying, but he knows it will pass by smoothly with the fae helping along. Alert eyes watch the fae's attempt, the teetering prominent. Out of instinct does he stay close, and glad he did, due to the quick need for assistance. A hand settles at a hip, just in case. 

“It ok, Bambi!” the monster replies with a bright smile, “Basshi carry instead!” With that, the fae is easily scooped up into his massive arms and begun being carried off to the downstairs bathroom. “Got big tub! Not good as Junta's though...” 

"Wah!" Now that he didn't expect at all. Normally he would throw a fit being carried like a child but with just the two of them and being too sore, the fae didn't bother to protest. It was a quick walk to the bathroom and Basshi wasn't kidding when he said he had a big tub. It was almost as big as his own back in the palace, but with Basshi being well-to-do in his society, that's probably to be expected. 

"You have a really nice bathroom still." Ao'yagi carefully made it to his feet and went ahead to start the water and fill the tub.

 

If there's two areas that show of the wealth of his family, it's the kitchen and bathroom. The rest is pretty lackluster, standard when it comes to human upper class, yet those two rooms are fitted for royalty. Where the vast majority of funds were blown and there's no regrets.   

In an instant is the beast clambering up into marble tub, claws splashed playfully across the water pouring from the faucet. If only he had a rubber ducky... 

“Basshi like baths! Clean and fun!” 

"I like baths too!" Once filled half-way only then did Ao'yagi got in. He leaned back at the edge with a big sigh of relief. All-in-all the day didn't end up so bad, he mused. Even if they didn't get much info what the two are experiencing has been nothing but pleasure. Well maybe except for the bed being torn apart.

Ao'yagi just soaked there for a moment before snatching some soap and a washcloth nearby to scrub himself. He simply watched on Basshi play-along the water, amused his partner seems so happy now. Soon enough the tap needed to be turned off, which instantly makes the beast pout. No more stream fun, a shame. And if he had that much fun with a faucet, imagine him around a waterfall. Tail curls around his waist before settling next to Ao'yagi, nose twitched from the familiar scent.   

“Bambi gunna smell like Basshi!” he chortles, “Good smell!” Oddly enough, it's a bit... floral, a subtle mixture of lavender and sunflower. “You like? Gift from Captain! He like plants!” 

So that's what the scent was, no wonder it smells floral and herby.  Ao'yagi only picked up the soap out of instinct but now that he's smelling it does he appreciate the fragrance. 

"Yes, I like it. You mean Captain Izumida? He does seem really nice but he's quite strict, isn't he?" The fae has only been shortly acquainted with the captain during their visit. At first he kept his distance because he was intimidated by the astute man, but seeing Basshi interact with him is he reminded of his relationship with Tado'koro. A good mentor for sure. With his partner beside him did he reach out with the sudsy washcloth proceeding on gently washing the hybrid's torso. 

 

 Oh, his turn to get clean! Basshi's chest puffs out all proud, the toothiest of grins spread across tinted cheeks.

 

“Yeah~,” he nods in enthusiasm, “He super nice to Basshi and family! Taught Basshi lots when young. He like big brother!” Or a second father in a regard. His actual father rarely visits the city, an adventurer and hunter through and through. Can be gone for years on end without a peep. Soon enough he'll have to retire, ain't no spring chicken any more – even his oldest brother has settled to raise a family. Jubei, the middle brother on the other hand, is just like him in a rivalry way. Imagine how much they could accomplish if they worked together. Too bad the stark desire to compete runs in the family. 

 Which brings a question. 

“Bambi alone? No sibling?” Ao'yagi listened intently as he continued to scrub on the hybrid finding human life rather interesting. But then Basshi returned with a question of his own. 

"Yes, I'm an only son. Cer-fae are slow in producing offspring you see. But I'm not lonely. I have Kabu'ragi along with Dan'chiku, Junta and now you as well.~" It was a sincere statement the fae prince was happy to share. Ao'yagi was thankful for the people who cared for him regardless if they were an odd bunch of different races.

So no other prince or princesses then. No doubt Cer-fae reproduce at a much slower speed, much like elves, but perhaps the royal family tends to keep one heir to keep things simple. Ao'yagi has some age, by now he'd think there'll be another lovely sibling to keep him company. But a good point. The fae has great companions, himself included. The beast again nods and reaches up to once more poke the tip of Ao'yagi's nose. 

“Bambi need more!” he chirps back, “We hang with Kuro soon! Captain and family! Basshi want Bambi safe with good people!” That is if his own flock can come to terms with Ao'yagi being... well, different. The prince cross-eyed at the poke, but his ears twitch cheerfully with Basshi's thoughtfulness on wanting for him to get close to his own loved ones. However thinking about it, the fae went a bit downcast since there was still a strain between Cer-fae and other races. 

"They're lovely people but I'm not sure if they'll still accept me if they knew who I really am." He went closer to loosely embrace the hybrid amidst the water, resting his head on Basshi's chest. "You, Kabu and Junta are enough for me." Tail unfurls and takes around the fae's waist, more than pleased by the gesture. Sudsy, warm and wet – rather comforting to say the least. Gently is a kiss placed to the top of the other's head, that sense of protection settled in. 

“We all love Bambi~,” he coos gleefully, “Basshi love most!” For a brief moment, his nose is nuzzled into those golden locks with a long hum. “Bambi sweet, love Basshi as big monster!” Ao'yagi takes in the comfort drawing himself closer. As much as his partner believes he'll be accepted by his loved ones, somehow the prince thought it wouldn't be that simple. He really doesn't mind though. He meant what he said that his small company will suffice. 

"To me, Basshi is Basshi no matter what form you're in. And I know Basshi loves me very much. "The response makes the beast of a man take his partner into a tighter hug, enough to likely make some bones pop. Not in a painful way, of course, he's still sure to keep back most of his strength. 

“And Basshi keep loving Bambi! Bambi do same!” He gives one last kiss before pulling back, gesturing Ao'yagi to do the same. Crimson eyes are brimmed with joy, a nice change in comparison to the exhaustion and frustration that's been building up over the days. Finally at peace. “We get clean? Then rest. Basshi sleepy... Bambi too?” 

"I'll always love Basshi too.~" As both of them pull back to finish washing, Ao'yagi got a small basin to pour water on both of them to rinse out the suds. He then opens the drain so water would be out by the time they're finished bathing. "I think that's enough. And yes, we need to get to bed soon." The fae was the first one to step out of the tub but not before giving Basshi a peck on the lips. He took a towel nearby and proceeded to wipe himself dry fluffing out his furry parts in the process. 

Feels great to get squeaky clean after a romp like that, more so when both hold the same floral scent. Be even better once snuggled up between the she- hrm, where to sleep now? The bed is obviously in no shape for sleep anymore, no less relaxing on. Guess it will have to be the couch, obviously for Ao'yagi. Larger, more comfortable – he's fine with taking over the recliner. 

Instead of stepping out, the beast leaps and lands on all fours. There's another scratch to add onto the tiled floor, oh well. Place will have to be spruced up if or when this curse is rid of anyway. Another odd conversation to come up when his family visits. He shakes off, much like a dog, but with lacking of fur, it doesn't do much at all besides mess up his mane. Whining, he clambers up to Ao'yagi and affectionately head-butts him at the knee. 

 

 “Basshi wet.” 

 No kidding! 

 

Ao'yagi was too busy drying his hair and ears that he didn't notice Basshi saunter in and shake about trying to rid of the excess water until he got sprayed on a little. But then the hybrid also lightly knocks his knee so he simply chuckled and got an extra towel for the other. 

"I'll take care of it then.~" The fae leans down and gently wipes him off with the towel starting with his hair then going lower on his body. Doing this for the hybrid somehow reminds him of Kabu'ragi with how he takes care of the other especially with the childish antics. Only did he let-up when Basshi was relatively dry. "There you go!" 

No need to add a shredded towel in too, completely ruining one thing is bad enough. And it's a good thing Ao'yagi is used to taking care of a 'child,' situations like this must be nothing. Then again, Kabu'ragi is pretty much an adult now (kind of), so is the fae internally despising being a caretaker? With the vast majority dried, the beast offers a toothy grin in thanks. 

“Bambi like father too!” He means well, really. By now Ao'yagi is well aware that some tasks are a burden for him – mentally and physically.  He makes back to his clawed feet, tail balancing out his massive form, and stares inquisitively. Given his mental state, more personal questions come out without hesitation. “Do Bambi want more kids?” 

The fae hums fairly pleased with his work then goes back on his own preening. He puts on a borrowed night shirt from Basshi since he didn't bring one of his own. It was a comfortable wear but it fits the fae more like a dress than anything else given their size difference. Ao'yagi then grabs a comb when the question was brought up. He thinks about how to answer as he was idly brushing.

"Ah, well, I haven't really thought about it. Raising Kabu'ragi is fun, but that's because his mother was close to me so the bonding is instant. But I don't think I would want a child of my own anytime soon just yet." Despite the fae smiling back at Basshi, he was thinking why the other would bring up that kind of question.

As humans do love their wealth and fame, one thing is above all else. Family. At first he wanted little to do with children, so annoying, expensive and a giant headache, but after a while, his niece started to grow on him. He remembers nights he'd cancel plans, be it hunting or fun at the tavern, to babysit – a joy he never thought to have prevalent. This isn't nowhere near the time to settle down, yet the thought is there. Someday. He grins back, after appreciating the lump where the fae's tail sits under the over-sized shirt, a form of grooming comes by brushing his mane with fingertips. Works decently as a comb. 

“Bambi live long. Time to think!” Crimson eyes pass over to the fae, expression softening somewhere along the lines of... coy. Gentle, in spite of his harsh features. “Basshi want kid,” he confirms with a nod, “No like Kabu! Tch!” So it really comes to that with the hunter, huh? Ao'yagi supposes the desire to have a family of one's own is more prevalent on humans given how short their lives were. But then as he thinks about it, Ao'yagi felt a little sad since no way he's able to fit that criteria in Basshi's life. Same sex and different species, it was all too complicated. And just when he realized his love for the human hunter too. 

"I'm sure once you break the curse, you'll be able to find a nice human girl you can settle down and have a child with." The fae tried to sound encouraging, but obviously there was melancholy in his tone. But then Basshi brought up his dislike for Kabu'ragi. Looks like the clash of both their strong personalities doesn't bode well. At least it will serve as a distraction from the issue at hand. "Well Kabu is really expressive and energetic. But I swear he really is a good kid at heart!" 

The thought passed by Basshi too, how he'll never be able to reproduce with the one he fell head over heels for. Troublesome, this 'race' and 'gender.' There is a chance, small as it may be, that one day he'll forget about Ao'yagi – that perhaps this love is nothing but a phase. For all they know, could be a fling onset by their situations – a veil only set by strife and circumstance. And by gods does he hope that isn't the case. The heaviness of the subject finally sets on, his tongue bitten back from his expressing his desires to raise a child with the fae. Always the adoption route like Kabu'ragi. Don't get too far ahead, saying his affections aloud is enough for one day. Distraction, right. 

“He need to prove!” he snaps back in a huff, “Basshi need time with, then... Basshi love like Bambi do?” A step in the right direction. Better yet, if he can accept Kabu'ragi as his own child then... Well, that solves the 'issue,' in a way. No baby or toddler, yet it seems the goat is a handful even as a teenager. 

"Yes, I'm sure if you spend more time with Kabu you'll get to like him somehow." Now there's a nice thought. Ao'yagi is sure Basshi and Kabu wouldn't be too chummy right away, yet if they just do more together, that can change. "I'll let you visit my home often when you've settled in back in the cave. We can even disguise you like did with me so you can move around my village." Now there was a plan if ever he says one himself. Plus the harvest festival of the Cer-fae is getting near. Just maybe Basshi can get to see that. As much as Ao'yagi is occupied with his reverie, he yawns nonchalantly finally realizing how tired he is. He puts the brush away and takes Basshi's hand with a tug. "Let's rest up? Got a busy day tomorrow." 

To actually be within the legendary Cer-fae village, what a treat that would be. No clue how a rugged, strapping human like himself can blend in, yet there's a gut feeling that Junta could solve that. Surely the demon has taken a visit or two, one way or another. 

“Sound fun!” he chirps with a long wag of his tail, “First compass.” Much as he'd love to spend days with the fae that aren't with an air of urgency, laid back days are best to avoid. At least until they find a solid lead, somewhere to start. As the fae yawns, the beast follows with one as well. Contagious. He squeezes at the hand and nods, the weariness just as heavy. He leads Ao'yagi off to the front room and gestures for him to sit atop the couch. “Bed bad, this nice. Bambi wait, Basshi fetch blankets and pillows~!” Enthusiastic, as if about to do a chore for his master. 

Ao'yagi thought the same with Junta helping out with Basshi's disguise. Sure the incubus has visited his village a couple of times out of curiosity, but after that Junta had found it rather boring with how uptight and mundane most Cer-fae are – so he doesn't bother much with visits after that. 

Ao'yagi kept on holding onto Basshi's hand until they reach the front room. With the bed out of commission, the couch will do for now. The fae takes a seat stretching as Basshi sets off to collect some bedding they can use. 

 

With that, the beast heads straight upstairs to gather an impressive amount of pillows and the blankets (thankfully) still intact. Given his claws, it's difficult to dress himself without shredding, so he opts to remain naked. Normally at least some expendable trousers are on beforehand, but not today. Just Ao'yagi he'll be around with anyway, no troubles. 

“Bambi be comfy~,” he sing-songs on his way down, minding his footing with vision being blocked. The mountain is dropped in front of the fae, tail squirming about like he's waiting be praised. “Basshi do good?” Ao'yagi wastes no time sorting out the pillows and blankets spreading it out across the couch until it looked comfortable. Once the fae was satisfied, he pounced on Basshi so the other would fall back on the couch lying on his back and he was lying on top of the hybrid. 

"Basshi is so good to me.~" He cuddled closely occasionally giving kisses to the other feeling extra affectionate. He thought a little more coddling would do them good. Supposed to take over the recliner, but what reason is there to say no to the extra attention? He's all smiles, a chuckle low in his chest, with tail thudding along to further address the enjoyment.   

“Cause Basshi love Bambi!” he barks with a nod against the pillow, “Basshi cook big meal in morning, need strength! Day be better than last, have feeling. Basshi right!” By now, hopefully Ashi'kiba found a lead. And if not, there's always more questioning... as stressful as that can be. 

"I love you too.~" Suppose they both sound like a broken record now, but who's to blame them with how giddy they are with their new-found affection during a crisis. Ao'yagi simply snuggled further, the fatigue of the day finally washing over him. He gives one final thought of recollection of the day's events and what they would have to do tomorrow. "I'd love to,” a pause for a long yawn, “eat Basshi's cooking. Busy day again." 

Before the fae knew it, he was out like a light – smiling peacefully atop his lover.

 

“Goodnight Bambi.”

Chapter Text

The front door rattles from fervent pounding, a voice cloaked.

 

Dawn. Usually a dreaded time for the hunter, yet he awakes refreshed and in his human form; like the transformation back never took place. Either the effects of the potions thus far have worked their magic or the previous night stunned the effects. No matter of which, Basshi becomes alert of the desperate knocks. Ao'yagi only rouses when shook at a shoulder. A shame when was still dead asleep atop him.

“Wake up, please!” No denying who it is by that tone, so the human slides out from under his companion and answers; if still groggy. “Oh thank goodness you're still here.” Ashi'kiba, a large book and bundled papers in arms, steps inside – door closed off during a lengthy yawn from Basshi. “Sorry to come this early, but I- ahhh! B-B-Basshi!”

“Hrrrrm?” A scratch at tangled hair, a confused look at the additionally panicked elf. What's that about? “You... have information?” 

“Y-yes but...” The tome comes up to shield the wizard's view and reddened face. “Can you p-please dress yourself first?!”

 

---

 

An under-sight on Basshi's behalf. Answering the door not wearing a stitch comes with the early morning, especially when the night before was a long one. Pleasantries and not. So before embarrassment killed the elf, Basshi and Ao'yagi went off to properly dress themselves and prepare for the day. From what the wizard explained the information he's gathered isn't of hasty importance, so may as well take advantage of the downtime before the next step.

As the hunter promised, a large breakfast is made – accommodating the elven guest as well and further teaching the fae how to use electric appliances before getting down to business. Chewing a portion of pancakes, Ashi'kiba flips to the section bookmarked in the tome.

“Mount Kamu'shi,” he starts pointing at the displayed map, “far up in the Ho'flur region. I'm almost sure that's where the mages reside.” Basshi narrows his gaze. Unlike his father, he hasn't traveled far outside the vast forest territory surrounding Hakone. Least not yet. Ja'pa is home to all climates, from scorching desserts of the south and frigid mountains of the north. Where they are now, the dense forest in the middle, it would take weeks to traverse up the snowcapped zone known as Ho'flur. 

“Almost sure?” Basshi repeats after swallowing down a helping of scrambled eggs. Much as he's focused on moving forward with this information, he can't help but notice the swish of Ao'yagi's tail as he maws down on the meal – still oh-so enticed by new human cuisine. When will it stop being cute?! His throat clears. “So you're not sure.”

“Ninety percent says I am. The magical anomalies, if masked by distance and uncanny spells used to hide a powerful presence, points to here being where Nym and the other elite mages are.” The wizard gulps down another bite. “The only other strong magical presence on this continent is at So'hoku, the elven capital in Chi. And we're well aware they have no connection with the mages we're tracking down. This has to be a lead!”

“So you want us to investigate.” Ao'yagi finally speaks up, his plate already cleaned off. So fast! “You do realize the barren wasteland we'd be stepping into.” The Sika Clan, diverging from Cer-fae of other territories and fae in general, have shut themselves off from any other contact besides the trusted trade groups of Centaur. Heck, even maps have been banned in hopes to not encourage exploration. In Ao'yagi's favor, Junta's library is never ending and interesting for the curious prince. “And distance. Ninety isn't a hundred, we can't risk on a hunch. I doubt mages have open portals to what essentially is a dead region.”

“We don't, but...” Ashi'kiba pushes over the rolled parchments he brought along. “Locations spells, brief ones. While I can't pinpoint the exact location, Jun-chan and either your people could. Cer-fae are gifted in time and portal magics, correct? If studied, there's sure to be a quick way to prove this hunch. Poof! You can be there in no time!” The prince's ears lay flat.

“That's true, though I'd rather my clan stay out of this. It's my responsibility to retrieve the compass.”

“Buah, our responsibility.” Basshi corrects, a mug of coffee in hand, “And we'll use every resource we got! Turning to the Cer-fae will be our last resort. Said you believe in Junta, yeah?” Ao'yagi and Ashi'kiba share a warmed smile. The hunter is right, incubus magic goes beyond the mortal realm – proven by his feats to this day. More clues can be gathered. “Need to take a visit to his lair anyway, ask what my next step is in resolving this damned curse. So will bring a parchment along and see what he can do. Of course giving greeting from you as well, Shikiba.”

“Oh Basshi~,” the wizard giggles, bubbly side returning, “a step ahead as always! As for you, Ao'yagi?”

“Well, being there with Junta wi-”

“You're going home.” Stern, to the point; Basshi interrupts along with an intense gaze at the fae. “Remember what you said. We have something, so that means take some time to spend with your son. Even if a few hours. I'll handle the next steps.” The prince is shocked as he is relieved by those words. Basshi's bluntness is harsh, yet what better way to get across the truth? Plus with the mental connection he shares with Junta, it will be effortless to receive updates. His response is leaning up against the hunter's shoulder with a nod, tufted ears becoming relaxed. Basshi in turn nuzzles a cheek against his golden locks, glossing over the stump where an antler once was. The love expressed yesterday shines faithful, as far as for Ashi'kiba gushing at the tender moment.

 

“Awwww!” he delightedly squeals, “You two make a cute couple~.”

“.... Buah?!”

“E-eeeeh?!”

 

The pair separate instantly due to embarrassment. It came so naturally! Ashi'kiba smirks ear to ear, sparkles and flowers practically blooming around him with the sweet expression.

“Speaking my mind 'tis all~. Pleased to know the next steps. It's been ages, but if you can convince Jun-chan to give me updates by magical means, I'd be most appreciative!” Right, right. Next course of action. Basshi brings the set of papers towards him in a hard nod.

“I owe you far more than you're aware of, Shikiba.”

“I'm sure Basshi will do his best, now and after this is done.”

 

--- 

 

After packing some supplies from the hunter's home – sure to include a parcel of human delicacies for Ao'yagi – they're off on their next adventure. Almost. Before reaching the outskirts of the city, the prince brings up that they should update Tado'koro. With being busy scouring for information only by daylight, they have yet to take a visit to the kind werebear and give a formal goodbye. May as well while they have the opportunity.

They catch Tado'koro as he's about to run his morning errands and are offered a ride back, which they heartily accept. Gives ample time to explain the updated story, though partway up the road to Suso, Tado'koro takes a turn down a dirt trail that leads into a section of the forest.

“Did a squirrel custom order from you? Buaha!” Basshi jests, the prince close at his side as they pass over the bumps and ditches of the beaten path. “Or you taking a shortcut for our sake?”

“Actually, there's something I'd like to show you. Buckle up!” A flick of the reins and the mare goes into a full sprint, the wagon disappearing into the thick of trees. “A surprise! One our prince will enjoy!” The fae's cowl flips off, despite his best efforts clinging to his companion, but thankfully not a trouble being away from human eyes. A reckless driver this werebear is!

“I don't understand!” Ao'yagi shouts over the loud clatter, “Please slow down Tado!”

“You will lad! And the faster the better! Nothing like a morning ride to get the blood pumping!” His jovial laugh bellows across the woods. A good thing the prince trusts Tado'koro with his life, otherwise this situation would come off as fishy and even terrifying. Among the mayhem does he hold a smile, sequentially dulling Basshi's uncertainty. Assuming this is simply a regular behavior for the baker. Interesting to say the least.

 

A few minutes of heedless driving later, the company reach an open area of the woodland – a flat circle of dirt that appears man-made. Ao'yagi is more than happy to step off the wagon and end the nightmare, head spun in all directions. What intense motion sickness! Robust as the hunter may be, he also feels the dizziness; stomach in knots.

“Dammit Tado! You could have warned us!”

“You kids catch your breath,” Tado'koro responds - not affected - with a book in hand, “need some time to set up.” He steps up to the center point of the circle and begins to draw out designs atop the dirt with a fallen branch. Moving straight away would likely end in disaster, so Ao'yagi and Basshi do indeed take this time to relax. Lesson learned, be prepared next time there's an unexpected trip off course. Water and a small snack does the trick, then accompanying the bear almost finished with his work.

“A... summoning circle?” questions Ao'yagi once given a proper look. Not of fae runes either, it matches advanced spells in elven tomes – from what he's seen in Junta's library. It's vast and elaborate, taking up the majority of open space. “Do you know arcane magic?”

“Not a lick! Just 'ordered' to draw this out, like always. Eventually will memorize it.” The final marks etched out, Tado'koro adds an item to the center – an unrecognizable torn garment though only by eyes. Ao'yagi's nose twitches, the scent is somehow... familiar. He can't put his finger on it. Instead of further questions, he stands at a distance and watches Tado'koro proceed. Basshi is just as bewildered but knows whatever inquiries will be answered soon.

 

Then when the werebear reads out a spell in elvish, the craved symbols slowly but surely radiated with a soft blue glow. A surge of raw mana surrounds them, the air heavy as if atop a mountain's peak. Besides being far away from human establishments, Ao'yagi understands why this spot was chosen to perform these rituals – only noticeable till this moment. A well of raw mana is underneath the sight. Which are rare given how humans and elves have dug up and drained the majority within the woods; excluding ones in the Cer-fae village. Must be under strict protection of the were-folk, is what he concludes.

As the spell commences, wave after wave of potent aura gravitate towards the midpoint – their eyes shielded from the sapphire gleam. Tado'koro's voice roars none-the-less, the final words proceeded with a flash of light. Once dissipated, the chirp of birds filling the silence, a figure wearing the offered tattered garbs stands before them.

 

It's.... that's her!” Ao'yagi's jaw hangs agape. There's no doubt, she's the Cer-fae slave from his first arrival! How could he forget the person he left behind in a such a distraught state? Tado'koro stuffs the book away, a smile lighting up his exhausted features.

“Success!” He approaches the young woman and offers a hand for support. “Are you alright, miss?” She steadies herself against him whilst scanning the surroundings – brown eyes overrun in relief. The prince is struck silent, unmoving; witnessing what he deems a miracle. How? Why?

“Y-yes...” the doe begins in a weak tone, “We r-really... are in my forest. I can't t-thank you enough!” Grateful tears stream down her freckled cheeks as she embraces the other. “I'm free... I'm free!”

“... Well Gods be damned...” Basshi observes in the same mix of confusion and relief. This had to be planned ahead. It's a fact Tado'koro and other renegades have been rescuing enslaved fae yet to save this doe in particular isn't some coincidence. It can't be! There's hundreds, hell, thousands of fae imprisoned after all. The only logical answer falls to the stone passed off to Ao'yagi. A type of communication device much like the compasses? His train of thought is interrupted by a sniffle, the prince trembling.

“I'm sorry...” His head hangs while fallen to his knees, upmost sincerity on display. Ever since that day, Ao'yagi has been plagued with guilt. Sure he witnessed others of his kind in shackles but not to the length of seeing physical abuse in action. Her screams and desperate pleads flash by. “I'm sorry... I couldn't do anything... I failed. For you and as-"

 

“A prince.” Her delicate voice finishes and finds the strength to move towards him – knees wobbled. “Tado'koro told me everything. There's no need to be in shame. You're doing what's best for our people.” Kneeling, a benevolent smile comes to her face; the bruises she once sported faded. “You're a leader for a reason. So please... don't be discouraged, my lord.” 

As their eyes met, Ao'yagi is struck silent yet again. A once helpless Cer-fae smiling, her devotion strong as ever as if her abuse was some terrible nightmare. Despite their troubled times, one thing is for sure, Cer-fae can never be torn apart.

“I... I...”

“You don't have to say anything.” The doe shakes her head. Like Tado'koro, she extends a hand out. “Let's start over. Mi'ki, my name is Mi'ki! A pleasure to be in your presence, sir Ao'yagi~.” There's no reason to grovel any longer, what's done is done. Leave it there. In a nod, he takes the hand and they stand – a waggle in their fluffed tails. She then looks up at the human. “And Basshi, correct? I owe you my thanks as well.”

“Tch, it was nothing.” Causal and cool, nothing short of the charismatic huntsman. “I trust you'll keep what Tado'koro has told you a secret.”

“Of course, sir! I may be a simple smith alongside my brother but these tales could stir up trouble. I've been gone so long... I'm unsure how to explain my absence. To him and my life-mate...” As stated prior, it felt like an eternity living in shackles – reality it being a mere decade. Cer-fae perceive time at a different rate even if ten years a hefty toll for a human, though what she's seen and felt will last lifetime. With magic stunned for so long, she's aged faster from once a youthful teen to a near adult in the fraction of time for normal fae. What her companions have been involved with during this time... if they'll even recognize her anymore.

“Tell them the truth.” Basshi's arms fold over his chest, emphasizing the statements. “About your enslavement that is. You were captured and then saved by our friendly forest bear. But do add in some 'kindhearted people' aided along the way, be it humans or elves. Tell your people we aren't all pieces of shit, buah!”

“I'll explain it in different terms,” she giggles, humans sure are strange people. A pleasurable and different take from the slavers she been among the passing years. “But I'll surely do!”

“And I'll help.” Ao'yagi's gaze shifts at Mi'ki, proud and true to his royalty. “I'll be returning to the village today and will gladly escort you back as well supporting your story. It would be my honor.” Miki's expression hints embarrassment, tufted ears affixed backwards. Doing craftsman work for the Cer-fae royals is far different than experiencing them in person.

“And what a plan it is!” Tado'koro comes between them, squeezing the three into a  tight bear hug. What strength! “The pleasant reuniting continues. Was no trouble assisting, your smiles are the only payment needed!” Trials and tribulation apart, cheesy laughter is shared.

 

---

 

Basshi's suspicion about the fae-stone were correct – the werebear explaining it indeed was able to pick up voice cues and locate the owner. A tracker and one way communication device, a lesser form of the compass can say. Tado'koro didn't explain its other properties due to keeping the surprise, planned ahead of time to part with Ao'yagi on a cheerful note in witnessing a recuse. Of course it wasn't an easy task of securing Mi'ki in a short period of time, yet he promises the process went over with no bloodshed. Messy but nonviolent, a gesture Ao'yagi can truly appreciate.

As Mi'ki eats up for the journey back home – equally enticed by Tado'koro's cooking – Basshi brings his companion off to a private area. Ao'yagi is all too curious about the abrupt seclusion, must be words to keep away from public ears. Once Basshi finds a fallen tree to sit upon and the prince rids of his messy makeup, a pat is made on a leg.

“Come take a seat~.” Can't be too serious with the playful tone. The prince puts on a smile and happily accepts the offer; back pressed to his chest. Basshi's massive lap plays off as the perfect chair, so comfortable and warm. Once looking to him, he's met with a tender kiss – ears shot straight up. That came from nowhere!

“What? Can't be that surprised I want to kiss the one I love.” Their foreheads bumped, color immediately rises to the prince's cheeks. Took time and patience to grow accustomed to Basshi's prior displays of affection as it is! Ao'yagi can't help the embarrassment, was only yesterday with their love confession after all. Silent, the hunter continues on. “And now you see why I wanted to do this away from Tado and Mi'ki. Suffering the awkwardness around Shikiba was bad enough. Thought it'd be proper to give you a fonder goodbye than simply saying it.”

A gentleman as he is cocky, two traits Ao'yagi hasn't imagined mixing together. If only his son could adopt that balance instead of the constant whining and arrogant attitude to have his way. A stereotype of one raised in higher society. Yet the goatling still has a lot of growing under his belt, and now, can see Basshi eventually being a good influence. Fantasies of the far future can be left aside, there's no need to dwell – the present is what matters. And currently, Basshi is being sweet as sugar. Fair he'd get the same attention back.

After the shock fades, the fae responds in a kiss of his own. It's Basshi's turn to be caught off guard, only for a split second, as their bodies are lost in the moment. The prince pivots by his hips to instead straddle his partner's lap and plunges deep into their locked lips. 

Though this time they aren't overthrown into lust and newfound emotions. Softly at first, then an increased gradation of intimacy that made Ao'yagi cling on tight as if Basshi was his only balance in these rocky circumstances. Breaths light as air, others disappearing from existence; now only them and them alone. Basshi holds him by the hips and keeps their clothed bodies compressed, stirs of erratic heartbeats syncing to gentle pulses. Mouths fall lazily, soft and open much as when eyes meet. Golden and turquoise mingle, emotions stirred as they did the night before.

 

Peaceful yet radiant bliss.

 

“Sure you'll be alright getting home...?” asks Basshi against his soft lips, a line drawn how far they can push. Much as he'd love to relish the fawn's company, time plays hell on their side. “Can escort you and Mi'ki there.”

“No,” comes the swift answer, “we'll be fine. You need to get to Junta. I'll be back... straight away in the morning. I'll come back to you, Basshi...” 
 

One last kiss sealing their goodbye, the divided adventure resumes.

 

--- 

 

Glad this still works. Be lost without it.”

 

Unlike the broken and stolen compass, Basshi's given item possesses minor properties in communication and lesser enchantments. The value is still immense being made of pure gold and advanced clockwork magic interwoven, but stands no fair game to Ao'yagi's. In all the fae's years, it's only now that it's been taken from his hands from a powerful entity; rest being petty thievery easily taken care of in a matter of minutes. He wonders if the relationship they share would be as close without the predicament yet again; the reason they've bonded only due to strife. No no, such negative thoughts aren't to be had. Especially as he's about to meet with Junta and discuss the next steps of his curse. As well as locating the compass.

The entrance stone is easier to locate this time. Basshi accesses the incubus' lair and tracks him down through the maze of corridors. As expected, he's in the study chamber; greeted by an outstretched hand.

“Parchment please~.” Right off the bat means business. Ao'yagi has obviously updated him during the walking journey. Just as adamant, the scroll given by the court wizard is passed over.

“Shikiba says 'hi.'”

“Cute.” No emotion, a lifeless response – Junta flutters over to the main station and studies the scroll on the spot. Ashi'kiba's doodle like handwriting hasn't changed a bit, least that brings a smirk. The hunter perks a brow.

“Guessing you don't want to talk about it.”

“I don't wish to talk about anything, not while I'm busy. So please make yourself at home while I take care of this.” A dismissive hand wave is added over a shoulder. Earlier learned there's no use arguing when Junta fixed himself on a task, so Basshi does just that. Returning to the living room area without a word, shoes kicked off and part of armor stripped, he unwinds. 

Can't do much else when plenty has to be discussed anyway, enjoy the break while it's here. It does give the chance to do some research too. Ao'yagi mentioned a 'harvest festival' coming up, which did peek in interest in Cer-fae traditions. Overall something he should get into due to their bonding. So once a book is located on the topic – easy enough in Junta's organized library and majority in the shared Common language – he kicks back and lets time pass by.

 

And boy does it.

 

Hours tick by, each unrealized due to distractions. Basshi found himself engrossed, far as to pull many books to cross reference; pages beyond pages dedicated to knowing Ao'yagi's people. There's the obvious facts of their magical abilities to the advanced in-depth workings of culture. Tribes that expand far past what is known in Hakone's forest, all sharing the trait of pronounced antlers of males. Light to dark skin and pelts on ears, but they aren't as obvious than their allies; the Bovi-fae. Diverse, different extreme features depending on the region. Kabu'ragi and Dan'chiku proves that alone but they go far beyond the goat and sheep attributes here in Hakone. 

Basshi may have hunted them in past but never stumbled into knowing them – as a race, a dignified society. Not just their horns or pelts as a display piece. But that's humans as a whole, they simply care about themselves and whatever items their greedy hands can grab to boast upon. Here he realizes there's a striking resemblance to Ao'yagi and his sheltered, rumor-filled upbringing. They've been both left in the dark in order to be 'safe' from the outside world. Disgust runs through his veins, equal to the reveal. Ao'yagi was enough to change his ways and through the added research, his morals have changed as a whole.

 

“Exhausting...” Basshi's reading, onto his fifth book now, is interrupted by the incubus' arrival – who looks to be drained of life. Pale, shivering; wings barely holding his weight as he glides into the kitchen for a tea refresh. The hunter keeps his tongue, as he did through the studying hours, but changes when instead Junta takes a seat on the couch nearby. So he's finally taking a break? It's then too the human feels how strained his eyes become; a rub at his temple to alleviate the growing headache.

“Yeah it is,” Basshi groans, “exerted ourselves.” Junta furrows his brows upon the first sip of tea, pale eyes examining what the other has been up too. It has been a brief glance until now, figuring he was just indulging himself in human literature to pass time, though is pleasantly surprised to see the stack of fae study upon the table. Didn't waste a single minute then.

“Been busy too, an interesting human to be studying faes so willingly. Your fondness for Ao'yagi is showing~.” Causal as the lines play off to be, Basshi face flares red. Did Ao'yagi also inform the incubus of their affections? The love they share? Isn't a big deal if so, yet the embarrassment shows.

“W-wanting to know more isn't a horrible thing. Especially when speaking with a knowledge hungry demon like yourself. Figured use this day to inform myself rather than scratching my ass. Guessing your scrawny ass has done the same?”

“Scrawny?” Junta repeats in a mildly offended tone, “You've had plenty of time to study my ass and yet come to that conclusion? Heh, Ao'yagi seems to like it, so I'll let that pass. A matter of opinion~.” Is he trying to get to Basshi's nerves? Likely, wouldn't be the first time. The hunter slides the statement aside, throat cleared, and gets back to the main focus.

“So what have you found so far?” Boo, Junta doesn't look impressed at the reaction. Though he supposed teasing is suited for a better time. Soon. Another sip taken, manicured nails then idly run through his tangled locks. Has been a long day, about time to affix his vain side during the chatter.

“Shikiba has done a wonderful job tracking down the location in Ho'flur. I had the same assumptions really. The flow of magic is far too erratic to point on normal fluxes, especially in a secluded region. Powerful entities live there, another reason why mortals can't settle themselves there for long besides the blizzards, though the current momentum has been off putting.” A relieved smile is on the hunter's face, it's not just their elven friend feeling it! 

“So you agree Mount Kamu'shi is our next investigation point?”

“Yes, can say I'm ninety percent certain that's where these mages hide.” Same as Ashi'kiba, go figure. Though Basshi did expect more from the demon, his higher caliber magic has proven resourceful in this short period. Then again, he hasn't seen the full potential of the court wizard either. About the same magical level despite the racial difference? Except- 

“Then you can send Ao'yagi and I there, right?”

“Nope.” The bluntness rivals the hunter's! “And I know what you're going to say, 'why not' yes? Simple. While Shikiba's magical will, and other combined wizards, won't allow it due to distance and lack of connection to the region... mine is too obvious. Remember how I said any magic drawn towards the compass could bring suspicion? How that aura can be traced back to me, in turn to yourself and Ao'yagi?” Basshi simply nods to confirm. “Same goes for this location. Powerful as demon magic is, I'm not... taking the risk creating a portal. How can I say it... my magic is 'louder' than mortal types. Doing such would break any sort of espionage. We'd be ducks waiting to be shot."

Another piece of the puzzle. Basshi would be discouraged by the update but yet there's still hope. Again, something to work off to. He scoots closer to the demon, highlighting his response and dedication.

“But unlike Shikiba, you found an exact location on Kamu'shi. Where the mages are.” This time Junta nods. “Then that's wonderful news! All we need now is a discrete way to transport us there! Meaning we have to turn to-”

 

“-the Cer-fae.” They answer at the exact same time, good to know on the same track. Though Junta immediately follows.

“They still need time to make the spell. I've already informed Ao'yagi of my research. So he'll be admitting the loss of the compass in order to gain their trust and aid. Though he will be leaving details out, like your assistance and other tidbits to make things simple.”

“Then... I won't be able to help anymore. Be reliant on the Cer-fae alone.” The hunter's expression sinks. He promised Ao'yagi he'd be alongside him till the end!

“Don't draw those conclusions yet, silly human~.” Junta's head falls to the other's shoulder, reassuring – a long sigh fluttered over his lips. “Let time play its course.” If learned anything from the days of Ashi'kiba's scrutiny, it's all about waiting. That case in mind, perhaps it's now best to clear up some curious questions. Obviously the incubus wants to get his mind away from the situation in order to relax – perhaps now he's willing to answer.

“About Shikiba... know he refers to you by 'Jun-chan?' What's that about, a cutesy nickname?" The incubus expected this, more so with the elf dragged into the affair. Human nature to be curious in subjects they're not involved in. Gossip greedy. Better to let it out now before pushed on further.

“An Elven thing,” he begins, “they use honorifics like 'kun, 'san' and 'chan,' list beyond those, dependent on who they're referring to. It's a part of their language. 'Kun' is a friendly note added to male friends to show kinship, shorted to 'Jun' too. 'Cutesy,' as you put it.” 

“Go figure, elven language is a strange one. But can't be all bad if still call him 'Shikiba.' Only his close friends can get away with that, myself included!”

“Supposed I got used to it. He is the first person I came across with when newly exiled to this mortal plane.” Whoops, that's going to bring up further questions. Supposes nostalgia is the mood the incubus is in anyway seeing as he briefly sits up to take a sip of tea and prattles on. “Shikiba was a bullied, outcast mage when we met. I was drawn to him only by the music he played on his piano in Hakone's castle garden. Still thankful I got away with entering the territory and not getting a scratch. Fate, something like that. But according to him, I unleashed his potential as a wizard as we kept meeting and he quickly grew to be the court wizard he is today.”

“Shown off your demonic magic then, eh?” Interest grows in Basshi. Much as Ao'yagi, he's been neglected of this part of past stories involving the elf. Though he can't blame Ashi'kiba. Being buddy-buddy with a demon never turns out well.

“Indeed. It's then I wanted to break from the 'norm' that most demons were, actually still are to this day. Preying on humanity, using them as nothing but tools. Figured since I've grown close to Shikiba, I could with others too. Show them demons aren't so bad.” He nuzzles back on the hunter, voice lowering. “But that turned to shit quick. When he got invited to the castle to be dubbed the part of the court, I was invited as well as his 'inspiration' and 'teacher,' the one who helped him become strong. But... Shikiba promised I'd be alright, that he'd protect me. Impossible. Not with who I am.”

“A demon? Yeah... humanity has yet to understand how important and trustworthy your kind is. Pisses me off after what I've seen... after all you did to help.” Again they're on the same thought pattern, how amusing. The incubus bobs his head.

“Exactly. I was ridiculed, given false accusations despite my clear friendship with Shikiba. Our trust meant nothing to them. So that's when I hid away. From Shikiba and humanity as a whole, only occasionally visiting in disguise for supplies and at Ao'yagi's village so he'd have company. True friendship means little to me if I can't show it publicly. I do all I can but I know if I show my true self, these damned horns and wings excluding my race as a whole, there's no point. Better to shut myself away and let my actions speak in private. I don't blame Shikiba, it's my heritage that haunts me.”

Silence for a solid minute, Basshi is unsure how to respond at first. The incubus is miles beyond simple teasing and study for amusement – a complex character is hidden beneath. Same goes for the fae. They're people, wanting to be accepted and somehow live peacefully in this world. Comes to no surprise why demons lash out. Misjudged, exiled for the smallest of reasons. The hunter takes a deep breath.

“Then why don't you study illusion magic deeper? Pretty sure you'd be able to blend in!”

“Just to be found out eventually, what's the point? Build friendships to be shot down the moment my glamour fades, even for just a second. So I came to accept there's no 'world' for me here, it's the small encounters that matter.” Limp, he leans onto Basshi as if he's a pillow. “Like Ao'yagi. And can say you too. You're a plaything also, don't get me wrong~.” A hand interlocks with the human's upon his lap, idle yet can't help but feel it's intended.

Honesty may be on display though Basshi holds an aching feeling this is a ploy. But why, because he's a demon? Grown up in a racist environment, it's difficult to shake the feeling so soon. Yet... after all that magic work, Junta is drained of mana isn't he? Why he's lethargic and at the lengths of personal rambling like a depressed, drunken sod venting to a bartender after a hard day.

 

Sex... it's power to the incubus and their female counterpart. How they thrive with such power in the mortal realm. Would be a means to repay Junta, wouldn't it? Especially after he's worked this hard to help him and Ao'yagi. But again that aching sensation sinks in, this is a trap! And by no means is he falling for it without a 'fight.'

 

“Thanks for clearing things up,” he begins, “and for finally taking a break. But don't think tea will be a proper solution to your mana problem.” The tone fluctuation, there's no doubt of the implications – least to the mind of an incubus. He turns upwards for their eyes to meet, both showing off a toothy grin.

“Oh? Are you suggesting you'd help in some way? Funny. To think Ao'yagi was enough... bet you've been curious since the beginning though. My capabilities are unknown.”

“I have not,” the hunter scoffs back, “course Ao'yagi is enough! Figured be fair payment for the work you've done, that's all.” The demon's interest plummets by that single statement. He eases off Basshi and returns to his tea. Good, still warm. Basshi is taken aback by the sudden coldness. Did he say something wrong? “What? You think I won't be good enough?”

“In a way. Proven yourself to be rather boring.”

Boring?!” A growl, deep a guttural – how rude! But before lashing out, the company resumes.

“For payment only? Where's the fun in that, no lust or thrill? Simply boring. Would be a mindless romp with nothing attached. So humans being humans.” So the demon wants to fight too then? His terms are difficult ones to check off though, with being in love with Ao'yagi and all.

Wait- would this count as cheating? Betraying Ao'yagi?

Clear that they've shared the sheets on multiple occasions in the recent past, yet there isn't an established relationship. Same with himself and the Cer-fae. Basshi takes the offer as it is, just a fun time. No feelings, Junta being attractive and exotic doesn't change that. Sex is the perfect payment for an incubus, Ao'yagi will understand that right?

Right. He's right. His mind is made up.

 

Junta is obviously pulling this stunt to stir the pot; flare up reactions. Normally Basshi would take the heat of the moment route, simply pinning Junta down and getting it over with, yet the idea of a mental battle is intriguing. Plus in a way he agrees with the demon. Making this interesting is all the more fun.

“Tch! Knowing your immortality, you've probably fucked a lot of strange creatures. Can see why I'd come off as 'boring.' You'd probably laugh if I failed to perform and satisfy you... which I won't. Guarantee that.”

A challenge then, hrm? Perhaps this could work...” In turn Junta shows off the most shit eating of grins, as if saying 'wouldn't you like to know.' Naturally there is a variety he's shared time with, but bragging won't take this anywhere. Perhaps another time.

“Only a little,” he hums, amusement restored, “But I'd keep in mind not to hurt your delicate sensibilities. If you don't want me to crack up, then you'd better try your hardest. Will be rooting for you~.”

“Do I sense some eagerness now? Curiosity? How about my beast form you're oh-so-proud of creating? That's when things get interesting.” Least, by what's been proven from the following night. Won't spare that detail, along with the lingering soreness. “Hope you don't mind a few claw marks... could tear you up like your precious couch. Buah!”

Ouch. Now that strikes a nerve, a good and bad one. Rest in pieces once beloved furniture. But as Basshi won't admit specifics, the demon shall do the same – there is a fascination in examining the half-breed form in 'full detail.' Another new experience added to his book. Have to wait till nightfall in a few hours for the test, but doesn't mean the teasing can come to an end. Even the idea of fun beforehand sparks up. Build up is the most stimulating part. So Basshi isn't boring after all. 

“Oh please, I'd be disappointed if you didn't mark me up. Your proposition has mildly caught my interest.” Is the truth, almost. His drink is finished off and places the teacup aside. “However that says nothing of your normal, human state. Quite the robust man, seeing you shirtless and all, but are those making up for... 'someplace' else~?” Oh, so it turns to this; the hunter can't help the snickers that spill out. All about dick size, no matter the race.

“A sex expert like yourself will be impressed, let's say that. In terms of humans that is. Bet my gold on it!” A bold statement, so Junta's assumptions were wrong? Figured the massive upstairs plus massive downstairs don't go together, from what previous adventurous have proved. But be hard to compare without experiencing it first-hand. With his hand.

“Without knowing who I’ve been with, that's a brave declaration Basshi. I'll gladly take your gold.” Eyes hold in a molten glare, sparks of challenge practically felt – an added tail flick to broaden the smugness. The hunter responds with a shrug, the same vibe of unimpressed shown. Blowing hot air. He stands with a long stretch, neck cracked from side to side.

“Then should freshen up before the show starts, hrm? Suggest you do the same, you reek of tea and shitty comebacks.”

“By all means, don't go out of your way for little old me~. Won't debate you stink though.” The line is delivered with a crinkle of his nose. Through these few minutes, it's clear that something is going to happen – even if to play around and fail. Or bromidic. 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained' as the saying goes. In the end, both won the playful debate; also a loss on the giving into temptations side. “My my, your nose must be sensitive to smell words too~.”

“Buah. Then agree a bath is in order?”

“Of course, I'll even wash your back for you~.”

 

With that, the pair head off to the demon's extravagant indoor lake – whatever transpires surely not to be boring.

Chapter Text

Basshi's nose upturned in a huff as his remaining armor is stripped. Best to ignore and leave the statement out that he finds washing one another as a bonding experience. Well, now he does thanks to Ao'yagi. And intimacy is the last thing he'd like to share.

“There's plenty of room.” The hunter juts a finger at the demon, stern. “So no touching yet, got it?” Unlikely get the point across but there's no harm in trying.

“Of course, of course,” comes the reply, shedding of what little clothing he had on. Didn't bother elegantly dressing up when knew he'd be spending the majority of the day in advanced study. Makes things easy. The delicate and almost pointless scraps of clothing are tossed aside without a care, assumed they won't be needed anymore for the rest of their time together. “But if anyone's impatient, I'd wager back it's you. Do have plenty of time on my hands~.”

“Tch, whatever.” Stepping into the cool waters, his gaze wonders over to the nude demon – the curious itch hard to ignore. Lithe, uneventful – figured so with Junta's attire leaving little to the imagination. Not awful, a typical boyish physique, but reprieves Ao'yagi pulls it off better. Likely love talking. Or the fae freckles. “Buah, don't worry. Your hands will be busy soon enough.” Junta almost takes a keen glance at the hunter's body, sadly missing out on the 'important part' as he sinks in. Will be handling it soon, so it's not much of a worry. 

“But they could be busy now, if you really wanted~,” he teases back, approaching him. “But fine, I'll play along and keep things slow.” He slumps in nearby against a rock-face, slender limbs stretched out with his wings. Hasn't been this drained in at least a decade, perplexing to say the least. Easily sleep as a means to restore part of his mana store, but of course the propositioned takes the cake. And since Basshi first arrived, the scent of Ao'yagi has been lingering. Less than a day since they shared sheets too. Delicious. Again, teasing the hunter about it will get them nowhere. To his surprise, Basshi is the first to make a move despite the notion to keep this leisure.

“Suppose you can have a taste first,” he comments scooting closer, “in the form of a kiss. Have been behaving. Polite thing to do. Unless formalities are boring to you too.” One hidden thing about the giant human is his desires for kisses and cuddles. Can't be a proper sexual encounter without them, they don't necessarily have to be intimate. A part of the foreplay. And after all, still counts as starting slow. 

“Oh?” Now this is unexpected, Junta didn't see that idea coming up at all. Believed Basshi was the type for causal one-night stands. To get it over with and leave straight after. Full of surprises. He reaches over places a hand at the hunter's chest, leaned in close. “Interesting... do you want me to kiss you like a lover~?”

“Tch, 'like a lover,'” he snickers, a hand over the other, “If you did, I'd be more enthusiastic. Ya'know, put in effort for you.” Sure Basshi has had his share of quickies in the past, mostly due to the influence of alcohol, but those extra gestures can make things memorable. And for all he knows, this could be his first and last with Junta – a demon in general. If not for the gratitude payment and the bond he shares with Ao'yagi, wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole. Plus it isn't fun playing pretend of what he yearns for.

He prefers to be treated gently?” the incubus ponders, “That's... odd considering who is he. Or perhaps because of his brashness he craves it. Oh, the fun I'll have~.” Free hand slides up Bassi's torso to cup a cheek, pale eyes meeting turquoise in a passionate stare.

“Is that what you desire~?” A purr, the simple touches – just what Basshi ordered. Or... did he? Just brought up a kiss, nothing special, yet he finds himself entranced in the simplicity. Heart stammers at his ribcage, heat rose to his face and unable to turn away. This clearly isn't normal, especially when his heart belongs to Ao'yagi.

“Better not be using any of your fancy-ass magic on me, because... you're drawing me in like a premium ale.”

“Heh, don't be silly now, Basshi,” Junta murmurs as their lips brush, “You know my mana is tapped. It's all me. I'll take care of you~.” Again, which is almost the truth. Incubi and succubi have a natural aura that can only be shut off in a few ways. One, dead – that goes without saying. Two, mana is on its last stretch and needs the minor boost to keep alive. And third, willingly blocking it. While Junta could turn it off, what's the point? It's not like he's using charm spells to have his way – be a completely different story. He's not one to shy away from bringing a person to their knees on his natural charms alone.

 

And that's his plan.

 

Lips ghost with purpose now to then slowly push onto Basshi's mouth. Fingertips slowly caress down to his neck, as if worshiping his skin, with a gentle purr in his chest – sure to elicit a reaction. Basshi groans back, light and airy like the skilled fingers. There's temptation to snatch Junta's wrist, kiss and lick up those digits to show his own praise, but his lips are all the better. The contradiction of chapped and velvet is like a magnet, drawn in and not wanting to let go. But they part to respond.

“I know you will...” Junta can't help himself either. It's amusing how Basshi is enjoying this already, can feel and smell the elation oozing off him. So Ao'yagi isn't enough. No no, it's not that. It's his dedication, this is for payment in the end and happens he wants to get engrossed. Incubus aura or not. Charming and even cute in his mind, does please them equally. So their lips meet, this time with force – tongue darted and pushed in as much Basshi will allow. Which doesn't take much convincing.

On queue does he permit, a moan caught in his throat upon the first taste of the demon. He tilts in, noses bumped to lock them closer; tongue eager to explore the foreign maw. Fanged teeth, a hint of tea – it's oddly pleasing. Then again he's already become infatuated with Junta's every move and sound. But he's not completely lost. Free to roam, a hand makes way to Junta's lower back – forefinger and thumb at the base of his whip-like tail. Obviously not as fun to play with like Ao'yagi's fluff, but curiosity brews. Is he sensitive here like the prince is? 

Sadly no, the response being mild swishes under the water. Not of annoyance either, simply acknowledging his demonic features getting attention too. Which in a way brings pleasure, not often can be bed someone showing his true form and there's no fear incited. So much for just a kiss as well.

What was that about no touching?” Junta bites back the snicker that would come along, instead the hand on the other's chest relocated to a dusky nipple; the hardened nub rolled between pads. Basshi suppresses a noise, startled how his body has reacted more than anything. Though it encourages to rather give attention to Junta's backside – after one last stroke of his tail – a give a firm squeeze. Perky? Complete opposite of the earlier statement. Perhaps should have examined it more. Then again, lust is clouding his ideals at this point.

“Hrrrrm...” A last suckle of tongues before the kiss the broken, a string of saliva connecting their lips for a moment. The incubus then pivots by his hips to now straddle Basshi – gazes meshed as a nail flicks over the pebbled nipple. “May I suck here too~?” 

“You did kiss me,” he hums back, satisfied by the change of pace, “so I guess you can. You the type to bite?” He brushes away the demon's hair from his cheeks, a smug grin displayed with a tighter grip on his behind. “You better be.”

“I'll gladly mark you up~.” And with that, Junta's mouth finds the junction of the others' neck and shoulder – toying at the skin with his fangs and to bite down hard enough to bruise. Hands move down to press at his chest, squeezing his pecs together like to a female's bosom. How fun.

Leaning more in the rock face, hips arched outwards for room, Basshi all but melts under the rougher attention. He lays off teasing the demon's backside to instead bury his fingers within those loose curls of violet – nails gently scrapped against his scalp in a form of praise. 

 

Weren't... weren't they supposed to be bathing? To linger on sexual buildup until they both couldn't take it anymore? Junta's fault, that's right. Oh well, the situation would likely play out the same even if they shared species. 

 

“Mmm,” the hunter again hums with head hung back, “That's right, don't be shy. I'll match those marks in return too~.” Junta barely catches himself from pushing back into those fingers. The attention is upmost appreciated, far as to crave more, though he must focus on the task at hand. He does muffle a groan against skin, droplets of water lapped away before biting down on the swell of muscle. It's not until the others' pectorals are swollen does he take a nipple into his maw – incessant sucks and swipes. And while he can't really talk, he purrs in response and brings his hands down to settle in Basshi's lap and slipped between to rub the softness of his inner thighs.

Even through the presence of water, the delicate fingers are like fire at Basshi's skin – the bites a ticket that permits his voice is open. Deep, velvety groans flow loose from lips with head snapped back further; gaze hazed up at the stalactites. Arousal grazes against whatever skin it can touch on the other figure under the surface – close to fully erect.

Junta pulls away only when he's absolutely satisfied. The hunter's nipples are inflamed, puffy and sensitive from the attention lavished on them. Twisting one between his fingers, he stretches back up to swallow Basshi's next moan – tongue slide seamlessly in and rubbed against the floor of his mouth. The hand about his thighs bump against his scrotum and there's surprise to find them swelled and large; enough for his gaze to break. Well then, seems Basshi wasn't playing himself big in terms of genitals. Indeed impressive, for a human.

"My my... you been saving up?" Satisfaction is on Basshi's end as well. The scorch of abused skin raised goosebumps, for a dense heat to flow through his veins and leave him begging for more. Almost. The taste of his honeyed mouth once again brings solace, drunk off the flavor. Junta is too good at kissing. Though past the dizzying sensations does a conceited smile make way.

“You damn well know I haven't, sir incubus," he teases, "Bet you've been dying for me to admit the fun I had with Ao'yagi. Gods know I wouldn't hold myself up for you.” A mock pout spreads on Junta's face, another plan hatched in his mind from those words.

“Oh, right. This is all for Ao'yagi.” A full squeeze of a palm, all Basshi gets before he slips off entirely and makes distance between. “Pity, can't be helped.” Been fun so far, don't get him wrong, but... it can be taken a step further.

 

“Buah!?” Unlike before, this trap Basshi falls for. He instantly snaps back, gratification veered straight into aggression – fist slammed against stone. “After all that shit you're going to leave me like this?! I won't accept it!”

“Don't get pissy.” Composed, the hunter's words zip past his ears. Now there's the Basshi he expected all along. Hot-headed and arrogant when doesn't get his way, sex denying sure brings out the worst of people. Well, could be worse. Surprised the hunter isn't full on attacking him straight away. Has proven there's a decent guy behind the brawn and bark – almost sure it's Ao'yagi's influence playing the change of direction. Interesting. “I'm right, aren't I? You do have a deep connection with our prince.”

“... you want it too! Doesn't matter my feelings for Ao'yagi, you know why-.” His sentence abruptly stops. Wait, don't say what Junta wants to hear. This is another test! So the game goes on albeit the erotic tension.

“Hrm? Didn't finish, Basshi. Please, do tell~.” His wings flutter and a splash of water is purposely directed at the human's face; added insult to injury. The annoyance barely phases the human, expression flipped to one deep in thought. So how to handle to challenge... best to start simple. Primal instincts are difficult to ignore, more so with an incubus.

“Just thought... be a shame for this to go to waste.” His posture slumps into the water up to his the recent bruises and lays idle strokes to his erection; downright ignoring Junta's glances. “Hungry aren't you? It's ready and willing.”

“Can sleep after we're cleaned up,” is the retort with a shrug, clearly disinterested in both Basshi's words and the motions. “Or take sip of pure mana. There's other ways besides your cock, don't get full of yourself.” While a good round of sex can take him zero to one hundred, it's not enough temptation for him to give in. No matter how worn-out. Also by no means will be guilt tripped for him to be in tip-top shape to help Basshi's curse recovery, obviously why he's here in the first place. Can send him off with another round of potions if feeling lazy. They'll do some of the work as is.

Nothing, Basshi's lips curve to a frown. So even a sexually inclined demon can pass up the opportunity. Didn't plan on bringing up his curse either, it's Junta's free-will on the decision to help out. So it seems will have to say or do something unlikely to get the cards in his playing field. So far shattering Junta's expectations of him have worked, he's noticed the trend, so with that in mind...

“Tch.” Basshi sits up to the lake's edge and drags over a basket of bathing items; playing off as he's dropped the subject a whole and gets down to the actual purpose of bathing. A body oil is plucked up – and expensive one at that – and lathers it across his torso till the skin glistens. Deliberately on his bruised pecs as a whole. May be overboard, though the alluring spice of an oiled, muscular man could be the needed push. Especially in terms for his next proposition. “You've been giving a lot. Your time, magic and so far during our time together. Can keep that up... if you'd like~.”

“What do you- …” Finally looking to Basshi, it's the incubus' turn to cut words. It's not the sight of the hunter's body, indeed finding it desperate for attention, it's what he means. Took a moment, now fully understood when the company parts his legs. “Really now..?” Boredom is replaced with a spark of interest. Basshi, proud and pigheaded, is offering himself? And here he thought he'd leave getting a sample, not offered a full meal. It's happening again, this human keeps bringing on the surprises. Has to be bait, there's no other reason besides Basshi going last-ditch effort in order to fulfill the 'payment.' Yet... it's not. Something says he's completely willing. Far as to say desiring it. Junta attempts to keep a straight face though a hint of red settles on his cheeks – a reaction finally shown. “A-ah... there's no reason both can't be in order. Fuck you senseless then later can do the same to me. Fair, is it not?” The hunter licks his lips at the reply.

 

“First you'll clean me up, right~?” And there it is, internally he's celebrating. He won! Unexpected, check. Junta being affected, double check. Doing a rarer sexual act he can enjoy, triple check. Hard to find a partner that will take him given his looks and attitude, only happened once; figured an incubus is willful, so take advantage of that too.

“By whatever Gods are in this world, hoping don't mean your insides. Ruin the mood if you're dirty.”

“Dunno, think that may turn you on more~.”

“Shove it, human.” Still, he did (sort of) promise to 'wash his back;' even if it lead to nothing. And did get to see the cannon he supposedly kept in his pants. And admittedly, not aloud, it's admirable; naturally appreciated as an incubus. Being inside him though is another story. One he'll find out soon. Moved closer, he stretches past Basshi and snags a sponge and soap liquid from the basket. "Kind of defeats the point of putting the oil on, don't you think? If wanting to be washed so badly, could have just told me."

“Was letting to soak!” he barks back in defense, “Did mess me up as is. Clean up your disgusting demonic germs and start over.” 

“Excuses, excuses.” A scoff added in, the bottle is popped open and a fair sum is dispensed. Sponge swipes across the tender welts, a grunt induced at the achy yet pleasing sensation. It continues the path across the hunter's neck and torso, a moment dipped between thighs and purposefully missing his genitals. “A clean palette every time? Here I thought you liked being tainted.”

“Have enough of that going on with the curse, thanks.” His nose wrinkles from the thought along with the intentional teasing. Rude.

“Hrrrm, right. About that, we'll take care of that in the morning. Soon as your transformation ends. Be easier to pluck out the aura then.” May as well ease that part of Basshi's visit in the meantime of idle bathing and conversation. To further relate, the sponge runs across the scarred shoulder till coated in suds. “With any luck you'll be a better beast by the end of it.”

“So another surgery is in order, great...” As if the first time was enough.

“If makes you feel better, I guarantee will be less painful. Probably.” A grin, small fangs on display. “There won't be any rush either, was an emergency the first time. Sure to be gentle.” He pushes up till their chests meet as the free hand roams down Basshi's abdomen; picking up left over globes of oil. Explorative fingers dip under and rub out small circles across his taint. “Promise you'll behave~?” Whatever comeback Basshi had is gulped back, the digits stirring up an odd excitement. His own back there, sure. Plenty of times. But as for someone else, he can't recall the last time this situation has unfolded. Well, not turning back now. He peers away from the demon, smug as ever – as if unimpressed by the ministrations. Despite what his massive body may say, hips arched higher.

“... I'm not the waiting type, Junta.”

“Perhaps not, yet you've done well holding yourself back this far. Waiting is half the fun, isn't it? Though if you're unimpressed, you're welcome to leave anytime.”

“Half isn't enough, bu-ahhh~.” A lubricated finger then catches the rim on his entrance, laughter accidentally faltered to a moan. Dammit, didn't mean for that to slip – it's as if the demon has him on an invisible leash. Can't recover easily from it either, Junta is smirking something fierce. Though can try. A firm grip is taken at his partner's angular hips.

“And then leave you hanging? Now, what kind of gentleman would I be if let that happen?” And there's doubt the incubus is just as worked up by the erection plain to see. Junta lingers on those sighs and biting words, always the sweetest. Doubly when coaxed from a needy person. Triply so when someone who previously resisted. The moan dates him for a moment, savored the sweetness like honey. 

“I was under the impression such mannerisms were beneath you. Yet you're proven me wrong on more than one occasion.” Resuming his cleaning work, the sponge makes way between the hunter's legs; cock pushed against his lower stomach. The wet, sudsy texture – the hunter flinches and once again puddles under the movements. Unfair how skilled Junta also is with his hands. Should be expected from an incubus. “Ya know, you're a lot cuter than earlier~.”

“B-better watch your tongue...” he stammers, head hung back, “Or you'll become my next trophy.”

“Now now, a shame if that wasn't around anymore. You'd miss it... as example.” True to his words, his mouth latches onto a bruised nipple. Unlike before, tongue is gentle and soft – suckling carefully while the hand works across the others' shaft. It's then the finger breaches past the ring of muscle and settles deep; a bubbled heat rises in Basshi's stomach and dreadful return of goosebumps. He hisses, drawn and shaky; muscular thighs parted ever-so-slightly to assist in the invasion. Even a person like himself has weak spots. 

“T-that's a good demon...” he purrs, head tilted back in to watch Junta's mouth work around reddened skin. Fingers again bury within violet curls, avoiding those pointed horns, and shift any stray locks away from his forehead for a better view. “... fuck you're pretty cute too.~” Junta is nothing but delighted. Opened legs and whimpering like a barmaid getting deflowered on ale barrels? Perfection. A glance up, he fixed Basshi in a heated gaze; flicking the heated skin with the flat of tongue. Another finger joins and pushes soon as the muscle relaxes, pads arched feeling for the spot that's sure to have the hunter break. 

Discomfort for a split second to be replaced by the sensation that makes the strongest of men weak at the knees. The hunter trembles, his normally deep voice veered to a higher tone. Unlike before, the embarrassment that comes with showing weakness is tossed right out the window – piddles of ecstasy sparked to a flame. A clench then relaxed, minor discomforts replaced with pure pleasure. Perhaps too much. Given the time frame, those touches are enough for the sponge to also soak in streaks of pre-fluids – cock throbbed in the demon's grip. Likely pleases the bastard further too.

“Fuck!” he snaps through labored breaths, “How... did you find t-that so easily?!”

“Do you really have to ask?” Junta snickers once mouth is pulled away, “In-cu-bus~.” One with experiences that last ten times a human's lifetime. The reactions fill him. Warm in his mouth, stomach full, his very veins sending sparks throughout. Delicious, pure form of mana and satisfaction. 

 

Time to make things interesting.

 

And it's situations like these,” he muses as his tail snakes up and skits against Basshi thigh, “I'm glad for the extra appendage.” The flared, spade like tip breaches on the next spasm; wasting no time in burying deep in Basshi's insides. Cock jumps, pulses under the sponge – a bit saddened his mouth wasn't around it to fully enjoy the feedback. “Cute~.”

For stability, legs threatening to collapse, Basshi is left to cling onto the demon's shoulders – the blunt of nails dug deep into skin. And these are just fingers that leaving him ruined, stripped down of pride and made a moaning mess. He doesn't regret, but this situation may be added to the short list if he gets any worse. 

 

And he had to think that.

 

Right at the peak of arousal does a strange sensation scamper across a thigh, what was that? There's no time to question. He gasps, breathless for a solid three seconds until he cries out with nothing holding him back. 

“A-aah! Ngh- fu-! ” Biting back the urge come right then and there, craving this foreign feeling to last, the human hunches in to bury his face in the crook of Junta's neck. So slippery, thin – how it wriggles and writhes. Breaths heavy and dripping with lust, legs to spread further and bask in the invasion. “Fuck...~”

The way the once proud hunter clings to him overwhelms the incubus with a scene of smugness. Look at how quickly he had taken the other apart. Look at how quick the man was to accept him into his body. It never got old, really. The reaction he gets is all the more satisfying. The man writhes and moans, cries out for his tail and sucking it in involuntarily. So what else can he do but give him more. Feed him more. 

Force his tail deeper and deeper, coiling in his gut and twisting around itself to fill him up; stretching. Touch him deeper than he'd possibly ever been touched. He wonders if the hunter would mind it if his cock joined it. But he only wonders for a second, fingers withdrawn and gripping the others thigh. Lines himself up and ever so slowly, forces his way in. 

Vile, the thin line of pleasure and pain blurred and twisted – impossible for the hunter to curb his noises. Mind may be screaming to stop, to shove this demon down and rid of the atrocity, but his body is louder and demanding. Insides on fire, pulsing and drawing in more and more along with the slosh of waters. His organs churn, like being ripped apart from the inside and pushed to limits unheard of. To a realm of arousal forbidden to morals. Never before has experience left him this breathless, for mind to hit an off switch and only subsume in immaculate pleasure. 

“Yes, yeeees,” he repeats in a dull whisper, “Fill me up...” From so, wouldn't be a surprised if an orgasm has already hit. Yet this doesn't halt his desires for a split second. He's akin to jelly as the incubus lifts, posing him like a doll for amusement. Twisting a bit does he find a more 'comfortable' area and let's his upper body rest – a more swallow area of the pool. Viridescent locks stick to his features, cheeks and chest flushed heavy with red and he stares. Locked on the demon's face as the rich, warmth of flesh joins along.

 

Leaning up, Junta holds his legs apart and rocks- taking him on the edge. He's not tall enough to bite Basshi's neck, but enough to nip into the jut of his collarbone; another set of red marks left behind. Judging by the heat coming off his skin, the hunter hadn't experienced anything like this before. Or at least, it had been a long time since he had. That in itself cements the demon's satisfaction, gentle movements graduating to thrusts that would surely drag Basshi's back against the harshness of the rock beneath him. 

His tail doesn't lay idle either, the jolting of his cock causing it to squirm; stretching him out against slackened walls. A real shame on the lacking height, he'd love to lap Junta's mouth clean and having him swallow up the cries. Or to even have his neck latched, cutting breaths even shorter and putting consciousness on danger. Just for that extra thrill. Yet limits are limits, horrible enough his insides is being ravished – surely to be left with bruising. But pains are beautiful to linger on, a reminder of an experience never to forget until faded to make new ones. 

Once the pace increases, the nerves pounded over again by the demon's cock, does the heat again fall deep in his gut – shaft to reawaken firm against Junta's stomach. Then he did climax once, when did that happen? Over stimulation, body pushed to tantalizing heights – the hunter cries out in sheer ecstasy. 

“Yes, fuuuuck! D-don't hold... back on me, Junta!” Junta's chest never fails to jolt when his 'victims' call out his created name. It affirms his actions, evidence that he's pushed them to the point of pure excitement and need. After all, not even the best of actors could fool him. Could conceal their true intentions beyond the gasp of barely held together syllables that was his name. So what more can he do to reward the hunter but pick up the pace? 

Water violently sloshes as he drives into the other, aiming and hitting the place inside him that would make him see stars. His tail pushes, and if he were paying attention, he might have imagined that he could see it in the swell of the hunter's stomach. His body has taken in more than it's probably used to, so it's only normal they might... see something. Feel something. 

'See stars' is scratching the surface. Really, it's hard to see anything clearly. Nothing but blobs of color invade Basshi's vision looking up to the ceiling, voice washed out but the sounds torrent of waters and the thrum of heartbeat at his ears. In defiant of the entranced state does a hand come reaching down to wrap around his cock, jerks just as wild to match the piston of Junta's hips. Just before did he catch a brief feel of the abdomen and how it bloats out – if only minor. So full and satisfied, yet there could be more. To drive out his second orgasm and truly be sated. 

“Come... Junta! F-fill me up more!” comes in a strained yelp, oozing with desperation. 

Impressive,” the incubus thinks as he gets the hunters legs over his shoulders, that the other was still screaming for more. Impressive but not unheard of. Reducing his partners to this level was the goal, wasn't it? With hands free, he reaches down to palm the head of the others' cock - following as it vanishes into the fist clenched, catching it between his fingers when it appears. His other scratches down Basshi's chest, raising welts of red but not quite enough to make them bleed. His mouth, however, does bite down hard enough and copper blossoms about the others chest and drip lazily. Well, the droplets that aren't caught by his lips. 

His tail persists, pushing apart the hunter's insides, reaching as far as it can before hitting a part that refuses to give into its squirming. It compensates by pressing out further, harder, harsher; and if it wasn't see before it could most definitely be now – an unnatural curve bulging the skin of the others' stomach. 

That's it, that's the spot. All of them at once. Whatever caught air in Basshi's heavy lungs is used to wail out, louder and more pleading then before. Mingled with spots are the beginning of tears, welled up in no time and leaking streams. It hurts, by gods, it's right on the edge of intolerable. 

He levels out on that ledge, faced close to impending ruin, to focus all on the bliss searing him to the very core. Better yet is the sting of blood in air, tugging at his bestial side. Nostrils flare and relish the lovely scent. 

 

No wait, blood shouldn't smell delicious. 

Unless that means... nightfall is coming.

 

No, not again!” An inkling of panic sets in his expression. If he's to transform during the already overwhelming sensation, it may be enough to send him into shock. Or worse. He's still a human, after all. Now a clock idly ticks by and adds onto the thrill. Feared eyes dart from the swell to the demon's face once he's in view. Form shivers, every inch quaking for the intensity. Much as he tries to speak, all that comes is a jumbled, incoherent slews of broken words.

Junta tastes it before he sees it, the bitter of forced magic is in the air. It's stale and sour, and entirely different to magic cast out of one's own free will. And all at once does he realize what's happening. A chill in the air of coming night. And yet...

Fucking someone through their transformation might be fun. The thrill of pain and pleasure melding into one, plus the taste of danger to both himself and his victim. Lovely. 

"C'mon then." He groans, batting the others hands away and taking his length in both hands to work him insistently. "Your other side can have his turn after you come for me~." In only a few minutes will Basshi's transformation take hold, the scar at his right shoulder emanating an inky black mass of foul magics. Turquoise eyes shift to red, then back again – the beginning of scales peppered at cheekbones and open wounds leaked with a mixture of black and crimson blood. The preliminary pain is assembling, yet completely ignored due to the wild sensations made by his partner.  

“J-Junta...!” he forces out, hoarse and weak. Dammit, the demon was supposed to come first! But it's not like he has any force to jeer, strength and air drained, the hunter is left to writhe under the touch. Those magical hands, ravishing thrusts, the ungodly tension built up in his loins – it doesn't take much. Wide hips jerk, bounce into the grasp as spurts of milky fluids scatter across his abdomen – the force enough to even lay a droplet or two up onto Junta's jawline. The abused tunnel flexes and clamps down around the invasions, hopefully driving the demon to his peak as well. 

“Mmm Basshi~.” As rugged and handsome as the other was before, he's certainly very appealing now. Writhing and unable to speak, thrashing against the bedrock and tensing around him. Glorious. But too much is too much, even he can understand that. Been an interesting run. He coos comfortingly even as the pains of transformation take hold of the hunter, appendages drawn out his own seed splattered across his stomach. “You've been... a-ah, a perfect plaything~.”

Soon after climax does the hunter welcome the sweet embrace of sleep, no matter how hard he attempts to remain conscious. Exhausted and pushed to extremes, there's no reaction from the removal besides a faint flinch – he's out like a candle during a wind storm. A couple minutes, the rest is necessary if he has any chance of survival during the full process. And even if the demon does try to awake, all attempts are fruitless. Surely Junta can understand, given the situation. 

“... oh. Okay then.” Of course knows the reasoning yet the demon can't help but be mildly disappointed. No after kisses or cuddles? No helping it, the human did undergo quite the experience; more so due to transformation. With that in mind, his primal mind could react differently this time around. Ao'yagi has updated the progress, each day clung closer to his usual sanity, though stress and likely pain from the intense mating can change things. “You silly human... don't worry. Still here to take care of you~.”

And with that, after a quickly washing himself and the unconscious Basshi up – he's relocated to the a side bedroom. With the help of summoned shadow servants of course, the human is a heavy one. Why here? Well, it's easier to bound him up.

 

--- 

 

Peaceful. Silent.

 

Once ragged breaths stabilize to soft snoozes, not a glimmer of struggle made at the relocating nor the addition of restraints. All reality, it's not a bad idea. There's still some transformations where his mind completely blanks out, his only purpose being to kill. To feast. On the other hand, most his times are in control – merely being simple minded and wouldn't hurt a fly. Unless provoked. Which one will it be tonight? All is still during those handful of minutes until the sunset completely sets over the horizon outside the lush cave.  

Pop. Snap. The sickening crunch of bone and flesh fills the room.

Basshi awakens with a blood curling scream, limbs fighting the thick chains with no avail. Human sanity is ripped away, rows of inked scales latching to tanned skin, nails twisted into razor sharp talons. The torrid pain, legs bend back to take shape of arced feet sporting keen claws and spine to feel as if ripped out to take form of bulked tail – the beast roars out. Last is for teeth to turn jagged, jaw hung agape as he scans the surroundings. A bedroom? Peculiar. How did Junta manage to drag him in here? 

It's the scream that alerts Junta. He hadn't been paying attention to the hunter's state of consciousness as he redressed and settled down with a good book. It's the after math that counts. So he reenters, a smile at the now half-breed.

"Oh? Awake are we?" he asks at the entranceway, caution in the forefront of his mind as he stand just out of reach. "Do let me know if you're uncomfortable.” Covered in scratch marks and bites. Chained up in one of Junta's bedroom. He's more than uncomfortable! Though his frame of mind goes unhindered. Basshi drops to all fours, much as the chains allow him too, and lifts a clawed hand as if a dog begging for a treat. Red eyes round all, a side of innocence rarely seen from the monster of a man. Looks like there won't be any gutted demons tonight.  

“Basshi awake!” he chirps merrily and attempts to crawl closer, only to be stopped. There's a faint whimper as he shakes the shackle at his wrist. “Was Basshi bad? Basshi no move!”

“Hm.” This is certainly different to what Junta expected honestly. Won't lie in saying he's disappointed. Where was this big fierce creature the other was so proud to boast? The wild, reckless thing he was supposed to get fucked by? So no changes from what Ao'yagi has explained. Boo. Still, it's a little pathetic the way the beast tries to crawl towards him; eyes staring up at him beseechingly. Something akin to pity sparks in his mind, and he makes his way over to place a hand on the beasts head and pet the wild mane.

"There, there... Basshi. I just wanted to make sure you'd be alright and won't attack me. I'll let you loose if you promise to be good." Junta has already seen the both sides that come with this form, but the gentle portion he's always been around Ao'yagi. Of course he's going to get googly eyed and talk sweetly, he's in love with fae after all. But now alone, the demon can see just how pathetic the hunter can be when not driven only for his lust for blood or fondness in the way. He all but leans into the attention, accepting it fully, with the girth of tail swishing behind. He really is a pet dog. Well half-lizard, half-man pet.

“Junta safe!” he grumbles back, sporting a giddy smile, “Basshi no hurt, like Junta. Nice to Basshi!” It's not that Junta wasn't aware of this other side, but he never quite imagined it would come out for him of all people. Endearing? Pathetic? Whatever it was, it was entirely uncharacteristic and wholly... unusual. He wasn't quite sure how to deal with it. But the chains fall away despite his internal indecision, and still absently petting the other.

"So what am I to do with you now? Surely my plans for tonight are derailed." Hey, not like Basshi chooses to be inside the recessive, childish side – it just happens. Must have been leaded thanks to most his aggression and power used in the sex only minutes ago. His head tips at the disappointment clear in the demon's voice. He thinks, long and hard as to why Junta says that. What was it... they were going to do once it was night? There's a scratch at his chin, a bite of lip, a long hum. Something... something... Oh!

“You no want Basshi no more?” he questions innocently, “Basshi sorry, made Junta upset...”

"I'm not upset. But I don't think you'd be able to get it up like this. Especially for me." Ao'yagi, after all, was an entirely different matter. 

Get it up?” Ah, Junta means... down there, right? The monster peers between his legs, a low grumble made in disappointment. Makes a good point. The first time involved a steady buildup, jeering and teases – the hunter hellbent on showing off. All that big talk to be stuck within an unsophisticated mind, there's not enough brainpower to do that spiel all over again. Would be more romantic, intimate if they went at it again – which he has nothing for towards the demon. Could think of Ao'yagi during it, but... that's entirely awkward, even he knows that as a hybrid. Then what's his other desire?

“Hungry!” he barks clawing at Junta's pant leg, “Basshi want blood!”

"Feel free to hunt, I suppose.” The incubus raises an eyebrow. Yup, mating is completely out of the park. Sad. Hunger pretty much hits a reset button after transformation, no matter how large the meal before it was. Night Beasts crave one thing – blood. And that's all Basshi can keep down when trapped in this form. The thought of going on a hunt has the beast grinning, perked up as if a master said 'treat' or 'dinner time.'

“Basshi hunt nearby!” he says giving the demon's knee an affectionate headbutt, “Junta wait? Read book, Basshi be back!” With that, the hybrid stands up onto arched legs, tail balancing the stance out, and tromps out towards the exit. Silly to hunt without wearing a stitch, but good luck trying to dress himself with talons. In the pitch black of the forest anyway.

With that out of the way, slightly amused at the naked beast going off, Junta settles back in with book from before. What a shame.

 

---

 

Start of twilight, the greatest time to hunt. Plenty of creatures still attempting to flee the awakening Night Beasts, so much to choose from. And the extra air of competition due to the other hunters, the reptilian creatures active – more than usual. Happens when an elite killer is walking among them, proven before in Basshi's hybrid state they either avoid or challenge him.
 

The foul scent of blood hangs heavy in humid air and drives the thrill, the monster back on all fours and ready to track down a meal. To his excitement, and likely Junta's displeasure, Basshi gets sidetracked chasing down a pack of wolves – and relishing victory once caught – and found himself taking a nap up on a sturdy tree branch shortly afterwards. Uncomfortable, but safer then nesting on ground. A brief one, an hour at best, to be aroused at the sounds of combat. Peering down, looks like two Night Beasts are fighting over a corpse – one the monster is not pleased to see.

A Cer-fae, a once young stag.  

By the Gods does he thank that isn't Ao'yagi, but it doesn't change the monster's reaction. By impulse and rage does Basshi make sort work of ending the fight once and for all – the already injured creatures taken down without a hitch. Minor scratches added to his bruised body, yet there isn't room to care or complain. At least now he can give the Cer-fae a burial if rushed and unordered.

 

From there, he returns to Junta's lair – coated in dirt and inky blood. Like some wild animal does he growl upon first seeing the demon, clearly upset about... something.

Junta contemplates sleeping after he works through his second book, stretching out and concluding that no, the beast probably wasn't going to come back that night. A pity, but it was to be expected, wasn't it? But timing seemed to be in his (or the beast's) favor, and he catches the scent of blood just as he turns down his covers to waste time with slumber.

"Hm? What on Earth do you look so put out for?" He asks, keeping a safe distance because you can never really tell with beasts. It's clear the other's eaten but why did he look so put out? Did he miss his mark? Was his prey stolen?

“Nothing,” he monster replies swiftly, pent-up anger stitched clear into his features. What a way to end of an thrilling hunt and much needed nap, can practically see steam rising off. The shards of human sanity pull, scream for him to cool off before the demon becomes his next victim; which he follows to a key. He crawls up to nightstand nearby and stands to quickly rinse down his face via the wash basin.

"That's certainly a lot of nothing." He feels there wasn't any reason for alarm despite the aggregation. Plus himself showing hesitation can likely bring out the undesirable side of the hybrid, like any other animal. Show weakness and be killed. Taking that into consideration, he slides into the bed and turns on his side; patting the empty space beside him. "Come here. I'll give pets~." 

Basshi watches the other, excited by the gesture and offer in the form of his tail's tip vibrating. Anger as he may be, the thought of getting pampered again is all to alluring. Not by Ao'yagi, but it will have to do. After cleaning up, the monster carefully clambers in – right up to the other in fact. He takes Junta into a loose embrace, face nuzzled into violet curls and against horns with a purr at his lips. Needy monster, something must have really twitched a nerve to be affectionate. 

Is Basshi always this needy?” Surely, his dealings with the other in the bath was evidence enough that the other at least enjoyed affectionate gestures, but he was still so unsure whether or not it was something he actively sought. And whether or not it was more the action he enjoyed rather than the person he was doing it with. Still, he supposes he can see the appeal in having a lug of a man cuddle up – especially when he can wrap you up like this. Their tails curl around each other, a contrast of skin and scales, and Junta more than welcomes the attention.

"There, there~," he soothes with an amused smile, rubbing a hand down the bulk of the other's side. One of life's mysteries never to be solved. For all Junta knows, this could be the monster's favorite activity of love making – a gentle side masked by gruffness and need to show off. Powerful legs join in the clutch, minding how his nails scrap against surface of sheets and the demon himself. What a lectured he'd receive if a classy bed such as this was left in shambles. The mild scents off the others' hair is another catalyst in quelling the frustration, a sense of peace overtaking. He scoots down enough to knock their foreheads together – deep crimson meeting blue.

“Junta nice,” comes in a hiss before meeting their lips. He mirrors the motion at Junta's side, only being the tips of keen claws grazing across skin. Junta goes on guard soon as the beast nears his face. Not afraid, that much is certain, just cautious. Of course, once again are his fears unfounded as all the beast does is go in for a kiss. Ok, all along has Basshi been cute. Not afraid to admit that anymore.

"I'm glad you think so,” he replies mildly, pulling back.

“Junta save Basshi's life.” His thick tail wraps tight and brings their bodies closer, tongue darted at soft lips. “Basshi owe much to Junta and Bambi...” The bonding comes off as odd considering his human side couldn't stand him; unless their mating changed that as a whole.

"Well, your 'payment' was a worthwhile one. If that makes you feel any better.”

“Basshi happy!” His eyes light up and an array of kisses are at the demon's neck to show appreciation. “Sweet and helpful, Basshi keep paying back Junta!”

“That so? Loyal and stupid human...~” Sadly can't have more of said payment in his beast form, but that's just today. Can see another opportunity arising in time. “Should rest up though. Have lots planned for the morning. Ao'yagi will be here too.” 
 

“Mmm Bambi... hope he have fun with son. And people help too.” He gives one last kiss to the demon's lips before rolling to his back; sleep heavy on his lids. “Nice spend night with Junta...”

“It's been my pleasure. Goodnight Basshi.”

Chapter Text

Dawn breaks.

 

A few hours to have talons and inky scales to vanish into a puff of smoke. Time being different between those asleep and immortals. He may be adjusted to the shifts in form, yet there's still pain – enough to the rouse the hunter midway. Basshi writhes, gasps out in agony to eventually settle out with turquoise eyes up at the ceiling; bewildered. Still at Junta's lair, that's right. No dusty cot and damp cave walls to welcome him into the morning this time. Comfortable. Can always...go back to sleep. But-

 

There's a shadowy cloud hovering nearby, a fiery eye staring Basshi down. Upon closer inspection, it looks like a whisp. Probably left there for no reason other than to give the hunter some semblance of company when he woke up. That or so that Junta can keep an eye on him if he's away. Who knows.

 

Hard to drift back to slumber with that thing hovering over. Not the first time Basshi has seen Junta's sentries. He eerily remembers the one during his first night in his beast form trapped in the lair so it doesn't take him by surprise. He sits up, letting out a long yawn and brushing fingers through his tangled mane with eyes locked on the summoned creature.

“That your way of saying morning, Junta?” he murmurs, unsure if he can actually hear him. “Or you that much of a pervert you need to watch me sleep?” The sentry doesn't respond. It never does. “... some talker, ain't ya? Buahaha!”

 

A morning laugh to himself, that's refreshing. Much needed with the amount of aches and pain his body is overcoming from the shift and the earlier activity in the bath. What a number Junta did on him, more prevalent as he stands and gives a stretch. Going to need a break from bottoming for a while, not like he minds. Speaking of bottom, in some regard, he's still naked. Never did dress up thanks to his hybrid form. Which means his clothing is still in the lake chamber so may as well take the walk and attempt to locate the missing incubus.

 

Through the assortment of halls oddly enough, there isn't a sign of Junta minus the orb now floating close behind. So it is for watch over him. As if he'd cause trouble to a person he's indebted to. What happened to the curse treatment straight away? No matter, Junta likely has something up his sleeve. After dressing up, he returns to the living quarters and continues on the book he left off on – the Cer-fae hierarchy.

Basshi learns Cer-fae governing functions similar to humans of the region except the higher-class earn their rank through skill alone; whether that be combat, magical aptitude or crafting goods. Their means of currency is a complex system of trading items and food, which makes sense with Ao'yagi mentioning gold is a common metal. Is there a mine located under the village? Fascinating.

 

Unsure if a handful of minutes or over an hour has passed, Junta eventually makes his return. He takes a turn into the study chamber without acknowledging Basshi at first, wings pinned down by a bulky backpack.

 

“Apologies for my absence...” Junta's voice breaks the silence. “Some items were 'hell' and a half to track down.” Demon joke, funny. A smaller satchel is placed upon the table, a hand gestured as if presenting a feast. “Not this part but you need to get your strength back before subjugating you to another treatment. Humans and their need for culinary delights.” Basshi throws a skeptical glare. “Don't look at me like that. You should be thankful I decided to go out of my way to feed you properly so you don't go into shock.”

 

“Course it's only for your experimental gain.”

 

“What else did you think it was?”

 

“Dunno. Maybe you... care about me, buah.”

 

“You're being silly again, Basshi.” The incubus shakes his head. Not enough magic and sex could make that a reality. Should know by now, demons will and forever only care about themselves. Grasping mortal emotions isn't an easy task no matter how long he has walked this plane. This includes the bond with Ao'yagi. Has to gain something to make it worth his time. In this case, an oh-so-delicious curse study. “Now eat up. It's a burden to experiment on a dead host~.”

 

“Tch! Such a good 'friend' you are~.”

 

---

 

Ao'yagi's return home had been more or less fulfilling. Coming back to the village, there was lot of catching up to do in terms of his royal duties and for his family. The highlight of course was seeing his adopted son again. Ao'yagi took it upon himself to spend quality time with Kabu'ragi, doing things they normally did before adventuring became common. First of course was dealing with the goat-ling's temper tantrum about going off with a filthy human. The details are left out from Kabu'ragi for his own safety and not agitate his already worried state. They can wait.

 

Along with that, he strengthened his resolve to confront the elders – mainly his parents – about the missing compass. He told them about being ensnared by human trappings but conveniently leaves behind his prolonged capture saying he escaped alone the moment his antlers were taken away. Thankfully he was believed and even let-off lighter than expected save for a lengthy scolding. During his morning errands, an updated location spell provided by Junta is given to the high-elder of the village; who's astonished by the detail. But she doesn't question how and where the young prince acquired the information. Some questions are best unanswered.

 

Meticulous as the spell may be, honing in to a dangerous and magically desolate region won't occur without complications. It will take time as it did for Ashi'kiba and Junta. The task left to the elder, Ao'yagi spent the remaining night with his son – fragments of worry chipped away.

 

By the morning Kabu'ragi is yet again devastated by his father who slipped off on another adventure. A shorter one, lucky being only a day to spend with Basshi and provide in person updates. Tomorrow, the preparations for the Harvest Festival begins and Ao'yagi's presence is needed after all. The rest of the village is neglected of the catastrophic news of the compass to keep peace, blissfully unaware of the chaos that could ensue if not relocated in time. Letting them carry on as usual day-by-day... Is it the right choice?

 

Before departure, a visit to Mi'ki is in order. Given the pressing matters and needy son, he stuck around for a moment during first arrival for the reunion and brief explanation of her rescue. A checkup, so to speak. She's part of Kan'zaki, the name given to the primary trade group that does negotiations with visiting Centaur in place of the royals. Part of the main family as well, she is by no means is she a simple smith.

 

By said circumstances, there's no question as to why Ao'yagi is beyond praised for her return, athough it's unwarranted. All he did was escort her back. It's Tado'koro and the rest of the renegades that deserve the praise. The werebear does spark familiarity, him still regarded as a watchman of their forest and other recused fae as he was aforementioned.

 

A silent guardian, a living legend.

 

Ao'yagi associating and aiding Tado'koro earns part of the thanks. Bows and handshakes all around for the prince, except for one.

 

A Bovi-fae, a young woman possessing goat-like features gone in for a full-on embrace; to the surprise of Ao'yagi. Features of stone, not a single word, yet the hug expresses the relief and utmost gratitude. Even after she tromps away as if the gesture never happened. Ao'yagi looked to Mi'ki for an answer.

 

“That's my life-mate, A'ya. She can't thank you enough. Adorable, isn't she~?”

 

“... Yeah.”

 

A shared smile. Reunions and thanks sure come in all different shapes and forms.

 

---

 

After the eventful day, goodbyes given for the time being – did he get to visit Junta's cave delightfully finding Basshi being treated as well. Excited to see his close friends again, Ao'yagi didn't hesitate to come up to each of them to give a peck on the cheek as greeting then opting to sit beside Basshi curiously watching the treatment being done.

 

"I see you two are doing well. How's it coming along?"

 

Magically tipped fingers of the demon's working, what looks to be the final 'stitching' on Basshi's wound. The scar has dimmed and trimmed with less inky scales; assuring there's been some progress. The hunter winches, squirms from the discomfort, yet there's a smile through it all. One unlike any other he's given Junta before. Tender, even heartwarming. He's about to say a snappy comeback in return to a statement, but is stopped upon spotting the beautiful fae at the entrance.

 

“Ao'yagi!” he beams, grin grown at the following kiss. “It's been... a ride.”

 

“One way to put it.” Junta replied, a pat on the scar to admire his handiwork. “Just got it done. It's like you knew, Ao'yagi~.” All jokes aside as he mentioned earlier during their time in the lake, the treatment went along without a hitch. Sure Basshi experienced pain yet it was nothing to compared to the first time. “Pleased to say another portion of the curse has been banished. Will have to have him overnight to study the progress. Again, to see how it reacts to being toyed with. I'm sure our human friend will be handling it easier but can never be too careful.”

“That's wonderful news! Thank you again Junta.” The incubus flutters to his feet and presents a gentle bow, a silent 'thank you, thank you' one does after a play, and then saunters to the kitchen area for a tea refresh – as typical. Only then did the prince notice the other damage on the human's torso. “Basshi... what happened?” Concern heavy in his voice, ears affixed back, fingers brush over the array of scratches and welts.

 

“Well...” He stops. But why? He was so sure of himself that the 'payment' given to the incubus would be understood, yet glancing at the Cer-fae's eyes... he can't say it. There's something in those golden hues, welled heavy in troubles, that the mere mention could ignite conflict. Again, why? Is this regret? Guilt? Impossible. Yet whatever it is, the hunter continues on. “... I got into some trouble hunting last night. Was my first time tracking down prey in my beast form.” Which is half the story, the claw marks of Night Beasts from the brawl are the predominant wounds too. Taking Ao'yagi's hand in his, a peck on the lips is returned. “It's not a big deal, I'll heal! What matters is what happened at the village. Time at home did you well too?” Basshi is earned a bashful yet giddy smile and a nudge up against a cheek. Worried about him first and above all, a shared worry of partners. So this is what love is like.

 

“Yes...It was an enjoyable time, though unfortunately it didn't come without complications.”

 

“Complications?” Basshi repeats, a brow arched. “So I'm guessing your family didn't take the news well.”

 

“Ah ah! Wait!” Junta peaks his head in from the kitchen. “Didn't hear this part yet. Wait until tea for talk time!” Basshi and Ao'yagi simultaneously gave a roll of their eyes. Of course. The incubus has always been one to update topics he's interested in, the Cer-fae knows that well. With water still just under a boil, it's not much of a task to get their drinks ready– chrysanthemum tea on the menu. Just for that extra punch human's seem to enjoy, a bottle of aged whiskey is plucked up and added into Basshi's drink. Just a shot. It will help ease his pain too. Hovering back over, the appropriate mixers – black as Ao'yagi prefers of course – are set out and the incubus is comfortably back at the couch. “Please, continue~.” Refreshments in order, Ao'yagi doesn't hesitate to take a sip and unfold his side of the story.

 

---

 

“So in the end, another waiting game. The elder has it handled so it's best I return to my royal duties to not stir trouble. Only until we have an answer. Causing mass panic and, even to say a war, is to be avoided at all costs.”

 

“So also in the end...” Basshi counters, drink set aside. The alcohol is a nice touch feeling better already, though an earlier fret settles back. “It's all up to the Cer-fae now. Impossible to be at your side even with a portal opened there... human's aren't exactly welcomed.”

 

Would seem that way.” They look over to Junta, smug as ever in expressed intrigue by the rattling of his flared tail. “Time has played its course, Basshi. As I told you, I didn't sit around 'scratching my scrawny ass' while you were asleep after all.” Ao'yagi was beginning to get downcast, holding onto Basshi's hand for comfort. The thought of having to go on searching for the compass without his beloved human was disappointing. Promises hold deep within a Cer-fae's heart. Besides that, Ao'yagi was pretty excited about his newfound love only to be let-down by impossibility. Sneaking in Basshi is one, two is allowing his assistance once the portal opens. He sighed, deep and defeated. But then, Junta said they weren't without hope yet. Even if the incubus hasn't said much, he leaned forward all ears.

 

"You have an answer? Do tell Junta!" The most excited of smiles spreads across the incubus' face. How lovely it is to see the prince go from discouraged to all but curious in an instant. Exciting for his end as well, a chance to truly perfect a spell he's been working on – not just on wildlife and inanimate objects. Given practice and dedicated time it would be no problem on a mortal, he muses. To see it work to its real potential...

 

“Illusion magic, my dear prince! More than just a simple cowl and makeup.”

 

“... Another disguise scheme, Junta?” A frown curls on the human's lips, clearly unimpressed. “That's all you have up your sleeve?”

 

“Worked last time, did it not? Though of higher importance, in this case. You get to stay with Ao'yagi. The problem comes with actually disguising you. My illusion magic may be convincing, but not enough to use on another being and be stable for a long period. An elder would sniff you out in an instant too. Would have to use... 'other means.'” With that, the demon stands and beckons the pair to follow down. Tea time is over. Begrudgingly does the hunter make to his feet, not for a second letting go of Ao'yagi's hand, and are lead off. He looks down to the fae and lets off a long sigh.

 

“This sounds... off,” he murmurs skeptically. “Have any idea what he's talking about?” Ao'yagi follows his companions' lead, denoting he's just as confused as the human. A disguise is a given but he also couldn't imagine Basshi holding up illusion magic that wasn't meant for mortals. He continues to mull over how this could be done during the relocation. At first he shook his head at Basshi's question since he was just all-at-sea as the other is. But by and by he began piecing together Junta's clues and recognize what the experimental chamber was meant for. It was a project Junta had been working on for quite some time.

 

"Junta you don't mean...transformation magic?!” In a short walk do they arrive to the dedicated study area for this spell alone. The demon not wasting a second in soaring around the endless bookshelves and cabinets to gather ingredients.

 

“Salt from the diamond caves, three ogre eyes, blessed waters from Mt. Hakone, a chip of crystal from the Wyvern Scar...” he speaks to himself, the list going on. Basshi follows the fluttering, each item placed to a large table near the center. Annoyance finally bubbling over as it seems they're being ignored.

 

“You going to answer his damn question or not?! Don't leave us in the sodding dark!”

 

“Oh?” My my, how dreadfully loud humans can be – this one is at least. Junta pauses when scanning through a collection of tomes, expression turning apologetic. “Ah, sorry, got wrapped up in the thrill of it all. To answer, indeed! In the way mages tend to call it, a 'Polymorph' spell.” Basshi stares, complexity bewildering him just by the topic. That means he'll be turned into fae? Genius can give it that, but...

 

“Would this be permanent?! How long does it last if not? Are you sure this would work, even if some of the most powerful mages in the known realm being Cer-fae?!”

 

“No. Until I turn it off. And yes, I'm completely certain~.” The demon answers swiftly with the sly grin. That should do it. “Though you becoming a Cer-fae or Bovi-fae is out of the question. With your personality, you'd stick out like a sore thumb. Would say a Centaur, but getting used to walking with four legs is a task on its own. No no... has to be something fitting and welcomed by Ao'yagi's people...” His voice drifts off in a hum to again scan over the thick-binder books. Basshi rubs at a temple with his free hand, all the information striking at once. Drastic times come with drastic measures, yet this seems too extreme for said measure. Surely Junta has knowledge of this powerful magic, but if something goes wrong... Here he goes over thinking again – the strain clear on his face.

 

Ao'yagi looked on with curiosity and slight worry, patiently waiting until Junta explains himself properly instead of going through guesswork. Finally his hunch was confirmed correct with the slight banter of his two companions. Sure he was just as worried as Basshi with this form of extreme magic, but at the same time something was telling him this might just work. So he squeezes Basshi's hand once more having complete faith on their incubus friend knowing the demon has all the solutions.

 

"Let's trust Junta, Basshi. He knows what he's doing and would only act if he was confident about producing the best results." Times like these is when Basshi wishes to run off to a secluded place to think, focus. Seems like there's no time for that though, everything is laid out before them and may be the only solution. Ao'yagi's reassuring words do bring an air of ease.

 

“Ah, this should work nicely! Almost... too fitting for you Basshi. Sure you weren't meant to be this race?” Junta carries over a leather-bound tome and sets it upon the table. The pages are quickly flipped through to find sketches of the creatures to give a full outlook on the idea. “Welcome to the Sui-fae. Like Cer's do they watch and protect their environment. Their homeland consists of beaches, mountains and swamps on a series of islands far from this land. The pig and hog types are like Bovis, more of traders and far skilled in magic instead. While these...” A painted finger taps to a picture of a wild and fearsome looking warrior sporting a set a fluffed ears and tusks. Unlike the others who are more plump in shape, this fae is as muscular as a standard human hunter. “Boars. Average of six feet tall, raw power making them fearsome fighters, and voracious eaters – thankfully omnivores in your case. Different looks and traditions, but still fae none-the-less. Surely your people have heard of them, right Ao'yagi?”

 

"Yes indeed I'm familiar." Ao'yagi detached himself from Basshi to join Junta and browse through the book's description. "I remember meeting them when my father was invited to a conference for different fae races. There's also a Sui-fae ambassador that used to go for short visits in our village but I couldn't bring myself to talk to them because they seemed pretty intimidating that time. But yes, point is, Sui are welcomed in our village. More so with the coming festival. A visitor from a foreign land to experience our traditions? It's perfect!"

 

Basshi stares at the page, as if studying it closely. The writing around the sketch is in elvish socompletely lost there. But the drawing does give justice to what he'd be walking into. He wouldn't be that much that different thankfully, no hooves or horns to worry over – the major difference being the set of tusks and ears. Junta is right, these 'boar types' just scream his name – much as he hates to admit it thanks to the 'pig' line he's heard from Kabu'ragi. Least he wouldn't look like the domestic swine breed.

 

“... Tch! Had no idea they existed!” Playfully, he nudges an elbow at the stag's side. “Grown a tolerance to intimidation thanks to me and my people, eh? Buahaha!”

 

"Y-yeah...though I was a child during that time. Besides, that Sui-fae was really old and quite grumpy. I think he was my grandfather's comrade during the war." Ao'yagi's cheeks were dusted pink being embarrassed as he defended himself from the fact he was quite skittish before getting close to Basshi. Looking at his human companion, it seems Basshi was beginning to get on board with the idea and that pleased him as well. It was exciting to think that Basshi would become more similar to his own kind. "What do you think? Will you give it a try?"

 

A war? Ah yes, one way before Basshi was born – any human veterans are long since passed by now. That conflict did bring one thing though, hasn't been any long lasting battles since the treaty. But a piece of paper doesn't stop tensions among their races, sadly.

 

“Sounds ridiculous, not going to lie. But if this is what it takes to be with Ao'yagi for longer...”

 

“It's settled then~,” he demon chirps, “An excuse why a lone Sui-fae is traveling in the likes of Ja'pa is easy. The one I'll transform you into will be from the San'su tribe, beach dwellers well known as sea voyagers. They travel all over for adventure!” With that does the incubus get to the task of setting the spell in order, the blunt of ingredients ground up in a mortar and pestle and mixed within the spring water. In a brief chant does the liquid turn from a mucky green to pale blue, much like a watered down mana potion. “And in your luck,” he adds during the process, “Your 'beast form' will be unseen under this effect. Think of this as a higher form of illusion magic, completely undetected. The shift will still happen, keep that in mind. So the pain and mental labor you'll still have to endure. My recent curse breaking is in your favor. Also this is why I need to watch over you tonight, to prove my assumptions are correct in your stability progress. Still, try to not make a fool of yourself during the night hours, hrm~?”

 

That's one less worry off the table. No need to hide away at night, what a relief. So Junta's errands were to collect some of these items, wasn't it? All along had a plan, figures. Basshi beams, chest puffed out proudly.

 

“I'll do my best! Anything for Ao'yagi!”

 

“Of course, of course~. Then drink up and swallow this down with it. I suggest taking a step back first. Don't want to be blinded from the process; smoke and all.” Junta passes off the liquor and a shard of crystal no bigger than a pill. The human nods and does the task before hesitations settle – not the first time taking down a strange potion – some distance is made before guzzling down the oddly tasty concoction. There's brief tingle. His whole body going numb for a second, before indeed – a black smoke that veils the change.

 

“Just magic things,” chortles the demon. “We have to wait for it to clear.” As instructed, Ao'yagi took a step back watching cautiously as the drink is downed. Must admit he's a little worried for his companion but again reminds himself to place faith in Junta. Minutes of silence before the etch of Basshi's silhouette appears.

 

“Can there be less fucking- ah-gah! Fucking smoke next t-time?!” Coughing up a storm, a hand waving in front of his face, the now transformed Basshi steps from the left over wisps and shoots an icy glare at the demon – as if nothing happened. “Was like being in a damn forest fire, you sod! Felt like I was going to die!”

 

“Well you're fine now, right? Instead of complaining at the natural ways of that magic, any... ya' know, comments? Lookin' extra handsome there, Basshi~.” The spell turned out just as planned, much to the demon's pleasure. Still talking, moving and the striking image of what Basshi would look like as this race. Sweet success!

 

“... Oh, yeah! Ah.” Was so focused on the desire to scold, didn't think once on how the transformation actually turned out. The first thing he noticed is bronzed skin, the length of arms and tops of fingers sporting soft and thick dark brown hairs. This already immediately makes Basshi grin. The humans of his region lacks large amounts of masculine body hair. But that brings interest to his facial region, how it feels heavier and a bit muffled between his lips. A finger comes to stroke down the lengths of ivory tusks jutted from his lower jaw – he chuckles, bright eyed. “By the Mountain God himself, how cool are these?!” By no means does he notice, but his now pelted, longs ears are standing on high-end.

 

The moment Basshi’s entire form was revealed, Ao’yagi couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was like his partner was meant to look like this all along! It's natural on the other and quite complimentary as well. He couldn’t help but get flustered again and even gawk – speechless for a moment. Is this what Basshi felt when he saw his human disguise for the first time, looking at someone he liked from another race fit in his own? The prince shakes himself off from daydreaming before teasing arises from Junta; avoiding further embarrassment. Slowly did he approach the hunter, but by the gods...

 

Did he want nothing more than to touch Basshi right now.

 

“How are you feeling? No weird side-effects?” Distracted by his new features, it's a shame Basshi didn't get to catch the reaction of the fae. There's a brush down on his torso, noting how loose his clothing fits. Still stands at the same massive height, but his form has slimmed out by a few inches – more of a swimmer's shape than bodybuilder. That's a pleasant surprise, must come hand-and-hand with fae. Close to perfection. When fiddling with the pointed ears does Ao'yagi approach him smiling like a kid who just walked into a candy store. And there's a sale going on.

 

“Besides my lungs still burning a little, I'm fine! Better, even! Do I look good?”

 

“Yes, very much!” Ao'yagi's answer came in as resounding as it was automatic before proper thought. Fluffed tail shakes rapidly. He had to draw back to pull himself together; teetered on the edge of acting like a young Cer-fae during a rut. Play it cool. His throat is cleared. “It's working seamlessly for the time being, wonderful. I'll be staying here overnight as well to see how the spell holds up before and after the transformation. Good or bad results, I must return in the morning to prepare of the festival. For now, we should focus on coming up with a story of how 'we met' as well researching your... new race. I'll hit the books myself for refresh.”

 

“Very much, huh~?" Look at that, the fae is enamored with the new appearance. That's bonus points! Not minding Junta's presence, he reaches out and gently strokes a thumb at Ao'yagi's bottom lip. “We got all day. Did some studying myself earlier on your people, now time to dedicate to 'mine,' buah! Surely Junta has research material on Sui-fae as well?”

 

“Plenty.” Junta adds in. “I'll dig them up, along with stitching you up an attire to match. And like before, not going to need your changed measurements. Eyes are as good as ever~.”

 

“A busy demon is a happy demon?”

 

“You know it~.” Junta mutters to himself on the way out. “Traditionald higher class warrior armor is typically made from silk of the Giant Moth, Cockatrice leather and Naga scales for accent. Oh, then there's face-paint...” A walking library that incubus can be. By the gods was Ao’yagi internally swooning, needing to berate himself over and over that he was not in heat. Cer-fae mating season is next month! Despite that, he was frozen in place; eyes locked on Basshi with a darker tint of pink washed on his cheeks.

 

“R-right…Thank you again Junta!” He almost had to force himself to address gratitude, who’s obviously just as excited having given new challenges in what he considers to be a fun hobby. Yep, magically experimenting on mortals seem to be the way to go with Junta. Now that the incubus is once again gone for a moment, the pair were left alone with Ao’yagi obviously trying to divert his attention so he wouldn’t look so eager. “I-It really does look good on you...”

 

“Appreciate it.” Basshi replies warmly with an amused snor., “But you feelin' alright, Bambi? Don't look so good~.” Teasing, of course. He's well aware how worked up the fae made himself to be. Basshi flashes a tusky grin and parts away the misplaced hairs from Ao'yagi's forehead and cheeks. Can feel how warm he is, how that pink shade contrasts the pale. A beautiful prince. “Need to lay in bed? Gives me a chance to borrow a mirror!”

 

“How horrible it is to be painfully obvious!” Ao'yagi told himself practically melting under Basshi's touch. He can feel those newly grown, fine hairs as the hand brushes his skin; a shudder. Sure mating season didn't come early? "I'm fine really! But sure, I suppose you need to see yourself now." With that, they leave the study chamber to Ao'yagi's room. On the way out he called on Junta to inform of their whereabouts. "We're going to my room, Junta. Just go see us there when you're done." Certain the incubus heard him, shown by a wave over a shoulder, they settle in. Ao'yagi points to the full body mirror at the far wall. "Please help yourself, Basshi."

 

Junta figured the two would relocate to a more suitable area, more so with Basshi's newly acquired form. He muses if Ao'yagi will take a 'closer look.' Lords know he would if in his shoes. Best the give the couple privacy, in the end. Plus, there's a lot of work to get done.

 

---

 

Inside the familiar room, the hunter doesn't hesitate on inspecting the reflection. And what a joy it is to see. Well defined structure, the body he's only dreamed to achieve before him, with flawless skin. Not a scar in sight, except for the one at his shoulder. Guess even Polymorph can't hide a wound that deep and cursed. Notes to make sure that's covered up. Even without the sight of scales, no doubt that's a Night Beast bite. To his surprise, the darker tone matches well with his green mane, despite the body hair matching his brown ears. A mixed variance that suits his wild style. Once thinking on it, the Sui-fae clothing style would match him too – perhaps he was really meant to be a boar. He flexes, turning to a side, admiring the beauty he's become. To think he was rugged and handsome before...

 

“Hrrrm...” he delightfully hums. “You're right! Definitely an upgrade!” Expressing his enjoyment further are long, quick flicks of his slender tail – unknowingly in his hybrid form. Tail muscles, will never get used to them.

 

"It is, isn't it?" the fae agrees with a dreamy sigh, sat on the bed's edge as he watched Basshi show off. Needless to say, he was admiring it as much as the owner does. To think right now he was acting like one of Basshi's female admirers back in the city; woozy at the mere sight of the powerful hunter. He would have scolded himself on how undignified that is but was simply too busy ogling at the pseudo Sui-fae. "It really does look like it was meant for you. I'm sure once you get the clothing and basics done, you'd be utterly undetectable."

 

“Meaning I, the great Basshi, can be at your side! Buahaha!” Really can't blame him for being wrapped up in his ego at the moment, believe anyone would from turning to a perfect ten. A sweep across chest hairs, a brow waggled, tongue across pearly teeth – how could it be better than this? The attire for sure, seeing as his trousers are hanging onto his hips by a thread. And Junta mentioned face-paint, how much is the question. Not too much he hopes. Doesn't want to cover this attractive face. “And promise, I'll nail everything of these people down! Sure to get lots of attention being a foreigner but I'll handle it!”

 

"I appreciate that and I'm sure you will." Even if Ao'yagi mentioned that to be encouraging, somehow more attention turned to his partner seems all too daunting to him. He was already uncomfortable with the way others fawned over him during his visit within human territory but he dismissed that as being intimidated by the race as a whole. Now his own people will get to admire Basshi just as much and that... doesn't bode well. What is with him today and these thoughts anyway? Again, he tries to shake it off, though his ears droop with anxiety. "It's just a matter of time before Junta gathers what we need...”

 

Basshi's attention turns away from the mirror and caught the change in reaction of his partner. He knows those ears. Did he do something wrong? Something troublesome on his mind? No matter, that's not a face suitable for the prince. A pinch is at the hemline to not allow the leathers to fall off any further before strolling over, kneeling to be at eye level.

 

“Junta's skilled and all, but he won't get done that fast.” he murmurs cupping the fae's cheek. “Enough time... to sneak a kiss in at least. You wanna do that, don't you~?” Ao'yagi found himself staring at those turquoise hues. This time it's to admire the other's beauty for another reason entirely. Jealously before the need to be jealous? In the end, he knew Basshi cares deeply for him despite the ego, and perhaps felt afraid to lose that all too soon.

 

"Yes... I'd like that very much." With that, the prince leans forward to meet his partner's lips half-way. Strange feeling the tusks but it wasn't unpleasant at all; something he can easily get used to. Ao'yagi's gaze burned him down ever since the transformation, no doubt in mind the fae wants him. All the same thoughts are on Basshi's end, to chase his lips and let that speak the words too embarrassed to say. In that split moment did he feel his heart raise a beat, desiring the warmth as well. Despite the satisfaction from Junta before, nothing can replace the love and desire for Ao'yagi.

 

“No fair...” he mutters against soft lips, “Can't do this the way I want to...” The new addition is all but annoying, unable to pucker and take Ao'yagi's mouth as he prefers. It's clear Sui-fae aren't designed for this. Will have to make do, emphasis instead held on soft flicks of tongue and caresses at freckled skin.

"It's fine, we can make do." is the response as he drew back to rearrange his position. Ao'yagi went in closer so he was half-sitting on Basshi's lap with legs splayed on each of the other's sides. With this, he continued where he left off, arms around his shoulders and kissing as fervently as he could.

 

The hunter is ecstatic at the reply, more than willing to settle down and be taken into the loose embrace. Gentle at first to adjust, but with the right angle, he can reach further into the maw and bring that sweet gratification. Over the roof to across teeth, the kisses build to an intensity not suited for the situation. Before they knew it, what starts as a an innocent gestures turns to Basshi taking the smaller by the hips and carelessly gliding him along his vast lap. During a break for air does he not let up either, lips relocated to nipping at Ao'yagi's jawline down to his neck.

 

“So...” he says airily through the barrage of kisses, “you want something, Bambi~?”

 

Ao'yagi sighed through the kisses as if feeling relieved by it. As if this was something he needed all along. The fae lets his tongue dance amidst the other and then allowing his partner to explore his mouth in return. It was just supposed to be a show of affection but of course he all but welcomes further touching. As the turned Sui-fae adorns him kisses further up to his neck, his fingers buries within the thick viridian tresses; massaging Basshi's scalp to soothe and encourage.

 

"You..." The fae huffs, beginning to become breathless. "I want you, Basshi."

 

“Problem is... you can't have all of me right now...” Sad, but true. At any given moment will the incubus show up to a sight he'd happily indulge. But the embarrassment isn't worth his amusement. Has to be something quick and intense, pinpointed on pleasuring the fae instead of himself. For now. The strokes through his untamed hair grants the perfect idea, opting to turn Ao'yagi so he's seated at the edge of the bed. From there, the hunter falls to his knees and lays kisses up the interior of a clothed thigh – fingers hooked under the hem of the others' trousers to gesture their removal.

 

“How about... I lick you all over, hrrrm~?”

Chapter Text

Ao'yagi understands the message. 

 
 

If they were caught point-blank by Junta, he would never hear the end of it; even if he was certain the incubus wouldn't mind so much given his demonic nature. For now Ao'yagi will gladly take what he can get. A gasp with another shift in position. The fae is fully flustered, ears pinned back - still trying to hide his wanton desire. Nonetheless, he still gives in. In a nod, his trousers are slid away without a second thought. 

 

Free of clothing, Basshi wastes no time in parting the fae's legs further and licks short stripes up the pale skin. Muscular yet lean, these thighs are a treat to behold and to mention the warmth and subtle twitches that came along. A hand comes to wrap over his length, strokes slow and firm to encourage whatever lacking stiffness to awaken, which isn't much thanks to the ever-so-present lust the fae's been trying to hide not long before. When each gets their fair share of attention only then he raises up, greedy tongue swipes across the slit – relishing the flavor. Not once has he tasted the fae this way which makes the act all the more exciting and desperate. Turquoise eyes don't leave Ao'yagi's face for a moment, the corners of his mouth turned into a seductive smile.  

 

“Tasty~.” Even with such simple touching and licking, it sets Ao'yagi on fire. Much more with how sultry Basshi looks doing so in his new form. The fae drew a hand over his mouth to prevent from being overwhelmed and to muffle any cries; which would surely would be loud if not holding back.  

 

"Basshi..." Is all he can manage to utter even if the hunter has just began the ministrations. His member twitched in anticipation the moment he felt Basshi's tongue on it and it took him almost everything not to squirm and keep himself in place. 

 

Those noises, his name off the fae's tongue – the excitement Basshi expresses gives more than twitches of his new ears, an area the fae sadly can't witness but can surely hear. His free hand moves downward and pulls away the front of the baggy attire – now jerking himself in pace with those on Ao'yagi. Voice lowers to a lecherous groan, one that shakes him to the very core, and his own means of cloaking noise unfolds as well; a small test proving the fae's cock fits just between the jutting tusks. A tight squeeze, how lucky. His fingers hold at the base and allows his mouth take full control; no hesitations in taking its girth far inside his throat. Only then do his eyes flutter close, nostrils to flare and ears to pin – absorbing himself in the act with voice vibrating all around him. 

 

Being engulfed to a full hilt definitely made the fae wince, but not out of discomfort at all. With being sucked so snugly and delightfully, Ao'yagi clamps his mouth tighter and hangs his head back in ecstasy. Again he was internally scolding himself for being too sensitive, knowing he wasn't going to last if Basshi keeps this up. When he felt he was sort of getting used to the sensation that's when he decided to look down and take a peek on how Basshi was fairing. He was surprised to hear his partner pleasuring himself at the same time and by the gods, does he wish he could return the gesture. With full-on excitement the fae would relentlessly twitch willing himself not to come too soon. But alas he can only hold back so much.  

 

"B-Basshi...I'm not gonna last..." Exhilaration stirs through the hunter. Motions are fervent, the edgings of climax on the horizon already, thumb idly rolling the immense (?) amount of pre-fluids built up. Hasn't stored up, that's for sure so internally is this more exciting then he thought? Either way, that regard doesn't lose sight of the task – the fae's comment only makes him pick up. Cheeks hallow in with tongue pressed solid at the underside. Each take bumps hard against the back of the throat and taunts that annoying gag reflex, but he holds steady through the assault. In normal circumstance he would slow down, allow Ao'yagi the necessary breathing room to draw out their pleasure, yet this isn't the time nor place. Basshi was more passionate than ever and the prince can only take so much at this point. The more he tries to hold it in, the more his climax threatens to spill faster than he would've wanted to. "B-Basshi I can't...!!"  
 

It was the last warning he could muster until losing himself completely. Ao'yagi gripped the sheets beneath him planning to move away but he couldn't bring himself to do so. Besides that, Basshi's grip was firm. So he released himself within his partner's mouth, euphoria running through his veins. Too much! Completely forgetting to hold back, a loud moan fills the room - his eyes roll at the back of his skull.  
 

Just what Basshi wanted. The flush of fluids sears down his throat, more so jabbing the unbearable desire to breath. A shaky inhale comes through his nose, a well of tears forming, yet the sensation is still all too much. Whatever he can muster is swallowed, the rest dribbling over his outstretched tongue and lips as it springs free. Ragged breaths with a choke, none of which being a dampener at his own release. Much as he'd love to have the fae pleasure him in all the same ways, time is ticking. Through the haze of lust does he realize his location would leave quite the mess to clean up, mainly on Ao'yagi's sheets. What easier place to clean than skin then?  

 

““B-Bambi...~” In this thought does he stand, first tugging up the others' shirt to expose his stomach before lingering over – the head of his cock pressed firm to skin. The jerks become intense, tension winding knots in his gut and pooling out in unfathomable heat. 
 

Ao’yagi was still catching his breath when he feels the warm gush of fluid splashed on his stomach. Once hazed vision comes clear, he watches Basshi loom over him amidst the other’s own orgasm. Automatically does he smile at the sound of his pet name, despite still being incoherent riding on afterglow. Absently does he draw his fingers on the wet patch on his belly, swirling it around to feel much of Basshi’s essence. So warm. He then lifts his hand now coated with the substance and curiously lapped up some of it. He then turned to his partner once he came back to his senses with a calm yet satisfied expression.  

 

And for some unknown reason, there's a lot of fluid to go around. Much to his surprise that the normal amount has been somehow doubled – perhaps even more. Right when he thinks the waves have subsided, the intensity to wane another shock twinges through his cock and spills further. Ao'yagi's midsection becomes drenched in milky fluid, sticky lines dribbling over and soiling the sheets. So much for keeping this clean. But by the gods, how is there so much? And why does it feel as if multiple orgasms are striking at once?! 

 

“Come here...” Ao’yagi gently pulled his partner and wipes the residue of his own essence from the hunter’s chin with his fingers. 

 

Finally ridden out, the hunter downright flops onto his back and gasps as he did during the transformation. Lungs like stone, head to toe in sweat – this can't be right! Is this be the 'side effect' of the spell? With ears buzzed by the thrum of heart, he barely recognizes what the other just said. But it seems to not matter much seeing as Ao'yagi pulled him in closer – expression sunk to a goofy, exhausted grin.  

 

“Wha...” he murmurs weakly, “... what just... happened?” 
 

“You tell me.~” the fae jested back. Now that he’s more aware, there is an uncanny amount of fluid on him  that even reached to his sheets and tunic. He sighed and fully removed his shirt; deciding to wipe off the excess fluid with it since it was pretty much soiled anyway. Just have to change later. Relatively not sticky anymore, he turned to Basshi and takes him into a loose embrace; truly enjoying the high from their orgasms. Ao’yagi also remembered a valid explanation for his partner’s prolonged ejaculation. “On reading about other races, Sui-fae are sexually driven creatures by nature, especially compared to fae. They produce a high volume of semen and increased libido, only second to Centaur if memory serves me right. So don’t worry about it.” He must have sounded like some kind of lecturer, but at least with the provided lesson will put Basshi more at ease with this transformation. 

 

Finding strength, the hunter rolls onto his side and joins his partner in the snuggling – a tufted ear raised upon the reasoning. So this is natural for Sui, go figure. Way to make this polymorph more fitting to his character. Why was he born a human again? He finds a chuckle, a hand idly traveling up and down Ao'yagi bare torso. 
 
 

“Thanks for the lesson, teacher~,” he teases, bumping his forehead to the other, “Guess that's... one section of the book I can skip.” Their lineage are of pigs, so it makes sense biologically. And with that case, they have their own form of mating season, correct? Boy oh boy, will have to 'suffer' through that if this spell has to last for a good long while. With more contact, Ao'yagi can't help but be extra affectionate. After all, he didn't see Basshi for some time (at least to him) and this form is all too exciting. 

 

He lunged forward with the bump of their foreheads until almost lying on top of his partner. There's another series of licks and kisses given with Ao'yagi tasting his own essence which dribbled from Basshi's mouth. In the heat of the moment did Ao'yagi say what's in his heart, the insecurity that's been looming over him; especially with Basshi's significant change. 

 

"Mmm...That's right. But I fear...you might be taken away by someone..." 

 

Sadly their conversation and reveling is interrupted by a knock at that the door – followed by a voice. 

 

“If you two are done feeding me, let's get to the important matters at hand, hrrrrm~?” 

 

Buah! Dammit Junta, of course he was listening!” 

 

"Err- coming! Just give us a moment." The fae called back defensibly, now utterly embarrassed and self-conscious. Still, he gave Basshi a wry smile as if asking him non-verbally if they could continue this later. 

 

“....taken away?” the hunter repeats in thought. Is Ao'yagi implying he'll run off once finding someone new and more interesting? That his devotion will crumble apart? No, that could never happen! 

 

Then again, his encounter with Junta the following day says otherwise. Not to say he was 'stolen' by the demon's charms, desiring the same connection as the fae, but...

 

 

He should come clean about it. 

 
 

But the intrusive becomes priority, him feeling all the same. How vile of them to get intimate during a time they should be focused, more so with another person waltzing about who maintains their mana by sex. 

 

Stupid, stupid! 

 

Self-aggravation fuels the hunter to stand and immediately dig through Ao'yagi's dresser, locating a tunic for the fae to throw on as a replacement for the time being. He straightens out what's left of his attire, hair a complete mess and sticky with sweat, and swings the door open. That is, after Ao'yagi looked somewhat presentable. 

 

“Yeah, yeah! We're done!” 

 

Junta promptly makes his way in, a bundle of clothing laid over an arm, and takes a long inhale – basking in the wonderful smells wafting around the enclosed space. The scent of sex  how delightful. He grins, tail swishing in amusement. 

 

“Come now, go wash up first. No need to put fresh clothes over a dirty body. Also gives me enough time to 'catch up' on the final stitching~.” 

 

“Fine! Whatever!” With that, the now-Sui stomps off towards the lake, grumbling curses under his breath. 

 

“What crawled up his ass?” Junta snickers, “You Ao'yagi~? Pffft~.” 

 

Looking at the aggravated hunter, Ao'yagi's anxiety was piled on more. Just shared an intimate moment and now suddenly Basshi is acting aloof. Maybe Basshi really is getting bored of him... much like those trophies he attained in the past.  

 

"Who knows..." the fae sighs, too distraught to be taunted at this point. 

 

Be strange if anything came towards his rear end after what we did.” Junta mused while taking a seat at the vanity. A glance is taken over at the Cer-fae, picking up on that distress. Easy to read when you've know this person for hundreds of years, added on by their telepathic bond. “Did I... interrupt at the wrong time?” he questions after a breath of silence.“Excuse me for doing so, I couldn't help but tease.” The finished pieces of Basshi's attire, a decorated belt and leather bandoleer, are placed at the table before continuing the stitching on what looks to be an ankle length skirt made from fine, hazel colored silk. “After what I heard, it was too tempting. Apologies, Ao'yagi.” 

 

Ao’yagi huffed, feeling further anxious about Junta worrying for him. The fae decides to preoccupy himself by changing his bedsheet and putting some of the laundry away. Some chores to help calm down, it never fails. Once satisfied, he placed a hand on Junta’s shoulder reassuringly. 

 

“It’s alright, I’m not mad. I know you couldn’t help it anyway. It’s just... I’ve been thinking about…some things.” He admitted vaguely. For now, with the both of them busying themselves with mundane tasks, does it distract him from his issues with Basshi. 
 

Would be the first time Junta would hear the Prince engage in sexual activity outside his own doings –quite hard to pass up. Plainly obvious the two have been more than googly eyes, a treat indeed to listen to their actions first hand. Now if only he cracked open the door... but that's past him. An incubus Junta may be, but he's far from some wild, twenty-four seven, sex crazed animal. He hums a soft melody as the Cer-fae goes about his way of distraction, clothing taking more form, only interrupted by the touch. He gazes up with a relieved smile, yet he does hate to see the other distressed.  

 

“You know I'm always here to talk,” he replies gently, “And listen. Pull me aside anytime, it won't trouble me~.” As always. Hearing Junta reassure him back does lift the fae's spirits if only a little. Ao'yagi was silent for a minute considering to tell Junta his woes. At first he was reluctant about it, especially knowing how a demon can only grasp mortal emotions for so long. But then who else would be perfect to grieve on than his best friend who he always seek advice when he couldn't turn to anybody else.  

 

"Well...The thing is-" 

 
 

Surprisingly does Basshi show up within no time, hair within order without a sign of dampness. A quick rinse, all that's needed. He huffs, ears locked to the side of skull, and passes the pair to seat himself at the bed's edge – a towel loose at his waist.  

 

“Your turn Bambi...” 

 

... Never mind, it can wait...” Ao'yagi fell silent again in the interruption. He mouthed Basshi a thanks and proceeded to the pool outside for his turn to bathe. 

 
 

--- 


 

As Ao'yagi does his own share of cleaning up, Junta makes short work of the remaining clothing and flutters over to Basshi to add some touches. Plus, this gives private time to receive hints from the hunter on the reason why Ao'yagi's state after a seemingly enjoyable romp. He takes a section of verdant hair, fingers entwined to start on a braid near a shoulder. 

 

“Buah?! W-what are you doing?!” The hunter stares, baffled by the random gesture.  

 

“Sui-fae typically have braids,” the demons explains, “males in particular, actually. Part of your disguise.” In the end, Junta knows more of the creatures than himself, so the hunter huffs and lets it go on – gazing at any direction than the others' face. When the first is complete, the demon decides to push for information. 'Subtlety.' “You know, I'm normally not in such a foul mood after sex. You proved as well, needing a nap after our fun~.”  

 

“... S-shove it, demon boy!” is shouted back in an instant.  

 

Ah, so this human feels guilty about our encounter, hrm~? Must have brought up a tender subject afterwards, is it?” Didn't listen in after the glorious sound of Basshi coming with his own mess to clean by then, so he must have missed a piece of the puzzle. Then again, by how the human praises the Cer-fae, it's clear that more than lust and friendship drives him. Love then? Interesting, mortals and their sentiments.  

 

“Then consider it dropped, none of my business after all. But do tell if you'll allow me the pleasure of sharing your company sometime while in this form? I did work hard to make it~.” The few hours spent with Junta has the hunter already distinguished his taunts, meaningless teases to only bring reaction. Basshi just smiles, again proud and full of himself in an instant.  

 

“Only if you ask nicely~! Buahaha!” There's the hunter, that didn't take much. Be best if all were in a good mood before discussing the more technical side of the scheme. Perhaps Ao'yagi's mood will shift once seeing the Sui as his 'true self?' Two braids done, suiting Basshi well, the demon playfully streaks his tail across the others' thigh before returning to the apparel to add on the fur accents.  

 

“Later then, hrm? For now, let us get this chore done as our fae bathes. Spare me some help? My hands still sore for making the potion and there's plenty of berries to grind to make your tribal markings~.”  

 

“Can count on me!!” 

 

--- 

 

 

Ao'yagi took his time. Less about getting clean, but more so on contemplating on his previous actions. Why was he acting like this anyway? It's not as if Basshi and he are committed in any sorts. Both of them are free to pursue whatever they want; whoever they want. Still, the fae Prince is all too aware that is not what he wants and there lies the problem. Even so, he is still painfully aware of the difference between him and Basshi both of race and status. It would never work regardless of the convincing disguise. Things would give in on the long run. He sighed once more as he went to dry off. That's enough brooding for the moment.  

 

Freshly cleaned and dressed, Ao'yagi makes his way back into the room. There he saw Basshi's preparations are almost complete. Only the face paint left to do apparently. The Prince saw this as an opportunity. Even if Junta was still mixing the paint for cosmetics, Ao'yagi snatched the palette for himself.  

 

"I'll do the painting! Being first-hand familiar with Sui-fae, I won't mess this up." 

 

A long skirt, really? How is anyone supposed to fight in this?!” Basshi is-all-to uncomfortable in the newly made attire, displeasure clear on his features. “So this is a normal outfit for Sui's, it's super annoying!” On the other hand, there is loin cloth worn underneath, so he assumes if meant with heated combat it could be stripped off in no time. Still, how out of character for his human self. 

 

Junta admired his work like Basshi were a mannequin, vision just as he wished, before returning to the perfectly ground hues of berries and stone within multiple containers. Every color of the rainbow, doesn't matter which are on the hunter's skin as long as they stick out. Pastel shades to distinguish from dark tan – all over the spectrum. But which suits Basshi's markings as well? He places a dollop of each atop a thick parchment as he scans over the book from before – deciding just how to paint him up.  

 

But then seemingly out of nowhere, the fae appears – ecstatic and more than willingly wishing to fulfill that duty. Of course, the call of an artist. Ao'yagi has this. As for Basshi, there's moment of pause, pleased by Ao'yagi's return and change of mood. As silently said earlier, can always resolve any tensions later. Right now, time for his makeover! A smile creeps across tusks as he sits back atop the bed, head presented to the eager stag and bangs folded behind long ears.  

 

“I trust you, Bambi!” he chortles, “Have at me! And make sure I'm still beautiful! Buahaha!” 

 

"Just relax, this won't take long." Despite the show of eagerness, Ao'yagi made no attempt to smile in return; his face etched of worry. Even so, this was a task he wanted to fulfill as much as it was his forte. He took a brush on one hand and the palette on another. Then he drew closer onto Basshi as he began to paint. "Please close your eyes." Once his request was fulfilled did the fae start his gentle but swift strokes, dabbing on color to the handsome face before him. True to his word it only took a few minutes until Ao'yagi finished what he deemed a masterpiece. "Done! Please take a look." With his work to be inspected, the fae moves to Basshi's side so the other can see what he's done through the mirror. 

 

“It's... it's...?” Basshi cocks his head to the side, blinking at his reflection. “So simple!” Black and red are the only colors used to make the simple design. A few streaks on his cheeks, a line down his jawline, some accented dots on his lower-lid – is that it?! 

 

“Less is more.” responds Ao'yagi and Junta in perfect unison. On the same wavelength, like most the time. 
 

“Buah! Thought would be elaborate!” 

 

“No, no! This is perfect! Almost.” Ecstatic, the incubus flutters over and weaves two large feathers behind Basshi's left ear. “Hrm...yes. Rock down feathers to give some more pop~. Oh, oh! Ao'yagi. There's a symbol that should be somewhere on his body saying our 'San'su Tribe Sui-fae' is a sailor. I'll get the reference sketch.” 

 

“Of course, Junta.” 

 

 

--- 

 

 

Final touches made, the transformation of Basshi into a full-fledged Sui-fae is complete. Deceptively plain to his eyes, but through Junta's study and Ao'yagi's familiarity with the race, he radiates the perfect example of a warrior-class adventurer on the high-seas. 

 

“The reason you're here? It's simple really,” Junta begins, the trio back in the front-room for another tea time, “your boat washed up on shore. The Hakone Forest does indeed border that of the East Sea of Ja'pa, so it's not unreasonable that Ao'yagi would find you. This is Ao'yagi's last round of duty before the Harvest Festival, so the whole forest should be inspected. Finds a Sui-fae wondering the woods and BAM.” He emphasizes the word by slamming his tail against the cushions. “You just got invited to the festival by the prince himself~.” 

 

“Simple as my get-up,” Basshi snorts, “but it works. Just as 'Ao's' backstory did.” 
 

“Exactly,” Ao'yagi then adds on, “Same with giving you a fake name. While your given name Basshi, is well known to our tribe as an elite hunter, your Clan's isn't. Masa Clan, was it? 'Ma'sa' is a fitting name for a Sui-fae and not too out of the loop for you, yes?” Basshi slurps on his once again, whiskey infused tea and gives a nod. 

 

“Something I can get used with the minor addition of an accent. But from what I've learned...” He taps the stack of books on Sui-fae they've browsed through. “By my age, Sui are given a 'title.' A way to show maturity by overcoming trials. We gunna come up with one of those too?” 

 

“Must I repeat myself?” The incubus rolls his eyes and moves closer to Basshi – enough to have their hips bump. A cheeky, fanged smile is up at him. “Simple. 'Monster~.'” More teasing, does Junta ever stop? Basshi wants to retort saying it's derogatory and a cruel taunt to his current circumstances of being cursed, yet it's too fitting. His stature and ways of hunting as a human aren't the norm, can in way be classed as a monster. It's a double win and there's no use in denying it. 

 

“Ma'sa the Monster. I like it.” The fae prince forces out a convincing smile. After the events before, it's difficult to remain positive. On one hand is Basshi learning and will continue to be with him on this adventure, on the other are all his doubts perhaps becoming a reality. As a Sui-fae, he'll draw all sorts of attention being a foreigner. What if Basshi runs into a Cer or Bovi that sweeps him away? Not helping that is Junta laying the teasing and affection on thick, yet Basshi isn't fazed. No turning away, no taunts – as if this is normal and accepted now. Fueled by jealously, he nuzzles up on the opposite side of Basshi; in turn sandwiching the giant hunter on the couch.  
 

And with Ao'yagi approval, it's became a triple win. Basshi nods along. Though internally, he's screaming over the claustrophobia. Haven't they heard of personal space? He decides it's better to bite the bullet and deal with it than make a scene. It's still business time with plenty of questions to be answered. 
 

“R-right! Ma'sa the Monster! My new name!” He chugs down the rest of his drink and brings on the next inquiry. “All fae races share the same language, yeah? While you two speak fluent Common, Fae-la I don't know a single line of. That's not something you can learn overnight, I'm right!” The incubus shakes his head and draws in closer, spade tail snaked around the Sui's in an uncomfortably tight embrace. 
 

“Observant as always, Bas- I mean, Ma'sa~. But haven't you learned by now?” Junta lifts a hand and snaps; the thickness of demonic magic filling the air. A split second – heavy and scorching pain envelops Basshi's lungs. The hairs of his ears rise on end. Yet as quick as that snap, the sensation is gone in a flash. “There. As of now, you're borrowing a portion of my mana stores. A contract without the signing of your soul away. Now Ao'yagi, speak to him in Fae-la.” The Prince hums, a trust with Junta that can't be broken no matter how Basshi squirmed from the spell, and plays on like nothing happened to begin with. 

 

“Do you understand me?” comes in his native tongue. 

 

There's no time for Basshi to respond or react. One moment in pain to hearing Ao'yagi speak a different dialect that he somehow understands. As if naturally, he speaks the same in response. 

 

“Yeah, loud and clear. Wait. What? How the hell am I-?!” 
 

“I told you,” Junta interrupts, tail unwound and distance made to continue sipping his drink. Tea is getting cold. “You're sharing part of my mana in order to speak this way. Like how those compasses were able to speak through, it's sorcery. May live among elves, yet you humans will never grow accustomed to it, hrm~?” 

 

“... Tch!” Is Basshi's return. There's no correct way to respond to this. Again this damned demon having all the answers, it's infuriating! After this whole ordeal is over, he'll owe Junta far more than a night of mana recovery in the bath; that's for sure. Is a human's nature to equal out favors after all. Pleased with the results as well, Ao'yagi once more carries on. 

 

“Thank you, Junta. Story and language boundaries hurtled, all that's left is seeing if your polymorph handles through your Night Beast transformation. If all goes well, then we'll leave first thing in the morning.” The prince is monotone and straight-forward, the lapses of excitement fallen. Saying this like a chore to get done and over with. The hunter's ears pin back. Tensions between them are clear as crystal in spite of the affection even with the Prince still glued to his side, but they'll both have to deal with personal relations another time. There's still business to attend to. Junta smirks and adds in a distraction. 

 

“My my, and how dusk is coming so quick too. Guess I'll feed you mortals beforehand. I did also pick up some fresh ingredients during my trip. Tonight you'll feast on an Elvish dish called 'Curry,' made by my own hands!” Basshi and Ao'yagi can't help but smile. 
 

“Good luck, Junta.” 

 

“Don't poison us, alright? Buahaha!” 


 
 

--- 

 
 

Dinner served, going over well and surprisingly delicious, the small talk of food became their focus topic until the sun set over the horizon. Basshi has taken his prior transformations well so there was no need to restrain him, yet it's still taken with an air of caution. Junta and Ao'yagi take distance, a barrier set for a just in case, when the cycle takes places. The now polymorphed, Sui-fae Basshi undergoes the same dread. Collapsed to the floor, writhing and screaming in pain as the curse overtakes.  
 

Those minutes of agony pass. 
 

But as Junta said, not a single aspect of his appearance changes. No scales, claws or lizard-like tail forms – remained the same of his fae state. But sadly, his personality during nightfall stuck; as his first move was to pounce Ao'yagi and lick continuously across his face like a loyal dog who's master just came home. 

 

Easy to say, both Junta and Ao'yagi are displeased with that result. While body is the same, mentally he's still child-like; that goes for his speech patterns too. The Harvest Festival goes far into the night and with Basshi likely a display piece being a foreigner, it's difficult to keep him away from prying eyes. One advantage stands though... 

 

Intoxication. 

 

As any celebration, be it fae or human, alcohol is a staple. That can easily mask Basshi's behavioral differences and how the townsfolk will react. After all, everyone acts out of character when under the sway of enough liquor. Basshi can still be a center of attention, if that's the case, and can blame that on any shenanigans that unfold. 

 

That's the last thing Ao'yagi wants. 
 

If up to him, he'd hide Basshi the entire time of his visit; including before the curse takes the hunter's better half. Envy. Resentment. Unjust grudges. What's become of him? Is this really what love is like? Saving Basshi was a mistake. If he just killed him off like a proper warrior, he wouldn't have gone through any of this. Duties as a Prince, a hierarchy of the Sika, the next in line to rule his people, should be his rightful place yet this hunter he's met recently... 


 

Is everything to him now. 
 

This isn't right. 

 

This is not how a Cer-fae Prince should act. 
 

He feels sick. He hates this. 
 

Yet... 

 

When Basshi is curled up against him, peaceful in slumber, it feels... right. 
 

This is where he should be. 
 

And where it remains when dawn comes.  

 
 

Side-by-side, goodbyes given to Junta for the time being, the pair make way to the village. 

Chapter Text

A beautiful figure sits upon a throne atop a great mountain. 

 

“A lovely wind, fitting of my glory, have you brought today. Ma'nami.” 

 

“Aaaah was nothing.” The spirit stretches and rests on an armchair; looking as he'll drift off. “Was to benefit you above everyone else, Lord Toudou.” 

 

“Wahahahaha! A worthy wind nymph you are! Hrrrm, has any responses from Maki'shima arrived?” 
 

“Not yet... but have been told we should – 'break the forth wall' for entertainment.” 

 

“Oh? And who spoke of this?”  

 

“Easy~.” Ma'nami drifts closer to an invisible camera and pushes it away; revealing the writer of the series. “This person!” 

 

“The one who hasn't given I, the great Toudou, proper screen-time!? Hmph, how are they supposed to provide entertainment?!” 
 

“You're an omnipotent being. Nothing has proven you actually exist besides concepts in this universe. … until now. Hiiiiiii, I'm around too~~.” 

 

“Don't wave!! Urgh! Fine! Be as you please mortal. Amuse and whoever reads this garbage!!” 

 
 
 

--- 

 
 

Writer Vashie here: hello! There was a year break but this fanfic remained heartfelt to me and the co-writer's heart through that. And we're happy to collaborate once again on extending it in full chapter form! Post time shaky and unsure how will last but regardless – with returning, the milestone of 20 chapters and reaching 100k words, thought it would be nice to do some Q&A. Know this fanfic isn't a huge hit nor receives a lot of questions via comments but thought. Hey. There has to be silent questions readers don't ask. So here's a special insert chapter! Let's go~. 

 

--- 

 

Q: Why DouAo focused? 

 

A: Like it or not, it's my and co-writer's OTP in the YowaPeda fandom. Unpopular ship train has been on rails for years now. 

 

 

--- 

 
 

Q: Who's the co-writer? 

 

A: Her name is Azzy. We've bonded during YowaPeda RP days, fell in the love with DouAo together, and our friendship has been strong for many years now. Links to save another question: 

 

Vashie: twitter.com/Vashiekk 

Azzy: twitter.com/AzrealLlywen 

 
 

--- 

 
 

Q: How did this all start? Do you guys have a start to finish ending? 

 

A: Don't recall the starting date but I remember a prompt that started it all –  

 
 

“Then you'll run slow for me, right?”  

 

“I'll be running till breathless, hard and fast enough until my ankles are numb.”  

 
 

Context lost as this point, I made a vague and very random couple paragraphs (which remain the starter first chapter) based on that involving DouAo. Inventing the Cer-fae and Night Beasts in tangent. Azzy then followed up questions. 'Who are Cer-fae? What are Night Beasts?' Stuff of the like. Which I answered on improv for the heck of it and whoops, we invented a fantasy AU revolving the entire cast of YowaPeda. Yes, we do indeed have a start to finish! 

 

--- 

 

Q: Will it involve the main boys of the cannon series? What about everyone else? 

 

A: Continuing from last question, Onoda, Imaizumi and Naruko (soft spoiler: they'll be a major role eventually) will be making a debut in time! Everyone from the series will be included, even if a minor pop-in cameo like Kuroda was. We'll be sure to involve everyone, but know well by now if read this far, the focal point is on DouAo. 

 

--- 

 

Q: What's with all the lewd stuff? 

 
 

A: Because yes? Love DouAo, like writing smut; match made in heaven. That's why. 

 

--- 

 

Q: Will there be more artwork?

 

A: Most is from upwards of 2yrs ago now (holy moly) but we are indeed making an effort in creating newer and prettier pieces! Art is hard yo. I attempt to link them in the notes, otherwise they get posted on our Twit accounts. WIPs and doodles may pop up there as well.

 

---

 

 


If have any questions or comments, feel free to post away! We'd be happy to answer. Thanks for all the reads and kudos on this madness!

Chapter Text

Barely a cloud in the sky, wind a light breeze, temperature mild – the Mountain God has rewarded this Fall day to be perfect for the largest celebration of the Sika Tribe. The chirping of birds welcome the beautiful morning in song and accompany them through the winding walk under the thick canopy. For they themselves are speechless, now is the right time to settle prior uncertainties though each wishes not to speak of anything upsetting before the already jam-packed day. Mainly on Basshi's part. 

 

Need to break the ice...” the hunter ponders, “this silence will kill me, I'm right!” There's no easy way to bring up what happened the other night and by no means will he make the fae worry when more than enough will be on his platter. Something simple then. 

 

“So... erm- Kabu and Dan speak fluent Common too. So did that Mi'ki girl. Is that usual for your people?” Ao'yagi was off in his own little realm, recollecting his duties that will unfold until his partner speaks; an ear flicked. He nods slowly. 

 

“Around half my tribe speaks it,” he begins, ducking over a low hanging branch. “Centaur speak it as well, so it's necessary for foreign trade. Though the older people refuse to learn it, claiming it as a sin and disgrace due to the Great War.” Once more is that brought up. From history lessons, it happened over a thousand years ago – a bloody conflict involving the fae and were-folk against the humans of Ja'pa as a whole. A continental battle for territory.  
 

By then Elves, from their Capital Sohoku, joined the ranks of Hakone and have been allies ever since. With their combined forces, the fae were left at a standstill and forced to surrender under a treaty – a contract that remains to this day over the land they share. Soon after did the were-folk divide as well, the werewolves newest pack leader Ara'kita favoring with the humans while werebears being spilt on each side. The bloodiest clash in recent history – disturbing how the compass could ensue another if those secrets are found out.  

 

But now they're stuck on another waiting game until the village elder finds a solution. So nothing wrong with celebrating the holiday in the meantime, right? 

 

“I see. Away from that, what are your duties during this Harvest Festival? Get the gist of it being similar to Thanksgiving to us humans, but it sounds extra important to the royalty of Cer-fae.” The prince peers over a shoulder and smirks, pleased the by topic as a distraction from his sorrowful thoughts. 

 

“Your human holiday celebrates unity and gratitude for the season's crops, ours does as well but it also serves as a praise to our God, Cernunnos. The birth God of all Cer-fae people. According to legends, he rests here in the Hakone Forest so it's the duty of the Sika Tribe to appease him. Of course us royalty play a huge role in the rituals.” A God sleeping under them? How ridiculous! Though Basshi can't say much seeing as his people, even fae, believe the mountain that shadows the capital is ruled by the efficacious God named Toudou. 
 

“You'll be a busy Bambi then, hm?” 

 

“Indeed... but I've done this countless of times ever since I became of age. It still remains stressful. A lot is being placed on my horns, more so with having you as our guest.” The hunter perks a brow. What does that mean? But before Basshi can question back, a rustle is within the brush; one no small animal can make. Instinctively does Ao'yagi summon his weapon and ready himself for combat – though he pulls back once seeing the source of the noise. 

 

“My Prince!” A Cer-fae guard weaves through the underbrush, panting heavily as he salutes. “We've been looking everywhere for you!” Ao'yagi's expression goes sour. Did his father not trust him? 
 

“... I said I'd return in the morning, did I not?” 

 

“Yes sir, but the King ordered a band search out the area!” So that's a yes. Can't be too upset due to the recent circumstances of the compass being lost atop of his tardiness from being away from home in general lately. Even if he's busy, there's no way he could miss out on an important gathering; his duties do come before all else after all. The guard looks over at Basshi, confused. “And I see you've found a traveler!” 
 

“That's right!” Basshi shouts in his usual characteristic manner, “I am Ma'sa the Monster! Your Prince stumbled onto me and has generously invited me to the festival today. Came into this forest at the right time, buahaha!” Ao'yagi smirks. Basshi's charisma suits him well for a Sui-fae, can be (if not equal too) the boisterous nature of humans. And humility runs thick in Cer-fae as well when the guard drops his head into a bow. 

 

“A pleasure to have your acquaintance, sir. You are lucky indeed, the King will be pleased to have a guest! May it be my honor to be your escort for the morning.” Leading on, Basshi can't hide a grin spotting the guard's fluffy tail swished back and forth with excitement. Adorable. Getting to accompany the prince himself and a foreigner? This has to be the highlight of his lifetime. “How exciting to have a Sui-fae visitor! I do hope you enjoy your stay. Do tell my prince, how did this encounter happen?” 

 
 

--- 

 
 

While sharing the story of Ao'yagi's meeting with the 'foreign Sui-fae,' by no time did they arrive at the hill side masking the entrance to the village. The pair of guards stationed there shared the same excitement of Basshi's arrival during such an important day. The hunter becomes further perplexed, is having a Sui-fae around a big deal? Supposes he'll figure that out soon enough. 

 

At Ao'yagi's side, gulping down the lump in his throat, Basshi takes steps into territory that only humans dreamed about. Seeing the village's overview from the prince's tree-home can't compare to seeing it up close and personal. It's... beautiful. 

 

Simple architecture of thatch, wood and paper – again awestruck by how it contrasts the giant buildings of his homeland. Adding to the allure, each home and shop is decked out in paper lanterns and colorful decorations; welcoming the holiday. Easy to say Basshi is mirroring the same excitement when Ao'yagi first saw inside Hakone. It's come full circle, Ao'yagi having a shared giddiness witnessing his companion so ecstatic. But with how his thoughts and circumstance proved, a crowd is beginning to form around them. 

 

 

“Is that a Sui-fae? I've only heard tales about them.” 

 

“How handsome~.” 

 

“I wonder why he's here... with the prince too!” 

 

“He's so tall!” 
 

“Wow... is he available~?" 

 

 

Soon enough, they reach the center square, Basshi is surrounded by the townsfolk; the majority being Bovi-fae women. Cers are modest as always, who adore him from afar. Meanwhile the naturally energetic hooved race don't hold back. They've ganged up close to the hunter, spewing question after question whilst also touching Basshi from his attire to exposed skin shamelessly. 

 
 

“Strong and handsome! You got a girlfriend?” 
 

“How'd you get here, big boy~?” 
 

“Welcome. Let's celebrate with a drink together!” 
 

“Say, how about I give you a proper welcome~?” 

 

 

Basshi is frozen, collectively separated from Ao'yagi and their guard escort by the ecstatic residents. But staying true to his character, his chest is puffed up and soaking in the attention like he does from his admirers back home. 
 

“Buahaha! One at a time, form a line! I'd be happy to answer everyone!” He bellows although an air of uncertainly lingers in his tone. While he used to happily partake in such affection and praise, now is different. Gaze is locked over at Ao'yagi, who holds the weariest of smiles in a half-assed attempt to accept this. He knew it was coming, yet experiencing it firsthand is a whole other story. Jealously brews, fists balled tight; emotions threatening to bubble to over. He has to remain calm. Also remember, this is different; 'Ma'sa' is pretty much a stranger to him too. All previous experiences are void in this situation. Blowing Basshi's cover can mean life or death.  
 

It's then through the clamor of the crowd, a voice shrills above them all; a finger jut directly at the Sui-fae. 
 

“IT'S THE PIG! No way! Must be pulling my tail, that's the- HMPPH!” Just like their meeting days before, Dan'chiku is forced to cover the screaming mouth of his obnoxious mate, Kabu'ragi. There's no denying it, that's the same hunter that was in their home. This is Basshi... but now a fae? 

 
 

Ao'yagi has something planned,” Dan'chiku ponders in thought holding back the squirming goat-ling. “This human in disguise wouldn't be here for no reason...” His ways of being observant are strong as ever when him and the prince share a glance – a thousand words spoken without a single word. The prince's trust is strong with his son-in-law, silently begging for assistance. 
 
 

Dan... help me out here!”  

 

“K-K-Kabu! It's rude to call him a pig! Say hello properly!” Kabu'ragi, stubborn and a few clowns short of a circus as ever, is hellbent on calling out Basshi's true identity; absent of any logic behind why he's here. He jerks from his mate's grasp and continues the accusing point. 
 
 

“What are you talking about?! You know damn well that's-” 

 

“A Sui-fae, yes!” Dan'chiku spun him around and knocked their horns together affectionately, a form of distraction. “Your Fa'fae will be busy. Wouldn't it be super cool for you to be his official guide, showing our guest around while he readies for the festival?” 

 

“Y-yes.” Playing along, Ao'yagi pats his adopted son on the shoulder. “Kabu'ragi, be a dear and formally show our new friend Ma'sa around, ok? You too Dan'chiku.” Can only hint subtly. Question is if Kabu'ragi can pick up on it. The goat-ling's eyes light up. He's been given a huge role! Eager and pepped up, hooves clop about as he bounces with excitement. 

 

“Wooooah! Really?! Yeah! Can count on me! I'll give him the best introduction ever!!” Ao'yagi affectionately scrubs his hair before referring to his companion; the act kept up. “This is my son and his life-mate, Ma'sa. Do treat him and the rest of my village well.” Giving Kabu'ragi that title? A good plan, keeping his attention diverted while also gives an excuse on why they'll 'bond' quickly. The disguised Basshi snakes through the hoard and also gives Kabu a pat on the head. 
 

“Buah! An honor, prince Ao'yagi. I will treat him as my own!” 

 

“Wonderful. Carry on then. I'll see all of you later during the afternoon ceremony.” With that, Ao'yagi turns away and treks on towards the palace to prepare. Having Dan'chiku around is a valuable asset in having this go over this smoothly. While details are absent, he has faith the young sheep will keep the ropes tied. Especially so once Basshi is able to explain why his presence is needed. After the prince excuses himself, Dan'chiku promptly tugs at Basshi's arm; nervous but firm on the next step. 
 

“Y-you must be exhausted from your journey, sir. Let's refresh at my home before the tour, yes?” 

 

“Would like to kick up my feet...” the hunter huffs, acting if indeed weary from an adventure. “That sounds perfect, young one.” Threading along, he waves to the crowd of attention seekers. “Will catch you folks later! Reserve some drinks for me~!” As if a spell is over them, they collectively swoon. The power of a Sui-fae is no one to be reckoned with apparently. 
 

“This is insane,” Dan'chiku grumbles once some distance is made, “Better have a good explanation for this... human.” 

 

“Save the banter, sheepy. Have to pamper me first~. Buahaha!” 

 
 

--- 

 
 

Teasing aside, Basshi learns a valuable lesson about Bovi-fae culture once he arrived at Dan'chiku's home. Another tree-house but unlike Ao'yagi's, there's no ladder leading to the nausea inducing height it settles up on. Bovi-fae are known as wildlife doctors to humans, curing the sick and injured of any life-form within the woods. But above that, they naturally have an affiliation with nature as a whole. 'Druid magic,' as the Elves call it. A short spell from Dan'chiku is all it takes for the massive tree to sweep the trio up onto a limb and guide them up. First learning of the Cer-fae's affinity with time distortion magic and now this; Basshi is blessed with knowledge far more than an average human in his generation about their so-called enemies. Hell knows he won't take it for granted now that his viewpoints have changed. 

 

The fae, in Sui-fae form or not, are now his friends. The prince of the Sika tribe himself being his cherished love. He'd never betray them, though the same can be said about his own standing as proud hunter of Hakone. Going against King Fuku would stain his pride. If there was another war to break out, a side couldn't be chosen. Adding in, thanks to Junta, his judgment of the Outcasts has been shifted as well. There's no loyalties anymore, only whims driven by his heart. And what stands above all else... is Ao'yagi. 

 

 
 

No matter the trials, he'll do anything for him.  

 

 

Once settled down, Basshi gives an explanation of the situation. He's here to escort Ao'yagi to find the stolen compass; excluding Junta's involvement. Again sneaking in a white-lie but it's for the better. Even after all the years of Ao'yagi and the incubus being tied, he's kept it a secret from everyone – including Kabu'ragi. Demons, like humans, are innately rivals. But the sheep-ling knows better. 

 

“Junta.” Dan'chiku says openly once Kabu'ragi is thoroughly distracted in another room. “That's who transformed you, right?” Basshi's jaw would fall off if not attached to his skull, eyes the size of dinner plates. How the hell does he know him?! Wasn't is supposed to be a secret?! The hunter's questions are then answered. “...My instincts are correct again. You see, I have a sibling. A very talkative one at that, that shares everything with me. This Junta has a brother, who my younger brother is close friends with. So in turn, that sneaky bastard has seen interactions between Ao'yagi and Junta. At first I was appalled, but then...” 
 

“You're like me too. Saw Outcasts as being foul creatures. Nothing more than by rumor, to learn they're decent people.” 
 

“Exactly.” A warm smile etches onto Dan'chiku's usually skittish expression. “My brother is always so happy after his visits, so was Ao'yagi. No wicked magic can hide that sincerity. Sounds cheesy, but it spoke from the heart.” Yeah, can be considered lame but Basshi's grin goes ear to ear. He knows that feeling all too well. 

 

“Hah! A good head on your shoulders! Balances out the lack of brain on your life-mate's end.” 
 

“W-w-w-what are you talking about?!” 

 

“I'm saying Kabu is an idiot.” 

 

“H-he... has his own charms!” 
 
 

“Riiiiiiiiight. Come on, can admit it's only his cute arse you were after~.” 
 

“...Y-you humans are the idiots!!” 

 

 

--- 

 

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, Cer and Bovi alike, let us formally welcome the annual celebration of the Harvest Festival!” A cheer resounds the moment the King of Sika appears.  

 
 

Basshi, after a short voyage through the village with his Bovi-fae escorts is seated near the front to witness the opening ceremony. Kabu'ragi now informed of the situation, has promised to keep his mouth shut. It's taken with a grain of salt. Much as Dan'chiku loves him, because he loves him, he knows the goat-ling like the back of his hand. His lips can't be sealed for long. He would keep a close eye on him though he's run off to join Ao'yagi. For this year, he'll be joining in the yearly ritual alongside his father. 

 
 

“On a scale of one to ten,” Basshi whispers over to Dan'chiku, “how likely is it that Orange will spill the beans?” The sheep-ling's ear raised in confusion. 
 
 

“'Orange?' Oh- you mean Kabu.” So Basshi gave a nick-name to him too, that means he's next in line. “Surprisingly, I give it a three. This is his first time aiding in royal duties for the festival and soon enough alcohol will be broken out. And lemme say, he doesn't... well- you'll see.” Is he the type to fall over and pass out? Vomit uncontrollably? Ramble on like more of an idiot? The Sui-fae is ever-so-curious on what type of drunk he is. Makes him ponder on how Ao'yagi will react as well, not once did he partake in a single drop since their bonding. What an interesting night this will be. 

 

The afternoon at its peak, sunlight peppered through the trees, the Cer-fae king stands at the center-square behind a roaring fire and continues the speech. 

 

“For each new morning bearing light, for rest of shelter in the night. For good health and food, for love and most importantly - unity. Friendships and family. Let us be grateful to those who blessed our lives; for they are the gardeners that make our souls blossom. Another year has Cernunnos smiled upon us, granting His gift of plentiful crop and peace. Now, a moment of silence to share our thanks to His name.” A peaceful hush, in combination do all fae clasps their hands and bow heads. Bovi-fae indeed have their own 'father God' yet being so closely knit to Cer-fae traditions and family, do they accept Cernunnos as their own. The disguised hunter being a gracious guest, joins along in prayer though he can't help but stare at the tall figure that is the King. 

 

Dressed horn to toe in flashy silks and jewelry, ceremonial fused with royalty, he's a clear cut image of one in power. Stern, imposing – an air of dominance yet benevolence. Basshi can imagine him and King Fuku hitting it off if the circumstances weren't quaver between races. Besides his golden hair, he looks nothing like his son – but the Queen on the other hand, is a striking resemblance to Ao'yagi. Praying just beside her life-mate, decked in a similar fashion of extravagance, the doe could easily be mistaken for the young prince. 
 
 

The hunter's heart thumps, that beautiful allure runs in the family. Feels under-dressed in comparison but all a part of being this breed of fae. On the face of it, they aren't much for clothing given their environment. More importantly, he'll eventually get to see his love in the formal get-up too, right?  

 

To think Ao'yagi is gorgeous as is in his normal attire...” Basshi's mind drifts, “How the hell am I not going to keep my eyes off him?! Can deal with the piled on praise of the village-folks but... ah- come on, Basshi! Focus!” After minutes of silence pass, the King raised and gestured his arms in an extravagant display. 

 
 

“Now, my people. Today has also been graced in not just one, but two favors to make this year's celebration extraordinary! To begin, a Bovi-fae has been honored of stepping his hooves into our yearly traditions.” He looks off to the side and queues the young one to step into view. “Now of age, the adoptive son of our Prince, one I'm proud to call my grandchild – Kabu'ragi. It is a pleasure to join us during the ceremony.” 

 
 

“Thank you, to everyone. I'm honored to be here.” Contrasting Kabu'ragi's usual demeanor of carefree and bubbly, it's unlike any other Basshi's seen before. Serious, stalwart; like a completely different person. The significance of this day has been a heavy hitting influence; which is saying a lot from the brain-dead goat-ling. Alongside this is the change in clothing. Kabu'ragi's normal attire shows a lot of skin as is, that's not the striking part. It's the majesty of the fabrics and jewelry. Silks, gold, gemstones – witnessing who Basshi deemed a fool like this is eye opening. He really is Ao'yagi's son. One worthy of respect. And on queue of seeing him stand beside the King and Queen, does Dan'chiku break into tears. 

 
 

“H-h-h-h-he's... he's beautiful...! I'm... so proud!” The sheep-ling has to muffle his praises, hands clasped over mouth with blue eyes wide in awe. Next to their wedding ceremony, this is the next big highlight in his life. To see his life-mate stand proudly in unison with the Cer-fae hierarchy, accepted as one of their own. There's bliss unlike any other. And it's not just Dan'chiku being emotional; other Bovi-fae rise up in cheers as well. Kabu'ragi, his nerves kept in check, takes a kneel. 

 
 

“Rejoice, my people!” the King shouts above them.“This year, this festival, together as one. We also celebrate the welcoming of another in the Sika court. The first Bovi-fae, I decree thee... Prince Kabu'ragi!” It's then, a circlet of beautiful gems is strung around his horns. The animation of the crowd bursts into explosive applause and whistles; whereas Basshi is left aghast. Today is also Kabu'ragi's official coronation?! This wasn't mentioned! If meant to be a surprise, it worked one hundred percent. 

 
 

“Kabu! Kaaaaaabu!!” Dan'chiku's voice, an excitement that can no longer be contained, booms through the clamor. It takes every fiber of his being to remain in place, staying professional, but it's Kabu'ragi who breaks that barrier. After bowing to the Cer-fae King to show gratitude, he immediately bolts from the stage. 

 

“Daaaaan!!” In the blink of an eye, his life-mate is sent to the ground from a tackling embrace; each immodest in peppering faces with kisses. Which has the crowd remark affectionately. 

 

“Ahahaha!” The King cackles, also taken by the sweet display. “Yes, of course as well! Dan'chiku, the life-mate to our newest Prince, and his wonderful family has also been welcomed into our royal court. A splendid day for the Sika tribe. Raise a glass!” Basshi, who is stuck next to the disgustingly cute celebrating Bovi-fae, scoops up the mug of ale at his side and goes straight to chugging it. His blood is boiling. Here he thought he was going to be main event, the big squeeze that will sweep the village of its feet, but no. This had to happen. So he isn't a big deal, it was all in his head; played in the spotlight to have it burn out. Why wasn't this discussed? Immense ego bruised, bitterness accumulated. But like any time the hunter begins to brood or over question, something steps in the way. And in this case, it's the Queen herself. 

 

“Come, Sui-fae.” The doe spoke quietly as did her approach, delicate fingers outstretched to the Sui-fae. “The King requests your presence.” Basshi did what felt natural, a silent nod taking her hand gently into his. Beckoned by her elegance, he's lead up next to the Cer-fae King. Poker-faced he may remain on the outside, heart and mind are both racing. His loyalty and accomplishments have been acknowledged, of himself and upstanding of his Clan, but never once has he stood beside King Fuku. But yet, here he is – not even a foot apart from the Cer-fae's superior; the human race's 'mortal enemy.' In a different scenario, a mirror of his past, this would be the perfect opportunity for an assassination. But through and thorough, Basshi's perspective of the fae has taken a full one-eighty.  
 

He's honored to be close to this dignified figure; the birth father of the one he loves. Yet he must keep his lips sealed about any of his and Ao'yagi's connection, much as he'd enjoy sharing how his son found the same acceptance. How he found... love. With a human of all people. All Basshi can do now is smile and show gratitude to the King as is on the surface – a leader and authority of an upstanding fae tribe. 

 

“My formal greetings,” he said, a hand outstretched. “I am King Ben'more. My son is elated to have you as our guest. I can see why.” Head back in the game of acting, Basshi takes the hand into a firm and enthusiastic shake. 
 

“Buahaha! Go by the name Ma'sa the Monster. You and the Prince humble me! I am nothing special, your typical Sui-fae passing by.” 

 

“By no means! Not every day, or even year, does one your people visit here. Not by means of official business only. I can see a spark...You feel just as blessed as we do.” Ben'more hands over a fresh glass of booze to his new acquaintance; his trust and a smile that can go on for miles. “Let us toast to Mukasura, for it's His grace that lead you to our land during such a special day.” The patron God of the Sui-fae, a staple fact Basshi must know during this undercover mission. Without wavering, his glass clinks to the other. So Cer-fae share celebratory traditions close to humans. Does make it easier to blend in. 

 

“Saw right through me. Was bound to stumble upon your race venturing this forest eventually. An omen of celebrations for this day, but the Prince himself escorting me? Buah, I'm over the seven moons!” 
 

“One in million, Ma'sa. That's what you are. And from this do I ask a request. That this fortune stays true.” Refined as his upstanding, the King sips from his wine gracefully. “Do tell. Plan on returning to your tribe after your visit here? Naturally you are allowed to stay as long as you wish, yet nip my ears on your next step, warrior.” It's hard for Basshi to keep a straight face. Making causal conversation undercover is one thing but with the King and prattling about his fake adventures is another. Heat washes to his collarbone, palms to sweat – never before has he been this nervous. Yet being direct will be his calling card, be it an act or not. Shoulders shrug in a passive manner. 
 

“You're aware of us San'su, King of Sika. We go where the wind takes us. And I must say, and forgive me if being rude...” Blatant as the fire beside them, the Sui-fae's next words are ignited with passion. “Your son has swept my sails~.” Honesty always takes the largest bounty. Can be as is when first seeing Ao'yagi during that faithful night, that absurd (though proven true) notion of love at first sight; only now in a different skin. His mind lingers off again, thinking somewhere in Cer-fae stories is there some ridiculous legend to back up his infatuation. Destiny or fate, 'the stars have aligned', sort of nonsense. But there's no feedback in that regard, for King Ben'more stares at the other; bewilderment set in his amber eyes. 
 

“You've taking a liking to my son this quickly? Dear me. Your sails are easily swayed, my new friend. I mean that in no foul sense, I'm merely surprised. Nor am I judging you. Ao'yagi isn't an expressive type so I'm unsure what appeal a warrior like yourself would find of interest. Especially when knowing him for only a morning!” 

 

“Buah. A sailor chooses a wind that takes their vessel to a safe port.” Basshi follows flawlessly; speaking as a hopeless romantic mariner. The context may be slightly changed but he does indeed speak from the heart. “May your son be that or a siren meant for shipwreck, I'm prepared for both outcomes. Regardless, an adventure of my worth is with Ao'yagi.” Poetic, well-spoken; the King is intrigued. Naive, one likely blossoming to the bottomless purse that is exploration. Humored by the speech, he lays a pat at the Sui-fae's shoulder; accepting. 
 

“Follow what your heart desires, young one. If pursuing that feeling sings strong, so be it. You have my blessing.” Basshi's tail couldn't swish any faster than it is right now. The King... approved his fondness for Ao'yagi? Heart leaps into the back of throat; voice forsaking his lips. A stare and a nod, that's all he can do. And right when elation is thought to be the highest, speak of the Cer-fae himself. Ao'yagi steps into view. 

 

“Father, Mother. Good afternoon. To you as well, Ma'sa. I am ready for the ceremony.” 

 
 

And finally, after all this contemplation of how Ao'yagi would dress... 

 
 
 
 

Not enough booze or willpower prepared Basshi for this.

Chapter Text

Not enough words in the world can explain the beauty through Basshi's love-sick eyes.  

 
Skillfully crafted jewelry and silks only fit for royalty, a stunning display that immediately makes the Sui-fae agape. Although unlike the expectations of him alongside his parents in ornate robes, he surprisingly has a similar ensemble to Kabu'ragi's. Much of his freckled skin is exposed or veiled in translucent fabric; a similar getup to high-end escorts in Hakone. To top it all off is the string of golden coins at his waist, a delightful chime heard with every step. 

 

Elegant. Radiant. Seductive. 

 

Basshi is falling in love all over again. 

 

“Excellent.” Ben'more smirks, regarding the prim and proper mannerisms of his son and also to Ma'sa's reaction. He's practically drooling. If already infatuated with Ao'yagi from the start, now it's taken to a whole new level. Young love, how adorable. “There is still time left before the second event begins, that of which will highlight our Sui-fae friend's arrival so do take this time in celebrating Kabu'ragi's official entrance to our court. The little Bovi will be handling everything before that.”  

 

“Hm?” Ao'yagi's head tilts when he's passed a wine glass like any other guest. This is different from planned. “Forgive me father, but shouldn't I be his guide or let him be the one celebrating while I cover the events as usual?” The King clicks his tongue and wags a finger along, a playful scold. 

 

“Now, now. The circumstances have changed my dear boy. It's been some time since your mother and I have been involved in the ceremony. That way we can refresh our skills whilst also training our new Prince. This is a huge day for Kabu'ragi, but he mustn't slack off and start to learn our way of life quick as a summer's rain. No time like the present.” He reaches up and again pats the Sui-fae's massive shoulder. “Plus, I believe you two should get more antiquated before the ceremony, yes? Drink up and relax! And as for that request I mentioned earlier, Ma'sa...” The disguised hunter bounced back from the captivated stare and nods to the other. 

 

“Yes, King of Sika?” 

 

“Ben'more is fine. We're friends, right?” A jovial laugh erupts, which only confuses Ao'yagi further. What went on in his absence? “I had another thing in mind but it's of the past. Now it's quite simple. You must share the stories here with your people someday. And most importantly...” The King displays a cheeky smile and walks off – waving over a shoulder. “Have fun~.” 

 

“We will see you both before sunset.” the Queen tenderly added in before joining her husband. A woman of few words, it's baffling how similar she is to Ao'yagi. Like mother, like son in this case. The pair left to their own, whoever of Basshi's admirers thoroughly distracted in celebration, words are looser. 

 

“Hah! Your father is a riot! He always this laid-back or is it the wine talking?” A playful prod of a shoulder is on Ao'yagi's yet the prince doesn't react. Amber eyes are locked on the other pair, brows furrowed, decorated ears pinned back; an expression the opposite of a celebratory mood. “What's with the sour look?” The prince doesn't respond.  “What?” Again no response, in turn was it fueling Basshi's impatient side. He growls under annoyed breaths. “Say something, Bambi...!” It takes a long moment before the fae speaks up. 

 

... What did you say?” Firm, obstinate; Ao'yagi knows something was brought up that turned his father's behavior. King Ben'more is usually a carefree soul, though today – additionally peculiar with it being a pedestal of Cer-fae traditions – is off his rocker. Warming up to foreigners in a professional sense is one thing, but to declare them friends after one meeting? Changing plans at last minute is out of character as well. Unless Basshi said something drastic. 

 

“Well...” The Sui-fae scratches at his neck and looks away; embarrassment of the prior conversation settled in. He just admitted essentially, love for a man he just met. To his father of all people. Basshi's smile turns lopsided foolish, tanned cheeks taking a shade of red. “I... buah, in a poetic way, confessed my liking for you.” 

 

“!?” Responding like anyone else would if in his shoes, the prince is appalled. Ears shoot straight up on end as his face turns pink. “Why?! That's not a normal conversation topic with a figure of his stature!” 

 

“He started it! And I was being honest! Can put on some false guise, a rash story to back up my arrival, but I won't hide how I feel about you. I'm right!” No matter how it was brought up or how it concluded, Ao'yagi is taken by those words. The truth Basshi holds, despite being wrapped in a critical situation, is leagues deep. 

“Ba- ...Ma'sa...I don't know what to say.” Without thinking does he reach out and hold Basshi's hand gingerly. “I'm infuriated because it sparks my father's desire to find me a life-mate but-” 

 

“Hold up.” A squeeze, the Sui-fae leads the other what can be deemed uncomfortably close if anyone sees. A thick brow arched curiously and waggled. “So the King wants you to find someone~?” 

 

“Basshi...” In case of prying eyes, the fae's arm moves to mock a handshake. Intense the moment may be, they can't break character. Have to play along with Basshi's bold moves as he did with Kabu'ragi's. “Yes... you're aware I don't socialize often. So if I or anyone else shows interest, my father becomes all over it. Not helping... or helping, I suppose, with today a Bovi-fae joining the Sika hierarchy...”  

 

“Heh, the thought of Sui-fae joining them too...” What an opportunity it is for a kiss. Whatever prying eyes will witness the Sika prince himself being scooped up by the newcomer – it's too tempting. Slowly but surely, the Sui-fae arches in for their lips to meet. 

 

“...!” Seeing as Basshi, daring as ever beginning to move in closer, the fae prince takes a step back and concludes the handshake. Causal. “Please don't, Basshi. No teasing. Let's not make it a big deal, ok? There's enough that has to be dealt with today and I don't need my father and villagers breathing down my neck about this. And if all goes well, by tomorrow we'll have an answer from the elder.” That brings Basshi's attention back to the main scene, why he's here to begin with. So be it then, can always taunt Ao'yagi on a later date after all. He purposes a toast, adding to the illusion of a simple chat to anyone onlooking. 

 

“By tomorrow?” 

 

“Best case scenario, yes. So we should stay on our toes. Meanwhile, we should bond over this day, gain trust so you're worthy of joining in the search for the compass-” Ao'yagi pauses. Unintentionally, did Basshi do that already by his confession; can see no qualms of the guest Sui-fae becoming his bodyguard when that time comes. Ben'more does have his trust on Basshi thanks to it. Cringe-worthy as it seems on the outside, it's only skin deep; the King oblivious to the scheme. “...Hrm, that's covered.” 

 

“Is it? Sure your father will be convinced just by ridiculous notions of a crush?” The return is a nod from the Prince. Sad to say, his father is fixated on his young son to socialize; more so in the passage of finding a partner. Male or female, no matter who. It's all in best intentions of desiring to see Ao'yagi find happiness with another. Someday... but not now, will the real truth of his feelings for Basshi be revealed. “If you say so... then onto another thing. What's with the outfit?!” Easy to say he remains bewildered over the scandalous appearance. Aren't royalty meant to be sophisticated, especially so with the Cer-fae society being modest as a whole? Ao'yagi nibbles at his lip nervously. This calls for an explanation. 

 

“This is a normal of Cer-fae tradition. It's been passed on for generations. Building blocks, atop the pillars of our elders, us young royalty appease Cernunnos through body and soul. Thus so, we expose ourselves to show our worship. Skin and emotion, nothing can be hidden from our God.” A sip from the glass, a free arm moves to partially cover his exposed chest. Around Basshi with him being a human, this is utterly humiliating. “But since learning of your people from Junta, I see why this is shocking. I look like a... what are they called? 'Prostitute,' was it?” Basshi then clears his throat. It's true, much as he hates to admit it. But different cultures brings different customs – he has to remember that. Such attire became sexualized in his parts but to Cer-fae, it's as Ao'yagi said; traditional. It's all about perspective. 

 

“And I'll respect that,” the Sui-fae replied, a glug taken from his drink. “No need to feel embarrassed. From my human eyes, can say... yeah, you're incredibly sexy looking like this... but-” Turquoise eyes avert again. “You're always sexy to me... obviously, buah!” 

 

“Guess you're the one more embarrassed here.” The prince chuckled, cheeks darkened – he's finally starting to breathe easy. Judgments of uncertainty fade of into wisps; vanished. The face of danger, his true identity perhaps unmasked, the human stepped forward and took charge. Fearless and proud to even his father. Basshi has proven ten times over his loyalties are strong, that their love is true. Why did he worry so much? His father is also correct, it's time to loosen up. He downs the rest of the wine and shows a heartfelt smile. “Your flattery is impeccable as always. But don't you think it's time you provide entertainment?” 
 

“Huh?” Basshi looked over to the crowd, where now a collection of Bovi-fae – and some Cer-fae joined due to the liquid courage – beckoning for the Sui-fae to join for drinks. “... Ah, a role I'm meant to play. But answer me really quick before I go, Bambi. Why didn't you tell me Kabu had a big role today too?” 

 

“Was meant to be a surprise,” is said with a shrug. “I must say I didn't want you poking fun before his big day. There were a lot of pressure as is.” 

 

“Tch!” Admittedly, he would have. Teasing the goat-ling has become part of his nature, as teasing him became part of Kabu's. Fair enough. “Fine! Then explain what my thing is in this ceremony!” 

 

“You'll see later, it's a surprise too. It will last past sunset so I beg of you...” Going behind Basshi, he gently nudges the giant towards away from the stage; voice lowered. “Keep your Night Beast instincts in check. I have a plan for when your transformation kicks in. Just mingle with everyone for now.” The Sui-fae gives a nod in understanding. Ao'yagi has this all figured out. Laying on his charismatic charm, he stepped into the sea of admirers. There's no effort to blending in. 

 
 

“Sorry for the wait, ladies and gents. Ma'sa is back~.” 
 

“Talking with the Prince? You're awesome!” 

 

“Super cool~.” 

 

“Look, look! I saved a drink for you!” 

 

“Me too! Let's toast!” 
 

“Heeeey mister Sui-fae, answer my question from before!!” 

 

Mopped up by the crowd, Ao'yagi smiles from afar. Truly knowing Basshi's behavior is all an act, it's relief over resentment. Skepticism behind on that front, it's time to silently watch over another. And what entertainment it is to witness Kabu'ragi learn the ropes. Repeatedly messing up, apologizing through and through; an innocent thing. A bitter-sweet reminder of his days in that same spotlight. And now new memories of his son going through the same. A prouder father he can be. 

 

And soon as the sun lingers over the horizon, this Harvest Festival will indeed become one-of-a-kind. 

 

 

--- 

 

 

The buzz of nocturnal insects begin to stir. 

 

As foretold, Basshi is directed back up to the center stage an hour or so before nightfall. Drinks downed and amusement given, it's easy to say inebriation has settled in but nothing extreme. This hunter can tank down a liter of scotch and still be on his feet. That doesn't reflect on his admirers though. They've gotten to the point of drunkenness where Basshi is relieved to get a breather away from their rambling and senseless touching. Yet the King fills that in. Being around the same height, the slender Cer-fae wraps an arm around his shoulders. 

 

Welcome back!” the King slurs, more jovial than ever. “Do tell, are you enjoying yourself?” 

 

Of course! The hospitality of your people are unlike any other! But...” Again he finds an opportunity that's too enticing to ignore. Ao'yagi did warn not to make the crush topic a highlight yet on the other hand does he wish to have more of Ben'more's favor. Surely it increases the chances of staying around to aid on the upcoming compass search adventure. “Will say, been a shame I haven't spent a lot of time with prince Ao'yagi. He wandered off.” 

 

Did he now?” The King looked disappointed for a moment but turned to give Basshi a swift pat on the back. “Hah! A fickle boy he is! No reason to fret, my Sui-fae friend. I'm sure you two will bond during this ceremony.” 
 

Mentioned I'd play a role, correct? And what's that exactly? Wasn't told... well, anything about it!” The prince wants to keep it a surprise but perhaps Ben'more can shed some light. He isn't the type to get nervous, always head-strong no matter the situation, yet this mystery has knotted his gut in anxiety. Partaking in a fae ritual is beyond his human self.  

 

Just do as you're told, simple as that.” Sadly the King is just as vague, giving a wink on Junta-levels of teasing before stepping forward and addressing the crowd; his voice roared. “My people! To the bonfire! The annual dance is about to begin!” 

 

Dance?!” The hunter's mind races. Like a ballroom on any royal parties? But if he's going to be in the spotlight being involved with the hierarchy themselves, does that mean he'll dance with Ao'yagi? Heart has leaped up in into his chest, those troubled notions solidifying. He's sweating, hands trembling; the pressure is on. As if aware of the Sui-fae's apprehension, the Queen settles at his side while the townsfolk start to gather. 

 

Apologies from before,” she starts in a meek tone, “I never did introduce myself properly. I am Ru'ru” Her stern expression turns to a smile that could light an entire room. Sweet and sincere, again that familiarity shared with her son. The Sui-fae reacts the same as before, awestruck by her beauty and nods politely but this time his voice is found. 

 

A-... A pleasure to have your company, Queen Ru'ru.” 

 

You are very kind, Sui-fae. Not to be offensive to your people, but you are very well spoken unlike others we've conversed with in the past. You speak the same likes of Cer-fae or a higher-classed human. It's a breath of fresh air.” To think the knot couldn't tie further, Basshi's insides are tangled into a unrecognizable mass. 
 

Is true. The dominant presence of my people are bloodthirsty warriors. Fighters striving to be the best of the best but when learning of other races, I traveled as a loner as soon as I became of age. From there I ventured, learning all I could from village to city; wherever they'd accept me. A little of every culture has shaped me into the man I am today!” By instinct does he chuckle after the speech, a means to cover up the stress. The act has to stay on track but there's a limit. Talking with drunk and lusty fan-girls is easy-street though with Ao'yagi's noble family? He's slowly but surely reaching a breaking point. It's becoming a lot to handle. Ru'ru cants her head and remains silent for a short time; a tufted ear raised.  

 

Interesting.” She studies the Sui-fae but similar to Ben'more, it's only on the surface. Blind of Basshi's real identity, her head bowed, hospitality is on display. “This experience during this festival must be enlightening to someone as open minded as yourself but I'm deeply sorry for the stress it's causing.” At this point, Basshi is an open book when comes to showing a weaker side; partly his infatuation with Ao'yagi predominates and now the pressure of being a centerpiece of a Cer-fae ritual. She can read him with ease. Fortunately his unawareness as a human is backed up by his Sui-fae guise as well. 

 

It's a lot to take." Ears pinned back, the hunter replied. “I haven't learned anything of this festival besides it being a large part of Cer-fae customs. Me being involved doesn't seem... right. Confused on why I've become a big deal.” 
 

No one told you?” The Queen narrows her gaze and silently judges her husband - continuing to rally the intoxicated people together in a flamboyant speech. Left a newcomer unaware to be a surprise... apparently Ao'yagi did too. She still has time then. “You've learned why the Harvest Festival is a large part of us Sika?” 

 

Because Cernunnos sleeps here.” 

 

Good, yes. Exactly that.” Finally minutes before the ceremony, Ru'ru serves as the voice of truth. “You're unaware of the tale then. Cernunnos was not just the birth-God of the Cer-fae here in Ja'pa. Being a traveler, you know others that go of the Cer-fae title in different regions.” Basshi nods. Thanks to studying, he learned there's Cer-fae all across the globe. Different skin colors, sizes and horn shapes – their presence is everywhere. It's only here in Ja'pa that they have a unique feature of fading body freckles and males shedding their antlers during the winter season. “Cernunnos is the God to our people to us all, also the father to Bovi-fae with their mother God, Kamad; who birthed them. That is why the Bovi-fae find a strong connection to us. Together they made up our races. But also in legend, the birth-God of the Sui-fae...” 

 

Mukasura?” Basshi inquires, honestly intrigued by the tale. Must have missed this part during his research, the deeper meaning of the fae-God relations in brief detail. He states facts taught by any textbook or general story. “Was a loner and protected his part of the world until his death, eventually dying by the pierce of a Celestial God's arrow for being too powerful. They saw him as a threat, who can take our world as on his own. Where he died, his body became Gore'met Island – the birth place and origin to us Sui-fae. How was he involved? In turn, why a Sui-fae like myself can be in incorporated with Sika traditions?” 

 

That's the legend you don't know of.” The Queen as her husband did earlier, hands over a mug of wine to Basshi free and easy. Though unlike Ben'more, is informative. “Mukasura, in spite being a God of raw dominance on our developing Earth, also apparently had a relationship with Cernunnos. We're unsure of how they've connected, but whenever a Sui-fae visits our territory the overall relation with our land and people deepens. Crops are plentiful, weather is in our favor, marriages and birthrate increases... To put it simply the extremely rare times, once in hundreds of years, a Sui-fae comes during this holiday... We're blessed. Be in that legend, superstition or how the year naturally progresses, one thing stands out past those explanations. When a Sui-fae, San'su or not, steps into our forest... Cernunnos' divinity is ever more present. That is why you're important to us, Ma'sa.” 

 

...!? Buah?!” Basshi is struck silent. Why... why didn't Ao'yagi tell him? Understandable of him not trampling on Kabu'ragi's big moment yet this qualifies as a big moment too. Nothing to worry about... nothing at all. He kept telling himself but body said otherwise. The strain on his wobbled nerves finally snappped, the glass of alcohol chugged in the blink of an eye. Booze can fix this, it can fix anything. He's right. Ru'ru again bows her head. 

 

Speaking for my life-mate and son... and our people, I deeply apologize for not informing." Earnest and true, she's hurt by the reaction – alongside Basshi being offended by the lack of information. But the formalities can't go on –
 

Everyone is here, excellent!” The fulsome voice of Ben'more scatters that tension. Basshi is literally dragged to be front-and-center, hip-to-hip on the enthusiastic King. “A Sui-fae is in our presence this faithful night. Ma'sa, this strapping warrior venturing lands beyond our reach, has joined us!” Inebriated screams, those of course coming from Basshi's undesired admirers being the loudest, echo throughout the forest village. The explanation from the Queen, as appreciated as it was as in that moment, changed from heartfelt to chaos inducing. Joining the gnarls of Basshi's stomach is his thoughts of mind. Dizzy, sweating bullets; this isn't the spotlight he wanted. No middle ground. He went from being easy to hardcore mode in just one afternoon. He still wasn't given a role! “A glorious blessing from Cernunnos! We celebrate Kabu'ragi's introduction into the Sika Court by morning, now as night falls upon us, do we rejoice in meeting our new friend. Ao'yagi! Join us! ” 

 

I am honored.” Flawless, years of experience under his belt, the young prince joins the stage and curtsies. “Thank you father. Too everyone. Doubtlessly, it's not only peace we celebrate this year. The unity of a Bovi-fae into our court and our Sui-fae visitor... Cernunnos' slumber is peaceful. And I, Prince Ao'yagi representing the Sika Court, will bear the heart and soul expressed by you all.” As Basshi's gaze moved to Ao'yagi, so did the crowd's.   


 

And so did the tone. 

 

Everyone, defying the intoxication, fixates on Ao'yagi and fell to a hush – the soft strum of stringed instruments filling the air. A veil of silk in fingertips, the ritual begins. Choreographed, the same routine done year after year, still has the same reaction. Dance less in motion, more in spirit; the language Ao'yagi said to embody is truth. However, that's about to change as the dance progresses. 

 

Ao'yagi began in a solemn prayer position which slowly escalated in deeper movements. With a sway of the hips and stretching of limbs, an ironically seductive scene starts to unfold. Basshi remains frozen in his place totally mesmerized by the performance. As if on cue, the fae prince moves towards the pseudo-Sui's general direction. Ao'yagi made sure he's in a place where Basshi can see him whichever way he glances - as if that's still needed. The lone Sui-fae already can't take his eyes away from Ao'yagi's figure even if he resisted. And right now how much he wishes he could indulge. 

 

The Sika prince couldn't have emphasized it enough starring Basshi down as if to say 'look at me only'. Basshi in turn could only oblige completely entranced. Every flick of a wrist, jerk of hips and glimmer of expression...Basshi caught it all. The only control he pretty much had at this point were full on drooling and outright erection. Fortunately, he dwelled on a tipsy crowd which paid no heed to his ongoing rut; save for Ao'yagi's parents which rather served as encouragement. Either way, it was a sight Basshi could never forget his entire life. That's much he's certain of. Meanwhile on Ao'yagi's point of view, it was his method of proclamation that he claims Basshi just as much as the hunter did to him. Only that he expressed his conviction with his body rather than words; as he always have. 

 

Those who knew the prince on a more intimate level like his family knew this was so unlike him. Year after year finding the ritual monotonous and tedious, Ao'yagi's performance would look more like a polished routine than anything else. The results would seem perfect to anyone who is simply watching but those truly familiar with the significance of the dance would realize Ao'yagi delivers a lackluster show. This time albeit more rigorous and haphazard, shows real passion in the endeavor. This was a dance of desire...of love. And it definitely shows especially with Ao'yagi's intense gaze towards his lover; not even fazed for one second. 

 

As the music begins to die down, so did the tempo of the Prince's dance until he slowly yet gracefully drew to a standstill. A pause, then a final bow was given to Cernunnos' effigy and then to the rest of the audience. Oddly enough, Basshi felt he needed to catch his breath as well as if he was dancing alongside Ao'yagi all this time. At least his heart was truly racing fast the entire performance, he thought. Basshi could feel his hair stick to his skin in a cold sweat, licking the insides of his mouth from slight dryness with the way he left it agape most of the time he was watching. He didn't even realize when Ao'yagi came up to him and tapped his arm for attention. It almost sent him into a jolt. 

 

"B-Bambi?! I mean- Prince Ao'yagi! Aren't you supposed to be on the stage?" Basshi in his bewildered state had to remind himself to keep up the act and his composure. Nevertheless, Ao’yagi continued to tug on his arm urging him to follow. 

 

“I told you that you’d play a part in the ritual, remember? Don’t worry about anything. You wouldn’t have to do much but be still.” Even if the fae Prince tried to sound reassuring, that still didn’t sit well with Basshi. Butterflies were swarming within the pseudo-Sui’s stomach. Despite of that, he allowed himself to be led closer and perform what it is Ao’yagi needed him to do. He just prays whatever it is, he doesn’t end up embarrassing himself. Tactfulness is posing to be a real problem for the hunter now. 

 

Basshi could’ve sworn other people could see him tremble as he walked forward. Still, he tried his best to hold his head up high. With that, the unsteady gait could be attributed to excitement rather than nerves. Ao’yagi positioned Basshi at the center pedestal where the King held his speech previously. There, he gestured the Sui to simply stand there and try to relax. He didn’t have to say or do anything really which confused Basshi once more. Ao’yagi began to address the crowd once again; saying something along the lines of beginning the next phase of commemoration of their special guest. What seems to be altar assistants approached the Prince on cue handing him a palette of sorts. 

 

"Paint?" Basshi thought to himself. Why would the Prince who just performed a sacred dance have paint on his hands?  Before he could further mull what’s going to happen, he felt that familiar tingle of a wet brush sweeping his skin. Looking down, Ao'yagi already began painting at his chest whilst reciting some passage. He had second thoughts whether to question this procedure but decided against it, noting this is simply another culture's tradition. Even so, he couldn't help but fidget with the all too foreign ministrations. That is why Ao'yagi leaned closer up to his ear as he went painting higher on Basshi's torso. 

 

"I told you to relax. This is your proper welcoming ceremony. I'm going lower now." The Prince said in a hushed tone, low enough to still be considered part of the recital. This time Basshi had to bite his lip in restraint because besides his heightening sensitivity, the innuendo was just too much. Right now Basshi was praying to whoever gods are out there that no one would pay mind on his tenting loins. Thankfully whether Ao'yagi himself noticed or not, he went in front of Basshi in a way his lower half was shielded from view. However this only made the hunter's lump in his throat harder that it felt as if he swallowed a rock. Speaking of harder...the Prince slowly ducked down to draw intricate patterns on Basshi's midsection and even further to his hips. For better or worse, the Prince stopped before he reached his groin. That's pretty much what is seen on him anyway. With that, there was a pause on the painting session for Ao'yagi to utter more incantations. At least this gave Basshi a much needed breather and a chance to collect himself along with his libido build-up. 

 

After a moment, Ao'yagi proceeded to finish painting Basshi following his limbs. At this point the hunter didn't get as excited as before, perhaps getting used to the treatment. When done, he took a step back to inspect his work checking everything is in order. Satisfied, Ao'yagi urged Basshi to step forward and speak to the crowd once more. 

 

"Through these marks, the ceremonial transfer of essence is complete. Liken to the pact of our God Cernunnos and the Sui God Mukasura, we formally instigate Ma'sa of San'su as an honorary member of the Sika clan. May this union bring prolonged peace and prosperity to both our fae community as one." With Ao'yagi's announcement, he raised Basshi's arm as if declaring him a champion of sorts. Along with this, Basshi's imagination was running wild again.  

 

"Union? He makes it sound like an engagement." The  hunter mused to himself. At least he wasn't so flustered now that he caught his bearings without looking like a fool.

 

With that, the formalities were drawn to a close. More casual merry-making resumes with everyone else and the music starts to pick up once more. Both Ao'yagi and Basshi made their way from the stage to the royal banquet table still hand-in-hand. Basshi would glance at the Prince all the while as if still looking for answers while Ao'yagi carries on normally. Oh well, he decides to keep on riding the tide as usual whatever the night brings him. He gave Ao'yagi's hand a firm squeeze and finally did the Prince glance back at him with a faint yet gentle smile. That sets Basshi's heart at ease giving a jolly smirk in return. Ao'yagi's assurance is all that he needed to make this entire act worth it. Whatever happens, tonight truly wouldn't be so bad at all. 

 

 

But it's then a sad reality comes crashing down. The last flickers of sunset have vanished.  

 

Detached from his hidden damnation, wrapped up in cheer and carrying on in celebration through food and liquor, an all-too-familiar pain settles in Basshi's chest. How could he forget? The Sui-fae begins to writhe, a curse muttered under heaved breaths for overseeing an important detail. But luckily as foretold, Ao'yagi has planned for this. Could have been easy enough to escort Basshi away after the ritual was complete, let him go with the excruciating process away from the crowd, but that would rouse suspicions. Having the newly welcomed Sui-fae join the festivities straight away leaves no loose ends. Stay natural and in the moment.  
 

High-spirits of the townsfolk turn to concern as they witness the Sui-fae evidently in pain. Much as he tried to cover up the discomfort, numbed from alcohol and treatments, it's impossible to completely hide. The Sika Prince, ready on cue, is at Basshi's side.

 

Ma'sa, are you alright? Looks like you overdid it...” An arm hooked around his waist, Ao'yagi aids him to his feet. “Here. Let's get you to somewhere you can relax.” Once more in the face of danger and pressure, stubbornness reigns in this proud man; he's still in the act. 

 

You Cer-fae... know how to make... good wine~.” 

 

Yes yes... come now.” Supporting the massive weight, Ao'yagi takes careful steps on escorting the hunter away from the village – which in turn starts another gossip session. His ears catch the fading chatter of his good deed; how their prince is such a gentleman and how him and Ma'sa have quickly bonded. Exactly the reaction Ao'yagi desired. As Basshi wanted to play up a scene, get on everyone's best side, it was his intention as well. All the pieces are in place for them to stay together during the next trials. For now, there's this one to take care of.  

Once a safe distance away, Ao'yagi gesturing the coast is clear, Basshi is free to express the agony. Curled up, head against his knees, guttural growls echo through the isolated patch of forest. Night after night, time after night, Basshi is thrown into such suffering Ao'yagi can only imagine. To witness the one you love, powerless to help, is just as painful to the prince. Though he can aid the aftermath. 

 

Shhh, I'm right here.” Hands cup the Sui-fae's face, a faint glimmer of red onset in those turquoise eyes. A thumb pressed to the sharp tip of the Sui-fae's tusk and breaks skin; a line of blood swiped across his lower lip. A mix of intimacy and primal urges resides as Basshi guides the digit into his maw – a gentle suckle drawing out a constant flow. An act of bonding of trust, the oddity of it all not even being an afterthought. And especially after an eventful day like this, Basshi deserves some pampering. “Drink as much as you need.”
 

As anytime the hunter is permitted, the Night Beast urges that bite at his mind are repressed. They scream to gnash, take what is rightfully his and please the beastly appetite in full, but this is Ao'yagi. He'll never take it for granted. Being allowed to drink from him in the first is a pleasure unlike any other. That colliding with the lavish dance, the sway of wine and now finally being alone, Basshi can't help himself in one aspect. 

 

Bambi...” A kiss laid to the wound, holding Ao'yagi's face all the same, he arched forward to meet their lips. Subconsciously did the prince follow, as far as to also climb up into his partner's lap without hesitation. Basshi pulled, chests bumped in claiming his mouth as his own; a hungry intensity expressed in a single burst. Tongues danced, the tastes of spiced wine and coppery blood clashed in a maddening sensation. One they couldn't get enough of yet wanted more. 

 

Closer and closer, skin to skin; hips molded against one another. The tangle of legs and hands ever on the move, exploring every inch; the sheer cloth of the prince's outfit tarnished in paint. There's no care. Forfeited in throws of passion, what mattered is right now. Ao'yagi hissed, something feral awakening within – at long last can he touch Basshi. Convey the carnal desire for his Pseudo-fae form. Love, alcohol and the inkling of the Cer-fae mating season interweaving, it's clear as day.  

 
 

He needs Basshi. 

 

 

Basshi...~” Ao'yagi's fingers bury deep into viridescent hair and yank, forcing his partner's head back. Throat exposed, greedy lips meet the skin; erratic heartbeat throbbed on lips. Basshi is like clay, shaped under the forceful – and surprising – ministrations. How unlike Ao'yagi, he could get addicted to this. Like taking a shot of adrenaline or mana; it's an almost taboo pleasure. Senses benumbed, the bullheaded human is helpless. 

 

But like it or not, speaking louder than his desire for his lover, a thought that rattled him before reawakens. No. This can't go on until he confesses. A sudden urgency prompts Basshi to push Ao'yagi away by his shoulders. 

 

...?!” Meeting Basshi's eyes, something has changed. The lustful air has shifted, that coiled spring of desire is slowly drawn back. Did he do something wrong? Did he go too far? Guilt welled up. “B-Basshi... I'm sorry, I got into the moment and– ” 

 

It not that,” the hunter interrupts, head shaken. “No feel bad. It Basshi that does.” His tongue rolls against the roof of his mouth; not amused trying to be serious like this. Words and tongue are betraying him. Making coherent sentences is still a struggle under the Night Beast influence. But it's also because of that influence, inherently simple-minded, he's gained further courage. He rubs up and down Ao'yagi's sides in a soothing motion, a distinct guilt in his expression. 

 
 

It's time to come clean.

Chapter Text

Am sorry Bambi. Please don't hate Basshi...”  

 
 

The prince's stomach turned. Whatever was done, obviously it's not easy to say. What did Basshi do that shattered a moment a like this? To make a proud, virtuous hunter become so solemn? What's for sure, trustworthiness can't be questioned for if this hurts Basshi; he's all ears. 

 

... I never could. I love Basshi very much.” Ao'yagi reassures his love in a sweet tone, hands becoming intertwined. “Everything is alright.” Nerves are shaken all over again. Ao'yagi's sincerity is jarring, the hunter can't help but tremble in response; a haze of tears formed. Is Basshi on the verge of crying? The prince grasped on tighter – urging. “Please! Tell me – !” 
 
 

Basshi slept with Junta!” Unable to hold back, the hunter exclaimed like lightning strikes. And so it brings the calm after a storm. Silence. Ao'yagi's hold loosened and then withdrawn from Basshi altogether. Knees wobbled, he took a step back and turned walking away without a single word. They aren't needed. 

 

... Basshi understands...” The heaviness, this rejection. Wetness rolled down the Sui-fae's cheeks left in the company of the sleeping forest. “... Basshi is- …I'm sorry, Ao'yagi...” 
 

 
 
 

--- 

 
 
 
 

This is what I get for trusting a human!”  
 

Ao'yagi's teeth grit as he stormed off. All these notions of love and dedication; were they all a joke? Some guise to stroke Basshi's ego? They have to be. Why else would he be stabbed in the back? He was betrayed. Not only by Basshi but Junta too. The incubus played a part in this as well. Is playing with their bond some fun and games to him also?  
 
 

To put it simply... the prince is pissed 

 
 

Any logical explanation, the why and how's; they're overcome by rage. Sharing a telepathic bond with Junta, all it takes is a simple chant for him to chew him out. Express this fury that defies – not only the Cer-fae – but himself as a person. Never before has felt this heartbroken. And it must be unleashed. 

 
 

With bonds entrusted deeper than blood, as strong as fate let me hear your voice. I call upon the de– …!” 

 

 

What'cha sayin'?” Before the incantation is complete, a certain person steps into his view. Better said, stumbled in. He hiccupped – “Hehe. Fa'fae is silly~!” Subconsciously, his duties as a Prince is still on his mind. He wandered in the direction of the village. Really, disappearing with a foreigner after some rounds of drinks would bring on a bad impression. He's hardwired to not only ensure the safety of himself but of his people as well. It just so happens his intoxicated son was on the lookout. Tripping over his own hooves, the goat-ling blubbered on. “Been looking for yooou! You're all, like... covered in paint and stuff! Was the Pig a handful? Bet... bet he waaaaas~.” 

 

That statement scratches the surface and can stay a mystery. Seeing Kabu'ragi does dim the fire. He's a father above everything else after all. Passively, the cup of alcohol is taken from away his son and his free hand gave a heartfelt pat on the head. A smile is put on, forcing it as he does a stern paternal voice. 
 

Kabu'ragi... do a big favor for your Fa'fae and tell everyone I'm turning in for the night, ok? I don't want to be disturbed. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, but get some rest soon too. Sleep over at Dan'chiku's tonight. Understand?” 

 

Sir, yes sir... Fa'fae sir!” Tipped off to one side, Kabu'ragi gives the sloppiest of salutes. “Can... count on me...!” Inebriated or not, that's one thing Ao'yagi can guarantee; the goat-ling knows how to follow orders to a key. Nodding to affirm, the prince nudges him away. Who, once of distance of the celebration, more than enthusiastically shouts Ao'yagi's orders in a commanding voice. 

 

...He'll be a perfect Prince.” Ao'yagi mused. “Today has been a ride, huh?” Gaze turned to the stolen drink, reflection muddled as the liquid is swirled. Recollecting, the burdens of the day starting to weigh in, the fae sighed and took it down in one gulp. “... I'll figure this out in the morning.” 

 
 

 

--- 

 

 
 
How Basshi hates this. 
 
 

The mere feeling of wetness on his cheeks is sickening. How they sting his skin as they do his ego – it's disgusting. He tried to hold back the torrent but it's impossible to avoid. Chin trembled like a defenseless child, static filling his mind – moment by moment they kept falling. 

 
 

Tears.  

 
 

An emotional being he is behind the brawn and countless trophies as a hunter yet he knows better. They show weakness, but above that... they're useless. They won't fix anything and he won't be trapped by them. This is no time for self-loathing. He has to fix this... somehow. One way or another. 
 

He rises, initially on all fours, but comes onto his bare feet. Being able to fully comprehend the situation and not be swept away by basic emotions is impressive alone. The curse is easier to handle, looks like Junta's latest treatment is a success.  
 

“Ao'yagi...” That plus the severity of emotions and booze rolling through his veins drove Basshi on a hunt. Alluding to alcohol, the aroma of wine is close; Night Beast senses on high-end as he closed in towards the village...to then stop. An emptied mug is found, reeked of liquor and both Ao'yagi's and Kabu'ragi's scents. They met up then. And with further inspection, did they split up; going opposite directions. Locked onto Ao'yagi's scent, the Sui-fae's head turned to a familiar silhouette of a tree-house dimly lit in the distance. 

 

The prince must be there – footfalls advantage on the prowl. And after a lengthy climb up a ladder, Basshi enters the home of his beloved. Fresh scents of him are all around, Basshi inspects further – confirmation added by his festive attire hung over a clothes line on a far-side balcony. Drying out the paint that got smudged on before proper washing no doubt. Does remind him of the array of now muddled colors on his skin – 

 

Which gave Basshi an idea. A conversation starter. 

 
 

Don't hesitate, just do it! This will work... I'm right!” 

 
 

He stepped into the bathroom for a brief moment and wetted down a washcloth; cleaning off a portion of the paint on his chest as he stepped up to a closed door. Undeniably by scent, Ao'yagi is behind it. Before overthinking, a quick swallow to fight anxiety, a knock is given before he stepped in. 

 

“Ao'yagi?” Eyes are all around, this area is foreign – it's the prince's private bedroom. Like the rest of the tree-home he's explored, it has simplicity with a touch of elegance. Handcrafted furniture is of the highest scale, decorated here and there with gems yet the overall atmosphere holds an air of being... cozy. Uncanny, it feels to the 'home' Ao'yagi was given in Junta's lair. Suppose that was the incubus' goal, a home-away-from-home for his closest friend. In light of the situation, Basshi is surprised the door wasn't locked. One stroke of luck. Question is if that will continue – especially so when Ao'yagi stirred. 

 

..?!” Sat up from bed, the Prince stared blankly at the other by the door-frame. He figured Basshi would show up eventually, knowing his assertive nature. But this quickly? Not enough time has passed for Ao'yagi to digest the event, still teetered on the edges of anger and seeing the Sui-fae's face brought it back. Expression remains stoic though posture and tufted ears pinned back shows – a defensive pose. Over again, a silent tension reigns; ill at ease on both parts. Tension thick enough to cut. As Ao'yagi, Basshi holds back emotional sides and remains vigilant on his plan. The Sui-fae's awkward laughter attempts to break it.  

 

... Sorry,” he starts in a soft tone, “wanted to bathe but knew that would disturb you. Then thought can wash myself like this...” Emphasized, the washcloth is drawn over an arm and swipes away the paint. An amalgamation of intoxication, the fight against the Night Beast inside and acute emotions driven to rambling; head shaken all about. “Thought I could sleep on your couch. Place I can be, right? Welcome here. Basshi – ...no, I didn't want to make it messy, ya'know. But then I thought... get cold 'cause no blanket so thought another would be in here and... buah – listen to me. A-a dumb-ass, right? Buhahaha...!” Another nervous chuckle follows.  

 
 

He's losing it. 
 
 

He had a plan set in place yet his mind and tongue aren't reciprocal. He sounds like an ordinary sot to any stranger. This isn't right, this isn't how he wants to be around Ao'yaigi. Damn the wine! Damn this curse! Collarbone flares up in red and tickled to Basshi's cheeks; embarrassment plain to see. Albeit it is, the fae prince isn't having it. There's no reconsideration or sympathy taken; the literal parts of the babble endured when Ao'yagi got to his feet and fetched a spare blanket from the closet. 
 

Here. Now go rest.” It's shoved into Basshi's arms in an emotionless tone. There, should be done and done. Admiration on Junta's ability to banish to the curse, Basshi's progress to remain stable under it, are drawn under the rug. Such praise can't be given. Not after today. Not after being walked to the plank– amber eyes show nothing but coldness. But forsaking the rejection, Basshi lashed out. 
 

“Listen!” Without thinking, the blanket is tossed to the floor and Ao'yagi is suddenly taken by the wrist. Lips curl back, Basshi's canines and tusks put on full display. “Bambi will listen!” A deep, beastly snarl is behind the harsh demand – Ao'yagi's eyes mold into panic. He tries to whip back his arm. Fruitless. 
 

L-let go!” The prince choked back a gasp. He pulled and pulled with all his might yet there's no give. Basshi stood his ground. Joke unintended or not, he then froze like a deer in headlights; amber eyes rounded out under the gaze of the red above him. Through the polymorph, the Night Beast embodying his love still shown through. He pleaded, desperation held in voice; as his very life was on the line. Unlike his helplessness with Yorick, he can defend himself with magic this time... but he can't. There's still love under that primal rage and he knows how to control it. “... Don't. Don't Basshi! Don't let the curse take you! Bambi... w-will listen! Let Bambi!” 
 

In a blink, he's overcome by brawn and forced backwards – his back met by the bed. The scale of the Sui-fae dawdles over him yet he doesn't strike nor say anything. Just staring, breathing. And by this twisted circumstance – Basshi is waiting. It will come. Enough playing games and being in a pretend fantasy. The hunter is done putting up guises and emotions. Was ridiculous making a 'plan' to talk to Ao'yagi to begin with. 

 

“Out. Say it...” Hands dig into the other's shoulders. The sentiment of being honest, one he'll stand by and never let go. Has to show in Ao'yagi too. Like how the Prince danced for Cernunnos, emotions open for Him and all to see, he can also be for Basshi. They're in love, right? “You hate Basshi for what he did...!” 

 

"I-..." Ao'yagi continued being speechless. He tilts his head to the side, obviously avoiding eye contact with the pseudo-Sui. No matter how bitter he felt towards his perceived betrayal, for some reason he couldn't voice out his loathing on Basshi. In his heart of hearts, he was still hoping that this was all a joke. A typical prank of Junta's he's so used to being teased with. But no matter what angle he tried to imagine that, it wasn't possible for Basshi to jest in this level. The prince knew he had to make a choice of accepting the situation or rejecting his connection with the hunter once and for all. Being torn is an understatement. 

 

"Tell Basshi now!" The hunter roared with all his pent up emotions pouring in. With Basshi's booming voice, it was certain to catch Ao'yagi's focus and bring all attention to him. Even with Basshi's tears flooding through, face all contorted with his mixed feelings; he didn't let up his hold for a bit. He demanded answers from Ao'yagi whatever it may be and figures he'll just have to live with that. But for now he needed to know what his lover thought of him. 

 

"Basshi I...I can't hate you." The prince said with a heavy sigh. "I like you too much. But you hurt me, Basshi. I don't know what to do anymore." Ao'yagi felt like crying himself at this very moment. The frustration was unbearable of wanting to lash out but wasn't able to. The pseudo-Sui leaned closer to hold the fae in a tight embrace, too afraid to lose him.  

 

"Please love Basshi! Didn't mean to have sex with Junta. Was just playing around...w-wanted to say 'thank you'..." As slurred as Basshi's words are, his sincerity and desperation didn't waver. So it was a spur-of-the-moment thing after all, he believes Basshi that much. Ao'yagi is certain Junta would say the same thing. The incubus isn't bound to sentimentality to say the least that he will make up excuses for his carnal actions. For the demon, it's as simple as quenching a thirst or quelling a hunger. Ao'yagi sighed once more amidst the embrace but lays unmoving for the most part.  

 

"I just don't know anymore, Basshi..." Out of urgency did the hunter get an idea. He peeled himself away from Ao'yagi but only for a second. He then latched on back to the prince, roaming his hands all over the smaller's body and laying open-mouthed kisses on his neck. "What are you doing, Basshi?!" Needless to say, he's taken aback. Ao'yagi was able to breathe a sigh of relief for the briefest of seconds; that quiver of shock the biggest of Basshi's satisfaction. Ego is stroked anew. Warm breathes fluttered at the open skin, biting at Ao'yagi uncertainty, he teased on. 
 
“Piss off,” comes in a low growl, “pitiful... you can't give up that easily.” A solid grip is at the fae's inner thigh, a weight put in the motion as do his words. “Where's the man I fell in love with?” 

 

"Nggh..." For some reason Ao'yagi can't protest too much. Partly because of Basshi's sheer tenacity and strength but a part of him felt challenged by this act as well. Basshi wants him to surrender in whatever means he can and he knew the hunter was best at seduction. At least when it comes to him. He made a weak attempt to kick at his lover to let go of his leg but it only brought them closer until their bodies are pressed together. "Basshi stop...I'm not in the mood..."  

 

So the prince wants to put up some fight. Amusing as is pathetic. Be it his ambitions of man or beast, Basshi is honed onto a goal. Ao'yagi is holding back and he will make him confess. Fingers traced lines up and down the freckled skin, their chests met in the struggle. 
 
“Don't care what mood you in! Bambi isn't being honest...!” The guttural snarl of the Night Beast inside comes forth, the small fae below pressed into the sheets. Dominance. Power. Weapons also used to make him submit. “Bambi don't understand how sorry Bas–err, how sorry I am... be pleased I said anything to begin with! Could have stayed secret... but no!” Free hand raises to press a thumb against the Cer-fae's throat. Nothing too extreme, just enough to relish how his pulse stammered. “I admitted it! Don't hide, I did something horrible... so you need to express yourself back!" So Ao'yagi was right on the money with Basshi's intentions. The hunter wants to make him fold over sexually so in turn he'll do so emotionally as well.  

 

"Too can play this game..." At the very least with Basshi's efforts, he wasn't as livid as he was before. However he was still pretty irritated with the way his lover wants him to croak with pleasure. So he swallowed hard to compose himself albeit the hunter can surely feel that, but no matter. The Prince wanted to show he wasn't one to keel over so easily. 
 
"I don't have to say anything to you, Basshi. You're the one who cheated." The Cer-fae huffed, head still turned away to appear disinterested with the other's ministrations. His plan was not to tell-off Basshi outright, but show him he won't budge no matter what he did. 

 
 

The Sui-fae hissed through his teeth, exasperated by the reaction. This isn't fair. Ao'yagi doesn't give, as if he isn't there to begin with. Wants it the hard way? So be it. Intimidation tactics are useless given, no matter the circumstance, he'd never intentionally cause harm – Ao'yagi knows that too. Have to be creative then. Basshi's not one to back down from a challenge. If anything, makes the scenario all the more exciting. 

 
 
"Tch... wouldn't call it that." Warm breaths fluttered against the prince's ear, gruff voice dipped a whisper. "Aware of how much Junta has done? Hours and hours of constant, exhausting work. He deserved a reward... after all, he's helped Bambi so much. I did it for you." After brushing away the prince's hair, open mouth kisses are laid across the soft fur; slowly lowered in to then nip at his neck. “Everything is for you, Bambi.” Ao'yagi winced and twitched his ears. Right now he was practically melting. The hunter seems to be having the upper hand in this since he was so tempted to throw himself in ecstasy...but no. The Prince still has his pride he holds in high regard. Basshi must realize pleasing him wasn't enough of a price for his forgiveness. 

 
 
"No!" he exclaimed and whipped his shoulders away, his back turned on Basshi. Ao'yagi curled himself to a ball to prevent any further affection. "Even so that's no reason to go ahead and have sex with Junta without my knowledge. Who knows when you'll hurt me again because of your whims." Right when Basshi had Ao'yagi in the palm of his hands, any minute about to crack, the little fae wriggled free. Dammit, was so close! He backed off in a huff, agitation regarded in sharp whips of his tail. 

 
 
"Buah! That bastard's fault too!” he snaps back, “You know how Junta is! He didn't give a damn about us and went about it anyway! ...” Basshi fell silent. No... this isn't about the incubus. While he played a role, Basshi should have known better – how foolish it was to fall into the trap. What was he thinking? The fun and games were a thrill, satisfying like no other, but after witnessing his beloved so upset... he'd take it all back if possible. Cautiously, a hand is placed atop the prince's shoulder; comforting. “... Allowed to be pissed, I messed up big time. But please Bambi... don't lose faith. I... I'm sorry.” 

 

Ao'yagi knows the pseudo-Sui is as sincere as can be. The hunter is nothing without his honesty as much as he is with dignity. Carefully, does he turn around peeking on his shoulder to address his lover. As much as he denies, Basshi's remorse is making it harder to stay mad. 
 

 
"Do you really mean that? As I said, how will I know if I can trust you again?" A part of Ao'yagi tells himself that Basshi will try his hardest not to mess up. But the hunter is impulsive and the revelation of infidelity still stings. So he couldn't help but still be reluctant, even if he wants nothing more than to revel in love and affection for Basshi. 

 

 

“I don't have regrets, not often, but this... this hurts like hell. Was crying like a babe after you stormed off.” Youch, that's painful to admit; his ears pinned back in shame. Night Beast influence of not, the honesty of the hunter is brutal – even if it pains him too. “I do, I really do! How can I prove that? I love you, Bambi....” His eyes turned away, fearful of the reply. "And you love me too... right?” Another lengthy pause, then for Ao'yagi to slowly unravel himself; turning once more to face the other. Another deep sigh falls before a response. 

 
 
"I love you... very much. That's why this is giving me such a hard time. I can't believe you've done such a thing. But then again...it is Junta we're talking about. Besides, it's not like we're life-mates or anything. I can't dictate who you sleep with." With that, Ao'yagi averts his eyes again, looking at anything but Basshi. He was nervous and confused probably as much as the other. His pride wouldn't allow him to be completely honest. But this time at least he's attempting to be. And Basshi will take what he can get. In light of the situation, he's thankful Ao'yagi is willing speak to begin with. Easily could have blown him off or played the silent treatment for who knows how long. Not all hope is lost. He can't dare but look to the fae either; humiliation bubbled over. Especially so when his voice picked up. 
 
“That's the thing I– …someday, I want to be yourself life-mate...” He swallowed thick. Did he just confess a proposal? Come now, he hasn't known Ao'yagi for long – the notions of love so quickly were ridiculous as is. But he doesn't care. For that's how he truly feels. 

 
 

"I see..." was the only thing Ao'yagi could reply, at least for now. He was still contemplative on how to go about this. After gathering his thoughts, he gingerly reaches out to touch Basshi's face and give him a more proper answer. 
 
"Things are too soon to tell as you're aware yourself but that's something I would want as well. Let me ask you though. Would you ever consider sleeping with Junta again or anybody for that matter? Because I promise not to restrain you but all I wish is for you to tell me beforehand..." Basshi cooed at the simple touch, tail delightfully swished across the bed. Partly from rekindling and the other from his curse's craving physical attention. And that Night Beast side was reawakened by the show of a sloppy, enthusiastic smile. 
 

“Basshi only for Bambi!” he remarked with chest puffed high, “No more Junta or anyone! Basshi promises. No want to see Bambi hurt again...” As much as he was holding back wanting to maintain a serious tone, Ao'yagi couldn't help but smile back at Basshi's reaction. He knew if Basshi said something, he really meant it. After all, he's the man who literally risked everything just to be close to him. Regardless of his mistakes, the Cer-fae can't ignore that. 
 

 
Tenderly he pressed their heads together, wanting to show how touched he is by the statement. "Then I promise to do the same for you. Just Basshi would suffice. For as long as we're together..." 

 

“... Happy. Basshi very happy with Bambi.” Was certain the situation would end poorly one way or another yet the fae drew closer. His heart fluttered, the warm affection of Ao'yagi soothing his uncertainties. People make mistakes and by the gods is he relieved the prince saw how that guilt stung; it still does. He'll make it up to Ao'yagi somehow. For now he relishes the closeness but doesn't press his luck too far. “Basshi so sorry. We talk with Junta later too? Must be angry with him too...” 

 

Ao'yagi relished the real tranquility this time around. With his relief of the issue mostly resolved, he pressed closer onto Basshi into a loose embrace. He wanted to accept things as they are and not worry anymore about the bad things that happened. There are certainly more important things to worry about. And now that his anger has quelled, the topic of Junta is instead taken at a logical level. 
 
"It's fine now. I don't think it'll matter much if we confront Junta or not. I think it will just make things complicated. Junta can't grasp sexual conduct well anyway. If he brings it up then we'll talk. But for now, I'm just content with Basshi's promise."  

 

"Good point..." Basshi thought in a nod. Even if the concept is shoved into the incubus' brain, the teases and jeers will continue on; part of his nature after all. But next time, no matter the yearning, Basshi won't fall for it. He made a promise and will stick to it. Looks like the demon is stuck to fantasizing, which in a way can bring pleasure in his twisted views. 
 
“You right,” the Sui-fae purred, fingers delicately combed through Ao'yagi's hair. A huge weight is off his shoulders, finally able to breathe easy from the mess that was today. A roller coaster he's happy to step off of. He chuckled mildly. “Thank you Bambi... Basshi was scared you hate forever!” 

 

"Mmh..." The prince was sighing again, but this time out of contentment finally. He scooted closer and nuzzled onto Basshi's comfy chest. 
 
"I don't think I could ever hate you now. Especially when you treat me this way..." He chuckled back lightly. It's been a long day but he's just as happy it's ending on a sweeter note. Now they can truly relish each other's company. 

 

“And Basshi always will.” Another promise he intends to keep. Tender and serene, how he'll go through hell and back to keep Ao'yagi like this. It's worth every hardship. Sat in silence, the pair savored the moment; the simple pleasures. Slow breaths and patter of heartbeats, a peace they may not be able to experience in due time.  

 

 

To Basshi, it's the true highlight of the day. 

Chapter Text

Be it minutes or an hour, the stillness is broken by a ruckus off in the distance – the townsfolk in full-on party mode. The hunter grinned, fae are a lively bunch alright. Which is a reminder, never did comment on it. He continued to soothe down Ao'yagi's hair, voice soft and non-intrusive in case the prince nodded off.  

 
 

“Your dance was beautiful, by the way... Bambi so elegant~.” Ao'yagi softly stirred and peered up at the other. 

 

"Ahhh...T-thank you!" Whatever calmness he had during the solemn moment slipped away. He's always too easy to become bashful with mere compliments. Actually, it's nothing new to be praised by the townsfolk and his family for a job well done but coming from Basshi, it lights him bright red like a lamp. "D-did you really like it? I was thinking of you that entire time." His gaze averted all fidgety once more. But this time not because of any negative notions but from shyness. 


 

“Ba-Basshi loved it...! Couldn't keep my eyes off, you no let me either. Like was... meant for Basshi only.” A flush of embarrassment sparks recalling the display. Such a radiant beauty that will last a lifetime. Here comes another series of his tail sweeping about like an excited puppy – it's unavoidable when his prince has pepped up. He reached up and gently pinched Ao'yagi's freckled cheek; admiring his adorable face. “Bambi was perfect... very talented. Honored Basshi saw it! Hard to keep still, same with the... painting.” Basshi's face darkened red. Those sensations alone were maddening! If only he didn't screw up the heated moment following it, would have been another piece in the puzzle of the already unforgettable day. Speaking of, he never did finish washing up the remainder; Ao'yagi is again peppered in paint. And now the bed. “Whoops...” Ao'yagi snickered softly seeing Basshi's embarrassment. Luckily the damp wash cloth was still nearby when Basshi dropped it. That will suffice. 
 
"Then I'm really glad you felt that way. Don't worry about the paint, I'll have the sheets changed tomorrow. Here." Ao'yagi removed his soiled sleeping shirt and left only the short trousers. He then carefully wiped off any leftover paint from Basshi until none was left to be transferred on. 
 

"Cold, cold, cold, cold, cold...” The Sui-fae grumbled and squirmed, complaining for the sake of complaining over actual discomfort. How can he when getting groomed by his love? Which brings out an idea. Ao'yagi is messy too, he should fix that. The straight-forward and painfully awkward side of being in his cursed form shows as he, without an inkling of hesitation, starts licking up the stray splatters on the prince's cheeks. It tastes... oddly fruity and refreshing, which only furthers encouragement. 

 

"Settle down Basshi.~" The Prince cooed amidst the complaints but he quickened his dabbing all the same to quell Basshi. It wasn't much until his lover was fairly clean now thanks to him. But Basshi's next action startled him for a bit until Ao'yagi realized the other was still in Night Beast mind-set. Thank goodness the paint he used were made from crushed fruit rather than tree sap or flowers which would've left an awful taste in Basshi's mouth. All the same he leaned back and hummed, relishing the other's way of pampering. Even if it's immature. 

 

For a creature that relies on blood for sustenance, a bitter taste would affect him little to nothing; though the sweetness of fruits pleased his human palette. He knows it's childish, frankly silly to literally groom Ao'yagi like a wild animal, but the amusement he's having makes it difficult to stop. And not like the prince is interrupting him either. 
 
“Bambi enjoying bath~?” Not a speck left on the fae's cheeks, sunk lower to his collarbone, Basshi purposefully laid kisses after board licks. 

 
 

"Mmh..." Sure, it's probably going to be still sticky with Basshi licking the saccharine substance but he can wash later no problem. No harm in basking with silly affection. But then Basshi's actions got more... passionate. He gasped and drew back when Basshi went lower. Neck craned to feel more of the other and give better access. For sure things are getting less innocent than Basshi's initial intention of grooming. 

 
 

Through the ceremonies and heart-heavy talk, it's been a long day as is – though the night has just begun. Was a rough start but with wrongdoings confessed and seemingly made up, all the hunter wishes to do now is express his compassion. Pour out the pent up emotions time after time that were interrupted. All the love and lust he has for Ao'yagi. Question is if the fae is up for it.  
 
 

Was testing the waters so to speak with those kisses and with a reaction like that, there's no denying the answer. The Sui-fae hummed, trails of pecks and nips all over – mindful of his sharp tusks. As he wouldn't mind another taste of blood, there's another time and place for that. As Basshi arched lower, he gestured Ao'yagi to lay back; exposing his lean figure. 
 
“Bambi comfortable and beautiful,” he chortled, a thumb idly rolled over one of the fae's nipples. And lay back Ao'yagi did, just as he was hinted. All flushed and sprawled out, he welcomes Basshi's advances this time with open arms. Even so, he can't face his lover's flattery head on with whatever mindset. 
 
"...Y-yes I'm comfortable..." he said while hiding his blushing face with his bangs. He was trying to hold back again, ceasing his moans. But this time not because he's dishonest but because he doesn't want to get overwhelmed so easily. Per usual, Ao'yagi is bridling his emotions. Adorable how the fae's sensitivity doesn't change, it's all the more reason for Basshi to be gentle. 
 

But it won't stop him from attempting to release them. Massaging one, the other is brushed by lips; a heated breath trailed over the sensitive skin. Turquoise eyes don't leave that blushing face. Teasing, intentionally making his lover squirm and begging to be touched. Ao'yagi grimaced with his poor attempt to compose himself. The teasing is surely working as much as he hates to admit it. He didn't even realize he clutched Basshi's bright mane and hooked his leg on the other's side; rubbing up and down. Certainly that'll motivate his lover's desire all the more. 

 

An odd sense of pride welled in Basshi's stomach, indeed satisfied by the response. A body does say more than words. A low growl bubbled in his throat as he took the nub into his awaiting maw, the addition of tusks perplexing at first. No matter. Teeth grazed every-so-gently before latched on, suckling and padding the pebbled skin in wide licks. Basshi praised all the little sounds and involuntary movements he can draw out of his lover, craved the sensation of his hair being tugged – not controlling but Ao'yagi merely holding on. 

 
 

"Ahh... Basshi..." Ao'yagi's mewls came as praise as much as they were reactions. Naturally his nipple bitten made him jerk in that short sting yet tickled sensation. Ao'yagi only realized now how much he wanted Basshi back then to the fullest especially with his new Sui-form. Now, his wish was coming true and he wanted nothing more than Basshi to take him as wanton and raw. 

 

The hunter could taste it, feel it; he feasted on that desire that laid under the surface. Ao'yagi was beautifully flushed, golden hair strewn across the sheets, lips bitten back – practically oozing desire being molded by fingers and teeth. And Basshi will answer his call. A hand dipped down the fae's torso and over the curve of a hip, subsequently tugging at his sleepwear. His mouth doesn't ease up for a moment in the twists and turns to rid of their clothing. If anything, once their bare skin meets, it becomes fervent.  
 
“Bambi...” His lips drew across Ao'yagi's chest, laving each nipple until they perked; biting just enough to leave a swollen mark. A hunger is felt under the hands that roamed his nimble lover as if praising the freckled skin. “... I need you." Ao'yagi hissed at the more fervent bites but the jolts they send only adds fuel to his own fire. Back arched in sensitivity, as well as to slip off his trousers easier. 
 
"I need you too Basshi..." His response is automatic as it is truthful. He reached out to his lover, encircling his arms around his neck and locked their lips with as much passion as he can muster. Basshi's mewls are swallowed up in the dizzying kiss, swept up in the intensity. How fortunate to get to continue where they left off, though desperation has increased. Shamelessly, Basshi pressed their heated bodies and rutted against his lover's hip. Pre-fluids leaked and smeared, a perfect advantage to help drive Ao'yagi crazy. 
 
After one last tug at his rosy chest, legs unwound, rough fingers roamed downwards. A sum of the translucent fluid is picked before reaching the interior of the fae's thighs. He rubbed and squeezed the soft skin, dipping lower and lower; eventually catching his entrance. And with little resistance, a finger slipped inside. 

 

Ao'yagi felt he was getting crazier by each second, just as Basshi intended. He didn't even know what was going on anymore with the whole thing like a whirlwind. And like a torrent, he was already breathless. Nevertheless he soaked in every touch. He even parted his legs further when he felt the other knead his inner thigh. Another gasped moan springs as a finger slipped inside him. Wanting to return the favor, he reached out and stroked Basshi's cock for more build up. 
 
"Basshi..." comes in a dreamy, yearning voice. The walls twitched and enveloped the digit, eager and needy. Never gets old how desperate the fae is under throws of passion, Basshi eating it up. A twist and pull, it fed in and out at a demure pace. Though soon as his loins are caressed, it's clear Ao'yagi is ready for more. The finger retracts far enough for another to join and slip back inside; tense and tight. 
 
"Bambi... Ao'yagi...you're the one—the only one—that I want." He sighed a hot breath laced in sweet nothings. “I'm yours...~.” Ao'yagi shivered in delight with the added digit. Even if Basshi was doing things fervently he was still gentle enough for him to enjoy everything. 
 
"I'm glad...I'm so happy Basshi~..." Ao'yagi matched his strokes with Basshi's pace. But just when he thought he was ready to be taken by his monster-lover, he remembered something he wanted to try. "Wait Basshi, there's something I want to do for you." Slowly did the Prince let himself up only to switch positions, being on top of Basshi. He went lower all the while still stroking Basshi's cock until he was eye level with it. He looked up, hinting at what he's planning. "May I?" 

 

His beloved fae melted into a pleasured puddle was satisfactory as is. With this much fun, he mused making him come like this and 'properly' finish things off in the morning. But it seems Ao'yagi has another plan in mind. 
 
“...Buah?” Those fuzzy ears shot up in surprise now being the one atop the sheets. What an change of pace, an interesting one at that. This payment back from before? There's no room to protest. “Mhm... please do~.” Showing a tusky grin, he brushed away the stray locks from Ao'yagi's forehead; coaxing. It's definitely payment from Basshi's previous 'service.' And with outright permission, the fae gave a coy smile of acknowledgment giving the tip of the member a small kiss. Experimentally did he give the head a few licks going to the underside before attempting to put the entire thing in his mouth and see how much of the shaft he can engulf.  

 

As perceived, Basshi's size is the opposite of meager; even for his built. That is why Ao'yagi went slowly at first, careful not to take in too much that he'd gag or choke. Now that would be embarrassing! But so far, so good. He can't take the entire thing but he gains a good rhythm of bobbing his head in and out. Whatever his maw couldn't handle, his hand would do the rest like he did previously. Propped up on an elbow, Basshi's fingers parted back the prince's long bangs; simultaneously aiding and giving the perfect view. Hazy eyes locked onto the beautiful face below, the once tickling sensation diminished. 
 
"Ba...Bambi..." rolls off his lips, intoxicated off the sweet pleasure. Chest rumbled in fitted growls as he messaged Ao'yagi's scalp and ears - praising a job well done. Far as to cause Basshi to involuntarily bite back his lip to quell his mewls. Just as embarrassing on his end if he cried out. Has a pride to keep intact after all. "You're so good to me...~" Ao'yagi purred amidst the suckling, ears twitch in delight totally elated by the approval.  

 

Additionally, he nodded in response to Basshi's praise – as his mouth was too busy to speak. He kept this up for a good while until he was absolutely sure his lover was on the very edge. With the height of rigidness, pre-fluid leaking over more and Basshi obviously trying to contain his moans, Ao'yagi halted. He once again came on top of Basshi, gently stroking his cock to maintain momentum. He looked at him with an even more wanton stare looking needier now.  

 

"Sorry, but please finish inside me Basshi~?" A good thing Ao'yagi stopped when he did, any moment longer and would have lost it. Intentional? Perhaps. Though passed vexation settles a wicked desire. The prince's words are saccharine, music to his ears; lust pooled to a breaking point. And there's no going back. 
 
“C'mere.” Gesturing Ao'yagi to adjust, his legs pin to either side of Basshi; straddling the beast of a man below. Strong hands take hold of the fae's angled hips and guides him, the slickness of his cock prodding. Slowly, gently – it breaches. Basshi hissed through his teeth. Lower and lower, Ao'yagi's weight in advantage,the snug hotness engulfs entire his cock. “... f-fuck~.” 

 

Even if he anticipated it, Ao'yagi let out a yelp once he was entered and stretched. He quivered, goosebumps all over despite steadying himself. His legs were shaking uncontrollably so he embraced Basshi tight until he deemed himself secure. Once the initial ache was tolerable and pleasure rising again, Ao'yagi slowly rocked his hips back and forth for now. A minor inconvenience on the receiving end for Basshi's immense size yet the prince knew everything will be worth it once it subsides. 
 

Ambitious enough as is taking the entirety in one go. But in all honesty, Basshi couldn't help himself. No more build-up or prepping, he needed Ao'yagi. All of him. But the favor of being on top – the prince has the most control. Lust driven may be though fully aware how overwhelming, the hunter is motionless; savoring the tightness. How his lover rolled his hips, graceful yet rigid in yearning. When he does finally move, it's only by hand. His fingers are lapped and sucked till sheen.  
 
“Ao'yagi...” He reached back to smear the trickles of saliva around the stretched rim – a purr slipped from lips. He's so full, marveled how this little fae can handle this. And while back there, gives an excuse to delicately stroke over the fluff that is Ao'yagi's tail. “Does it feel good~?” 

 

"Y-yes... it's starting to feel good again..." Ao'yagi embraced Basshi tighter, wriggling his hips to feel more of his massive lover. Moistening his opening further did bring more relief but his tail being fondled really did the trick. It sent the Cer-fae that special, acute tingle which enhanced his sensitivity. And with Basshi starting to hit his most intimate areas, he was now as much as on edge as his lover. With that, he quickened both his breathing and rocking; moans raised in pitch as he rode waves of ecstasy. 

 

Those lovely mewls flooded the Sui-fae's ears, a lure that keeps him from turning away. Hazed eyes drift across the flush, freckled skin and further fed the carnal desire twisting in his gut. Ao'yagi is absolutely stunning. His beautiful fae. It's difficult to contain himself any further. Basshi pivoted him forward to lay atop, gentle thrusts anchored into his lover. The feeling of Ao'yagi's cock throb on his stomach, how those velvety walls clamped on; it's almost too good to bear. The intensity is electrifying. Addicting. A low, raspy growl escapes between clenched teeth – the pace steadily increasing. 

 

Being laid down was a welcomed act to Ao'yagi. He clenched onto Basshi's hand through the rising thrusts, finding some way of stability. This time he found the pace comfortable and all-the-more arousing. He gave his lover the sweetest of smiles and spread his legs further to make him go deeper. 
 
"Basshi... so good..." As much as it relaxes him, the pleasure continues to escalate. Every time Basshi's midsection rubbed up to his cock, he would release yelps and moans; approaching an inevitable climax. 

 

Heart pounded against Basshi's rib-cage, an animalistic fervor driving his motions; pinpointed on pleasing Ao'yagi over himself. Drinking in his lewd cries and shudders, the hunter craved more. Hot lines of sweat tricked down his forehead, the thick scent of sex in the air – a woozy and enslaving passion. As the fae sunk down, so did his thrusts; time after time hitting the sweet spot deep inside. 
 
“Bambi...” He squeezed Ao'yagi's hand, clung onto whatever willpower left to have this last. A minute, a few seconds – it didn't matter. What did is pleasuring his lover to a breaking point. “Come for me~." 

 

"Y-yes!!" And at the breaking point he was. Basshi kept on hitting his bundle of nerves with each erratic thrust. It was like some kind of knowledge his lover always knew. By the gods did he try his hardest to prolong himself but this is as far as he goes. More so, his lover asked for it. 
 
Not long after Basshi's clamor did his orgasm hit in a series of waves. Eyes slammed shut and his back arched within the intensity. He barely screamed in pleasure, croaking as if he lost his voice of it all. Needless to say his ejaculation came in a force as well. Ribbons of fluid shot, reaching Basshi's midsection in successions. It felt to him like an implosion but something he welcomed. At this point Ao'yagi can't describe the joy of release he's feeling. 
 

Basshi can feel it in more ways than one, those hot walls caved – squeezing his cock to a pleasurable ache. The pools of milky liquid peppering skin, a sticky warmth shared between bodies. Then the fae's noises... Basshi is in heaven. Hips jerked in erratic stirs as he held Ao'yagi down by a hip, keeping him locked in place. Crept closer and closer, the tension no longer able to bear, Basshi crumples into ecstasy. 
 
“Ao... Ao'yagi~!” His head snapped back to the cushions in one last thrust; the wind knocked out from lungs after a shaky, quivering groan. For a single orgasm doesn't unfold. Right as the storm begins to die down, Basshi undergoes another; the fervid sensations shaking him from head to toe. Lip is bitten back enough to bruise, a second rush of fluid buried within his lover. His cock is milked to the last drop along so is the hunter's energy. Once tensed muscles become like jelly and he sinks into bed as if a cloud. This really is heaven. No words can explain the levels of gratification. 

 

Ao'yagi felt like his spirit left him. He wasn't sure if it was caused by the cascading events throughout the day or his deep longing for Basshi, but the experience of love making was utterly surreal. Perhaps it was all of it at once. It took the fawn a breathless moment to regain his sense of self, just panting and keeping his eyes shut since the blind spots of overwhelmed senses made him whoozy. Limbs spread out on his bed, the moment cognition returned to him; an initial response was to reach out to Basshi. He just had to caress his lover's handsome face in love and gratitude; even if he was entirely spent. A goofy, loop-sided smile painted his expression. 
 
"You're wonderful Basshi..." Just as depleted, the hunter panted all the same; chest risen and fallen in short bursts in attempts for precious air. The intense orgasm atop the earlier liquor and influence of the Night Beast's curse muddled his senses, head spun in every and all directions. It took a long moment before realizing the touch and words Ao'yagi said. It's then he returned the same smirk with tanned cheeks brushed heavy in red. 

“Glad Bambi thinks that...” Before getting too comfortable in the afterglow, with the limited amount of strength left, he gently takes Ao'yagi by his hips. His midsection hunched into the bed before gingerly lifting the smaller, his drained cock slowly but surely released from the widened tunnel. The amount of fluid he's able to produce in this Sui-fae form will take some getting used to. Much as it sounded great in the heat of the moment, the aftermath has its downsides. There's... a lot. Enough to dribble down Ao'yagi thighs and onto his own. “... Basshi sorry.” 

 

And Ao'yagi agreed in all rights. 

 

“Don't be sorry... it felt nice. But now...” Though exhausted, his finicky side is louder. His lower half wriggled and took in just how uncomfortable it feels. Nose wrinkled up in distaste. “It's a little too much to take.” The hunter chortled by reflex. Amusing how passion can drive people to ridiculous situations but at least they're on the same thought. Ao'yagi does come before him, it's a fact. So fighting the harsh soreness, the slim fae is taken into his arms bridal style.  

 

“Basshi got you! We go to bath! Then cuddle!” Wouldn't be his first nor last time in pamper mode especially so as the dull, though passionate, Night Beast side has taken in all over again. And that innocent affection has grown on Ao'yagi. It's simply another part of Basshi to adore. Maybe say he'll miss it once it's vanished. He nuzzled onto his partner's chest, fully accepting the notion; being carried off to the washroom. 

 
 

“You're right, Basshi~.” 

 
 

--- 

 
 
 

In the meanwhile deep within the Hakone Forest, a lone mage wanders through the darkness. 

 

 

Traveling these parts in the pitch of night is a ticket for death. Through the plague known as Night Beasts on a never-ending hunt, man has learned the necessary tricks to keep them at bay. Sunlight is their enemy so it's only natural to learn and cast a spell that gives the same effect. Or at least it was required to learn under the castle's strict rules and regulations to be in the rank he holds. Though in spite of higher knowledge, the imitation sunlight guiding a path, he continuously tripped over fallen branches and knocked his head on low tree limbs. 

 

“Waaah, going alone was a mistake.” Hat is straightened, belt properly back on his hips – footfalls crunch along the undergrowth. “Izumida-san could have slashed all of this out of the way! But then... the fae would be upset too. These creatures are enough.” Lavender eyes observe the massive lizard-like monsters lingering on the very edge of the spell's illumination, persistent on waiting out an opportune time to strike. The wizard's mana stores will outlast the tenacity yet it's still unnerving having a hoard of Night Beasts follow his every move. But he wouldn't be out here without reason. He continued to grumble to himself – “Almost there, almost there...”  

 

Set on the objective, he was persistent until finally reaching a certain cavern submersed in this forest. Frankly, he spaced out on how long the trek was; completely out of breath when stepping inside. Yet the mage after countless years of no visits, didn't forget the hidden button within the rock-face. The boulder slid open. 

 

“H-Hello...?” Meek on intruding during the dead of night and knowing the incubus' territorial nature, leather soles stepped cautiously into the lair. 

 

“Please. You're trying too hard.” A voice filled the vast space and drew the mage to the source. After a short hallway, an aloof demon – sipping at a cup – sat at the center stage that is the front-room of his home. As if awaiting company, an entire tea set is setup on the nearby coffee table. “It's been a while... Shikiba.” 

 

“Jun-chan.” Nickname included or not, just seeing Junta after this long switches Ashi'kiba's bubbly behavior in an instant. Somber and unyielding in body and tone, he stepped closer. “How did you know I was coming?” 

 

“Even after... hrm, almost two centuries now, your aura is distinct. And powerful. Didn't bother covering it up? You're practically radiating mana. Tsk tsk.” Like a disappointed mother, he waggled a finger. “You were asking to be attacked.” Has it really been almost two hundred years since they last saw each other? Things weren't the same after the incubus was scorned by the people of Hakone as a whole – Ashi'kiba promised to protect him. Yet Junta escaped by the skin of his teeth. One visit to Junta's at that time, newly made lair to be sure of his safety and then it all fell apart. Junta vanished.  

 

No visits, no talks – naturally the boundaries between them grew larger and larger. Like Junta never existed to begin with. But ever since the wizard's encounter with Basshi and Ao'yagi, nostalgia came crashing back. It was finally time to confront Junta again. 

 

“Sorry,” the elf responded mechanically, “It was a foolish mistake yet I got here in one piece. All that matters.” Junta shook his head, spade shaped tail patting an open cushion. 

 

“Acting all tough but I know you're dog-tired. Come now, sit. I've prepared something special for the occasion.” The wizard puffed up his cheeks in a passive pout. How can Junta be so causal? Then again, he was always the charismatic type. Will never change much as Ashi'kiba is unable to get his head out of the clouds for long. Still weary if Junta's intentions are pure, with the risk of underlying malice, the elf hobbled over and took the offered seat. Immediately, the aroma caught his attention. 

 

“...Is that banana?” 

 

“Told you it was special.” Being a humble host, the demon made short work of preparing a cup for him. “Had some dried banana peels in storage. Brushed off the jar and got creative for the occasion. Is it still your favorite food?” Ashi'kiba's mouth is nearly watering. Not only are they his favorite but also a rarity to the Hakone region. They're naturally grown in the oases of Chi, the homeland region of the elves. The wizard has born and raised within human territory but his family take trips to the So'hoku Desert every-so-often. While can get the fruit through magical imports or in pickled and candied form, nothing beats one fresh off the tree. That's exactly how it smells. And just like that, suspicion of the incubus faded and violet eyes sparkled in awe as he took a sip.

 

“Waaaah, it's amazing Jun-chan! This was really made from dried skins?!” Junta slowly nodded, obviously proud of himself. 

 

“That and a secret sprinkle of something extra. Can teach you the recipe if you-” 

 

“May I have another cup please~?” Less than ten seconds, all it took for the wizard to finish. Junta's aim on wanting to wow Ashi'kiba hit right on the money. 

 

“My, my. And this is why I made two pots of it. Knew you'd like it~.” Showing a fanged smile, Junta happily gave a refill. Always did enjoy this side of Ashi'kiba. Hopefully now, things can be less tense on one end. While random, Junta has a hunch as to why his old friend showed up unannounced. But it's better heard over theories. Keeping things casual is the goal. Why panic over nothing? While the air has relaxed, the demon blathered on. “It's tea time, Shikiba. Know what that means. It's time to talk. What brings you here?” 

 

“O-oh. Yeah.” Biting at his lip, nervous though significantly more at ease, the elf responded honestly though vague. “I... wanted to thank you, that's all. It felt better if do so in person.” Junta perked a brow. Thank him, for what? Then it clicked, that hunch is right. About someone that brought Ashi'kiba to begin with... 
 
 

“Right, about Basshi?” Before Junta can elaborate further, the hat of his company is placed aside before presenting a generous bow.

 

“Thank you so much!” Ashi'kiba's voice echoed throughout the caverns. “Basshi is a dear friend of mine and you helping him means the world to me!!” The kindness took Junta aback. A simple thanks was enough, but to see a man he was once close to show utmost courteousness is perplexing. Ashi'kiba was the first mortal he encountered who accepted and learned from his demonic magic. It got him to the level of court wizard he still holds to this very day. They were best friends.  

 

Yet they broke apart. 

 

And now after hundreds of years, Ashi'kiba has shown up to just express his gratitude for Basshi? Junta is smarter than this. That can't be all. 

 

“... No problem. It's only because of Ao'yagi that I met Basshi to begin with. In a way, should thank him. I didn't know you two were friends... T'was a regular, fun-old case of coincidence in this small world.” While Basshi has made a spark between their relationship, inspiration so to speak after so long, the wizard going out of his way to appear in person is an unknown flame. And it's about to ignite in some way shape or form. It's Junta who's now on edge, a heavy lump swallowed down. Ashi'kiba being the bubbly type he is, can be predicable. But past information and friendship didn't prepare him for this.   

Ashi'kiba rose from the bow and, meticulous as an actor under the call of a director, cupped Junta's chin in hand. The air shifted yet again. For once, likely the only time in Junta's lifetime, is he forged towards another person. Blue eyes locked onto violet. In such a way that makes Ashi'kiba the one in control of demonic charms without a glimmer of magic. Junta couldn't understand it mentally yet his body molded under the touch. He leaned up as Ashi'kiba curved down, height difference met to lock those eyes; faces mere inches apart.  

 

And stayed.  


 

To just stare for seconds that felt lasting the entirety of their long lifespans. It wasn't only to give thanks for helping Basshi in this visit, it also included something that panged the back of Ashi'kiba's mind. A notion that can never be forgotten. One he desired to undertake on that faithful day of merging in the Hakone hierarchy.  

 

Junta was by his side. They were happy. But it was crushed under the boot-heels of false scrutiny. The demon was seen as nothing but that. A disgusting stereotype of his people, filled with violence and grotesque mischief that drove Junta away from Ashi'kiba and humanity altogether. But if that didn't unfold... he'd take Junta like this. Right in front of the royal court, the masses of townsfolk, he'd kiss him.  

 

And after two centuries later, do their lips finally met. 

 

Much as Junta despises mortal concepts of affection that aren't inherently sexual, why sleeping with Basshi was swept under the rug despite his connection with Ao'yagi, this felt... different. Scarily different. An overload of emotions thought to be impossible by a demon drove him to pull back from the kiss – turning away from Ashi'kiba to cover his face. He's blushing. Not just a flush made from build-up of lust, this is... He can't comprehend it. His only reference is through literature. Those long winded paragraphs in romance novels describing how kissing can take one off their feet.  

 

Heart jumped, check. Hands shook and sweaty, check. Wings and tail pinned back, a stereotypical reaction of those with those features. Check and double check. A strange sensation shivered to his very core. 

 

All the while, Ashi'kiba canted his head to the side in confusion. Blinked once. In multiple suggestions, he's totally lost on Junta's reaction. Wasn't it supposed to be flowers and sunshine? Everything sparkles and happiness? What he played out in his head at least. Did he do something wrong? But back in reality... it was out of the blue and unprofessional so the 'reasonable' response next on the list. Panic. 
 

“Erm- Jun-chan?! I-I'm sorry! It... it just happened! D-d-d-din't mean to make you upset!” In face of the peculiar emotions and Ashi'kiba's uncertainty, Junta went by gut reaction too but it wasn't shyness. Once the trial of sensations slowed, a long silence shared, the demon lashed back and took Ashi'kiba by the shoulders; pleading. 

 

“Kiss me again!”

 

 

---

 

 

As time passed, the sun peaked over the horizon.

Chapter Text

The morning that once haunted Basshi is different this time around. Each transformation, be it from or to his cursed form, has experienced a level of pain. Prevalent enough to hinder, yet on this morning he has done something that was once a thing of the past. 

  

Sunlight peeked through the translucent curtains, birds uplifted in song, yet he didn't stir in the slightest. Snoring away in peaceful bliss like days of old. Finally, he could get proper rest. Yet only an hour after daybreak, there's a disturbance – though not entirely unwanted. The hunter is half-asleep when a body pressed to his, a soft voice whimpered. 

  

“Hhmm...” Basshi hummed, an arm instinctively wrapped around the form and brought them closer. “... Morning... Bambi.” Eyes still closed, his nose nuzzled into the other's hair in an affectionate welcome. So warm and small, could easily fall back asleep... but something is off. A lot of things are. The scent is different and did his horns get smaller? And a little exploring finds a set of fuzzy legs? The hunter's eyes snap open. 

  

Curled up close, now loudly snoring away, is the little form of a Bovi-fae; Ao'yagi's son to be exact. 

 

Swallowing back outrage, respectful none-the-less, he carefully peeled away from Kabu'ragi and crawled out of bed. Ao'yagi is missing too. Sluggish and perplexed, Basshi went on to explore to find an answer instead of overthinking it. And it's in the kitchen does he find Ao'yagi sipping at a cup of coffee, a thin blanket draped around his shoulders.

 

Meanwhile before Basshi woke up, the fae prince got up earlier than his lover. This is all because of a certain hungover bovi-fae who tends to cling to his father whenever he felt distressed. Ao'yagi scooted closer to Basshi as Kabu'ragi squirmed on to give some room for him to snuggle to his fa'fae. At first the prince tried to tolerate this since he was used to Kabu still acting like a child even when sleepy. But since it was crowding for the three of them even with a roomy bed, Ao'yagi decided he'd just wake up properly. Besides, Basshi will surely serve as a good substitute for his moody son, he mused. 

 

Ao'yagi grabbed a blanket as he felt the autumn air get chillier especially at dawn. He made himself a cup of coffee to warm him up then simply winded down on his dining table to ease himself for the day. It didn't take long for Basshi to follow suit and find him. He probably reverted back to human mentality which roused him. Besides, with Kabu's snoring habit he was sure even Basshi would wake up with that. 

 

"Good morning...~" He turned tenderly to his lover the moment he felt him around. 

 

“Morning Bambi!” he replied just as tenderly, a grin from ear to ear. So much for being angry. After pouring himself a mug, he takes the open seat next to him. “You slept alright? Buah... did get pretty rough last night. And now the included goat in the bed cramped things up. Have any reason why he's here?” Kabu'ragi is a young adult after all. He can't be that childish. Right? 

 
 

For a brief moment since Basshi mentioned it, Ao'yagi recalled yesterday's escapades. It made him blush just thinking about it but shook himself normal just as quickly turning to his partner's inquiries.  
 
 

"Yes, I'm fine thank you. I slept relatively well I'd say. As for Kabu'ragi, he's always been like that... scooting beside me whenever he couldn't sleep or felt stressed for any reason. A force of habit I suppose but it didn't bother me. Besides, this is around normal time I wake up anyway." The prince sighed after his explanation and dragged his chair closer to the pseudo-Sui only to lay his head on his shoulder; sipping at his drink. It seems his mellowness still mixed in some romanticism as he remembered the special night they shared. 

 
 

Looks like Ao'yagi read his mind, was going to do the same thing in fact. Some morning affection is in order after missing out on the bulk of it. Once bathed and dressed back up, the two drifted off to sleep almost immediately; wiped out like a flame in the wind. An arm hooked around the prince's midsection and relished the simple though loving company. Basshi chortled, partly for this scene being from a generic mushy couple and from Kabu'ragi's antics.  
 
 

“His hangover must be hell and a half if went through the trouble of dragging his hooves over here for your comfort. A life-mate can't replace a father's love.” Well, in most cases – his father is a whole different story. But that's not to dwell on. The Sui-fae sighed out. “Annoying though, he knows we're together now. Great... another thing to try to keep his mouth shut about.” 
 
 

"I think it's more of something he's used to rather than actively seeking me out just for comfort." The prince shrugged thinking about the irony and nuzzled Basshi back. But what his partner said did have a point, as much as he didn't want to face it. "Yes, I hate to say it but Kabu does have... some trouble keeping things to himself. But I don't think there wouldn't be any issues with us together as long as you're in Sui-form. We just have to get creative and divert his attention. Usually how I keep him in line." Indeed the goat-ling child is far from reaching maturity on contrary to others. But at the same time, with his short attention span, it does make it simpler to stir him about. 
 
 

"Old habits die hard, as the saying goes. Bet he'll knock it off once I'm in your bed more often, hmmm~?" Basshi lightly nudged the other on his side, emphasizing the tease. "Long as the 'I'm a human' part doesn't slip out, everything will be alright. But..." Ears curled back in a thoughtful hum. Himself and Ao'yagi disappearing during the festival, no proper good night, inebriated, that sensual dance... Kabu yapping or not, rumors of them hooking up are sure to be around. Heck, can see the hurricane that is the King being involved. Basshi growled, protectively huddled close. "Bambi ready to handle the barrage of rumors and speculation that you had a 'fling with the newcomer Sui-fae?' Easier to be honest or ignore it?" 

 

"It's really none of my concern to be honest. In my position, rumors are bound to happen whether I'm with you or not. Personally I prefer not saying anything. Giving out a statement entices others to talk more. Besides, once news gets old it'll die down sooner than later. So just act natural, alright?" Being talked about and such is something Ao'yagi was used to being a prince. So he learned the best way to tackle that is to not let it affect him.  

 

Soon after they hear a rumble from the prince's room. Kabu'ragi must have woken up, Ao'yagi reckoned. As for Bassi being the bragging type, it's easier said than done. Though Ao'yagi isn't some trophy to show off nor a topic to go willy-nilly on; it is private. And like before, drawing attention to the already burdened prince needs to be avoided at all costs. Won't stop him making googly eyes and showing interest for Ao'yagi overall. Continue under the guise of a crush. Ben'more approved of it and surely the villagers will too, minus the swarm of Basshi's admirers. He nods, agreeing to the sentiment and peers over towards the room.  

 

“... That was quick. Fa'fae going to come to his rescue or let the big-little-new-prince handle it himself? Buahaha~.” At first, all that can be heard at Kabu'ragi's general direction are incoherent grumbles. It seems the goat-ling hasn't fully collected himself yet. Ao'yagi rolled his eyes but didn't get up, which pretty much sums up his answer.  

 

"He realizes it's his fault for drinking too much so I'll let him be for now. I'll only help him if he asks." But what if Basshi says something first? This is too easy. A cat-smile smirk crawls across Basshi's face before he mockingly yells out –  

 

“Need any help, sweetie~?” For just waking up in a hangover haze, the Bovi has a surprising amount of energy when he bleats in return –  

 

“S-shut up, you Fa'fae stealing pig!!”  

 

“He's fine.” Basshi turns back to Ao'yagi and sipped at his coffee, nonchalant. Carrying on. “Judging by how huge the celebration was, the village will be quiet today. Think it calls for a mandatory day off to recover.” Ao'yagi watched in secret amusement as his son threw a bit of a tantrum. Another fact Ao'yagi would keep in his grave is the hidden glee whenever Kabu'ragi gets riled up for the simplest reasons. But moving on it was time to address more pressing issues. 

 
 

"That's true but more than that, it's business as usual especially with the lost compass. Despite the festival the elder mages were still busy with location spells. We should be able to inquire now for updates. So let's head out to the council room. But first, let's stop by Dan'chiku's. One is he might get worried about Kabu, and two besides being a healer, he's also an excellent chef. A good time to get breakfast." Ao'yagi peeled himself from Basshi and stood up to get ready to leave. 

 
 

But before the prince is able to move a single step, still in privacy, Basshi is right on him with a loving kiss. Who knows when he'll be able to do that next. Best to make the most of it. It's obvious that their relationship has improved with the prince not embarrassed anymore with the kiss. Sure he flinched being caught off-guard but instead of getting flustered and flailing, it was a reflex to kiss back and even nuzzle a little before they part. 

 
 

Fueled up on coffee and affection, it's back to business. They made short work of freshening up, outerwear in order and Basshi's face-paint touched up. Although the goat-ling remained tucked tight beneath the hoard of blankets and pillows the entire time. Unmoving and grumbling. And Basshi has had enough.  

 
 

“Come on, kid. We're leaving!” There's a struggle but no surprise, the Sui-fae is victorious in dragging him out by a hoof. And with that, he's lugged over a shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The energy he had before has been drained, simply slumped in defeat. “Where all that fight go, hrrrm~?”  

 

“... I loathe you...”  
 

“Hey, don't be so down in the dumps. Going back to your life-mate after all. Bonus, breakfast time!” Ao'yagi didn't say anything at all seeing Kabu'ragi man-handled (or goat-handled on his case). On the contrary he found it quite funny his somewhat haughty son has met his match. Packed up and ready, Kabu'ragi remains slung around him even during the long descent of the ladder back to solid ground. “Would think a prince would have classy room service or a fancy get-together... odd.” Kabu'ragi whined on in an answer.  

 
 

“... Fa'fae likes Dan's cooking...”  
 
 

"Indeed, I adore Dan'chiku's cooking. It kind of reminds me of food made by Kabu's real mom. I mean I could request for food from the palace servants but I find that bothersome. On the other hand, I don't want Dan to go out of his way just for me and Kabu so we opt to go to his house instead if he's not going to mine." That's right, Kabu'ragi's mother was Ao'yagi's nanny back in the day; a close caretaker while the Queen had her arms full of duties. It's heartwarming now that the goat-ling's partner unintentionally filled a gap that makes Ao'yagi feel at home. Curious as ever, Basshi pats the kid on his back.  

 

“Do you miss your mom?”  

 

“...Not really. She and my father passed when I was really young.” Obviously the topic isn't a bother by a lackluster tone and shrug. “Kinda remember their faces but all that's important is who she was to Ao'yagi... I'm really thankful for everything she did for him. And now he's my family, that's all that matters.” A weary, askew smile is over at the new prince but sentiments don't last long. A disgusting urp bubbles in his stomach. “... Can you put me down? Feels like I'm going to vomit...!” Basshi cringed, footsteps falling faster.  

 
 

“Dammit Orange! Hold on, we're almost there!” The pace hurried, strange as the sight may be to the townsfolk, the group arrived at the tree-house. And soon after being lifted inside, Kabu'ragi scrambled off Basshi's shoulder and bolted into the restroom; ungodly sounds muffled behind the door. As expected from the ruckus, Dan'chiku's head poked out from the kitchen.  

 

“I hear Kabu is back...” 

 

Listening to the conversation on the short walk made Ao'yagi reminisce his time with Kabu'ragi's mother. Indeed it was a bitter-sweet moment with the fae prince being more affected than his adopted son. The Bovi-nanny is one of the people Ao'yagi owed his growth to after all. That's why he remained solemn until they reach Dan'chiku's, not noticing the weird looks they were getting from the villagers. It wasn't long though until the goat-ling came rushing thru the bathroom. Even with that bundle of energy, Kabu always had fairly weak constitution.  

 

"Good morning Dan'chiku.” The prince greeted as politely, even if he can be causal as family. “Kabu stopped in the bathroom first... as usual after a night of drinking. Is it ok if we eat here? We'll be speaking with the elders afterwards." 

 
 

"M-mornin'..." The ram wrinkled his nose up in distaste. Hearing his beloved mate hurl nuisance on his emotions and own constitution. In all reality, isn't doing too well himself; stomach queasy and head pounding. But being the responsible type, he's up on his hooves ready to care for Kabu'ragi. Along with his brother who, just like the rest, overdid it. "Of course, welcomed as always Ao'yagi. You too Basshi."  

 

"So you warmed up to me, huh? Buaha. And you're a healer, why not just cure up the hangovers?" 
 

 

"You're helping our prince. Least I could do is whip up some breakfast." He escorted the pair to the dining table. "Harder than it sounds actually. A hangover is a body's natural means of recovery to a toxin. Can numb the effects but not rid of it completely. Though... you two seem to be fine?" 

 

"We have our secrets," Basshi hummed, a suggestive brow waggle added in. "Right Bambi~?" No matter how many times it had been, Ao'yagi is still impressed by Dan'chiku's sound, logical demeanor for his age. Especially so since he's Kabu'ragi's life-mate. But Basshi's following statement rattled him a little with how embarrassing the cause was.      

 

"R-right! I mean...I didn't drink much after all. And Basshi here can drink a barrel and still be fine. Even if it did affect him, a good night's rest fixes him up right as rain." Ao'yagi nudged Basshi back to ride along his explanation. Though something tells him he's right about his assumption on Basshi's reaction to alcohol all along. The hunter has to act natural around the regular public but there's no stopping his antics around people he's familiar with. No harm in some teasing. Also correct on that front that he can get completely plastered for a night and feel fine the next day. If just tired.  

 

"Hey, I said it was a secret!” he chortled, nudging back playfully.  

 

“I envy your endurance,” the ram sighed, “Kabu and I are cursed. One thing upsets up and lo-and-behold, we're clocked out for the day. Hrm, you're the same, Ao'yagi. Reason you don't drink much to begin with. Maybe all us fae are cursed when it comes to brew.” Right on time when he starts serving their meals did Kabu'ragi got out of the bathroom with quite a relieved expression. The ram smiled seeing his mate in a chipper mood. “Feeling better, sugar berry?” 

 

“Heck to the yes! I'm ready to eat!" 
 

"Indeed,” Ao'yagi added in, “That is why I strictly limit myself with alcohol. Seeing Kabu'ragi is a pretty good reminder why I should." The prince nodded in agreement whilst hiding a soft chuckle least his son might get offended. Ao'yagi then quickly helped set the table and sat at the very middle so that both Basshi and Kabu'ragi can be at each side and also to shield them from direct bickering. 
 

Still huffy-puffy, Kabu'ragi scooted right next to Ao'yagi; refusing to make eye contact with the Sui-fae. Knows he'll get a lecture if he doesn't do so. Hesitantly, he acknowledges him in one way.  

 

“... I guess thanks for carrying me up here.”  

 

“Oh?” Basshi perked a brow. “Tch, didn't expect that. Though can stop being bratty. I ain't here to steal your Fa'fae away, ya know.”  

 

“Sure looked like it earlier! And Yagi has been missing ever since you showed your ugly pig head! It's been ages since we all had breakfast together!!”  

 

“It's been a few days, shut your yap! Sooorry for helping Ao'yagi on an important mission! Buah!”  
 

“You shut up! Was probably your fault to begin with, dumb actually a gross human!!” 


 

"Now, now Kabu!” The prince interrupted in a huff. Speaking of bickering... knew this was coming. “I'm really glad you're grateful to Basshi but please don't worry. I'll always be your Fa'fae." He affectionately nudged his head to his son's to affirm; their horns clinking. "Also do be careful not to mention Basshi's true identity. You don't want all of us to get in trouble, do you?” 
 

Ewwww don't do that in front of the pig!!” Kabu'ragi's mind screamed, cheeks taking on a dark shade of pink. Him and his mate both have the horrid habit of embarrassing him in front of people, unintentional or not.  
 

“Your Fa'fae is right,” Dan'chiku butted in, “Know we're not in public but don't make a habit of saying it, alright?” Kabu'ragi quickly turned away, shielding his blushing face in a slow nod. “Good. Now let's all enjoy a nice meal.” Though with anger quelled, a somber feeling replaces the goat-ling's mood. 
 

“... But heard you're going to see the elders. That means you'll be swept away into another adventure soon... Who knows for how long...” Hearing his son make that point gave the prince a pang of guilt. Sure he went away a lot but this was the longest and farthest he's ever out when he started caring for Kabu'ragi. Ao'yagi nibbled on his salad solemnly at first, trying to find the right words to say to comfort.  
 

"I'm so sorry Kabu. I didn't mean for this to happen but circumstances call for it. Please don't blame Basshi either. He's also doing his best so I can spend more time with you regardless of the situation. Tell you what. When this crisis is done I promise to tell you and teach you all that I've learned with my travels. Even my trip to the land of humans! What do you say about that?" The fae prince tried to sound as convincing and enthusiastic as he could without sacrificing sincerity. Hopefully that's enough to pacify his beloved son. 

 

Munching and listening away, Basshi had to do a double-take when a figure stepped into the kitchen; only briefly to pick up his own share of breakfast. One of the few male admirers from last night's adventure was Dan'chiku's brother? Small world indeed. Could swear he gave a wink... no matter.  

 

Quarrels aside somewhere in Basshi, he feels sorry for the kid. Through his bratty exterior, he deeply cares and loves Ao'yagi; a thing they have in common. He cares about his safety, it's easy to see why he lashes out and wants to stay close. Honestly, it's endearing. And he can play a role too. The pseudo-Sui leaned in and gave a sincere grin. 
 

“Atop that, will get you some delicious human cuisine! Can teach Dan'chiku here some recipes too!” Looking between his Fa'fae and his newest companion, the goat-ling's pout lessened. Far as to say smile.  

 
 

“Be... be lots of sweets too, right?”  
 

“The best in the land, guarantee it! I'm right!”  

 

“Hooooh~.” The thoughts of enticing treats and stories of perilous adventure took his mood from zero to one hundred; bouncing in his seat. “You both prooooomise?”  
 

“Put my life on it, buah!” 

 
 

With Ao’yagi’s equally sharp senses and knowing his way around Dan’chiku’s household, he was more than familiar with the ram’s younger brother and no doubt ogling Basshi. Unbeknownst to most, the fae prince has a certain history with the younger, more rambunctious ram especially with both of them acquinted with demons. However, that's another story for another time. Their eyes met for a brief moment, silently snubbing him away. Can always scold him later. 

 
 

Back to Kabu’ragi, Ao'yagi was elated once more his beloved Basshi is on board on giving his son peace of mind. It gave him a sense of relief as well knowing he'll be there for his adopted offspring too. 

 

“It’s definitely a promise for me too. But for now, you have to finish everything on your plate and not just dessert. That goes the same when Basshi brings you human food, alright?” Along with the dotting, Ao’yagi couldn’t help but further his affection by petting and ruffling Kabu’ragi’s hair. That’s sure to rile up the goat-ling again but he thought that’s all well and good seeing how adorable his son is. The affection indeed flared Kabu'ragi's expression, those red eyes rounding out to match his cheeks, yet he doesn't bark back. He simply nodded once more and followed the command, happily chomping away at the meal. Which in turn made Dan'chiku breathe a sigh of relief. He mouthed a 'thank you' over at the pair and got to eating as well.  
 

Kabu'ragi sure is a strange creature..” Basshi mused. Eventually he'll grow out of this arrogant rascal phase. Will have to now being in the position of a prince. The coincidental timing is perfect since he'll be taking over Ao'yagi's regular duties while he's away. For all they know, he could be a completely different Bovi-fae when they return. Time will tell.  

 

And as of time, once their breakfast is complete and cleaned up, it's time to head off. The hunter stretched, cracked his neck from side to side; mentally preparing himself to again be under the eyes of Cer-fae hierarchy. 
 

“Good to go, Bambi?” After resolving both breakfast and slight family drama, Ao'yagi gave a nod to his partner after making sure everything is in order. They said their partings to both Kabu'ragi and Dan'chiku and headed out leaving the young Bovis to their own devices. Ao'yagi must admit he is a bit nervous as well but he knows he has to remain focused on their objective. After a short walk they arrived at the palace and accessed the chamber of mages. He was surprised to see his mother already there working along side the other elder mages. Queen Ru'ru was known to have great magical talent after all. Unfortunately, her son didn't inherit much of that talent, rather Ao'yagi has obtained his father's fighting aptitude.  
 

"Mother, how's the search going?" Ao'yagi hopes she would bear good news rather than not. 
 

"Morning, Ao'yagi. To you as well, Ma'sa." She gave a short bow which Basshi, polite through the apprehension, did so back. Unbeknownst, the Queen has been working through the night after guiding Kabu'ragi through the yearly rituals. As it was a day to celebrate, the desperation to retrieve the compass is of course above all. Her smile is weary though . "As a matter of fact, we're on the final steps. The portal to Ho'flur will be setup before the afternoon." A stern stare is directed at her son. "I know it's your responsibility to return what was stolen but I won't send you in alone. Skilled as you may be, these people are dangerous. I, and your father, agree; you're required to bring an escort." 

 

The news is fifty-fifty. There's concrete progress however danger is much more imminent as well. It got Ao'yagi thinking of a proper strategy to go about this mission. One thing is for sure, he agrees with his mother and knows the perfect candidate as an escort.  

 

"Thank you mother for your hard work. I can't agree more an escort would be more advantageous. Perhaps I might be so bold to suggest Ma'sa? He seems to be a well versed traveler. That is if he's willing..." A bold claim indeed, this Sui-fae is a recent face. Less than a day to be precise. Nonetheless like her husband, Ru'ru has noticed a strange connection; be it from fae legends of old or her son finding something special in this particular man. Also in retrospect, she's never seen Ao'yagi this close to another so suddenly. This a stir of moment or something deeper? The pseudo-Sui, his shaken nerves gulped back, then spoke in candor; head bowed to a full-on kneel.  

 
 

“I'd be honored.” Beseeched , partly an act to favor the queen and his (secret) established relationship with Ao'yagi, drew him down in honor as he would to the King of Hakone. His human side was on full display yet different customs didn't matter; he's being honest. “I haven't traversed these mountains but I have faced adversaries involving casters.” Which isn't a lie. He's praised as a beast hunter but on the occasion, as he'd taken down a rouge mage that threatened the kingdom – vastly experienced thanks to studies from Izumida. This task will be difficult but again, he'd do anything for Ao'yagi.  

 

“Then let it be so.” The Queen is honest and direct. “It's what you wish, my dear son.” There's many elite guards that have proven their standings as a bodyguard yet she can't turn the request down. Including as her husband Ben'more rambled on before, this 'Ma'sa' has become associated with their son in a perplexing way. None can deny it. “I thank you, warrior of San'su. My trust in keeping our prince safe is in your hands.” She stepped forward and patted at each shoulder. “As we finish the portal summons, visit the Kanzaki Trade. The environment in Ho'flur needs preparation.” Ao'yagi expected Basshi to act noble and chivalrous but he didn't expect him to be in this degree. Even the fae prince got a bit nervous in front of his mother. That's why he helped Basshi stand up beside him as soon as he was done with his vows.  

 
 

"Again, I thank you mother. I'm so very grateful. I promise I'll fulfill my duty well and return as soon as I can. I won't let you down again." The prince too offered a short vow of courtesy to the queen only coming closer to Ru'ru to show filial affection. "I'll head out to Kanzaki right now. Anything else I need to take note of mother?"   
 

Perhaps that was overkill...” the hunter reckoned, swallowing back. A simple thank you would have have been enough yet his natural ways took over. Can be a showoff without realization. But what's done is done. He's now officially Ao'yagi's bodyguard. His tail swished in delight.  

 

“Not for the time being. We'll contact you as soon as everything is ready.” Ru'ru turned to rejoin the elders only to stop. “Actually, there's one thing.” Snickering, she reached out and gently pinched Ao'yagi's cheek. “Be sure to wear a scarf. Can't have you catching a cold~.” Basshi had to cover his mouth to conceal his laughter from that. Can see where the prince got part of his parenting techniques...  

 
 

"Mother..." the prince grimaced along with his soft whine. Despite that, he tried his best not to flinch as to not get any more teasing by his company. He wasn't too sore about it though, Ao'yagi knew some things will never change. Gently he took hold of his mother's pinching hand so she'll withdraw but held it gently nonetheless. "Honestly mother...But you know I will take care. I'll be back in a few hours to finalize departure." With that he gave the queen's hand a quick squeeze and a nod before joining Basshi's side again to head for their next objective. Onward to Kanzaki's workshop it is.  

 

She smiled warmly as the pair went on. Unlike Basshi or Junta that purposely tease the prince for a reaction, a mother was simply being a mother. When her son has been recently been wrapped up in serious affairs, a sprinkle of doting has to be added in to break up some tension. Which was free entertainment for Basshi. But he can't say much when he pinches at that cute freckled face if given the opportunity.  

 

On the way there, the Sui-fae took notice of the townsfolk. To no surprise are they burnt out from yesterday's festivities but also sharing mulled whispers and glances towards their direction. Looks like Bovi-fae are just, or even more, gossip chatter boxes than humans; specifically so towards their prince. King Fuku nor Ara'kita get to this level of schmooze but he takes in account of the population. This village is less than a sixth in size of Hakone, a place where everyone can know everyone, so naturally attention they will be drawn to the higher social rankings. That urge of Basshi's kicks in, wanting to chew the chatterboxes out, but he has to keep his cool and try to ignore it as the prince does. The stares and whispering were too obvious for Ao'yagi not to notice. However as he mentioned earlier, the best way for this matter was to ignore them. He just hoped Basshi isn't too affected. But since the Pseudo-Sui is walking straight beside him, he figures he's doing fine. 

 

 

“Morning, Ao'yagi!” A familiar face waved as they approached the shop – Mi'ki, the young doe rescued days earlier. “Oh, you too...'Ma'sa.'” By that tone fluctuation, it's evident she's in on knowing Basshi's true identity. No ears and tusks changes his overall looks of a human.  

 
 

“Tch, am I that obvious?”  

 
 

“Only a little, heh. Saw your face once and can never forget. But no worries, it's our little secret.” A finger pushed against her lips, shushing. “First that dance ceremony and now it looks like... you'll be our prince's escort? My, how wonderful~!”  

 
 

"Hello Mi'ki, I'm happy to see you doing well.” The prince bowed his head. “And yes indeed, Basshi has become my guardian of sorts. Do you know why my mother sent us here?"  

 
 

“You two must have a history... but I'm not one to pry.” She nodded and lead the pair inside. Being the largest trade establishment in the village, the shop is lined wall to wall in various goods ranging from locally made or through commerce across the region. One setup in particular catches their eye – a mannequin dressed head to floor in thick, cozy outerwear. “Ho'flur's environment is nowhere near the winters here, so we had to get creative on keeping you protected.”  

 
 

“And I'm quite proud of it.” Stepping in from the backroom is a stag, a pretzel stick loose between his lips and brace around his left knee. He reached out for a handshake. “Always a pleasure doing business with you, my prince. My little sister went the extra mile of placing some enchantments on 'em for warmth. Colder than a troll's stare up there and all.”  

 
 

“T'was no big deal.~” Mi'ki chuckled sweetly.  

 

Ao'yagi was impressed to say the least inspecting the winter outfit prepared for them. He felt immensely grateful even if craftsmen are expected to do their best for sovereign in the first place.  

 
 

"Mi'ki this is incredible! I must say you've outdone yourself. I can't thank you enough." While being preoccupied in awe, the older stag greeting him caught the prince off-guard. "Oh, I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention. Little sister you say? I'm honored to meet you as well..." Ao'yagi took the stag's hand in instinct as good manners is second nature to the prince, but he was scrutinizing why Mi'ki's older brother seemed familiar to him. By and by it comes back to him as he finishes the handshake. "Wait, I remember who you are now. You're Master To'ji! You are the appointed royal smith and my father's personal weapons crafter. I'm sorry I didn't recognize you earlier. It's been a while since we both saw each other at the palace."  

 
 

“Please, just 'To'ji' is fine.” A bit embarrassed by the established title, he rubbed under his nose in a chuckle. He's worthy of such title as he's indeed the sole artisan of the King's armaments – the only one trusted by Ben'more to do so. His skills are unlike any other, praised by fae and Centaur alike. “It has, huh? Sorry about that, my work does keeps me coped up in the workshop. Did give my sincerer thanks for aid in rescuing Mi'ki but I will do so again. My gratitude is unending.”  

 
 

"Not at all! I mean I've been away from the village a lot recently as well. Night Beast patrolling and all that, so kept me on my toes also." Ao'yagi waved his hands to gesture for Too'ji not to mind. After a short bow understanding, Too'ji extended a hand to the Sui-fae.  

 
 

“And to you as well. My thanks.”  

 
 

“B-buah? What did I do...?” Confused on playing his part, Basshi acted causal and accepted the shake. The craftsman's easy-going nature uplifted his smile.  

 
 

“No need to be nervous. I know who you are and it's safe with me. And it's not because Mi'ki spilled the beans... Tado'koro did. Stopped by last night to check up on my sis and took a glimpse at the festival. Sadly he couldn't stick around. The Night Beasts around these parts were unruly; have been for some time.”  

 
 

“He says 'hi' to you both,” the doe commented. “Oh, and how awesome your dance was!” Hearing from Tado'koro made Ao'yagi giddier all the same. Another person he felt bashful around especially when praise was bestowed, whether they're around or not. It was so obvious on the prince's expression.  

 
 

"Tado did, huh? I wish I could've greeted him. Hope I can next time. He's taken great care of me too." As happy as the reunion was, business was still at hand so Ao'yagi straightened himself to be a bit more serious. "Anyway, great job as usual Kanzaki masters. I'll take care in turn everything you'll bestow on us. The moment I return the compass I'll have you inspect it as well since it's been severely damaged and leaking magic terribly.” Too'ji shifted the stick to the other side of his mouth, noddding. 

 
 

“Can only imagine, each day becomes more pressing. We were informed of this wizard and it spells nothing but bad news... relieved to hear today's the day you'll confront him. So looks like you'll be the prince's guard, eh?”  

 
 

“Mmmm!” Basshi jutted a thumb to his chest, looking all high and mighty. “That I am! Not only have I promised to help return it but in fact my loyalties in full are to Ao'yagi. I'm right!” The craftsman threw a skeptical glance at the strange man. Can he really be trusted on this scale of a task? Won't be no walk in the park. Yet he doesn't know of their full backstory nor does he bother to ask. If Ao'yagi has faith then so will he.  

 

“Man, had to be a giant lug like you.” To'ji rubbed at his shoulder. Will have to work double to get an outfit stitched up in up time for the adventure. “Mi'ki, be a dear and fetch the bulk cloth from storage. We'll need it.”  

 
 

“On it!” The little doe scampered off in a hurry as To'ji went on to takes the Sui-fae's measurements. Being all too used to this by now, Basshi is unmindful being a living mannequin.  

 

“Come on, I'm that not big! Tch...” His mind wandered in that moment, thinking on that damned compass. “Say, why are items like those compasses so powerful anyway? No offense but pretty stupid to seal off potent mana inside an everyday objects.”  

 
 

“No worries, we think it's ridiculous too.” The craftsman munched down the pretzel stick and replaced it with a fresh one. “It's a long story but to keep it short, they were created by the first King of the Sika ages beyond ages ago. As the tales say, this Cer-fae specifically crafted them to seek out Cernunnos' resting place, which as you know, is here. As a reward for his patience and skill, our people were granted the title of protecting Him and His dormant mana – which were put into those compasses. Pretty much, they hold the power of the Old Gods.” Basshi's jaw dropped. Ao'yagi let him handle something that precious so causally?! Is he out of his mind?! “Even we the protectors and after all this time, still haven't unlocked the magic's full potential. Nor able to transfer it to a different item. We assume no one can.... but, ya'know. Better safe than sorry.”  

 
 

"Indeed everything To'ji says are true,” the prince commented, “Sure they're practical tools essential even, but secretly they do hold that much power. Actually, only a select few know of these facts. Naturally we try to keep that under wraps, so please don't mention it to anyone Basshi. Saying that, I do hope you're not mad at me for neglecting to mention that. It's not that I don't trust you but as Too'ji says, better safe than sorry." Ao'yagi continued to watch Basshi being fitted. It would be a lie to say he wasn't enjoying the view. Regardless of that there was a pang of guilt from keeping from Basshi the compass' true form. Just when they promised they wouldn't keep anything from each other. The prince just hopes Basshi wouldn't go at him too hard because of that.  

 

“A-ah, there I go flapping my gums.” The shopkeeper tucked a pencil behind his ear as they arched back, disappointed. “Sorry. Figured if Basshi here is helping you, the prince of all people, he should know the truth of the matter. Just how precious it is to our society besides some fancy mana storage devices.” What alarmed Basshi above all else was Ao'yagi's willingness to let him handle the matching device. While there's no way he could identify the hidden power, it's still extremely precious and valuable to his people. Ao'yagi isn't an idiot unlike his son, but his trust and naivety are major weaknesses. Still – 

 

“Be mad?” The Sui-fae flicked his tail and stepped away from To'ji to confront the prince face-to-face. But as he kneeled, instead of anger was the look of apprehension; concern onset in those turquoise eyes. “How can I when all this news does is fire me up?” He took Ao'yagi's hand into his. “Now I'm more inclined to have it safely back in your hands! Whatever we face in Ho'flur, no matter the blood I shed, you have my word that it will. I'm right!”  

 

"Really?" Ao'yagi squeezed Basshi's hand in affirmation, greatly relieved his partner wasn't offended. Even if it wasn't his intention, it's better to make things clear at this point. As the pair were finishing up their trip preparations, a messenger guard came almost barging in. The face of alarm clear on him.  

 

"Apologies your highness but I bear news of utmost importance! It has been reported just now who we believe is the elven thief, Nym, has been murdered at Ho'flur! That is why you are to return right away to the council room to discuss this matter. I will go ahead and expect your arrival, my prince." As the guard heads back hastily, this shocked the group to say the least.  

 
 

Who knows what weight this unfortunate revelation will bring them?