The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire (Chapter 25)

“Time alone reveals the just man; but you might discern a bad man in a single day.” – Sophocles

Clayton wasn’t exactly prepared for Noella, but then again, who would be? It’s just extra worse because he was eighteen, an orphan, had just learned about his daemon abilities, and now suddenly he was engaged to a girl he never met? That would be a lot for anyone to take in.

And the day after he met Mod no less, he was going through a lot of changes in his life. One could understand how when he walked into his house after school, and the white demoness said, “Hello,” from his couch, his response was only…

“Hey…” He walked right past her, making her eyebrow arch. He almost walked completely past the sofa when he froze, realizing there was someone else in his home. He slowly turned his head around, his mouth frozen mid-breath, to see Noella sitting there. 

She didn’t have her daemon appendages out, but she more or less looked the same. Her skin was still pale white, and her hair and eyebrows were still a reflective ashen color. She simply didn’t have the nubs for horns. 

Hey,” he repeated again, with a little more confusion in his voice, and shock in his face, “who, if don’t mind me asking, are you?

Noella slid her legs off the sofa before she stood up, moving with a formal sense of grace that tried to prepare Clayton for the woman before him. “I’m Noella,” she introduced herself, with a bow and hand across her chest, “your lawfully wedded wife.”

If Clayton had been drinking water he would have spit it out. 

Sorry,” he strained, not doing particularly well at hiding both his horror and confusion at the situation, “I’m pretty sure we never got married.”

“Well, of course not, I would have remembered that,” Noella agreed with smirk and a shake of her head, finding that her betrothed was just being silly, “I’m your fianceé, maybe that would be the correct term to say for you.” For daemons, wife and fianceé are pretty interchangeable, which they are not for humans.  

Clayton looked up towards the ceiling, than shook his head. “Nope, nada, pretty sure I’ve never proposed to anyone either.”

Noella’s smile twisted a bit, not sure why the future Demon King of Lust seemed to have no knowledge of their marriage. “Asmodeus-”

“Clay,” he corrected.

“Not for long,” she corrected back, “our marriage was arranged months before you were born, my mother, the Demon Queen of Pride, and your predecessor the Demon King of Lust, arranged our marriage as a means of keeping an alliance between our two Sins.” When Clayton looked just as confused as before, she began to worry if he knew anything at all, possibly even if she was at the right house. “You do know you’re the future King of Lust, don’t you?”

“Oh, yeah,” Clayton assured her, waving it off with this awkward smile on his face, “I’ve totally known about that… since yesterday.”

Noella’s eyes went wide and her jaw dropped open. Now I understand, nobody told him anything, he literally. Knows. Nothing. She sighed in frustration as she began to realize that the responsibility is about to fall onto her. She straightened her back and thought, No matter, serving the Demon King of Lust was what I was prepared to do…

… even if it was at the cost of my Pride.

Noella moved one hand behind her back and the other over her chest as she assured Clayton, “No matter, as your wife-”

“Fianceé,” he corrected.

“As your wife,” she repeated, “I will do my duty to serve you and teach you what it means to be a daemon.” She was trying very hard not to show her disappointment, how much she’d rather be back in the Circle of Pride as a princess than a King’s glorified concubine. She wondered, How long it would be before I would have to bear him children, though at least he wasn’t terrible looking by any means. I guess that is some consolation. The old Asmodeus… looked old.

When Clayton repeated, “Serve?” as if the term confused him, he in turned perturbed her. “Aren’t you a daemon of Pride,” he asked, “doesn’t that kind of go against everything you are?”

Noella grew quite curious with the direction he was going with this, and humored him to sate that curiosity. “Yes, that may be, but you are, or will be, a Demon King. You’ll be one of the most powerful beings across the multiverse,” a word that hit Clayton like a brick, especially as she bowed with her eyes closed, “and as I am only a white daemon, I must serve or be judged by your will. Not that I am not of a powerful and potent bloodline, quite capable of bearing your children, I am no match to disobey you.”

“Let’s slow down there, Noe, Noella right?” he asked her, as he placed a hand on her shoulder and raised her to stand up straight. “For one, Demon King or not, you’re not going to serve me, you’re not a slave,” a claim which perturbed her, “two, a husband and wife are supposed to be equals in some way or another, so wouldn’t that make you the Queen if I’m King? That’s how it works here.”

Noella wasn’t quite sure where he was going, in fact, nothing he was telling her was making any sense. Her tutors for the past five years, to prepare her for the day her betrothed came of age, had taught her that being submissive to Asmodeus would save her life. That she must assume him to be a possessive, power hungry King as most were, or too be lazy and ignorant. The previous Asmodeus had a skeevy reputation and was known to be quite lazy at best, and lacking in patience at worst. She would not be his equal, and if she did swallow her pride it would not only be the alliance that fails, but her life that would be taken.

But now this boy thought that she was supposed to be his equal, and everything she was taught seemed wrong. This is a trick, a test, he’s playing mind games with me, the cretin.

“But, but I’m not a powerful deity,” Noella murmured. Demure, that’ll placate him.

“Neither am I,” he chuckled, but then after a quick thought he added, “yet, but still, we don’t need to be equally powerful to be equal, like, I’m pretty shit at everything besides throwing fireballs, we can teach each other and pick up the slack. 

“Besides, I’m not going to force someone to marry who doesn’t want to marry me. Hell, I don’t want to marry someone who doesn’t want to marry me, I’m not even sure if I ever want to be married period.”

Oh, no, he doesn’t want the alliance, rather be alone than chained to me.

She clutched his arms, and pleaded with him, “No, please, don’t say that, this, this alliance… it-

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he said, taking her arms in his hands to try calm her down, “I’m not trying to say I don’t want an alliance, I may just have found out that I’m going to be King, but I’m not stupid.”

Can he say anything that makes any sense?! 

Noella was still not yet convinced, and her tone remained on the edge of trembling as she asked, “Then what are you saying?”

“I’m saying…” he trailed off,  because nothing in his eighteen years of life had prepared him to be King, much less figure out how to calm down a princess. “We should take it slow…” seeing the look on her face grow more confused, he keeps going, “by going on dates…” and less stressed out, “to see if we actually like each other.”

“And if we don’t?” Noella asked. Royalty does leave that to chance for a reason, dolt.

“I don’t know,” he admitted, “then we’re just married in name, you can be with whoever you want, I’ll be with who I want, we can just let the marriage be political.”

“But what about children, we’re supposed to produce heirs, that’s how alliances through marriage are cemented in stone,” she reminded him, and that’s when she realized that he was still holding her arms, in a tender way, but still strange.

Not realizing that he still held her, he assured her that, “We’re supposed to be daemons right, so we don’t age, we’ll live a long fucking time, we’ll be fine if we wait, or even if we just, I don’t know, fake it. No one’s having sex with each other who don’t like each other, I… I realize hate-fucking is a thing, not my thing, so… no.”

Noella was taken aback by that. He’s the King of Lust and he was talking about not having sex with her, not only because he didn’t want to but because she didn’t want to. It might seem crazy that she would worry about that, but again she’s been raised to assume things about the King of Lust, a lot of negative things. His pheromones could make me do just about anything if he used them on me, he could make me think I wanted him, but that doesn’t even seem to be a thought in his mind. Does he even know?

The more he talked the more she started to wonder if being raised on a human world had actually made any difference. The more she looked at his face as he told her all the things she never thought she would hear, she began to find more and more attractive things about his face.

This is a man I could easily kill in his sleep, and that thought made her feel at ease.

“You know what we can do,” he began to tell her, mistaking her checking him out for her still being uneasy, “we could have a date.” Noella’s eyes only narrowed, so he kept talking, “Like right here, right now, Jesus Christ, this is not how I thought my Thursday night would go.”

Noella was still a little caught off guard with trying to figure out what to say or do, so she only nodded her head and said, “Alright.” 

Still in shock, her go to is to say, “I’ll make dinner,” even though that is literally the one thing her tutors could never train her to do. Her mother had simply told them that no matter what they did, a daughter of Pride was never going to learn how to feed herself, people were to make the food for her.

Clayton moved his hand to her arm to stop her before she walked towards his kitchen. “Noella,” he said her name, and he didn’t know it at the time, but she liked the way her named rolled off his tongue, “didn’t I just say you’re not supposed to serve me?”

“I-, um, that’s…” The white demoness found herself uncharacteristically stumbling over her words, an image Clayton found adorable that he has not seen many times since.

“We can make dinner together, but I have to warn you, I’m a pretty shitty cook,” he tried to joke with her.

“Okay,” she agreed, a smile on her face as she followed him to his kitchen, and to try a joke of her own, she admitted to him, “my tutors never could teach me how to cook anyway.”

He actually laughed, which surprised her. It wasn’t the fake one that all the Pride daemons had practiced and perfected to use in front of her mother. This one was a genuine and short snort that crumpled his nose. After seeing him laugh, she wondered if she had ever seen a genuine laugh before now… at least one that wasn’t mean spirited. 

What was originally a date of cooking dinner together, slowly becomes one of Noella learning how to cook spaghetti. Noella got to learn over time how patient Clayton was as she failed to boil water, stuck her finger in the boiling pot, dumped the spaghetti in without breaking it, and tried to put the red sauce in with the pot. Each time instead of yelling at her or getting annoyed, he laughed, worried, and instructed her on how to do it. He almost didn’t stop her from wasting the tomato sauce from how hard he was laughing.

When he saw her stick her finger in the boiling water to check the temperature, he freaked out and pulled her finger out. While he inspected it, looking for some kind of mark, not realizing that she is way to powerful for mere boiling water to hurt her, he didn’t catch her staring. 

Honestly, I was waiting for the shoe to drop, to find just what was wrong with him, but I never figured it out while they were making dinner. I wondered for a moment if it was that sometimes he’s just silly. 

He is, more than silly, but stupid. Not stupid as most people, thankfully, but just stupid. I can forgive stupidity unlike my mother.

After realizing that she was too tough to be burned by boiling water, he stuck his finger in the pot. Realizing that he was no longer being burned he took it out and whispered, “Cool.” That caused Noella to start laughing out loud at him.

It wasn’t until after they had finished and were eating the spaghetti that Noella realized what his shoe was. As they ate, after Clayton managed to save their food from the destruction of Noella’s cooking skills, the door opened.

Clay cutie, I’m back!” the red succubus yelled, and without fail, Noella’s face fell. That’s when Noella realized that she had never asked how he learned about his heritage the day before. That’s when she realized that his scent and the overall smell around the house wasn’t that of a incubus, but him and his home being covered in the scent of a succubus.

As soon as Mod asked, “Who’s she?” Noella realized that the other shoe just dropped.

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