"Right, our first target is Sulpa the Succubus," Celestrico said.
"Target? You make this sound like an assassination mission," Ken said.
"Well, d'uh. What part of 'slay the demon queen and all her vile lieutenants' did you not understand?"
"I know, but when you put it like that it sounds so... I dunno... cold-blooded."
"Oh don’t worry, it will be plenty hot-blooded enough for you when you're fighting for your life."
Ken wasn't sure he liked the smile Celestrico gave him. He liked the prospect of 'fighting for his life' even less. Whatever he'd been before he'd lost his memories, he was fairly certain 'fighting for his life' had not been an everyday part of it. Once again he wondered how the hell he'd been selected for this crazy quest.
"A succubus?" he said. "Isn't that some kind of sex demon vampire thing?"
He dimly remembered them from various fantasy-themed videogames. They were usually demon women with improbably voluptuous figures and a predilection for wearing very little. Sort of like Celestrico, now that he thought about it.
"That's right," Celestrico said. "Physically Sulpa isn’t very powerful. She will try and avoid a direct confrontation if she can. If she's forced to fight, she will fall back on her charm and seduce skills to confuse and ensnare her opponent. She's a succubus, so she can appear extremely tempting. A strong-willed hero should be able to resist her wiles, though."
Assuming he was a strong-willed hero, Ken thought. It was battle enough to avoid staring into the creamy pink chasm of Celestrico's exposed cleavage every time they talked.
"Overall Sulpa isn't very strong. That's why I picked her as your first boss fight. You should have no problems overcoming her."
Even Celestrico was using videogame terminology. This world couldn't be as it appeared, Ken thought.
They had left the hill behind and descended down into a lush, fertile valley. The air was considerably warmer and more pleasant down here. Sulpa's 'lair' was an elegant house located on the side of a path that had broadened out into a road. The building was positioned as though it was a roadside inn. The décor spoke of another, less salubrious, function for the house. Red lanterns hung from the eaves. Fancy pink silks billowed in the heart-shaped windows of the first floor.
Yeah, had to be a whorehouse for sure, Ken thought.
"She tempts unwary travellers and feeds off their life force," Celestrico said.
"I see," Ken said. "So she's like one of those sexy vampires. She gives some poor sucker a flash of her ass or titties and then when they get close enough... rawr! she sinks her fangs in."
Celestrico watched his mime of biting someone in the throat with amused bemusement.
"Yes, but it's not that mouth you should fear," she said.
"So what's the plan?" Ken asked. "I charge in there..." He wanted to say 'guns blazing' and that reinforced just how wrong this world was. If he knew what a gun was, why wasn't he carrying one of them around instead of this trumped up kitchen knife? "...sword swinging?"
"No. She'll see you coming and flee," Celestrico said. "You'll need to turn the tables on her. Make her think you're one of her usual victims so you can get up close and... rawr!" She mimed stabbing someone with a sword.
"Sounds like a plan," Ken said.
He left Celestrico and walked towards the entrance to the inn-cum-brothel-cum-evil-succubus-lair. What he didn't tell her was that he also had another plan.
As he tightened the grip on the hilt of his sword and approached the door he felt discomfort rise within him. He expected that. He was walking up to a house, sword in hand, with the sole intent of murdering someone inside. If that didn't weird him out he'd be worrying about his mental wellbeing to be honest. Whatever he'd been before that damn arch had eaten his memories, it wasn't a ruthless killer. Every instinct told him this was wrong, a bad thing to do.
Unless, of course, Sulpa turned out to be the monster Celestrico had said she was. He had no qualms about shoving his sword through her guts if it was that or let her rip his jugular out. That was different—him or her, kill or be killed.
This was where his other plan came in. It was the same as the other with one crucial difference—he wouldn't attack anyone inside until he was absolutely certain they were a threat. He still didn't know whether he could trust Celestrico. He wasn't about to attack of opportunity Sulpa only to find out he'd just run through an innocent and perfectly harmless young woman. Nope, he'd wait. The moment she went all Klingon-face and tried to fang him in the neck... that's when he'd shove his sword through her guts.
There was a sign above the door.
Rest a While and Partake of our Pleasures, Weary Traveller.
Yep, knocking shop for sure.
The door was slightly ajar. He put a hand on it and his confidence evaporated. Was he really going to walk into the presence of something that might tear his throat out at any moment? Armed with nothing more than an overgrown penknife? He definitely had qualms about that. Lots of qualms. Shit fucking tons of qualms.
Heart thudding in his chest, Ken pushed the door open and stepped inside.
Hmm, I think Kenny might have got his mythical monsters mixed up here. To be continued tomorrow...