A slight delay this week. I always knew this chapter would be a nightmare to write because of the various bits of background being revealed. Making this a weekly serial has finally got the overall series moving again, but expect the weekly updates to slide around a little.
This is a continuation of my long-running Succubus Summoning series. The first arc, Succubus Summoning 101, can be found at your nearest online ebookstore. Previous chapters in the Succubus Summoning 201 arc can be found here.
Part 1, Part 2
Succubus Summoning 212, part 3
As the succubus sitting down in front of Darvill asked the question, the other one standing at her shoulder ran her tongue around her luscious red lips. Her glittering black eyes were fixed on Darvill as she inserted a finger in her mouth and sucked. The finger, moist with her saliva, went down to the shadows between her legs.
"You don't need to do that," Darvill said. "I know what's going on here."
The lead succubus arched a pencil-thin eyebrow. "Really? And what do you think you know?"
Darvill glanced at the standing succubus. "I know she's trying to tempt me. I also know she's not using the full extent of her succubus abilities. And I also know why."
The two succubi shared a glance. "Do tell," the lead succubus said.
"There are seven circles of hell, each corresponding to a frailty of human nature, otherwise known as a sin. When a warlock successfully contracts with their first daemon they align themselves with the circle the daemon comes from. Beginning warlocks mistakenly believe this circle represents their strengths. It doesn't. It represents their weakness."
"Go on," the succubus sitting opposite said, her face a perfect unreadable mask.
"The first daemon does not come to us out of desire to serve or be our familiar, it comes—drawn by the vulnerabilities it senses in our character—to take our soul. That is what daemons desire—souls. They serve us because it gives them opportunities to harvest souls from the earthly realm, a plane they cannot otherwise reach, but only if we prove ourselves to be sufficiently strong of mind and discipline. A weak warlock is of limited benefit to a daemon.
"The first challenge every would-be warlock faces is to prove themselves to their daemon. They must demonstrate they have the strength of will to overcome their baser desires. And it is not just the one circle, they must show they are able to resist the temptations of all seven. Only then will their daemon see them as a potential future master rather than a soul to be claimed. Only then can the warlock open the way to mastery of the dark arts.
"Which brings us to you," Darvill said to the two succubi in front of him. "You are succubi, representatives of the Circle of Lust. Not only are you here to confirm we understand the true nature of the bond between us and our daemon, Magus Stine has also engaged you to test we are able to resist the temptations of the flesh."
Darvill hadn't finished. He slotted together the final piece.
"From your costume and your pink plumes I can deduce you are Bedmistresses from the Palace of Infernal and Iniquitous Pleasures, a powerful order devoted to the mastery of the arts of seduction, manipulation and sensual ecstasy. If you were to draw upon your full repertoire of succubus charm abilities I doubt any student would be able to resist them.
"However, you won't and the reason you won't use the full range of your considerable talents is because the test must be fair. If the student succumbs, it must because of their own flaws rather than the overwhelming temptation of a daemon far beyond their level."
Darvill turned his gaze to the succubus standing at the shoulder of the lead succubus.
"I imagine being restricted to using only a small fraction of your considerable seductive appeal must be incredibly vexing. You have my sympathies," he said.
"I can show you more," the succubus replied. "A lot more."
"Maybe later," Darvill smiled. "After we've established some proper ground rules."
And a cast-iron safeword, he thought to himself.
He turned his attention back to the others.
"So, as much as I'd like to see the three of you put on a sexy show for me, we all know it would be a waste of your time and mine."
He gave them all a rakish smile. Now that was how you ace a test.
"Very impressive," the sitting succubus said. "Even seventh year students don't always attain this level of understanding. Some warlocks never learn it."
"This one is cocky," the succubus standing at her shoulder said.
"I prefer to think of it as being confident in my own abilities," Darvill said.
"This one could go far," the first succubus said. "Maybe very far indeed."
"I hope so," Darvill said, "Although I'm aware there's still much for me to learn and walking the path will require plenty of discipline and hard work."
He affectionately ruffled the eyestalks of Calli-Scitu-Oc perched on his shoulder.
"You are partially correct on what this test is about," the first succubus said. "It reflects poorly on my master if few of his students survive to become full-fledged warlocks, and there have been an unacceptable number of losses in the last few weeks. However..."
Her black eyes glittered malevolently in the midst of her otherwise heart-achingly beautiful face.
Before Darvill could react, the succubus on his left leaned forward and snatched Calli-Scitu-Oc off his shoulder.
"...this is not the only purpose of the test."
to be continued...