It was a quiet evening. The sun was crawling towards the horizon, casting the sky in a soft orange, as glowing pink clouds drifted serenely overhead. In a small, quiet house on a suburb street, framed by trees, a figure stood by a window. A hybrid creature, mostly fox but considerably pangolin, with large scales running over him from the tip of his muzzle all the way over his head and down his back to his long tail, where the plates grew even larger and draped over its fluffy underside. The sun was warm, the sky gentle, and the streets quiet. For how peaceful it was, Archantael rubbed his shoulder scales idly, as something just felt… expectant in the atmosphere. It was probably just his anxiety, he told himself over and over, but that was the drawback of anxiety- you never believed your own rationalisation.
He sighed lightly, and turned from the window, his long, scale-and-fur tail dragging behind him, as he wandered to the kitchen.
Almost immediately came a rapid set of knocks on his door. He paused, and quickly strode to the entrance.
He peered through the window at the curved door’s apex, but couldn’t see anyone. Tentatively, he clicked open the door and cast a wary eye through the crack.
He opened it wider, just to make sure, and stepped into his porch.
Scanning the yard, still nothing. He closed the door slowly, suspiciously, and let out a small breath of relief.
He jumped, falling back against the door and whirled round to see the silky voice’s owner.
“M-Misfortune? How did-”
She laughed, a rich and resonant tone, and her eyes flashed with mischief. Her white and black markings gleamed a powerful orange in the sun’s setting rays, as her celestial nature responded to its energy. She was as strange a creature as he was, albeit with a much more powerful aura. A demon, succubus, somewhat estranged from her origin but still wielding enough power to manifest herself wherever she pleased, and indulge herself in things that brought her happiness and interest. Her deep red claws almost looked like tears in the void, sparkling with an unknown, deep iridescence that was more than just light. The horns that curled under her long ears and dark hair held the same lustre, and if she so wished, her fangs could shift from white to red in a flash of intimidation. Arch had not yet seen that in her, but hoped regardless it would not be directed at him if he did.
He caught his balance and gave a breathy laugh. “You love scaring me a little too much.”
“You’re cute!” she chirruped, brushing her wings over the arm of the sofa as she marched round it, glancing about at his surroundings. “You always know how to make me smile, and you don’t even need to do anything.”
He smiled and followed her partway around the sofa, until she made a beeline for the fridge and wrested open the door rifling through its contents with excitement. She was wearing a long, sleeveless red dress with a high collar, adorned with golden leaves, with a small cutout at her chest, and one for her wings.
“So, how are you doing?” he asked tentatively, wondering what spurned her illustrious getup.
He was met with the clinks and shuffles of things being rearranged in the fridge. Stepping closer, he heard her making odd noises directed at the food items, some dismissive, some victorious. As he approached the door, she stood up with an armful of food, and whisked the door shut with her wing, throwing him a massive grin and eyes brimming with eager fulfilment.
“Good! I have a thing to ask you.” She stepped past him, eating a few slices of meat, using her wing as an additional arm to cup his back and pull him alongside her to the sofa.
They sat down, and immediately she thrust a pickle at his face with a concerned expression. “Do you really eat these?”
“That’s… kind of why I have them. But often I chop them up or fry them.”
She gave him a sly glance. “Naughty.”
“Like you’ve never had anything questionable in your mouth.”
Her cheeks flushed red and she pushed the full pickle into his mouth, looking hurriedly down at her own collection of food, picking and nibbling, and occasionally offering bits to Arch, which he took gratefully, although not without bemusement. She was an odd creature, a succubus with a determined focus but a shy reserve that overtook her whenever advance was reciprocated. It was an odd dynamic, but one that enamoured her to him.
“So,” he continued, swallowing down the last of his nibbles. “You wanted something?”
“Yes!” she sprang up, scattering food packaging everywhere. She circled in front of him, and rapped her claws together. “I have an invitation to a dance, and I, um…” her confidence suddenly began to crumble into bashfulness and her claws tremored slightly. “I don’t… have anyone to go with. If you’re free, it would… I’d like to spend some time with you.”
He raised an eyebrow, but wore a soft smile for her. “You were invited?”
Her wings fluttered and she gave a sort of coy half-step and sway to one side. “Well, I have an invitation, let’s put it that way.”
“Aha, I see,” he chuckled, brushing himself down as he stood. He was a little taller than her, but not by much. The tips of her ears, when standing up, reached to the top of his head. He gave a quick look around the room. “Well, I didn’t have any other plans and it’s nice to escape every once in a while, so… sure, I’ll come along.”
She let out a squeal of delight and leapt onto the sofa, lying on her front, swinging her legs and resting her face on her hands to watch him. “You need to dress smart though.” She lowered her head a little to give him a playful, sultry gaze under her eyebrows. “Don’t be too long.”
He stuck his tongue out and slipped into his room, whereupon he began shifting his disorganised clothes to find something suitable to match her dress. He had very few full-sleeve shirts, as the scales on his shoulders often made them uncomfortable to wear. He didn’t even like wearing full tops most of the time as the plates on his back would catch and snare, sometimes tearing them to pieces upon their second outing.
He had some resilient smart clothes though, a light teal shirt and a blue jacket, which he swept himself into as neatly as he could, wrapping a silky red tie under the collar. It would barely close thanks to the volume of his neck fur and the scales at his nape; hopefully it wasn’t too rakish to draw scrutiny.
“So… do you have any plans for us there?” He stepped out of his room to see her perched on the arm of the sofa, turning a small statue of an anime figure over in her claws. As he appeared her eyes gleamed and she set to neatening him up, unfolding creases in his shirt and combing just the right amount of fluff to poke from the gap in his shirt.
“Nothing particular… yet,” she purred, adjusting the knot on his tie. “It’s only our first date after all.”
“I didn’t think you were one for rules,” he said, a wry smile forming on his muzzle.
She gave him a sly look. “A demon of chaos doesn’t ignore ALL rules, just chooses which to implement at whatever time give them the most satisfaction.” She stroked a claw down his tie. “Some are made to be broken, others…” she drew close to him, almost touching his muzzle to her nose, “can be enforced just long enough to heighten the game.”
“Fair enough.” He gently strokes a pawpad through her hair. “You know that games have two players, though,” he whispered. “And the best games are where we both win.”
Her cheeks flushed as the two remained within inches of each other and his gaze locked with hers. Her hindpaw began to tap nervously and her wings bristled. He smiled, and in a second her cheeks flushed further and she pulled away, smiling bashfully and trying to smooth the red from her face with her claws.
“G-get ready, you!” she stammered, throwing his jacket at his chest.
Archantael woke to a bright light above him; blearily he raised an arm to his eyes to shield himself from it, when a voice drifted into his ears.
“Thank you for waking,” she said softly, a light giggle to her tone. “I was worried about you for a second.”
“That teleportation thing is really something,” he mumbled, his mouth dry. His paws tingled and he felt electric rushes pulse over his fur. Misfortune loomed into view over him, kneeling by his head. He quickly realised the light above him was a streetlamp, not the Sun.
“I transported us behind some bushes a few blocks down, just in case this happened, she said brightly, as if incorporeal travel between dimensions was just another Uber service. He glanced up at her, and she grinned her long blue fangs, her red and blue eyes glistening with glee. He let out a quiet laugh through his nose.
“You are an adventure,” he mused, pulling himself into a sitting position and wresting his tail from underneath him. She was knelt beside him, tail flicking eagerly, wings bristling, and claws fluttering happily between blue and red. Her gaze was periodically caught by insects and birds that flitted by; he couldn’t tell if she was enamoured with them or wanted to dissect them, but neither would be out of character for her.
He couldn’t tell where they were. The hedges were immaculately trimmed, the buildings he could see were impeccably matched, almost as if they were in some painstakingly expensive rebuild of Ancient Greece.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said, smirking. “It would spoil the fun if I told you.” She stood up and stretched, letting out a pleased groan, setting her eyes on something in the distance. “You ready, hun?”
Arch pulled himself up, shook off his tail and ruffled the grass from the back of his head, and together they began a brisk, playful walk.
They emerged on a street paved with white brick, stationed with well-trimmed trees and gardens of acres apiece. There was almost no traffic, save for some expensive cars sidling up to a building in the distance, depositing their passengers, then turning immediately away.
“Uh, where are we?” the pangolin-fox asked, a little tremulously. He was definitely not dressed enough.
She gained a bounce in her step and a fire in her eyes. “We’re fine. Trust me.”
As they approached, a line of distinguished creatures came into view, filing up a grand set of stairs into a huge building lined with leviathan columns. Up the steps of the grand entranceway, into the foyer, they could see waiters and stewards holding trays of wine, while the sounds of music and polite applause rang softly from within.
Misfortune gave a furtive glance to Arch, whose bemusement entertained her immensely.
One of the stewards, a gaunt, pale figure with straight, neat horns and silver eyes held up his hands ot them as they approached.
“This is invitation only,” he warned, his voice an odd, otherworldly mix of rumble and murmur.
Misfortune slid the claws of her right hand into her dress and whirled out a piece of shining parchment, an invitation to the Moonlit Solstice Celebration of the Celestial Vista. Arch’s eyes widened realising she’d taken him to a whole other dimension, and he felt his legs weaken a little, as if the ground would suddenly give way at any moment.
Misfortune handed her ticket to the steward with great satisfaction, and his panicked disdain faded quickly to an air of resignation, before stepping aside and gesturing for them to ascend the steps.
The pangolinfox leant in to her as they mounted the stairs, all manner of creatures marching ahead and passing them. “This is a little more than a dance!” he hissed. She laughed, flashing her blue teeth.
“It’s a lot more than that, sweet.”
She quickened her pace, almost breaking into a run, and he followed as close behind as he could. She passed the sparkling white columns and clenched her fists in victory at the top, grinning widely. Before them was a huge domed atrium flanked by grandiose staircases, everything built in the glistening stone that reflected every light source from its surface with dazzling strength. Other celestial beings trod daintily between groups of each other, collecting drinks and hors d’oeuvres, making conversation and generally being very… normal for a celestial aristocracy, presumably.
Immediately Misfortune ran to one of the waiters and scooped up two glasses of wine. She thrust one at Arch, still smiling, and led him to an archway to the right. Through it was a sprawling beach setting with a polished, neat wooden deck and a rhythmic sea spreading into the distance. Several pools were on lower levels of the deck, already replete with bathing creatures. Arch looked over his shoulder to the doorway behind them, and from this side it bore no resemblance to the atrium they just left, aside from the threshold itself. Here, it just looked like a large stone villa with an astronomically ornate back door.
The transition from one part of space to another so seamlessly was mindblowing. Arch kept passing his head through one side to the other, looking up at the disconnect between one high ceiling and the completely open sky in the other.
She shook her head and grabbed his arm. “This was the wrong one, they changed it this year.”
Just as she was about to lead him back through the atrium, a voice called to them.
“Misfortune? My, am I surprised to see you.”
Her eyes flashed red, and for a second Arch saw her teeth drip crimson, but she snapped quickly round with a feigning bright smile to the voice’s owner. A grey-skinned demon with long, orange hair that faded to red at their shoulders, tied in a long braid. They had large horns that swept up and back like the wings of a diving bird, and a white suit flecked with silver vines, adornments that appeared to ripple as if a gentle breeze cast across them. The sclera of their eyes were black, and their irises a piercing gold. They looked at them both with a sort of surprise that seemed diplomatically genuine, but was a little too manufactured to be truly sincere.
“Lack,” she oozed, “Happy to be in your good company again.” Her emphasis was heavy and pointed, like a spear held over a captive’s neck.
The slender, toned being Lack swept behind them, inspecting them. They were taller than both of them by about another foot, and their long legs took very controlled strides for how far they could take them. They made a soft ‘hmm’ as they made eye contact with Arch, then gestured for the two to join them at the railing overlooking the beach.
“I will say, Misfortune, it has been quiet without you here. Your presence was always something of a conversation.”
She took a hefty sip of wine. “Funny, nobody bothered to include me in it.”
Lack’s stony expression softened, as if buried somewhere within their face was a smile. “You know there are things forbidden to discuss.”
She nodded, finishing off her first glass and gesturing to a waiter for another. Arch quickly finished his too, thinking it may be a need to either act quickly or diffuse tension. She picked up her second glass and raised an eyebrow at Lack. “Pity they couldn’t have been discussed at the time. You know, when it mattered.”
Lack responded with silence, staring over the sea. After a tense few seconds they looked back at Misfortune and Archantael.
“Your guest is interesting,” they said not altogether disingenuously.
Misfortune leant back against Arch and reached behind her to pull his tie, bringing him closer. “This is Archantael! He’s a good friend, and mine for the evening. He’ll be better company than you stuffy spirits ever were, right?” She let out a laugh and glanced quickly back up to Arch, who nodded resolutely. “Damn right, I’m here for her. Pretentious-arse parties don’t mean anything unless you have strength of character and she’s got more of that than you’ll have in a whole eternity.”
She pointed a steely glare at Lack for a second, then they turned back to the atrium. She deposited her full second wine glass on a tray as they passed by. She was striding a little ahead of him, but in a flash of glass Arch could see her teeth flared red. Thinking quickly he matched her speed and linker his arm under hers, slowing her a little.
She jumped and looked up at him; he gave her a reassuring smile, and once more her cheeks blossomed red. Gently, tentatively, she tightened the squeeze on his arm and together they ascended the steps on the atrium’s right side, to where they met at the centre near the top of the back wall, and opened to another area outdoors.
It was a vast garden, full of otherworldly trees and plants, and strange creatures of stellar origin that seemed to swim as much as fly through the air. The sky opened up into a deep, infinite blue dotted with stars of sparkling silver, and overhead it seemed like the moon was turning on its own axis, and growing steadily larger.
“This is the celestial solstice?” he gaped.
She scrunched her nose a little. “I mean, yeah, this is what everyone comes to see. But for me, it’s…”
She trailed off and began looking around, behind where most of the crowd was looking, the two of them weaving between the building and the backs of the watchers. Most were too enrapt in the spectacle overhead to pay attention anyway. Soon they came to a walkway down, which had a meagre chain across it saying ‘No Spectators Beyond This Point’.
They gave a wry look to one another and stepped over, before quickly descending the stairs.
Still linked arm in arm, once out of sight of the building they relaxed their pace, strolling peacefully through the moonlit gardens. Around them the fauns pulsed with the glow of the moon overhead. The leaves of the trees shone in an astounding silver hue, and tiny orbs of light danced around the pathways like fireflies, making the entire outside pathway sparkle and flicker. As they walked, Misfortune gleefully pointed out flowers and regaled him with stories of each’s mythological origin, and cackled with tales of her disobedience or hijinks in her (albeit somewhat immortal) youth.
Soon the path widened to a low valley, and in the distance over the canopy of a nearby forest they could see frost-tipped mountains, glowing blue against the sky. She broke from his arm and began running ahead. “We’re close!”
She darted across the path that meandered across the undulating lawn, bashing her claws at the low branches she ducked under, giggling. Arch struggled to keep up, but the gold flashes in her red dress, and her shimmering markings under the moon, kept her in his sight.
She tucked her wings in and ducked between two trees, whose branches were so tight they were almost woven together. He pulled himself in, and suddenly found himself in a tunnel of branches at least twenty feet long, which he edged through, trying to see what was at the light beyond.
When he finally breached the tunnel’s exit, he saw Misfortune standing still, at the edge of a huge, celestial lake.
The water’s gentle ripples shimmered in the moonlight, a dance of silver waves spread out before them, reflecting the sky in a soft, serene rhythm. The glowing blue flowers gave a hazy bloom to the water’s edge, setting the mountains behind it into silhouette against the deep empyrean sky.
They stopped for a while, and stared, the open calm punctuated only by their breath. The moonlight on the water reminded Arch of Misfortune’s arm markings. He reached for her arm and ran his pawpads softly over the jagged stripes. He felt her fur tingle and stand at his touch, and her cheeks once more flashed that deep red. She dipped her head slightly, and with her other hand pulled gently at the collar of her dress.
“This was what I wanted to see,” she said quietly. I came here years ago, but since… for a long time, I’ve been forbidden from coming back. This was my chance.”
He stroked his hand down her arm and wrapped his paw around hers. She shrank a little more, her cheeks blushing even more red. Just as she was about to look up, she felt him step in front of her, and his warmth enveloped her in a hug. She froze for a second, feeling herself heat up incredibly, and let her arms wrap around his chest. They stood there for a while, swaying softly, breathing deeply, with nothing but the gentle laps of the water against the stones. He leant back slightly, and as she looked up to him he gave her forehead a tender kiss. She made a tiny noise and clutched his shirt tightly, breathing heavily.
Suddenly she pulled away, and in one swift movement, stripped off her dress and cast it on the stones. Arch froze, wide-eyed.
“I’m just… so hot, you know.” she said, with a shaky smile. She stepped towards the water, as the moonlight caught her whole body she seemed to glow in sync with it. She brushed her hand into his as she passed, and looked deeply into his eyes. “WIll you join me?”
She stepped into the water, letting off the slightest hiss against her skin, then she looked back at him, her grin returned to full strength but still retaining all of the red in her cheeks.
“Come on, I bet you look even better without all that on you!”
Arch swallowed hard and felt the blood rising in his face, as he stripped off his jacket first, then shirt and tie, then slipped himself free of his trousers and boxers, to follow her into the water.
The lake felt blissfully cool, soothing and invigorating all at once. He felt it rise through his fur as he stepped in. She was already waiting for him, drifting gently to the centre of the lake, pushing against the water with her wings. His scales sent triangular ripples through the water as he swam to her, his long tail flicking like a crocodile’s to propel him to her arms. He dived under the water slightly as he approached, then rose up like a fluffy, scaled shark and brought his muzzle to her cheek, giving her a soft kiss. She let out a warm, gentle laugh, and his paws gently slid to her hips. They floated and swirled together, swimming circles around each other in the moonlit ripples, exchanging soft cheek kisses and playful splashes in the water. Overhead the moon turned peacefully, bathing them in the cool, blue-white light.
She swept her wings together, casting a great wave of water at Arch, who barely had time to shut his eyes before the wave hit his face and cast him floating onto his back. He let out a spluttering laugh and shook his face, then, still on his back, pushed himself towards her. He let his legs sink slightly and she leant on his chest like a raft, circling a claw through his chest fur, and he stroked his paw gently up and down her back. They gazed at each other for a while, both of them reddening.
Arch stroked his paw up her back, to the back of her neck, and gently, slowly pulled the two together, trapping her in a deep, soft kiss, one which lasted a long time, and grew more passionate as it went. She swept her claw down his muzzle, neck, then chest, and abdomen, tenderly stroking him. He let out a soft moan of pleasure, and his paw meandered over her, across her chest, her stomach, and down. She let out a breathy gasp into their kiss as his pawpads circled and caressed her. She brushed her hand over him, circling his tip and down the shaft, he deepened his kiss, pulling her closer.
He set his legs down and lowered himself in the water, drifting down her, covering her with tiny licks and nibbles, before giving her one last glance and submerging his head below the water.
She felt his muzzle nose softly between her legs, then the soft, undulating touch of his tongue at her loins. Her hands rushed to his head as she felt the rising ecstacy blossom from her, a few seconds later he emerged for breath, dripping water, but with a hungry smile and a light in his eyes shining for her. She took him in a passionate kiss and pulled her body against his, stroking her hand against him once more, both of them moaning into the kiss. He broke again and dived to her legs once more, lapped at her, writhing his tongue over and within her, over and over, emerging each time to kiss her and slide his tongue over her pierced nipples, then down again, till one final time she tensed and shuddered.
“Aaah, Arch!” She cast her head back to the moon as the wave of warmth and electric ecstacy cascaded through her body, tremors of orgasm shaking every muscle within her, her horns aflame.
He emerged again, licking her taste from his muzzle. She pressed against him, feeling him hard and ready.
“That… that all you got?” she said breathily, ascending to a laugh as she cradled his muzzle in her claws. He smiled, extending his slender tongue to playfully flick her nose.
She pulled him into a kiss again, this time hauling her leg over his hip, grinding against him, rocking with the water to slide along his length, her gaze fixed on his rapt face and fluttering eyes at every touch.
“Benefits of being a creature like me,” she purred. “I can make you feel things nothing on Earth can do to you.”
He tried to respond but his breath caught in his throat as she wrapped her other leg around him and pushed him inside her. He tensed as a rush of pleasure flooded his body. He buried his head in her, catching his breath, then leant back to see her, riding him, against the moonlight. Every thrust and grind brought them both to new heights of ecstacy, pushing harder and faster against each other, their cries echoing to the silent moon above.
He shook as she rose and fell, hands on his neck, staring into his eyes. She was a warmth and sensation unlike anything he’d felt, and he was an immeasurable strength and passion to her.
“Aah, I’m.. I’m close… I’m so close…” he stammered.
She grinned, the red in her cheeks almost as bright as her horns now. “Let it out, Arch.”
He whined and tremored, his last few thrusts diminishing as the peak of sensation overtook him and he was helpless against her movements. For a second his cry stopped in his throat but as he came, it freed a huge, crescendoing moan. He gripped her tightly, shaking, as she pumped him in the throes of orgasm, till he had nothing left to give and they quietly held each other in the water, exchanging soft, tender kisses and holding each other’s cheeks.
“This… was beautiful,” he said quietly.
She giggled. “We were.”
As she lifted herself from him he suffered another momentary shudder of pleasure and gasped, which she took great amusement at, and together they swam back to the shoreline.
Their clothes were still waiting for them, but neither regarded them with much use any more.
“I guess we should, you know, for politeness,” he sighed.
She shrugged. “Fuck politeness.”
He pulled her into another, coy, hug from behind and her face lit up with brief embarrassment. “You just did.” He slid his tongue around her cheek to flick her nose again, and she threw his shirt in his face with a squeal.
Eventually, they were dressed enough to walk back, and slowly, as inconspicuously as they could, returned to the venue.
It was quieter now, with most people having descended to the other half of the gardens for some kind of theatre performance, but they garnered an alarmed look from a waiter who was cleaning up drinks as they stepped back over the chain. Misfortune held up a warning claw to her lips, and the waiter hurriedly looked away and scurried into the servant’s entrance.
Together they made a swift exit, retaining almost no composure as their ruffled clothes and hurried walk drew the attention of staff, but they laughed and swiped the last of the hors d’oeuvres as they left, to well out of the way of the building.
“It should work now. Are you ready?” she asked. He shrugged.
“I don’t even remember it happening last time so, go for it.”
* * *
When he woke, he was on his sofa. It was darker outside now, and the only noise around were the soft calls of insects from outside his window, and the occasional car in the roads nearby. He sat up and looked around. Even in the darkness, he could tell he was alone.
He looked down at his paws for a second, wringing them with concern, and gave a light, airy sigh. His body still felt warm, relaxed, and tingled with the aftermath of their time together. His eyes lit up just to remember it, and he couldn’t help but smile.
“Hopefully again, sometime.”
He meandered his way to his bedroom, legs still a little shaky, and paused when he reached the door.
It was ajar.
He stepped inside.
“…Hi.” he whispered, then closed it behind him.