“You’re free of the pact now,” the witch spoke freely, despite clearly struggling for air under the succubus’ claw pinning him down. “Do what you will.”
“How do I know this isn’t a ruse?” the demon hissed back. “Why go through all that to free me, for nothing?”
“I was passing through, and when I saw what they were doing to you… I acted. Nothing more. Nothing less.” His face had grown paler, but his words were just as strong. “Make the most of it, won’t you?”
With a growl the succubus tightened its grip, severing the witch’s throat in one clean motion. It stood, looking around the broken surroundings, before pulling the witch’s cloak off and shrouding itself in it as it set off on its journey back to freedom.
A year later, in a quiet morning market, the succubus was inspecting a piece of fruit while under the glamour of a local woman. It was stalking a new victim under contract, watching the market intently for the noble to show his face.
So engrossed in its work as it was, it didn’t feel the new presence next to it until a hand fell on its shoulder.
“I’m sorry miss, but you seem to have my cloak,” a familiar voice quipped.
The demon whirled to see the newcomer; the very witch it had killed, alive and well.
“Please, don’t be alarmed; I’m not here to hurt you.” He looked past her, to the noble now entering the courtyard. “I’d like my cloak back is all. Happy to help with your current situation if that makes it easier.”
“How are you still alive?” The succubus inspected him closely, a puzzled expression on its face. “Are you a lich?”
“Warlocks and wizards become liches. Witches simply refuse to die.” He shrugged. “My dolls found me quickly enough after our misunderstanding.”
“But there’s not even the ethereal signature of a scar on your neck?”
“Different body, same witch. My dolls fashioned a new one, and plucked my soul back from the void to inhabit it. It’s a simple process, really.”
“Sounds like an arbitrary distinction from a lich to me.” It scowled, looking back to its quarry. “I don’t need your help, witch, I am plenty capable of bedding men without human magic meddling in it.”
“Can I have my cloak back, then?”
“It’s really quite important to me.”
“Buy another. I killed you, at least for a little bit, it’s mine.”
“Okay, show of goodwill then.” He pointed out to the noble completing a slow circuit around the market with two others flanking him. “Those aren’t his guards.”
“I’ve been watching him for weeks. Those are the same guards that’re always with him.”
“That’s how I found you; they know a succubus is about. Those men are under holy glamor, and they’ve been waiting for you to make your move for as long as you’ve been hunting.”
The succubus gave a low growl, studying them more closely. It couldn’t resolve the magicks of a holy spell like that, but it could see the discrepancies now. What it thought at first was a limp was no doubt a mismatched height. An uneven sway of their robes.
“Ah, well, looks like they’re coming to say hello now.” The witch smoothed out his blouse, a doll approaching beside him as if summoned. “I could put in a good word…”
“Don’t interfere in my hunt, witch,” it hissed back. “I have to change my strategy enough already.”
The noble came within earshot of them, stepping forward and inspecting the two of them as his guards stood back, observing. “Madam witch,” he nodded curtly. “Is this an apprentice? I don’t recognize her.”
“If only, it’d make things much easier.” He smiled back, looking to his doll. “No, just a traveler making conversation about my lovely creations. Still willing to put a doll in your service, if his lordship has changed his mind.”
“I haven’t, thank you.” He looked the succubus over, frowning for a moment. “Haven’t I seen you before?”
“Maybe in on the road sir,” it replied politely enough. “I’m passing through, as the witch says.”
“Of course. Well, good travels, and good health madam witch.”
The two stood quiet as the lord retreated, the witch watching his guards vigilantly before nodding to his doll. It nodded back, pulling up its hood and slipping into the market crowd, while the succubus turned to glare at him.
“He knows you?” It accused.
“Well, yes, I’m known to every noble this part of the region.” He laughed. “I’m the family friend of most lords and ladies here. I’ve been doing this, two, three hundred years? I knew his great grandfather, before the man had even been granted a title of nobility.”
“Is that why you’re interfering in my hunt, to help a friend?”
“Absolutely not, I promise. Family friends are funny like that. He has a daughter who’ll take the title, and probably do a better job than him at this. I want my cloak back, so I’m helping.”
“I was going to make a good first impression on him today, and instead you botched it.”
“My doll will be running into him later. It’s a known quantity to the guards. It’ll administer a potent sedative to him, and deal with the guard’s wards. He’ll be all yours tonight.”
“And if I wanted more from him?”
“Someone took a contract out on him; I know this one is strictly business for you, I’m not here to ruin any excitement of yours.”
“I’m not giving you your cloak back.” It turned as suddenly as that, pulling the hood of it up as it quickly blended into the crowd, leaving a very confused witch behind.