After I had revealed the woman behind the curtain, there was a long moment of silence. The women standing in a line had frozen solid, as if afraid to even breath in the presence of this woman. The demon host was the first to recover, quickly wringing his hands nervously.
“Ah… sir… please do not hassle our working staff.” The demon tried to recover quickly.
I gave him a blank stare. “You said I could choose any woman in this room. As it turns out, this is a woman who is in this room.”
“It’s alright.” The woman lifted a hand, causing the demon who was starting to sweat.
“Ma’am…” He made a confused face.
She casually put a glass of wine she was holding down and then stood up. “I will receive this man in my room. The rest of you are dismissed.”
All of the women were lined upturned and nearly ran out of the room in a single file line. The host only seemed to grow even more confused.
“My lady, Sal-”
“You may tell Sal anything you wish. Let me deal with Sal.” She responded before shooting me a lazy look. “Are you coming?”
I had selected her mostly on a whim. I desired to find out as much about the inner workings of this brothel as possible. If this woman was catching the attention of the demon, then I felt I could learn a lot more from her than any of the other women I could see that night.
The woman had a mature swagger about her, with decent-sized breasts and pleasant curves. She had tanned olive skin which was unusual for the women I had seen around these parts. She had long curly black hair, dark brown eyes, and she wore a long glittery silver dress that appeared to be made out of fine material. That didn’t necessarily mean that she was wealthy. Any given house on this block would have been filled with such dresses, and as long as a demon didn’t destroy them for fun, one could be acquired them for virtually nothing. That was why I preferred to get them from merchants rather than my store, which could be pricey on certain things.
We didn’t walk for long before she stepped into a small room. It didn’t appear particularly special, but the same kind of room that was being occupied by countless demons and their current charge. When she noticed me standing at the entrance, looking around the room, she lifted her finger and crooked it. I stepped forward, closing the door behind me.
“I expected something different,” I responded. “Something bigger.”
“Oh? Did you think because I was behind the curtain, that I would have something special?” She asked, a small and innocent smirk on her face.
“I did,” I answered. “You’re the woman who is recruiting and training the others, correct?”
Her smile didn’t flicker as she met my eyes. “Is that what you’re truly curious about, Devon?”
I took a step back and glared at her suspiciously. “I didn’t tell you my name.”
She tapped her fingers on her lips. “That’s true.”
“How do you know who I am?”
“I wonder…” She responded coyly. “Did you come just to pump me for information? I thought you wanted to pump me in other ways.”
“I’d rather just hear the information,” I responded darkly.
“I wonder, why should I tell you?” She asked, still acting playfully.
“Because you’re working for Sal,” I responded, making a face. “He’s a vile demon who doesn’t care a thing for any woman, except maybe as his toy. In time, he will turn on you, and he will use you as he sees fit. The first time you make even one mistake in his eyes, and maybe if you don’t, he’ll still call for you, rape you to death, and then you’ll disappear without a single hair remaining.”
I had hoped to use their fear against them, but even as I described it, the woman’s expression remained completely cool. The only sign my words had affected her at all was a slight tightening at her lips. She gave a show of considering my words for a moment before speaking.
“And you’ll be my savior? If I cooperate, you’ll rescue me from this place?” She asked.
“No,” I responded, and for the first time, she gave a surprised look. “I’m not in the business of saving people. You’ve put yourself into this mess. Only you can pull yourself out of it.”
“If you know my name, then you also know I’m currently the only thing opposed to Sal.”
“Opposed?” She rose an eyebrow mockingly. “You’re hardly positioned to be an opponent for Sal. He has more money and more resources. His operation is much larger than yours. He could crush you in an instant if he wanted to. The only reason he hasn’t is that he’s an opportunist. He prefers to move at the perfect time when his victory is absolute. What could you possibly bring?”
“Sal may not realize it, but he’s playing a game that he doesn’t understand.”
“And you do?” She asked.
“I do,” I said as I leaned close to her. “The experiences between him and I are worlds apart, and right now, he’s playing in my world. If he continues to push, I’ll start to push back. You say that his operation is larger… but I’ve chosen the size of my operation on purpose. He’s playing a short game, but I’m playing the long one. In time, I will bring life back into this world-”
I stopped myself just as I started to get too impassioned. Her expression seemed almost surprised. I supposed I was a bit shocked myself that I had become so emotional while discussing such things. After a moment, she cocked her head slightly.
“What do you mean, life?”
This woman was observant. I had hoped she missed that part, but since she put it out, I supposed I’d just say it. I didn’t think such a thing would even matter to some prostitute anyway.
“Ever since the demon queen disappeared and the demon king went into slumber, there have been no new demons,” I responded. “Any new men who are born to other species are usually killed by a demon early on… so at this rate, the world population is going to die.”
She leaned back, her eyes suddenly becoming interested. “Continue.”
“Demons were created for war. Most of them are drones designed for killing, yet that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of more. Just take what they’ve done the last twenty or so years since the war ended. If the demons can learn to be with the women, and the women can learn to be with the demons, there is a chance at a future. However, that future can only happen if mutual respect, desire, and love are formed.”
“How interesting… I never thought I’d see a demon speaking of love.”
I straightened. “You may not be able to see it, but I believe all demons are capable of love.”
“I see…” She responded, seemingly pondering my words deeply until she suddenly clapped. “Okay, I’ve decided.”
“I’m going to help you.”
“You can help me by explaining the inner workings of Sal’s Shoppe.”
“I’ll do better than that.” She grinned. “I’m going to leave Sal, and join your brothel.”
“Sal is nothing without me. I practically formed the whole brothel on my own. Once I’m gone, the entire place will collapse without me.”
I was trying to keep up with her sudden change in demeanor. “Sal will be furious.”
“Absolutely furious!” She laughed, clapping her hands together. “However, there is very little he can do about it.”
I would have loved to celebrate, but the woman’s behavior only left me increasingly more cautious. Just who was she?