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The next morning began quietly with a proper breakfast made by Elizabeth. Her daughter hummed to herself and shoveled waffles and syrup into her mouth. I was eating something more reserved, just some eggs, bacon, and a little bit of steak from the previous night. I needed to keep my protein up.
That’s when a commotion outside was slowly starting to grow. It started as a low rumble, but as I was finishing up the last of my meal it had grown to a continuous buzz. Occasionally, there would be a shout, and a few of those shouts were accompanied by fellow shouts from others. A large man poked his head into the dining room from the hallway.
“Devon, you should look outside.” Charak declared an uneasy expression on his face.
I picked up my napkin and dabbed my mouth. Then, I stood up and headed for the entrance to our building. Diane tried to stand up too, so I put a hand on her head and forced her back down.
“Finish your food.” I declared, looking at her half-eaten waffles.
“I’m not hungry!” Diane shot me a defiant look.
“Do as Master says.” Elizabeth chastised her.
She stayed behind making sure Diane didn’t follow me to the front, but that didn’t restrict Alleya, Daphne, or Luna from following behind. Alleya stayed right behind me, while Daphne followed her directly. Luna stayed in the back. She made a low whimpering noise, her tail wagging nervously as she watched from behind the counter.
I went to one of the windows and opened it up. There was a large group of women, and they were all standing around the building. Some of them held signs. I was a bit surprised that they were even able to write, but there appeared to be enough literate ones to make a show. It was instantly clear that this group was hostile toward my business.
Some of the signs just had insults like “slut” and “whore”. Others were a bit more intelligent, stating things like “down with prostitution”, and “You don’t own us.” The girls would occasionally devolve into shouts and chants.
“We will not whore ourselves to the demons!” A woman shouted out. “We are not your sex slaves!”
“No to whores! No to whores!” a group shouted in response.
“Protestors,” I grumbled.
This was not the direction I thought things would go. I had thought that they would be desperate to improve their lives and they would cross the picket fence willingly. After we had given them all food yesterday, this felt like a particular slap in the face.
“If they had such a problem, why don’t they go to Sal’s?” Alleya snorted while crossing her arms. “He’s the one who abuses them. We haven’t even offered sexual services yet.”
“If they tried to protest near Sal, they would be fucking obliterated by the army.” Daphne shrugged. “You should realize by now they can only do what they can get away with. We’re just an easy target.”
“They are being paid by Sal.” Charak suddenly stated, causing every eye to turn to him.
“How do you know that?” I asked.
His face turned slightly red. “I… um… have an insider. I heard everyone who comes out here and protests will be given a free meal.”
“If they have to risk their lives and stand out here all day, it’s not a free meal.” I scoffed. “I gave them a free meal, and they’re throwing it in my face.”
“I told Master this yesterday.” Alleya side. “Master doesn’t understand women.”
I frowned. “What does that mean?”
“Come on, Master. You ain’t a dumb shit. Don’t you know you never pay a girl before she puts out?” Daphne cut in.
“Did you offer the demon’s some free pussy before they had to pay at your store?” Alleya asked.
“Why the hell would I do that?” My expression darkened.
“People only give the bare minimum needed to get what they want, and they don’t value something that the person giving it to them doesn’t value,” Alleya explained. “If you take a girl out someplace nice and your buy her dinner and buy her presents, she’ll come to expect those things. She’ll think she’s even entitled to that stuff. That’s why you never spend a dime on her. She put a little bit of time into you, and then a little more. Eventually, she feels like she’s already put so much time into you, that if she doesn’t get something, she’ll have failed. That’s when she decides to offer it all.”
“Are you saying that by giving them free food and treating them like human beings, I incentivized them to protest and act entitled?” I growled.
“I’m sorry, Master, this is just human nature. It’s double for women. Women are physically weaker than men, so we must always consider the cost of trading ourselves. Only when we feel like we must give of ourselves or risk getting nothing do we submit. I thought Master would have understood this. Wasn’t it why he treated us like dirt when we first arrived?”
“I treated you like dirt because you were acting like an entitled princ… ahh… I see now.”
Her words had given me a lot to think about. I felt foolish for my youth where I would pay for a nice date only for the girl to ghost me after. Hadn’t I been far more successful in this world, where I treated it all as an exchange of goods and services?
With such thoughts in my mind, I readied myself to exit the building and address the crowd. However, at that moment, there was a commotion in the back. I stopped myself and watched as the crowds slowly parted and there was an appearance of demon soldiers. Many of the women cowered or fled at their appearance, but most of the crowd seemed to be emboldened by their numbers and continued to press in, scream, or even throw stuff at the group.
I recognized their numbers as they approached. The crowd seemed to grow into a bowl, and even the demons were starting to feel pushed. The lead demon gave out orders, but the men could only tighten their ranks. They eventually formed a small dome around the front of the building, giving us a small protective barrier from the protestors. They were still angry pushed forward and threw stuff, but the soldiers were well trained and physically superior, so they held their ground.
After the formation was settled, the man in charge pushed through the front door. As it closed behind him, he pulled off his hood, revealing an incredibly beautiful man. Had he arrived without a helmet on, I wondered if the women would have treated him and his group so hostile.
“Lieutenant Dire.” I nodded.
“Devon, it seems like I’m hearing more and more about you these days.” Lieutenant Dire gave a beautiful smile.
“It’s not by choice,” I grunted. “What are you doing here?”
“We heard about the protests starting, and the main units have no intention of interfering with them.” His smile disappeared and a displeased expression formed on his face. “This is a political stunt. I can’t believe they would sink this low as to using humans to do their dirty work… ah… no offense.”
“None was taken,” I responded dryly. “I have reliable word that Sal is paying this crowd so that they’ll protest. It seems I have underestimated his desire to crush us.”
“You may not have realized this, Devon, but in the last few days since the peace talks, this conflict has reached a fever pitch. Your conflict with Sal has somehow become a cultural lynchpin of the future of local human-demon relations. This is why I was able to bring my forces out today. Strangely, the future of all human relations falls on the success or failure of your business.”
“You don’t say…”
I already felt a headache coming on. Why couldn’t I just pimp women out in peace?