Royal Makai was just like Lilith remembered it: a wilderness of black soil, purple grass that resembled countless knives, trees with leaves of midnight blue, and above all of this, a sky filled with dense clouds. Even though it was technically morning, there was so little light that it seemed like dusk.

Then there was the demonic energy. It was denser than anywhere else in the world, denser even than in Dragonia's Graveyard of Dragons. It even sent a chill down Lilith's spine: while she'd grown up here, she'd spent a long time in the outside world and forgotten what it was like in the heartland of monsters.

Speaking of which, they encountered monsters regularly here. Most kept a wary distance from Lilith and Adam, and the couple did likewise. It helped that Adam had learned how to hide his spirit energy on the way here, so monsters mistook him for a fellow monster rather than a human.

Some approached just close enough for a conversation, and it was from these that Lilith and Adam learned about events in Royal Makai.

"There's several powerful monsters gathering there," said a demon, a powerful humanoid monster with blue skin, pitch-black sclera and a pair of wickedly sharp horns. "They're using treasure, promises of power, threats, any tactic available to bring armies to their side. Sides, rather… they're all enemies to each other."

"They must all be trying to become the next Demon Lord," Lilith said, a worried expression on her face.

"Who are these powerful monsters?" Adam asked.

"I've heard of a hellhound, an echidna and a vampire", the demon replied. "I haven't met any of them in person, merely seen them from afar. But even from that perspective, I could tell that they were more powerful than the three of us combined."

Lilith and Adam were hiding their full power to avoid drawing unneeded attention, so this didn't necessarily mean much. Still, it was a warning to remember.

"Have you considered joining one of them?" Lilith asked.

"Of course I considered it," the demon said. "With a new Demon Lord, I could corrupt many more humans into depravity than I can now. But the long-term risk would also be greater; more heroes are born during such eras, after all, and all Demon Lords are slain in the end. No, I'll stick to keeping a low profile."

The demon walked away.

That was definitely an… enlightening conversation, Lilith thought. Some monsters can realise, on their own, the pointlessness of this cycle of death… Though that doesn't necessarily mean they stop attacking humans.

Moving on to a different topic, there was a third category of monsters: those that attacked Lilith and Adam, seeing them as weaker monsters and thus prey. They ambushed them from dense vegetation, from underground or from the sky.

Of course, none of them was a match for the couple in their current state. Even the most powerful of them, a high orc who commanded a dozen regular orcs, was brought down in seconds. And because of their own power, Lilith and Adam could handle them in a different way than usual.

Lilith bent down in front of the fallen high orc. The porcine monster was taller than any human or succubus, with muscles strong enough to use a log as a club, and a thick layer of fat that could deflect swords and arrows. But right now, the club lay shattered on the ground, while the high orc himself crawling away and squealing in fear.

"I-I'm sorry!" the high orc cried out. "We didn't know—please don't kill us!"

"It's alright, we're not going to kill you," Lilith said reassuringly. "First, could all of you tell us your names?"

"H-Huh?" the high orc said. "I'm… Barkas Bonecrusher."

One by one, the other orcs also nervously introduced themselves. The others didn't have surnames—in that regard they were similar to humans, who reserved surnames for nobility.

"Does that mean… you don't want to kill us?" Barkas asked. "You want us to… follow you instead?"

"No, we don't want that either," Adam said. "Tell us, what was your goal in attacking?"

"It's… It's the orc way," Barkas said. "Strength is the only justice in this world. So we take what we want from anyone we can beat. Anything else would be… not orc-like."

"Well… strength is definitely important in this world," Lilith said. "But if you just attack whoever you want, you'll eventually run into someone you can't beat… and if they're not as nice us, you'd be killed."

The orcs trembled again at these words.

"There are other options for you," Adam pointed out. "You could put that strength of yours to good use farming, or mining, or logging… Even if you'd prefer to fight, you could find work as guards or mercenaries." The orcs didn't seem to understand this, so Adam clarified, "You could fight for others and be paid for it, rather than attacking travellers to take their things."

"A-Alright," Barkas said. "We'll give that a try. You beat us, so it's only right."

Then Lilith and Adam parted from the orcs. It felt odd to just let their attackers go, but if Lilith's understanding of orc culture was correct, the orcs would keep to their promise.

Still, there's no guarantee they'll avoid attacking humans. One thing at a time, I guess…

-ooo-

After wandering around the edges of Royal Makai for a few more hours, Lilith decided to stop putting off the inevitable. She decided it was time to return home.

Melipon was one of several succubus villages in the world. There weren't many of them since succubi weren't populous by monster standards. That said, they were quite developed by monster standards due to the intelligence and magical prowess of monsters.

And Melipon was even more developed than when Lilith had left. The buildings were all made of stone now, and painted in bright reds, whites and yellows. Glass windows dotted the walls of the buildings, giving their interiors plenty of natural light while keeping out the elements. In front of the buildings were neatly arranged gardens with colourful flowers.

As they approached the village, Lilith whispered to Adam, "Are you sure about this?"

"I want to see your home for myself," Adam whispered back. "The good and the bad."

"For a human, I think there'll be much more of the bad than the good," Lilith whispered. "But… alright."

Lilith and Adam arrived at the village. As the couple came into view, the local succubi looked up from their activities. Their faces lit up in delight… and lustful hunger.

"Lilith!"

"You're finally back!"

"Lydia! Your daughter has finally come home!"

"Just what have you been up to!?"

"Why did you go out alone in the first place!?"

This was the kind of welcome that Lilith expected. It was common for succubi to leave their homes to see the world and enjoy themselves. It was less common but not unheard-of for them to do so on their own, since succubi were relatively fragile compared to most monsters. But overall, she expected her friends and family to give a warm welcome home.

…Unfortunately, she hadn't returned alone. And for that reason, she heard words that made her blood boil.

"Look, she brought back a man!"

"He's so handsome… and he looks tough, too! I wonder how long he'll last!"

"Wow, Lilith, just how much have you been feeding on him!? He's overflowing with your energy!"

"I just want to take that armour off him, push him down and—"

"You can't, Beth! It's clear he belongs to Lilith!"

Lilith didn't clench her fists or do anything else that might give away her true feelings. She just kept a smile on her face, the same kind of vapid smile that her friends had.

But almost everyone else here is a succubus as well, Lilith thought. They might see through me anyway…

But even when the villagers surrounded Lilith on all sides and peppered her with questions, none of them showed any signs of suspicion. They were just happy for her, something that send a brief pang of guilt through her heart. A very brief one.

"This here is Adam," Lilith said, wrapping one protective arm around the man in question to prevent any other succubus touching him. "I found him ten months after I left."

"He's a hero, right?" asked Ashara, a pink-haired succubus dressed in a black bustier and miniskirt. She was one of Lilith's former friends. "I can't believe you managed to bag a hero!"

"You really have to let us taste him," said Shireen, a blue-haired succubus who was another of Lilith's former friends. "Please? Remember that time I helped you out when you were flying?"

He's not a piece of meat to be traded around! Lilith thought. Out loud, she said, "Maybe later. Right now, I'd just like to see how things have changed here."

Lilith glanced momentarily at Adam. Her partner had a vacant expression, the sort expected from a succubus' mindless thrall, and hadn't said a word since entering the village.

Is there any chance he was hurt by what I said? Even if this is just an act, I—

"Lilith?"

That familiar voice caused Lilith to freeze in place. She'd been preparing herself for this moment for a long time. She'd already met her former friends. But there was simply no way she could fully prepare herself to meet her mother again.

Lydia looked like Lilith in most aspects, most notably in that she had the same silver hair. She even looked just as young as her daughter, since succubi didn't show any signs of ageing until they finally died of old age. The only difference was that her eyes were blue instead of red. Supposedly, Lilith inherited her eye colour from her father… not that she'd ever known him, for obvious reasons.

"It is you! You've finally returned!"

With a brief run, Lydia threw herself at her daughter and pulled her into a tight hug. Lilith returned the hug after a moment's hesitation.

"I was so worried, you going off on your own…" Lydia said. She pulled away and looked Lilith up and down. "You've… changed. In more ways than one."

"Well… after spending more than a year away from home, it would be hard not to change," Lilith replied. She tugged at one piece of her armour. "It's not easy surviving out there without picking up a few things."

Lydia turned her eyes towards Adam. To Lilith's disgust, there was an obvious desire in her gaze.

"I'm glad to see that you've finally caught a man," Lydia commented. "You never even touched one when you where here." She leaned in closer to Lilith. "Tell me, how fast are you able to get him to—"

If Lilith allowed her mother to finish that sentence, she would definitely lose control. She therefore smiled more widely and said, "Before that, how about you show us around the village? It's clear things have changed a lot here as well."

-ooo-

Over the next hour, Lilith and Adam were shown around the village of Melipon by the former's mother and friends. During it all, the village succubi continued to look lustfully at Adam and make lewd comments, straining the limits of Lilith's patience.

Fortunately, there were various distractions to draw Lilith's attention. Some were familiar, like the young succubi going for flying lessons and magic lessons, or the elders telling stories of the past. As she watched one girl crash face-first into the grass after a failed take-off, she couldn't help but smile as it reminded her of her own failures.

There were also new things, like the process used to construct the newer buildings in Melipon. Normally, buildings of stone were slow and expensive to build due to the difficulty of shaping so many stones, whether by tool or by magic, and then placing them into the desired positions. But the succubi had come up with something that bypassed most of this effort: they shaped a few stones and placed them together, then covered the surface with detailed runes, and finally triggered the runes to automatically draw in, shape and fuse together additional stones. It required a lot of effort for the first few stones and a lot of demonic energy for the additional stones, but it allowed an entire house to be constructed in a matter of days.

"That's incredible," Lilith said when she learned of this. "Especially when it's coming from succubi, who've never been good with earth magic. I mean, I learned some of it while I was away, but I'm still not as good with it as with the other elements."

Ashara scratched her head and laughed with a sheepish expression. Lilith recognised that gestured very well.

"…Where did this idea come from?" Lilith asked, though she was already dreading the answer.

"Well, I actually left a couple of months after you did, and came back six months ago," Ashara said. "And I came back with this human scholar! He's not much to look at, but he makes such cute sounds whenever I ride him!"

Lilith clenched her teeth. Even at this point, none of the other succubi noticed her feelings—but Adam did, for he shot her a brief glance of concern. No matter how much Lilith had improved her acting skills in her time away, this seemed a bit excessive.

Is it because they don't expect me to be angry at them? Because they… still see me as one of them? They can't imagine me thinking differently…

"And this scholar of mine, he's got some really great ideas about magic!" Ashara continued. She giggled. "Though he doesn't do much thinking nowadays… but before that point, he told me lots of things, and all I had to do was bat my eyelashes and flash a bit of my tits! And then I brought him back with me, and he keeps me nice and warm at night!"

This, Lilith mused, was the intended purpose of succubi. They didn't devour the flesh of humans like other monsters did, instead attacking humans in a subtler and more insidious way. That scholar could have improved human society immensely, but now his ideas were turned to the service of monsters… well, to succubi and no other monsters.

"Hold on, he's still alive?" Lilith said, noticing something off about what Ashara had just said. "This might sound odd coming from me, but I've… never heard of any of us keeping a human for six months…"

"That's another change we've made recently," Lydia said from the side. "It's one that has made our lives much more comfortable. Come, we'll show you."

Lilith and Adam were led into the former's childhood home. The interior was furnished with ornate wooden furniture, causing Lilith to briefly wonder if this was also the result of stealing human secrets. But there were still reminders of Lilith's life here… old toys, old clothes, the occasional drawing from a child's rough hands. She couldn't bear to look at any of them.

Then they stepped into a bedroom and Lilith came to an abrupt stop. On the bed was a man with scruffy brown hair and red eyes and not a stitch of clothing. He had a vacant expression on his face, no different from the one Adam was putting on. When Lydia stepped into the room, his face brightened… but still showed no signs of intelligence.

"We've started taking care of our prey," Lydia said. "Our old way of life was far too wasteful, it forced us to gather more men regularly. But if we avoid draining them to death, and give them proper food and shelter, then they can stay alive and give us a regular supply of spirit energy."

In the end, no matter how much succubi might resemble humans, they couldn't escape their origins. They were predators created by an evil god to cull humanity, as hunters might do to over-abundant deer.

No… we can escape it, Lilith thought. I've done it, other monsters have done it, and I won't rest until this damn cycle is stopped.

"I actually kept your original room around, Lilith," Lydia said, smiling. "I always knew you'd return."

Guilt wracked Lilith's heart again. No matter what her mother, and everyone else, were guilty of, they did love her.

But she couldn't let that stop her. Even if the man on the bed—and the others kept in the village—was technically still alive, his mind and heart were thoroughly broken. It was no way to live, and she couldn't let it continue for one day longer.

"Thanks, Mother," Lilith said quietly. She steadied herself to say her next words. "I'd like to meet everyone, tell them properly about what we—about what I've been doing. Could you get everyone gathered for dinner tonight…?"

-ooo-

Night arrived. The clouds parted to reveal a blood-red moon—a frightening sight for the average human, though for Lilith it was still comforting.

Over four hundred succubi gathered in the centre of the village around a large bonfire. Some even brought their prey with them, apparently to show off to others. A large boar was cooking over a spit on the fire, and even from a distance Lilith could smell its mouth-watering aroma.

It's been so long since I got to taste this… The boars here are definitely better than the ones anywhere else…

But though Lilith stared at the boar, she still had enough presence of mind to slap away the hands of Mylene, one of her friends who was trying to touch her Adam.

"Hey, you could at least let me touch him!" Mylene complained.

"No," Lilith said resolutely. "I did not… go through everything I did to let anyone else touch him."

"Fine…" Mylene said, pouting. "But then you have to at least let me watch when you take him tonight!"

After that, there were no more incidents. The Demon Realm Boar was cut up and its meat, along with various vegetable dishes were distributed to everyone. Then Lilith stood up and everyone's attention gathered on her.

"I've been away for a long time, and there's a lot of things I have to talk about," Lilith said. She glanced at Adam, who nodded slightly, and resolved to continue. "But first, I should talk about things that happened before I left."

There was some confusion among the other succubi, as this clearly wasn't what they were expecting. But Lilith pressed on.

"When I was six, I first saw what we succubi do to human men. I learned about how we do this to have children, to feed ourselves, and just for fun. How we ignore the men's wishes and—until recently—killed them. And that horrified me."

Now the confusion was replaced by shock. The worst of it came from Lilith's own mother, who looked at her daughter like she couldn't believe her ears.

"And that's why I left all on my own," Lilith said, looking resolutely at the other succubi. "I couldn't stand to be around… people who would do anything like that."

"No… you're lying…"

"You can't be Lilith! You have to be an imposter!"

"It can't be!"

Just as Lilith had expected her warm welcome back to the village, she'd also expected this reaction when she finally revealed the truth: that while her friends had family had always seen her as one of them, she'd seen them as rapists, murderers and—more recently—slavers. It wasn't the kind of thing that anyone could take lightly.

Though on closer inspection, Lilith saw something odd in the faces of a few succubi. They still looked shocked, yet there was something else as well… relief at finding someone who agreed with them.

"I swear to all of you that it is the truth," Adam said at last, to the further shock of the village succubi.

"I never brainwashed, or seduced, Adam," Lilith said. "I saved him from other monsters when we first met, and then I talked to him. It was rough at first, but eventually I made him realise that not all monsters want to prey on humans."

"From that point on, we began travelling around the world together," Adam continued. "We visited countless places, from the desert in the west to the sea in the south. We fought other humans and other monsters, any who disturbed the peace. We learned harsh truths about the nature of this world. And from all those experiences together, we fell in love." He glared at the few succubi who'd brought along mindbroken men to this dinner. "Not what you have here, but true, sincere love."

It was an awe-inspiring speech, one that stirred up a little embarrassment in Lilith as well. Despite being a succubus, she felt like a human girl bringing the boy she liked to her parents.

But then the atmosphere was broken by harsh laughter. Lilith turned around to see that it was coming from Serana, one of the oldest succubi in the village—even if she didn't look it.

"It's hard to believe that this has happened," Serana said, stepping forward. "But I suppose it was inevitable. Our young ones are still so naïve when they spread their wings, so it's possible for one of them to fall for a human instead of just the other way around."

"I'd say you're the naïve one," Lilith bit back. "To not see the truth when it's right in front of you."

"Humans are nothing but prey!" Serana shrieked, her aura of demonic energy flaring up at the same time. "It seems you fell for this one after charming him, and are imagining some fairytale story of a princess and knight—but it's nothing! To show you how meaningless it is, I'll make this hero of yours mine!"

Serana looked at Adam and her eyes glowed with deep blue light. This was one of the signature abilities of succubi, to charm people and bend them to their own will.

"Now, hero!" Serana commanded. "Tell me how much you love me! Show this pitiful fool that—"

"I'm afraid I was raised to never tell a lie," Adam said brazenly. "But if you're asking what I think of you, I think you are indeed naïve."

Serana's mouth gaped. "That's… impossible…"

One of the other elders stepped forward. "Lilith must have put him under a particularly strong charm—but it should break with enough power!"

"Yes, that's right!" said another elder.

Serana regained her composure, and she and the two other elders all tried charming Adam simultaneously, bathing him in various colours of light.

This might be bad! Lilith thought. Even if Adam is strong, and has his dragonium armour, he might not be able to resist three veteran succubi at once! Should I help him!?

Lilith began reaching for her spear, ready to attack the three elders. Yet she hesitated.

Because…

Because…

Because she still remembered when these very same elders told her stories and rocked her on their laps.

Eventually, Serana said, "Now, you must have fallen under our sway! Submit! Submit to us!"

"No."

That one simple word shocked everyone present. The three elders, and many of the other succubi, reeled away from Adam as if he was some terrifying Demon Lord. On the other hand, Lilith had fallen in love with him all over again.

"That's right," Lilith said. "He's mine, just as I am his. We're in love with each other, and nothing you can do can tear us apart."

"Lilith… then… was this all just a lie…?"

That weak voice came from none other than Lydia. It was something that Lilith had to answer… no matter how much it pained her to do so.

"No, Mother, it wasn't just a lie," Lilith said, more gently than before. "I still love you, and everyone else in this village. But… I can't let these horrors continue anymore. Monsters… all monsters… don't need to prey on humans, any more than they need to kill us."

"That's—That's just ridiculous!" Shireen cried out. "It's only natural for us to—"

"No, it isn't!" Lilith shouted in response. "Monsters are driven to attack humans because we're nothing more than pawns of the Chief God!"

That silenced everyone. A few such as Lydia, looked like they wanted to say something, only for words to fail them.

"I mentioned earlier that we learned harsh truths about the nature of this world," Adam said. "This is the greatest of them. We learned that the Chief God is no ally to humanity, but intentionally created monsters to cull the numbers of my race. There is more blood on their hands than on the worst Demon Lords in history, combined."

"But we don't have to give in to this—this desire to attack humans!" Lilith said. She gestured at herself. "I overcame that, and I met other monsters who did the same thing! In the east, there's an entire island of them! We can be better than this!"

Lilith was met with looks of disbelief. She couldn't blame them; if she'd never changed, and heard one of her friends claiming that monsters could live in peace with humans, she might have seen them as a lunatic as well.

At her wits' end, Lilith extended her mind to form telepathic contact with every other person in the village, from the elders down to the youngest girls. This was a feat of magic that she couldn't have managed when she'd left the village, and now… now it merely gave her a minor headache.

Lilith felt countless other succubi struggling against her, no doubt fearing she was trying to take over their minds. But that wasn't what she was trying to do.

Here—this is what you wanted! To know everything I've been doing!

She showed them her memories of when she'd seen succubi kill a human and pass it off as something natural. She made them all feel her visceral horror at the murder.

She showed them her initial travels through the world, her fear of other monsters and of humans alike. Yet she also let them see those incidents where she'd secretly saved humans from monsters.

She showed them her initial meeting with Adam. The start to their relationship was incredibly tense and filled with suspicion, yet they decided to stick together nonetheless.

She showed them her adventures together with Adam. These were events that wouldn't appear out of place in legends: finding an ancient pharaoh in the desert, diving to the bottom of the sea to hunt a kraken, visiting the dwarves to obtain equipment fitting for a hero, discovering an isolated and peaceful society, fighting off a monster army laying siege to a city. And throughout it all, she and Adam grew closer to the point that they would lay down their lives for one another.

She showed them the confrontation with Justinia; a reminder that even the greatest of heroes could fall into evil. Then she showed them her own desperate efforts to save Adam's life… efforts that were eventually rewarded, and which led to the couple finally acknowledging their feelings.

It was a chaotic whirlwind of memories, thoughts and emotions. By the time she got to the present, Lilith felt like her brain was about to burst from the strain of linking with hundreds of people. But she had to do this!

Lilith cut off the telepathy at last, and swayed on the spot… then Adam caught her with his strong arms.

"Are you alright, Lilith?" Adam asked.

"I'm fine… just need some rest," Lilith replied. "More importantly… did it work?"

Adam smiled. "It seems so."

The other succubi were all deeply distraught. Many were outright weeping. A few looked at the mind-broken men nearby and then tore at their faces with their own fingernails. The reactions of the children hurt the deepest; they were only victims in this, having yet to attack men themselves.

But… I had to… make them realise… Had to make them stop…

Some of the succubi walked over to Lilith while crying. They thanked her for saying what they'd all been too afraid to say.

So I wasn't as alone as I always thought…

Then there was Lilith's mother. Lydia half-walked, half-staggered over to her daughter, looking like she'd just had the life drained out of her.

"I'm sorry…" Lydia cried. "I was… a horrible mother to you…"

"No…" Lilith replied, grasping her mother's hands. "To me, you were a good mother. But I… I couldn't call myself a good daughter if I let you keep going down this path."

-ooo-

After that, all the succubi in the village swore off attacking humans forever. But that still left the question of what to do with the men they'd already kidnapped and broken.

First, keeping them here was categorically not an option. Making the succubi continue to care for their own victims would be just cruel to all involved.

Second, there was no way to restore the men's minds. Lilith examined each and every one of them, but they were just too far gone, the mental equivalent of men who'd had every bone in their body broken and then healed improperly.

Finally, there was no way to send these men back to human territory. Royal Makai was simply too dangerous for that, even if Lilith and Adam were to escort them. And if they did somehow make it back out of the most dangerous place in the world, there was no guarantee they'd be accepted by their fellow humans. They would never be able to think or act of their own accord ever again.

That left just one option, the same option that other humans would do to these men if possible: end their suffering.

I know this is the only option, Lilith thought. I know they're hardly even alive anymore. I know that if they were aware of their current states, they would almost certainly want to die rather than continue like this. But still… it feels too much like—

"It feels too much like what Justinia is doing," Adam said, finishing Lilith's thoughts out loud. "But we must. I was taught long ago that death can, sometimes be a gift."

Lilith laughed sarcastically. "We've avoided killing so far after coming to Royal Makai. We tried to save these men. And now they're the first ones we're going to kill. We're… making their lives shorter than they would have been otherwise."

But there truly was no other option. Thus, the next morning, Lilith and Adam went to each of the men and killed them using death magic—as uncomfortable as it was, this was the most painless way of killing someone. They then buried the bodies outside the village.

Several succubi came to watch the burying, Lilith's mother among them, and more watched nervously from the boundaries of the village.

"It's hard to believe," Lydia said. "Just yesterday, I was… using one of them…"

"That's in the past now," Lilith said, though even she didn't quite believe her own words. "If we want to… improve, we need to focus on the future."

"On that topic…" Lydia said, looking up at Lilith. "Just how do you two manage it? I've never heard of any succubus in history being able to lay with a human and leave him unharmed…"

"I don't know," Lilith admitted. "I didn't even start until I changed Adam into… what he is now…"

"And we're not even sure how that happened," Adam said. "Lilith mentioned hearing a strange voice during the process, but we're still not sure who that was."

"So I'm not sure if this is even possible with a normal human," Lilith said. "Well… we did hear a theory that it might be possible because of… because of love, but… ugh, forget what I just said."

"Because of love…" Lydia said. "Perhaps that is something to consider…"

The atmosphere grew awkward, so Lilith finished the burying of the bodies as fast as possible.

With that done, Lilith and Adam set out from Melipon, aiming for the deeper parts of Royal Makai. These were naturally the more dangerous parts, so Lilith's mother tried to persuade her to give up, but there was no changing her mind.

"We've come too far to stop now," Lilith said. "Don't worry, I'll come back again. I did this time, didn't I?"

"You did," Lydia admitted, hugging Lilith one last time. "But… even after everything, a mother can't help but be afraid."

Then they parted. Lilith walked away from her home once more, this time with Adam by her side.

Once Melipon was no longer in sight, Lilith slumped against a tree and finally let down her guard. She looked wearily up at Adam.

"Did we do the right thing?"

"We could ask ourselves that question until the end of our days," Adam replied, though he looked conflicted as well. "I know it must have been hard for you to oppose your own family…"

"That's not it," Lilith said, shaking her head. "Or at least, that's only a part of it. I'm wondering if we were too soft on them, just because they were my family…"

"That, I believe there is a definite answer to," Adam said. "And that answer is 'no'. We were no softer on them than the other monsters we've encountered recently."

Lilith glanced back in the direction of home again. It was a meaningless gesture since the village was completely hidden by the intervening terrain, but she couldn't help it.

Then she turned to the opposite direction and faced forwards.

"Alright. There's no turning back now."


AN: By sheer coincidence, I've ended up posting chapters for two different fanfics in consecutive weeks that both involve a moral dilemma.

I originally planned to have Lilith outright brainwash everyone in her home into not attacking humans, then break down crying afterwards. Due to the way this story has developed, I thought this would be a more fitting resolution.

What to do with the captured men (whose story is based on something from Succubus Notebook) is something I didn't consider until writing this chapter. I eventually decided that this was the only possible outcome. At this point in the timeline, not everyone can get a happy ending.