Chapter 1: An Inadvertent Revelation
Everything happened so fast. At first, it began with an unpleasant sensation that Lily could ignore since that was routine. She consumed emotions from mammals around her subconsciously, including ones that were harmful. Without any warning, it blossomed into immobilizing agony that was more painful than anything she ever experienced before. Not even her memories from the time spent in the pit of eternal flame were this horrible. Someone was approaching with heavy stomps against the floor. A loud tremor echoed from a forceful door opening. An angry rabbit easily lifted her up into the air and pushed her against the wall.
The bunny was babbling but Lily couldn't focus on a single word. "– demon?" Tears fell down the rabbit's eyes. "I try so hard to make my parents happy but it's never good enough and it's all because of you!"
Fear and terror coursed through her yet at the same time she was actually able to move her body since the sensations became less painful. "How did you know?" she said in shock. Her disguise was flawless and there was no way a mere mortal could know. At the same time, she failed to recall the bunny's name. The bunny's ragged clothing didn't jog her memory at all. "What is your name?"
"Gabrielle. Wait, you're a demon? Can you do anything cool?" She blinked several times. Her fury melted away. A hint of pleasant emotions followed – something that she had been searching for ever since she decided to stay at this school.
That rabbit knew nothing and she gave away her secret! The taste soon went away but she had to know more. Was Gabrielle a threat or an ally? "Say, why don't you come over to my place?"
"Where do you live?"
Lily gave the address to her mansion that she lived in for two years. It was such a relief that Gabrielle agreed to meet during the weekend else she would've needed to take drastic actions. The weekend was still a long two days away, but it was unrealistic for her to expect anything better. Until that time, she had to vigilant for any signs of betrayal. Oh sure, she didn't request Gabrielle to keep her secret, but it was implied. If she made a fuss, it was more likely that Gabrielle would blab. Mortals were cruel that way, but she needed them to survive or so she thought.
For the remainder of the day, she kept a watchful eye on Gabrielle. She wanted to hear every word Gabrielle ever said in case she tried to spread her secret. This would give her time to flee if it was necessary. If she could follow her home without causing suspicion, she would've done that too. Gabrielle's parents were a potential liability, but there was no safe way to observe them. Someone was bound to catch her and that outweighed the risk.
Society had to believe she was just a hardworking student and that would shatter that image. There was homework to do anyway to maintain her illusion. Everything had to be perfect since that was the role she chose to play.
Despite the constant fear she felt, nothing happened so far. Gabrielle didn't reveal her secret or so it seemed. The only unknowns were what happened at her house. Tomorrow, they were due for a meeting.
Her heart thumped with anticipation since Gabrielle was going to visit today. Would she experience the same feeling as before? Gabrielle was going to arrive within the hour so she waited outside by the gate. Nevertheless, it was a terrifying prospect. What if Gabrielle brought others? What if Gabrielle decided to call the authorities?
"Hi!" Gabrielle greeted her with a wide smile. She wore her finest outfit it seemed. The dress was free of blemishes and signs of wear and tear.
Lily didn't expect the taste of emotions to change so fast. She fell to the ground after consuming something so revolting. From what she could see, Gabrielle wanted to impress her and didn't wish her harm.
"Are you okay?" As soon as Gabrielle said something else, the taste became wonderful.
"I was worried that it was a prank. That no one I knew could be so rich and call me friend."
The incoming emotions caused her pain like a dagger stabbing her heart. She clutched her chest in agony.
"Do I need to call the hospital? I'm worried about you."
"Sorry – trust me, I'm fine. I'm a demon – remember? Let's go inside." She hoped that her words were true. The last time someone made her visit a hospital – she escaped before she arrived since the pain was too much to bear. It was like the ambulance was carrying her towards her demise. Unfortunately, the authorities wouldn't stop trying to find her after she clawed her way out of the vehicle so she had to develop a new identity and a new form. Relocating to a new place was no easy task.
Gabrielle eagerly explored the massive mansion. The taste of her emotions became normal – it was back to nothing. That doe was having a great time – by all appearances, but to her, it wasn't anything special. She tried to act like something called a "friend" but it made no difference. The wonderful sensation didn't return. At least, it wasn't painful.
The rabbit took joy in all the material wonders that were in the house. For every game they played together, she had to teach all the rules. At times, it was a minor distraction to the unending hunger she always felt. Happy mortals were less likely to be a threat and that gave her solace.
"I've been wanting to ask: What can you do as a demon? How are you different?"
"Tell me your favorite animal."
"I think tigers are cool."
Lily shifted from a rabbit to a tiger. She gave a subtle roar to test her voice. It came out much louder than she intended. "I'm sorry if I scared you."
"Wow! You're amazing! You can turn into anything?"
The wonderful taste was present again. She figured there was a pattern but she didn't know what. If only she could replicate this.
"I think so," Lily replied.
"Where are your parents?"
"They're busy at work." It didn't make sense, why did the taste become unbearable? "Sorry, excuse me." She rushed to the bathroom and hurled.
Of course, that rabbit followed her – but the taste changed along the way. The rabbit waited outside. "If you need anything, just ask."
This was torment – moments of bliss followed by periods of extreme agony. What made it worse was that she didn't understand why.
"Can you come back later?" Lily was afraid of the physical toll this might take on her body. Never before had she failed to shift forms. It seemed as if she was flirting with death itself. Her thoughts drifted towards the past when her body burned. The only thing she could do back then was watch the world from a crystal globe. "I'm sorry."
Lily heard Gabrielle leave.
It took some time before she felt comfortable enough to leave the bathroom. She felt weak in addition to being hungry. No one could help her or understand her plight and it was hers to bear alone. A question remained on her mind: what should she do about Gabrielle? The bunny was a potential food source, but also a threat. And she let her walk away…