Look. I'm not one to judge. I've seen demon hunters of all different shapes and sizes, from fragile women with huge magical aptitude to gruff men with battle axes in hand. Some people work better in pairs, others don't. This is why I always allow new party members the option to invite a partner.
The other day, we hired a new guy named Jake who was in his mid twenties. He didn't look too tough, but there was something about the way he carried himself that revealed his expertise. I offered him a position after watching him de-escalate a full-on bar brawl between roughly 10 ruffians without a single punch. I had to vouch for him a bit with the rest of the party, but they all agreed after some discussion. I knew he would show his worth on the first hunting trip.
The night before the first outing, I pulled Jake aside and told him what I tell every new party member, "Lookie here. Demon hunting is no joke. If you take one misstep, you could lose your life, or worse: cause another member of the party to die. It's physically and emotionally draining so if you feel the need to, please bring a +1 to help out."
I then paused for a moment and gave him a stern look before patting him on the back. I said, "Don't worry, you'll do great!"
The next morning, Jake arrived with a stunningly gorgeous woman. She was wearing a tight sundress and matching hat. Her hair was styled, her nails were painted, and she wore light sandals that clearly wouldn't hold up after a single day of travel -- let alone a week!
I nodded suspiciously to the woman before pulling Jake aside again and asking, "Hey Jake... Who is she?"
"Ah, you said I could bring a +1, so I brought my girlfriend Jackie. She's an angel."
I gave him another stern look, "I told you. This is a life and death situation. She could die."
"It will be fine." Jake waved the comment away. "I'm sure she can handle it!"
Again, I wasn't one to judge, but as I looked towards Jackie, she didn't seem to have any combat experience at all. Did she even know what a demon was? I looked Jake in the eyes, "Let me talk to her to make sure she knows what this is all about."
Jake again waved away the comment. "I told her. She was excited to join!"
"Right, but..." I trailed off, "I'm the party lead. I just need to make sure."
"Alright, I understand. I believe you'll be suitably impressed." Jake called his girlfriend over and left the two of us alone.
"Soooooo..." She began adjusting her hair a bit. "What's this about?" She didn't look me in the eyes, but instead looked around at the other party members. She did not understand the gravity of the situation at all.
I sighed a bit. "Look, Jackie. This is a demon-hunting trip. Do you know what demons are?"
"Yeah, of course!" She giggled a bit, "Big ol' half-human folks."
"Well, not all of them are big. In fact, even a small demon can kill someone like you."
Her eyes then narrowed a bit, "What do you mean someone like me?"
I sighed. "Look, just stay out of our way and try not to get hurt. It will be incredibly dangerous and you might die. This is also Jake's first mission and he needs to prove himself in the party."
She didn't say anything for a moment, but then asked "Are you trying to get me to leave?"
"No no. You can stay, but look: it will be dangerous and I don't want someone like you getting hurt."
"Mhmm" she said while crossing her arms beneath her chest, "I'm coming. I have been wanting a weekend away with Jake for months and this is my only opportunity. Don't worry, I'll stay out of your way. Is that all?"
"Yes. That will be all." I could feel a seed of anger begin to bubble up inside of me. This girl would get one of us killed, I knew it. Still. I wasn't one to judge. Maybe she could hold her own after all.
After a little more preparation, we were on our way. The goal was to find the greater demon in the heart of the TellTale Woods. The demon had been known to be incredibly hostile, capable of killing adventurers within seconds. We did not encounter too many problems throughout the journey, and although Jackie was constantly complaining about the heat or how the sweat made her make-up run, she did manage to keep up with the rest of the party.
The night before our final decent into the demon's lair, I gathered the party around the campfire. "Alright, we are almost there. Everyone knows the plan, we will start moving at dawn. Be sure to get some rest. Tomorrow will be incredibly challenging."
Everyone seemed to have mixed emotions. Some solemnly nodded, taking a swig of alcohol. Others cheered a bit, happy to finally finish their venture. Jackie seemed perplexed. She looked at me in the eye and said, "Actually, I don't think I've been told the plan."
"Don't worry Jackie. You can just stay here and hold down the camp."
She glared back, but didn't say anything. After a bit of discussion with the rest of the party, everyone except the scout went to sleep for the evening.
A few hours later, everyone was awoken to the sound of a lone trumpet piercing the forest's ambiance. It was an ambush. The greater demon knew where we were and caught us before we could catch it.
As I opened my tent flap, I saw it: a giant four-legged beast whose eyes glowed a dark, angry red. It was surrounded by a luminescent purple haze, an unmistakable sign of its huge magical energy. In the pit of my stomach, I knew we were doomed, but I held my bravado and yelled, "To arms!"
As we scrambled to get our weapons, the beast howled and charged. As it came closer, it appeared to be the size of 3 or 4 tents -- much larger than I thought. We were under-prepared and delirious from sleep. This was not a time for fighting, but fleeing.
"Strike that!" I called. "Run! Run as far as you can!"
And that was precisely what I did. I ran without looking back. I wasn't going to die here. In the distance, I heard Jake's voice. "Jackie!" He called, "Jackie, where are you?"
I knew she shouldn't have come. There is no way she could survive something like this. Now, Jake would die too trying to protect her.
"Jackie!" He called again, "It's time!"
Suddenly, there was a flash of light that seemed to illuminate the entire forest, causing me to stumble and fall. I looked back to where the demon had been, shielding my eyes from the sun. Wait. The sun?
I squinted my eyes and looked into the sky, where a beautiful woman with six angelic wings seemed to hover in mid-air. She held a bow in her arms, aimed at the demon below, who seemed to be frozen in fear. She began chanting in some unknown language before shooting a single arrow that created a beam of light and pierced the demon completely through.
It howled and cried, eventually evaporating into the air as the woman drifted to the forest floor. She then slowly began to dim, creating the silhouette of a young woman.
I rushed back to camp, only to see Jackie standing next to the fire with a bow in hand. Jake put a hand on my shoulder and said, "She's an angel, isn't she?"
"Yeah." I said back, "I'm sorry I didn't believe you at first."
From then on, I truly did stop judging people.
EDIT: Sorry! This one went long!