Chapter 2:

Eris

The Children of Eris


David found himself alone in complete darkness.Bookmark here

“Where…am I?” His voice echoed in the dark.Bookmark here

He sat up and touched his chest where the vase piece had pierced his heart, but he couldn’t feel the wound or the weapon that killed him.Bookmark here

He put two of his fingers to his wrist to check his pulse; he couldn’t feel it.Bookmark here

He put his hand over his heart; he couldn’t hear it beat.Bookmark here

David felt his breathing become more and more rapid.Bookmark here

He crawled backwards along the ground, screaming, and then leapt onto his feet.Bookmark here

He ran and ran through the endless night, but found nothing else.Bookmark here

Soon, he tripped over himself and fell onto his knees.Bookmark here

“Am I…dead?”Bookmark here

A soft laugh echoed through the darkness which made his skin crawl.Bookmark here

“Did you expect to find Heaven?” A gentle, yet eerie, voice called. “Did you expect to find Hell? Purgatory? Nothingness? Or, perhaps, eternal darkness?”Bookmark here

There, in the empty black void, stood a beautiful woman with long silver hair and red eyes; her sclera were as empty and dark as the void around them.Bookmark here

David felt as if he would be sucked into them if he stared into them for too long. Bookmark here

She wore a gorgeous flowing black dress which flowed down to just above her knees and she had tall heels on her feet. In her hair rested a small, black flower and she had charcoal wings on her back folded behind her.Bookmark here

David felt his entire body shake under her gaze. Bookmark here

“Who…are…you? Where…are we?”Bookmark here

The woman smiled and walked slowly towards him. “I am Eris, the Goddess of Chaos and Strife, and you, David Athelward, are dead. You died in your mother’s arms mere moments ago and, when you did, I took your soul and brought you here.”Bookmark here

“W-Why did you bring me here?”Bookmark here

“Because I want you to become my Demon Emperor that invades and conquers another world.”Bookmark here

“…What?”Bookmark here

“It’s not that difficult to understand. You will be reborn into another world, one that could only exist in your world’s fiction, and you will conquer it as the Demon Emperor, plunging it into darkness.”Bookmark here

David felt a deathly-chill slither through his body.Bookmark here

Even though what she was saying was preposterous, David didn’t think for a second that she was joking. Bookmark here

“…What? Why? What the hell?”Bookmark here

Eris’s smile grew ever so slightly.Bookmark here

“Why the hell would I do that?!” David stood back up. “What makes you think that I’d do something as messed up as that?!”Bookmark here

“Because.” She slowly raised her hand towards him. “Your life is mine.”Bookmark here

She curled up her fingers ever so slightly and David felt an immense stabbing pain in his heart, in the exact spot where he’d been stabbed.Bookmark here

He howled madly, collapsing onto his knees, gripping his chest tightly.Bookmark here

The pain spread throughout his body like a fire.Bookmark here

Tears poured from his eyes as the pain became more and more unbearable with every passing moment.Bookmark here

Eris uncurled her fingers and the pain vanished.Bookmark here

Timidly, he looked up at the Goddess who was still smiling at him; it made him feel like a great weight was being pushed onto his very soul.Bookmark here

“See?”Bookmark here

David caught his breath, wiped his remaining tears, and slowly got back up onto his feet. He put on a stern expression and met her gaze directly.Bookmark here

The void in her eyes terrified him, but he tried to endure it.Bookmark here

“…Yeah, you can torture me or worse, but that doesn’t mean I have to do what you want.”Bookmark here

He had tried to sound strong, but his voice had shaken with every word.Bookmark here

“Oh?”Bookmark here

“Even if you threaten me like that, that doesn’t mean I have to do what you want. If…If it’s a choice between my life and the tens of thousands in that world, then I’d rather die and save them.”Bookmark here

“Aren’t you scared of dying?”Bookmark here

“…No.”Bookmark here

“Liar.”Bookmark here

Suddenly, Eris was right in front of David’s face.Bookmark here

“I can see how much you shake.”Bookmark here

“I’m-!”Bookmark here

“And.” She appeared behind him and nuzzled her nose against his neck, taking a deep breath. “Your scent gives you away.”Bookmark here

David screamed and ran a few feet from her, making Eris giggle.Bookmark here

“Everyone, no matter who they are or what they’re dying for, is scared of death. People say that they’d give their life to save other people but, when it comes down to that fateful moment, so many of them would choose to save themselves.”Bookmark here

“Still…If I disappeared or died knowing I’d saved them, then…I could do it.”Bookmark here

Eris let out a low purr. “Even when you don’t know those people? Even though you have no reason to care about them? Even though none of them would know that you’d have sacrificed yourself for them? Is there any meaning in dying for people when no one knows about it?”Bookmark here

What the hell is she saying?Bookmark here

“Let’s say, for a moment, that you vanished right here and now and ‘saved’ them, they wouldn’t know about it and, even if they did, why would they care? Who are you to them but some stranger who laid down their life for them? What’s the point in losing your life if no one knows, or cares, that you did?”Bookmark here

David wanted to argue with her, but, in some part of his mind, he thought she was right.Bookmark here

The only two people in existence that would know about his sacrifice would be him and Eris. Bookmark here

Hailey, Kara, his parents and everyone else he loved thought that he was dead already. They might have thought his death was a noble one, giving his life to protect the other people in his house, but Eris wouldn’t think highly of him if he gave his life for another world. Bookmark here

When he realised the dark path his mind was travelling down, David shook his head furiously from side to side.Bookmark here

“Dying as an unknown hero sounds much better than being remembered as a cruel invader! Anyone would think the-!”Bookmark here

A dreadful thought surfaced in his mind.Bookmark here

“Oh, what’s wrong?” Eris taunted.Bookmark here

“…Am I the only one you have to send?”Bookmark here

The Goddess slowly shook her head from side to side.Bookmark here

“I have countless others I could send instead of you.”Bookmark here

“H-how many?”Bookmark here

Eris just giggled softly in response.Bookmark here

David swallowed hard and looked away from her. “Then, someone else could-”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t get any stupid ideas about refusing me and letting someone else do this,” Eris warned him with a slight scowl on her face. “If you dared to refuse my offer for a boring reason like that, I’d keep you in agonising pain for all eternity.”Bookmark here

David shrieked; he still vividly remembered the pain he felt earlier.Bookmark here

“…Couldn’t every single person you’d taken refuse your offer too?”Bookmark here

“Perhaps, but even if a hundred refused, I’d take another hundred and give them the same offer. I would repeat that process thousands of times if I must, for I know that at least one of them would accept. Though, that won’t be necessary.”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Because I know you won’t refuse.”Bookmark here

Eris held her arm out to her side; a swirl of liquid emerged from her palm and slowly spread out in the darkness beside them. It climbed up and transformed into figures and objects. The liquid creations moved into position and, once they had drawn their picture, it dropped onto the ground, leaving the image it’d drawn behind.Bookmark here

It was an image that made all the blood drain from David’s face.Bookmark here

It was of his house, of his family, of his best friend Hailey and of his corpse.Bookmark here

Hailey was crying on the sofa with a bloodied handprint on her face, Kara was speaking with the police and his mother was clutching David’s body tightly. She was crying her eyes out and refusing to let go of his body, even after several requests from the paramedics and police.Bookmark here

His father burst into the house, begging for it to be a lie but, when he saw David’s corpse, he dropped to his knees and roared. A police officer went to check on him before David’s father desperately clutched the man’s vest, sobbing into the officer’s chest.Bookmark here

“W-what is this?”Bookmark here

“Tell me, David Athelward, how does it feel to be able to look down on your own body like this? Few other human beings in history get a chance to experience this, so I’m most curious as to what you’re feeling right now.”Bookmark here

“W-why?”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

His mother finally let go of his body and hugged his sister.Bookmark here

This can’t be real.Bookmark here

David’s mind froze.Bookmark here

The last few minutes had been too much for him to take and, after seeing the scene after his death, his mind couldn’t handle it anymore.Bookmark here

He was dead.Bookmark here

He was standing beside a Goddess, watching his family mourn for him.Bookmark here

His soul was brought here by Eris and now he was being told to invade another world.Bookmark here

David laughed hollowly.Bookmark here

His heart shattered.Bookmark here

He couldn’t comprehend it.Bookmark here

No matter how much he burnt the sight into his mind, he couldn’t understand it.Bookmark here

“I could kill your entire family this instant, if I wanted to.”Bookmark here

“…What?”Bookmark here

Eris held back her growing smirk and repeated herself. “If I wanted to, I could kill your entire family this instant.”Bookmark here

Something snapped inside David.Bookmark here

All of the disgusting, confusing thoughts he’d felt since he had met Eris exploded all at once.Bookmark here

“That can’t be true.”Bookmark here

“Hmm?”Bookmark here

“I said, there’s no way you could do something like that! If you could, why didn’t you just kill me one day rather than wait for me to die to a burglar? Especially if I’d make such a great ‘Demon Emperor’. Don’t fuck with me! Surely even Gods like you must have things you can and can’t do!”Bookmark here

Despite David’s bold outburst, Eris didn’t say a thing.Bookmark here

The Goddess’s smile was gone.Bookmark here

That was enough to make him regret everything he’d just said.Bookmark here

Slowly, Eris lifted her arm towards the scene and twisted her wrist ever so slightly, curling up her fingers a little, as if she was grasping onto something gently.Bookmark here

Kara coughed and spluttered.Bookmark here

“Miss? What’s wrong?”Bookmark here

She tried to answer the police officer, but nothing came out of her throat.Bookmark here

Confused, Kara let go of her mother and held her own throat, struggle to catch her breath. Bookmark here

She began choking and desperately grasped for air.Bookmark here

Kara was suffocating.Bookmark here

“Kara! Kara!” Hailey rushed to her side.Bookmark here

“Paramedic!”Bookmark here

All it took was a light grip from Eris.Bookmark here

“…Stop it.”Bookmark here

Eris looked at him with cold eyes.Bookmark here

“Let her go. Eris, let-” David could see Kara’s skin turning blue. “Eris, let her go!”Bookmark here

The Goddess lazily turned back to Kara, then tightened her vice-like grip.Bookmark here

Kara threw herself onto her back, rolling around, desperate for even the tiniest breath of air as she felt her life fading away.Bookmark here

No one in the room knew what was happening to her and, despite their best efforts, they couldn’t do anything to help her.Bookmark here

Medically speaking, there was nothing wrong with Kara.Bookmark here

She was being choked by a Goddess.Bookmark here

“Let her go, Eris!” Eris didn’t react. “Stop hurting my sister, Eris!” Still, no reaction. “Let Kara go!”Bookmark here

Eris glanced over her shoulder for a fraction of a second before turning back to Kara, tightening her grip once more around his sister’s neck.Bookmark here

David couldn’t control himself any longer.Bookmark here

He stormed over to the Goddess, grabbed her roughly by her dress and viciously pulled on it; he tried to drag her towards him, but she didn’t budge even a little.Bookmark here

“Let. Her. Go. Now!”Bookmark here

He shoved his face right before hers.Bookmark here

The two stared into one another’s eyes for a few, long seconds, accompanied by the sounds of panic and Kara choking beside them.Bookmark here

Eris’s lips cracked into a small smile; her eyes gleamed.Bookmark here

David had never been so terrified before in his entire life.Bookmark here

Every fibre of his body told him to let her go and run as far from her as possible.Bookmark here

He hadn’t even realised that he’d let go of her and stumbled a few steps away from her.Bookmark here

Eris looked back at Kara once more; the girl’s entire body had turned blue and tears kept pouring from her eyes.Bookmark here

If she didn’t release her soon, Kara would die.Bookmark here

Finally, the Goddess released her.Bookmark here

The girl immediately coughed and spluttered, her lungs were desperate to take in as much air as possible, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.Bookmark here

“Kara, are you okay?!” Her mother asked as the paramedics inspected her. Kara could only nod weakly in response. “Thank God, Kara…I-I don’t know…what I’d do…if I’d lost you, too.”Bookmark here

Then, the vision turned into a black mist and evaporated into thin air. Bookmark here

“I am a God and I do as I please. You would do well to remember that.” Her tone was extremely cold. “With a simple snap of my fingers, I could kill every last person in that room, drag their souls here and torture them before your very eyes, and no one would stop me.”Bookmark here

David felt his chest tighten.Bookmark here

His outburst, his defiance to Eris, had almost cost his sister’s life.Bookmark here

I don’t want to believe what she’s saying.Bookmark here

I don’t want to do what she wants.Bookmark here

I…I don’t want to sacrifice God knows how many lives for my family.Bookmark here

If they ever knew, they’d hate me.Bookmark here

I can’t sacrifice myself-them, even if it’s to save an entire world.Bookmark here

I can’t. Bookmark here

If I don’t do it, she’d just keep doing this until someone else did it. She might even kill my family if I did refuse, make me vanish and continue her search for her Demon Emperor.Bookmark here

Yeah…that’s right.Bookmark here

If I don’t do it, someone else will eventually.Bookmark here

…I can’t let that happen.Bookmark here

Right, that’s why I’m doing this…to save other people…by condemning another world.Bookmark here

But...Eris was right. Why should I care about those people?Bookmark here

I don’t have any reason to, it’s not like I know them, so why should I have to die for them?Bookmark here

Why should my family?Bookmark here

Would anyone in my position think any differently?Bookmark here

They wouldn’t…right?Bookmark here

I’m not doing the wrong thing…I’m not.Bookmark here

This is for them…to protect them.Bookmark here

I’m not doing anything wrong.Bookmark here

I’m not.Bookmark here

…I’m not.Bookmark here

David took one final deep breath before slowly saying, with a trembling voice, “…I’ll…do it.”Bookmark here

Eris titled her head and shot him a sly smile. “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”Bookmark here

David ground his teeth together; his hands clenched into fists. “I’ll…become your Demon Emperor.”Bookmark here

“I knew you would.”Bookmark here

“…I’m doing this to keep my family safe…and to stop someone else from having to do this.”Bookmark here

“I’m sure you are.”Bookmark here

“Eris, can I ask you one final thing?”Bookmark here

Eris’s expression became blank and she nodded.Bookmark here

“Why…me? Why did you choose me?”Bookmark here

Eris’s smile returned, wider than before. “Because.” She flew right in front of him, grabbed his cheeks and forced him to look into her eyes. “I think it’ll be interesting to see you break.”Bookmark here

All of the blood inside David’s body froze as a fresh wave of dread threatened to drown him in despair.Bookmark here

“Why? Did you think you were chosen because you were special? You weren’t. All I needed was someone who’s family I could use against them and that I thought would be willing to do what I wanted them to, and you fit the bill perfectly.”Bookmark here

“Willing to do?” David yelled, tears building in his eyes. “I’m not doing this because I wanted to! I’m doing this protect my family!” Bookmark here

Eris let go of him “So you say.”Bookmark here

“What’s that supposed-?”Bookmark here

“Question time is over.” Eris shot him a harsh stare which made David go silent. “Now.” Her smile returned. “It wouldn’t be fair to send you to that world without giving you a chance of surviving for more than a year, would it?”Bookmark here

Black hands made of mist appeared from the void at David’s feet, snatching and holding his limbs apart. Bookmark here

David tried to break free, but the hands were too strong and firmly held him in place.Bookmark here

“What are you doing?!” Bookmark here

“What, you ask.” She pushed out her palm towards him. Black liquid flowed from it onto the void and the ground rippled like a lake, echoing in the endless darkness. “I’m giving you power.”Bookmark here

The ground where the liquid had fallen slid towards David like a snake; it curled around his legs and slowly crawled up his body, encasing the entirety of his legs in seconds.Bookmark here

“What-?!”Bookmark here

The liquid snake shot up and poured itself down his throat. Bookmark here

It tasted vile and its smell was just as potent and putrid. Bookmark here

The snake then enveloped his arms, his chest and then finally his head, all whilst David continued to struggle and fight it.Bookmark here

“No Demon Emperor is truly complete without great power at their fingertips.”Bookmark here

She flexed her hand and more black mud poured over David, seeping into his skin through every hole it could find.Bookmark here

It went into his mouth.Bookmark here

It went into his nostrils and ears.Bookmark here

It went into his eye sockets and every pour it could find.Bookmark here

It burnt David’s throat and filled his lungs with tar and dirt.Bookmark here

He could feel his body breaking and altering.Bookmark here

The mud was remaking him.Bookmark here

It stripped him down and then crafted him into something new.Bookmark here

After what felt like an eternity, the liquid finished soaking into his body and the pain dissipated with it.Bookmark here

The hands that bound him released him, dropping him roughly to the floor.Bookmark here

David struggled to catch his breath as he wept.Bookmark here

He almost vomited when he realised he could still taste the mud in his mouth.Bookmark here

“What was…that?” He asked, coughing madly.Bookmark here

“Like I said, I gave you power.” Eris lowered herself onto the ground and met his eye level. “I needed to alter you at a genetic level to make sure you could handle the physical enhancements, and other changes, I gifted to you.”Bookmark here

David looked down at his arms and flexed his fingers; nothing felt different. Bookmark here

He looked down and patted his body but it felt exactly the same.Bookmark here

“You don’t realise it yet, but you are much stronger and faster than any normal human. I also gave you the ability to use powerful magic. As for how you use it.” She giggled. “That’s up to you.”Bookmark here

“So…what happens…now?”Bookmark here

“I’ll send you into your new world in a moment and you will begin your task of becoming the Demon Emperor. Now, there are some rules that you have to follow to complete your task, so I shall explain those now.”Bookmark here

Rules?Bookmark here

“First: if you are killed within the first year of your new life in this world, I will kill your entire family and make you, and them, suffer a never-ending, agonising death. Second: after your first year in this new world, regardless of how well you’ve established yourself as the Demon Emperor, I will summon other people that I’ve caught as Heroes who will have the sole purpose of defeating you.Bookmark here

“If they manage to do so within your second year, I will kill your entire family and make them suffer alongside you in agony. Bookmark here

“Third, when you are reborn into the new world, I will let you choose three powerful demons to serve you. All of them will be very powerful and completely loyal to you, and you alone. You will have other chances to summon more to your side, but I won’t tell you when and where that will happen.Bookmark here

“However, for every one hundred days you survive in this new world, I will bestow to you a gift. I would hate it if you died too soon, after all.”Bookmark here

“Wait…” David finally caught his breath and laughed bitterly. “Isn’t this a bit too much to ask? I’ve only got a year and you’re sending Heroes after me? How am I meant to establish an empire, and prepare for the summoned Heroes, in just a year?Bookmark here

“Empire’s take years, decades even, to make and-”Bookmark here

“That’s not my problem.”Bookmark here

“What-?”Bookmark here

“I’ve told you what you have to do. It’s up to you to do it and it’s on your head alone should you fail.”Bookmark here

“But it’s impossible to-”Bookmark here

“Is it?” She asked with a mockingly sweet smile. “Once I’ve sent you over to that new world, you can do whatever you want, as long as you obey my rules and act accordingly to your post as the Demon Emperor. I will be right here, watching and enjoying the show. It wouldn’t be any fun if I knew what you were going to do, or if I told you everything to do. However.” Her expression turned deadly. “If you do anything boring or try to deceive me, I won’t show you any mercy and I will kill one of your family members.”Bookmark here

David shuddered when he remembered what had happened to Kara.Bookmark here

“Any other questions?” David shook his head. “Excellent. Then, please do your best to, Demon Emperor David.”Bookmark here

An invisible power grab David from behind, pulling him high into the sky quickly and into the void. Bookmark here

He was dragged into a blinding, white light and then everything went pitch black.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Once David was gone, Eris beamed and laughed.Bookmark here

“That was so much easier than I thought it’d be,” she cried out, lifting herself off the ground, her wings flapping happily. Bookmark here

She had high hopes for David and knew that he could break, but she hadn’t expected him to cave into her so easily.Bookmark here

All it took to break him were a few simple arguments, a little bit of pain and a few threats.Bookmark here

’The right thing to do?’” She snickered as she remembered David’s thoughts. Bookmark here

Eris knew from the beginning what buttons to press to manipulate, and corrupt, him, and she had plenty of dirty tricks left she could’ve used to persuade him it if had been necessary.Bookmark here

In fact, Eris didn’t even need to do everything she had to David.Bookmark here

It had just been more entertaining for her and made it easier to break him. Bookmark here

She didn’t need to drown David in that mud and forcefully remake his body like that; Eris could have made it painless for him, but she wanted him to be angry, bitter and scared.Bookmark here

Humans did things that they never imagined themselves ever doing once they were emotionally compromised and, in order to break David’s shell, she needed him to be in that state of mind.Bookmark here

Eris’s usual, cruel smile returned to her lips as she let out a sigh of relief.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“This has been a great day. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next, David Athelward.”Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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