Chapter 13:

Next Steps (Part 1)

The Children of Eris

The young woman from the dungeon opened her eyes and flinched at the bright light coming in through the window. She shut her eyes and turned away from it, unable to bare seeing the sunlight again after so long in darkness.Bookmark here

She didn’t know where exactly in the castle she was, nor whom it was that rescued her, but she knew that the bed was so soft it made her uncomfortable and that her wounds ached less than they usually did.Bookmark here

The woman lifted her head up a little and opened her eyes slightly, gazing down at her wounds that were now wrapped up in white bandages, though they had already become dyed red and yellow. Bookmark here

She was also wearing a thin silk dress and her body smelt a little bit like lavender.Bookmark here

Before she could figure out what was going on, the blonde maid who she had always seen deliver her food and drink entered with three others.Bookmark here

“Ah, you’re awake,” the blonde maid said cheerfully. “How are you feeling?”Bookmark here

The woman tried to look the maid in the eyes, but found that it was difficult to even move her head, let alone sit upright. Bookmark here

Even though she was no longer chained down, she felt just as paralysed.Bookmark here

“I hope you were able to get a good night’s rest,” the maid continued, taking the bed covers off the woman. “I know that you’re probably still in shock after everything that’s happened to you, and I promise we’ll explain everything to you, but we need to properly bathe you and treat your injuries.”Bookmark here

Without waiting for the woman’s response, the three maids picked her up carefully, undressed her and sat her in a warm bubble bath that smelt of roses and soothed her aching body. Bookmark here

The maids began scrubbing her body from head to toe, washing and treating her hair, taking off her bandages, cleaning the wounds and applying medicines, before applying new bandages.Bookmark here

All the while, the blonde maid, who introduced herself as Eva, explained what had happened in the castle during the night and what happened to their old masters.Bookmark here

“The new master asked us to look after you and make sure that you were okay,” Eva said. “The new master said he’d make sure you lived a happy life from now on.”Bookmark here

Overwhelmed, the woman curled into a ball and her body began to shake. Bookmark here

How many years had it been since she had last felt anything but pain?Bookmark here

The day she had long since lost hope in ever coming had finally come.Bookmark here

Her nightmare was over.Bookmark here

Eva smiled, gently stroked her back and said, “Everything’s going to be okay now, I promise.”Bookmark here

The woman stayed like that for a few minutes before someone knocked at the door.Bookmark here

“How’s she doing?” Rebecca asked; Mania was beside her.Bookmark here

The maids, panicked, stood and bowed to them.Bookmark here

“Good morning, Lady Mania, Lady Rebecca,” Eva said. “She seems to be in quite an emotional state at the moment and, after everything that’s happened, I think it would be best if we treated her very gently for the time being.”Bookmark here

“I understand.” Rebecca grimaced. “I can’t even begin to imagine what those monsters did to her. However, Eva, I hope that you and the others can support her so that she can one day be happy.”Bookmark here

Eva smiled brightly. “Of course, my lady!”Bookmark here

Mania, however, seemed somewhat dissatisfied.Bookmark here

“Is that actually what she wants?” She asked.Bookmark here

“My lady?” Eva whispered.Bookmark here

“Has anyone actually asked the woman what she wants to do next, or did you all just assume that?”Bookmark here

“I-”Bookmark here

“So, you didn’t then?”Bookmark here

Eva lowered her head. “Forgive me, my lady. I had just assumed-”Bookmark here

“Quiet.” Bookmark here

Everyone went dead silent.Bookmark here

“…Lady Mania, it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine, is it?” Rebecca asked. “Please tell me you aren’t thinking of forcing her to work in the castle?”Bookmark here

“You don’t get it, do you, little one?” Mania stepped towards the bathtub and crouched beside it, placing herself beside the woman’s head.Bookmark here

“Tell me, what is it that you desire?” Mania whispered into the woman’s ear. “Whatever you wish for, I will grant it.”Bookmark here

The woman lifted her head from her knees and slowly turned to face Mania. Mania smiled cheerfully and whispered, “What is it you desire?”Bookmark here

The woman opened her mouth and leant towards Mania, steadying herself as she did. She took several long breaths, licked her dry lips, but her gaze broke and she turned her eyes down to the bottom of the tub.Bookmark here

After a few moments of silence, the woman, in the loudest voice she could muster, asked, “…Can…I…ask for…a…favour?”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

A week passed by at Castle Kelsey without any issues as David and his forces made the castle their own.Bookmark here

Despite David’s concerns, the servants resumed their normal work around the castle though some were happier than others about their new masters. Some smiled and greeted David and his generals politely; others, out of fear, held their heads low as their bodies shook. Bookmark here

However, even if they were scared of them, the servants didn’t stop performing their duties. Based on what Eva had told him, David and his people were treating them much kinder than the Kelseys and their guards had been.Bookmark here

Though, that’s not much of a compliment, David had thought when she told him. Bookmark here

In the past week, David’s military power had expanded ever so slightly. Primarily, his army consisted of skeletons armed with the Kelsey’s equipment but most were raised without corpses by Mania, Abaddon had summoned a few more Machai from his portals and Mimir had added another Raven to their ranks.Bookmark here

At its current size, it would take almost all of David’s army to defend the castle. Bookmark here

The only soldiers that weren’t actively defending or working at the castle were a few of Mimir’s Ravens who were exploring and patrolling all of the land five miles from the castle. They were looking for patrols, travellers, merchants or anyone else that could possibly pass by Castle Kelsey and expose their operations. Bookmark here

As for his generals, Mimir was assisting his Ravens and gathering intelligence on the country they’d found themselves in from Rebecca, Eva, the staff and the books in the castle’s library. Mania was looking after the servants and educating them on how to conduct themselves as servants of the Demon Emperor. Abaddon was put in charge of training the Machai and organising David’s small army.Bookmark here

During the week, David had also finally had the proper chance to fully test out his current abilities and strength. He had discovered that Eris had given him the knowledge to use Dark Magic, Necromancy and Conjuration Magic, as well as a teleportation spell that opened portals five metres wide and across that could transport him to places that he’d visited before, an ability that all of his generals also possessed.Bookmark here

Further, David had organised a public demonstration of his and his generals abilities for the castle residents to see. First, he had each general show off their greatest combat abilities; then, David organised a small tournament between the four of them to see who was the strongest.Bookmark here

Unsurprisingly, even without a full understanding of his abilities, David handily defeated all of his generals in single combat. Bookmark here

I wonder if, with enough training, I could one day take down all three of the generals at once, David mused, satisfied with his strength and the statement that his mini tournament had communicated to the castle residents.Bookmark here

There’s no point in trying to resist us. Bookmark here

“Your majesty, the council has assembled,” a maid informed him.Bookmark here

“Excellent. Lead on,” David commanded.Bookmark here

As the maid led David from his bedroom to the war room, all of the servants, Machai and skeletons they passed bowed to him. Bookmark here

While it made David uncomfortable to be treated in such a manner, it also made him a bit happy to know that everyone in Castle Kelsey was subservient to him.Bookmark here

If they fear me, then they’ll serve me to the best of their abilities and, as long as they don’t fail or mess anything up, I won’t have to punish them, David thought. There’s no way Eris’s definition of what a Demon Emperor is doesn’t include cruelty, so I have to make sure that no one messes up my plans. If they’re that scared, then chances are that everyone will follow my orders without question.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.