The Children of Eris
Castle Kelsey was gone.
Now, it was the Demon Emperor’s bastion of evil.
The castle was swarming with hundreds of skeletons and Machai, the buildings were all being shaped into something befitting of the Demon Emperor and the human servants had fully submitted themselves to their new lives.
No outside forces had come to investigate them, nor had there been messengers, patrols or riders looking for Lord Kelsey.
The castle was well and truly secure, a fact that made Mimir a little bit proud when he returned from Stonefall with the information he’d found at the adventurer’s guild.
After all, it was his Ravens that were making large contributions to keeping Castle Kelsey safe from outside threats. They were always out scouting the surrounding lands and keeping an eye out for anyone who might draw too close to the castle and put the Demon Emperor’s operation at risk.
After receiving a report from one of his Ravens about the situation around the castle, Mímir had gone to find Abaddon to tell him about what he learnt of in Stonefall early that day.
“Giants?” Abaddon repeated.
Mímir nodded. “I found an extermination request from a town called North Pass near the Dragon Spine Mountains. From what the receptionist told me, the giants usually keep to themselves but have started raiding the nearby villages and some passing caravans, so they’ve requested help from several adventurer guild branches.
“The giants could potentially be a powerful asset that the Dark Lord could use to take control of Themis. I had intended to run this by his majesty, but it seems that he has not returned yet.”
“I’m guessing the reason you returned so soon after learning about the giants is because you want to deal with them quickly, right?”
“Indeed. However, you are currently the only general available to subjugate the giants at the minute, which is why I told you about it.”
Abaddon grinned and puffed out his chest. “I would love to handle it! I’ll start making preparations right away.”
Before Abaddon could confidently march off, Mímir grabbed his arm and held him in place.
“Shouldn’t you wait until his majesty gets back and check that he wants you to handle this first?” Mímir asked.
“I think the Dark Lord would be happier if we took the initiative while he’s busy with other duties,” Abaddon confidently said, breaking free of Mímir’s grip. “If I go and subjugate the giants and make them his, he’ll be pleased. If I have to wipe them out, then that’s one less enemy the Dark Lord has to worry about. And, even if I do kill them all, couldn’t the Dark Lord just revive them as undead giants instead?”
“You aren’t entirely wrong, but I think that the Dark Lord would rather have alive giants than dead ones.”
“A giant’s strength comes from its size and muscles. An undead giant will either be a foul, rotting zombie of some description which could infect the Machai or our workers, or it could just be the giant’s skeleton alone.”
“Wouldn’t that be pretty intimidating and strong anyway?”
Mímir struggled to keep his irritation in check.
It wasn’t that Abaddon was entirely wrong in his thinking, but it was very short-sighted, something that Mímir had come to expect of his colleagues.
It’s great that Abaddon is thinking more before acting, but I wish that he would properly address his eagerness to rush out without his majesty’s permission.
“Abaddon, you do remember why we are trying to hide in the shadows, don’t you?” Mímir coldly asked.
Abaddon lowered his gaze. “…Because we aren’t strong enough yet.”
“Correct. We are not strong enough to overthrow Themis and raise up the Demon Empire. If we were to create too much noise in one region of the world it could draw more attention to us than we already have with our previous failures.”
“I think you mean your previous failures.”
Mímir felt a vein pop on his forehead.
Why are Mania and Abaddon both so incompetent?
Even though it had originally been Mímir’s idea for the three generals to work together, it was proving quite taxing to do.
“Abaddon, you were the first to disappoint his majesty in the goblin hive, weren’t you?” Mímir asked, making Abaddon flinch. “And then again when we took control of Castle Kelsey.” He flinched again. “I might have made my fair share of mistakes and yes, Mania and I have both drawn more attention to us than his majesty wanted, but that is precisely why we must make sure not to do so again.
“If you go up to North Pass and end up killing all of the giants, there is no way that would go unnoticed, especially with this request from the adventurer’s guild. If all the giant raids suddenly stopped one day, that would raise questions and questions without answers draw curious people in.”
“Precisely, Mímir,” a booming voice said as a portal appeared beside them.
“Welcome back, your majesty!” Mímir and Abaddon quickly answered, dropping to one knee.
“Were you successful on your mission?” Mímir asked.
“…I was,” David replied, gesturing to them stand. “Within a few weeks, we will see the results that I desire. Where is Eva or one of the other servants?”
“I saw Eva about ten minutes ago cleaning the main hall,” Abaddon said. “Shall I escort-?”
“…There’s no need,” Lady Rebecca said softly. She stepped in front of David, curtsied and said, “If you will excuse me,” before going to find Eva.
“Did something happen, your-?” Mímir tried to ask but David cut him off.
“What exactly was it that you and Abaddon were discussing?”
Mímir quickly summarised the information to David about the giants, and that he thought that it would be worth investigating further.
“I see,” David mumbled, folding his arms. “Depending on how many there are and how strong they are, it would be worthwhile bringing them to our side. However.” David glared at Abaddon. “I don’t remember encouraging your more impulsive side, Abaddon.”
“F-forgive me, Dark Lord,” Abaddon said, lowering his head. “I just wanted to be of use to you and I thought you would be happy if I had brought the giants under our control.”
David was quiet for a few seconds before he exhaled and unfolded his arms. “Abaddon, I don’t know if Mímir has said this, but your idea itself is not a bad one, and your enthusiasm to prove yourself is admirable, if nothing else. However, right now, we are very close to being discovered, so much so that a single slip up could reveal our entire operation.
“With the Hierophant no doubt under the eyes of the Sons of Tartarus and perhaps even the city watch and adventurers after the series of murders, not to mention the absence of Anthony Kelsey from the slave auctions. One more thread that leads back to us will unravel our entire operation. However.” David smiled and patted Abaddon on the shoulder. “I will permit you to go and subjugate the giants on the condition that you get them to serve me, and that they will continue their lives as normal until I order them to do otherwise.”
“Thank you, Dark Lord!” Abaddon bellowed.
“However, your majesty, one point that I did not raise earlier as a potential issue is that Abaddon’s absence from the castle would leave a gap in the chain of command, would it not?” Mímir asked.
“I don’t plan on leaving for a while now that I’ve returned,” David said. “With the preparations underway at the tombs, I can assume those duties.”
Mimir seemed somewhat dissatisfied with David’s decision which prompted David to ask him about it.
“Unless there is something else that requires my attention.”
“It wasn’t just the request to subjugate the giants that I discovered at the guild,” Mímir replied. “I found an extermination request that was most peculiar and brought it with me.”
“Show me. Abaddon, finish up your duties for the day and make preparations to head to the Spine.”
“At once, your majesty!” Abaddon answered.
Once they were alone, David asked, “What else did you find?”
“This, your majesty.”
Mímir reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to David.
“A request to handle some Ash Wood Spiders in the Summer Lands near Themis’s Eye,” Mímir said. “According to the additional information I gathered at the guild, the people who submitted the request said that the spiders were the size of horses and that they were highly intelligent.”
Highly intelligent and horse sized?! David repeated in his mind, trying his best not to imagine such a terrifying creature.
While he wasn’t a massive arachnophobe, he couldn’t help but recoil a little in fear at the image of such monsters.
If we could get them to join us, we could use them as mounts if they’re trainable. If they’re smart enough that we could communicate on a higher level, then maybe we could gain a useful new ally.
“I take it that you want me to handle this then?” David asked.
Mímir nodded. “Normally, I would suggest that either myself or another general were to go in your place, but I believe that you would be best suited to handle this. Unfortunately, Mania and I are tied up with the Hierophant and the situation in Stonefall and Abaddon has gone to handle the giants on your majesty’s orders.
“While it would mean you would have to teleport to the castle every night, it is the most ideal way of handling this matter that I could come up with.”
“On the contrary, Mímir, you and I are of the same mind once again,” David said. “It is unfortunate that I will be leaving so soon after I’ve gotten back, but it is unavoidable. More than that, I wish to handle this matter myself.”
Based on prior experience, I don’t want to leave too many of these tasks in the hands of others, David thought. The more things that I have a firm grip on, the more control I will have over the way this whole thing unfolds. Right now, I only have true control over the way that the Shadow Tombs incident will play out.
My generals aren’t completely incompetent, but I trust myself far more than them right now.
“Shall I have a carriage and supplies prepared for you, your majesty?” Mímir asked.
David nodded. “Make sure that it’s ready for tomorrow morning. I plan on teleporting to a closer spot first and then continuing the journey from there. I’ll be borrowing a Raven again, assuming you have no pressing needs for them.”
“I do not, your majesty.”
“Good. Then, get things ready for me and head back to Stonefall once you’re done.” Just before Mímir bowed and left, David grabbed his shoulder and said, “I’ll be expecting a full report on everything that’s happened in Stonefall since my last warning. I hope that I won’t be disappointed by what I hear.”
For the briefest of moments, Mímir’s expression changed before he bowed and left.
…Something happened then, David groaned in his mind. I hope it’s nothing too bad this time.