The Children of Eris
When the generals, Rebecca, Eva, Jorōgumo and the Ravens had gathered in the throne room, escorted by the Machai and undead, David was awaiting them on his throne, angrily tapping his fingers.
Mímir, Mania and the Ravens knelt before the steps to his throne, whereas Abaddon stood at attention far behind them by the doors, and Rebecca and Eva stood on either side of David.
Once the room was as silent as a crypt, David stopped tapping and spoke.
“Raven, answer me honestly,” David began, pointing at a random Raven. “What activities have you been conducting in Stonefall since my last council?”
“Per your majesty’s orders, we have been keeping covertly to the shadows, eliminating potential threats and threads that could expose our operation, and leaving their corpses in public areas to increase the terror in the city,” the Raven replied proudly.
“On whose orders?”
“I asked you a question.” The intensity of David’s stare grew. “On whose orders?”
“Y-yours, your majesty.”
“Mine?” The Raven nodded. “On my orders?”
David slowly rose from his throne, descended the steps and stood before the Raven. He crouched down beside it and whispered, “Did I order you to do that?”
“L-lord Mímir said-”
“What did he say?” David interrupted; the Raven’s body went completely stiff, as if they’d been paralysed. “Tell me the truth. What did Mímir say?”
In his peripheral vision, David saw Mimir’s hand curl into a fist.
He knew what was coming and he knew he was doomed.
“L-lord Mímir said that you had ordered us to perform such duties,” the Raven whispered. “He said that it was your majesty’s will to have us act as we have done.”
“I see.” David smiled, stood up and marched over to Mímir. Once he was there, he exhaled and said, “Clear the room.”
The Machai, the undead, Rebecca, Eva and the servants all cleared out, leaving behind the generals, Jorōgumo and the Ravens.
Once everyone else had left, David gestured for Mímir to stand.
Painfully, Mímir stood up right before the Dark Lord and didn’t dare meet his master’s gaze.
“Mímir, did I order you to do what you’ve done since I left for the Shadow Tombs?” David asked.
“…Not entirely, your majesty,” Mímir said.
“Not entirely? What didn’t I order you to do?”
“What the Raven described, your majesty.”
David nodded. “I ordered you to spread fear throughout the city, but did I ask you to brutalise adventurers and scum, hang their corpses on the streets and mark everywhere with ominous words that anyone could see were an attempt to hide something?”
“…You did not.”
“Right, I didn’t. Don’t move from that spot.”
David took a deep breath, drew back his fist, then punched Mímir in the stomach as hard as he could.
It was an attack so powerful that the whole room shook from the force of the impact.
Had it been anyone but one of the generals, they would’ve been blown to pieces.
Mímir however, per his master’s commands, didn’t move.
His face tightened and he bent forwards ever so slightly, but he didn’t cry out in agony.
The other generals, Jorōgumo and the Ravens were stunned speechless and kept their heads low.
“Why did you disobey me? Why didn’t you just do as you were told? Why-?”
“Your majesty, I-”
David punched Mímir harder than he had just hit him.
“Did I say you could speak?!” David roared. “If I didn’t order you to do it, then why did you do something so stupid and risky without asking your master first? Why did you bring more attention towards us and why is it that not a single one of my generals can do what I want them to do when I ask them to?!”
“Abaddon!” The demon general flinched. “You did well with the giants, but you have failed me multiple times since we’ve arrived in this world. Mania!” She squealed quietly and shut her eyes. “You brought this attention to my operation and Mímir had to cover up for you then.”
“Permission to speak, your majesty?” A Raven timidly asked.
“You best watch what you say, but, sure, why not?” David mused.
“…Lord Mímir killed the adventurers because Lady Mania had brought unnecessary attention upon herself that day by probing those adventurers for information. Lord Mímir had-”
The Raven shut up and lowered its head again.
“I don’t care why you did it,” David muttered. “It’s that you did it behind my back without asking me, without looking for any other possibility and worse!” David grabbed Mímir and forced him onto his knees, pushing them so hard into the ground that it began to crack. “You did so in my name. Mine!”
David grunted and threw Mímir onto the ground before storming off to his throne. “Why did I choose you three to serve me?” He slumped into his chair and rubbed his brow.
David’s next words caught in his throat; sweat formed along his back and he felt a disgusting, painful feeling in the pit of his stomach.
What was that?
I was just acting like the Demon Emperor, that’s all.
That has to be it. Satisfied with his own arguments, David collected himself and went to speak once more, but paused.
He thought back to the last question he had asked his generals.
‘Why did I pick you three to serve me?’
Ever since he had chosen his generals, David had always worried that he had made some sort of mistake and that he could’ve made better picks.
However, even if that was the case, he couldn’t let it bother him.
David looked at his generals again and saw just how dejected and terrified they were. He collected himself then continued his previous thought.
“It would seem choosing you three was a mistake. Jorōgumo.”
“What can this servant do for you, master?” Jorōgumo elegantly asked, curtseying.
“Are there members of your brood that are the size of normal spiders? Preferably, are there ones capable of listening to human conversations and relaying that information back to us?”
“There are, master. There aren’t many of them because I’ve always rushed their growth, as they’re more useful to me as grown adults.”
“You can manipulate their growth cycle?”
“To an extent, master,” Jorōgumo said. “If you wish for it, I could produce about a hundred such spiders for you within two weeks. However, as they are spiders, they will have natural predators and be targets for humans when they clean, master.”
“That’s fine. As long as they are able to provide us with good, reliable information, that is the main thing. I take it you have no issues with this?”
“Excellent. Begin producing said spiders in the castle basements. Tell Eva to help you with whatever it is you need to create your brood for now.”
“Shall I start now, master?”
“Then, if you will excuse me.”
She curtsied once more with a small smile and then took her leave.
“Abaddon, escort Mania and Mímir down to the dungeons for the afternoon,” David ordered. “See to it that they are whipped and beaten for thirty or so minutes, then leave them in there until the moon rises. After that.” David glowered at them. “I hope they’ll learn their lesson and that they’re to talk to me first before acting in my name. Or, at the very least, perhaps their ‘intuition’ will improve.”
If they had done this with my blessing, then that would be one thing, but they decided to do all this behind my back, David thought. They don’t seem to be as loyal or as devoted to me as Eris said they would be. No matter. I just have to make it crystal clear this time that I won’t forgive their next deception.
Initiative is a great thing but, untamed, it leads to idiocy.
“Ravens, next time you receive orders from Mímir, one of you reports to me first and checks that your orders are what I want them to be,” David continued as Abaddon led the other generals away. “One more thing!” Everyone stopped. “Come tomorrow, Mímir, six of your nine Ravens will be monitoring the empire’s efforts to retake Black Port. The two who are already stationed here will continue to operate as normal and you will only have one Raven to monitor the Hierophant in Stonefall now. That is all.”
Once the throne room was clear, David teleported away to the Ash Woods.
He dismissed his armour, slumped down against a tree and attempted to calm himself down before his anger grew.
Exhausted from his performance in the throne room, David felt like he might fall asleep until he felt it, the chilling air of the woman he hated most, and the silence that overcame the forest as the world turned grey.
When he opened his eyes, floating in mid-air as if she was lying on a bed was Eris, with a fake, sweet smile across her lips.
“I told you that a good way to relieve stress was taking it out on someone,” Eris purred.
David’s anger resurfaced and he almost yelled at her, but quickly stopped himself. He took a deep breath and put on a small smile.
“I was just slightly stressed out from acting as the Demon Emperor, that’s all,” David confidently said. “If I hadn’t done something like that, then the generals would have tried to pull a similar stunt later on down the line and that could get me killed. If that happened, my family would be dead.”
Eris’s smile grew a little as she floated closer to him. “Who are you trying to convince that that’s the truth?”
“It is the truth.”
Eris giggled, then whispered into his ear, “Liar.”
David jerked his head away as he swiped at her, but Eris stopped his hand mid-air with her powers without lifting a finger.
She released his hand and floated away from him, swinging her legs around as her body began to turn into feathers.
Once she was gone, the world’s colour and sound returned like normal, leaving David alone with his thoughts, and fears, once more.
“It’s the truth,” he whispered.
David didn’t return to his newly named Dread Keep until it was late into the night.
When he did, he teleported back to his bedroom only to find Mania prostrating herself at the front of his bed wearing lacy black lingerie.
David almost screamed when he saw her, but managed to stop himself before he did.
The Demon Emperor shouldn’t be scared or embarrassed by such this situation.
“…What are you doing here?” He grunted.
“…I have come to beg for forgiveness from the Dark Lord and ask that I have a chance to earn his forgiveness before the end of the day,” Mania said, keeping her head low. “As one of your chosen generals, I have failed you. As a succubus, I have failed you. All I can ask now is that you forgive me and allow me to prove that I deserve your forgiveness.”
“Do you though?” David asked, walking towards her. “Do you deserve my forgiveness after everything that you’ve done?”
Mania raised her head up a little; her eyes were wet with tears and there were countless cuts and bruises across her body.
It was a sight that made David want to vomit.
However, he swallowed it back down when he remembered that he had ordered it, and that he’d hoped she’d have learnt a valuable lesson from it.
I’m freaking out this much from a woman I ordered beaten after having an entire city destroyed, David thought, closing his eyes. What the hell is wrong with me?
“…Your majesty?” Mania weakly asked.
‘I told you that a good way to relieve stress was taking it out on someone.’
David opened his eyes and took off all his clothes, leaving him naked before Mania. He offered her his hand and pulled her onto her feet.
“Earn it,” David whispered. “Make me forget everything that happened today.”
Make me forget everything,
He let Mania gently guide him onto the bed.
Just do what you want so I can forget everything.
Mania climbed on top of David and leant down to kiss him; he didn’t stop her and embraced her as she began to make love to him.
As she did, David’s mind thought back to Kella and to Hailey, the woman he had befriended and the girl he had once loved.
‘You’re not a monster.’
‘Please! Don’t go! I-I didn’t get to-I didn’t say how I-‘
David closed his eyes and let his instincts take control of him.
…I’m sorry, Hailey.
I am a monster.