Chapter 46:

The Darkness That Lies Within

The Children of Eris

“I’m so sorry,” David kept repeating again and again, even though he knew that the adventurers were already dead.Bookmark here

Since the battle had started, David had been near the Shadow Tombs to watch how it played out, specifically how strong the adventurers that had come to the tombs were. Bookmark here

David knew that adventurers in games and stories could kill monsters and, in some cases, even Gods.Bookmark here

What David hadn’t expected, however, was how fanatically they had fought to win, how they were capable of destroying a Lich in a single strike and how a Lich could kill them with a single spell. Bookmark here

When the Ravens informed David of how exhausted the survivors were, he decided to finally do something he’d been putting off for months: killing another human being.Bookmark here

I know I’d have to kill someone eventually or else it could’ve caused problems for me down the line, David reasoned in his mind. If I didn’t kill someone now, I wouldn’t be able to do it later on when I needed to.Bookmark here

No matter how David tried to convince himself, he couldn’t stop the tears and sobs beneath his helm.Bookmark here

“Your majesty, we have finished off the rest of the adventurers,” one of the masked people told him. “What would you have us do?”Bookmark here

Focus, David…Focus.Bookmark here

David took a deep breath, then turned to face the three masked adventurers who had all knelt to him. “Burn your cloaks and masks, then go through my portal back to the castle at once. Jessica, Lucy, Cain, you performed excellently.”Bookmark here

“Thank you very much, your majesty!” The three former adventurers answered.Bookmark here

They did as ordered and soon David was left alone in the Shadow Tombs.Bookmark here

He let go of his sword and fell onto his hands and knees, weeping uncontrollably. He felt vomit climbing up his throat and he quickly dismissed his armour, then threw up to one side. As he sobbed, he vomited more and his cries echoed throughout the tombs.Bookmark here

“…Why…do I…have to do this?” David whispered, hitting his head against the ground. “No more. I don’t want to-”Bookmark here

A gentle, familiar giggle from behind him quickly made him shut up.Bookmark here

“Honestly, what would your generals think if the cruel tyrant who had ordered the deaths of tens of thousands of people would cry just because they personally killed a few people?” Eris gleefully asked. “Actually, isn’t it quite pathetic that you didn’t weep for the people of Black Port, but you did for these adventurers instead?” Eris laughed and sat beside David, smiling. “What a pathetic Demon Emperor you are.”Bookmark here

David glowered at her and his hand instinctively reached for his sword, but he stopped himself; he knew it would be of no use.Bookmark here

Eris’s smile grew a little when she saw his reaction.Bookmark here

“I’ve always heard mortals describe killing in such poetic ways,” she mused, lightly wrapping her arms around David’s neck from behind. She leant down on his back and placed her lips beside his ear. “Tell me, David Athelward, how did it feel? Did it make your heart race? Did you feel proud when you finally mustered the courage to kill someone with your own two hands? It’s a completely different feeling from killing goblins, right?”Bookmark here

David dug his hands into the rocks and ground his teeth together.Bookmark here

Keep it in! He told himself. Don’t give her the reaction she wants. Bookmark here

“Tell me, David, how do you really feel right now?” Eris whispered. “Didn’t it feel great having the lives of these people and the people of Black Port in your hands? Didn’t it give you a thrill like no other knowing that you had thousands of people’s fates in your hands? Tell me, David Athelward.”Bookmark here

“…Shut…up,” he mumbled, cursing himself for not being able to endure her taunting.Bookmark here

“Ah, I seem to have struck a nerve. A shame, really.” She released David and skipped away from him. “I thought that the gift I gave you would’ve made this easier for you.”Bookmark here

David froze. “Gift?” He repeated, slowly turning to face her. “What gift?”Bookmark here

Eris smirked at him and laughed. “If you want to know, then I suggest you start being a bit more honest with yourself.”Bookmark here

“Tell me.”Bookmark here

“Why should I?”Bookmark here

“Tell me!”Bookmark here

Eris laughed once more, her wings flapping happily behind her.Bookmark here

“What’s so funny?” David demanded, getting up onto his feet. “Tell me, Eris! What’s so funny about this?!”Bookmark here

“Everything,” Eris said gently. “Everything is, David Athelward. The way you quickly raise your voice in anger at me even though you know I could kill your family with a snap of my fingers. The way you deny your true feelings about everything you’ve done. The way you refuse to listen to that little voice inside your head that tells you how proud you should feel for gathering up the courage to kill humans with your own hands. And, more than that, the way that my gift has changed you.”Bookmark here

“…What gift?”Bookmark here

“Your blood and biology. When I was reconstructing you, I changed your body into a half-human, half-demon hybrid of sorts and the blood flowing through your veins is that of a demon’s, changing the way you think and act. It makes you capable of killing things without hesitating. It makes you quicker to anger. It makes you just how I love to see you.Bookmark here

“Desperate, angry, and trying your best to deny your true nature.”Bookmark here

“How the hell is that my true nature if that’s something you gave me as a gift, Eris?!” David roared, wiping his dried tears on his shirt sleeve. “If what you’re telling me is true, then-!”Bookmark here

“Then it makes it all the easier for you to accept your feelings, doesn’t it?” Eris purred, laughing a little. “It makes it easier for you to stand up to me and convince yourself that this isn’t the real you.”Bookmark here

“Y-yeah. So then why-?”Bookmark here

“David Athelward, do you really believe everything that I tell you? I believe that you’ve said that you don’t before, so then, pray tell, why were you so quick at accepting my answer this time as if it was the truth?”Bookmark here

David’s eyes widened and he took a step back, shivering from the chill left behind by Eris’s words. Bookmark here

S-she has to be telling the truth this time, right? She has to be!Bookmark here

“I-If you were telling the truth, then this would-”Bookmark here

“What? Magically make everything fall into place?” Eris asked. She took a step forward. “Make you feel a lot better?” She stepped forward again. “Make it so that you could convince yourself that you’re not a monster, even after everything you’ve done and are going to do?”Bookmark here

Eris’s smile was the largest David had ever seen it and, as she took one more step towards him, she pushed her face inches away from his.Bookmark here

“I’m the last person you should ever trust, David Athelward,” she said. David shrieked and Eris giggled softly again. “As a last gift for today, I’ll clean up the mess that you’ve left behind. Aren’t I such a generous Goddess? Always offering gifts to people I favour?”Bookmark here

David slithered away from her, grabbed his sword, opened a portal and ran back to his bedroom at the castle.Bookmark here

Once he was gone, Eris hummed gleefully as she erased David’s vomit, leaving the bodies of the adventurers untouched.Bookmark here

“I said that I’d help you clean up your mess, but didn’t say I’d help you cover it up,” she whispered.Bookmark here

Eris’s body turned into countless feathers and she disappeared into the darkness.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Following the victory at Black Port, news quickly spread throughout the empire of their victory and of the deaths of the brave adventurers at the Shadow Tombs.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.