The Children of Eris
Sat on her balcony with a cold cup of tea, Princess Raeanne gazed off into the distance, towards the Federation, her lover’s homeland.
In the months following Duke Louis’s assassination, peace talks between the Royal Kingdom and the Federation had broken down entirely.
The Federation was out for blood and it wouldn’t accept anything else.
Despite Raeanne and her father’s pleas and protests that they would never have ordered Louis’s death, the Federation didn’t listen.
The Royal Kingdom’s reputation was stood upon the edge of a cliff because of the assassination, and the whole world saw them as villains.
While most people knew and truly believed that no one in the Kingdom would ever do something that cruel to such a happy couple, there were some who believed that a high ranking noble or even the king himself might have arranged the attack.
To the people and the Federation, it had to be someone with a lot of money who could even bribe fiercely loyal men into backstabbing their sworn masters, and that meant it had to be someone in a very powerful position.
The Federation was seen by their neighbours as being in the right and, as a result, their army of seventy thousand men had assembled.
In response, the Royal Kingdom’s sixty thousand men gathered at the border.
No one wanted to be the one to start the war, but all it would take was one more push, a push that Raeanne couldn’t do a thing about.
We’ll spend the rest of our lives building that bright future.
Louis had said those very words to her the night before their wedding and they never stopped repeating in her mind, never allowing her to rest.
“Louis, what am I meant to do now?” Raeanne whispered; she felt numb.
She wanted to try and make the world they both dreamt off, to bring true peace to the north-east but it felt like that hope had died with him. Raeanne’s power alone wasn’t enough, especially not with the Great Disaster brewing to their south and a war about to break out at the border.
Even though Teriscant, which was twenty miles from both the Kingdom and Federation’s shared border, had fallen, neither nation paid attention to it. All that mattered to them was their war.
“Maybe this was the will of the Gods and they have some grand design that will come about as a result of this suffering,” Princess Raeanne wondered, lifting her gaze to the heavens. “Perhaps, if I play my part and bide my time, I’ll be able to find a way to turn this situation around and build towards the future we wanted, Louis.”
She smiled half-bitterly as she steeled her resolve.
“I’m Fenrir, Wolf of the End,” Fenrir said. “The Dark Lord’s last general to be summoned before the Demon Empire is officially declared. Happy to be working with ya, Mania, Mímir.”
It was late at night and the Hierophant, which usually would’ve been filled with guests, was empty, allowing Mania, Mimir and Fenrir to get to know one another better.
Due to the high number of murders in the city, a strict night-time curfew had come into effect across Stonefall, meaning that the Hierophant was empty even during their peak business hours.
“I had always wanted to meet the great wolf who would one day swallow Lord Odin,” Mímir admitted, thinking back to how his head used to hang from Odin’s side. “Alas, I was unable to see that event with my own eyes.”
Fenrir laughed boisterously and put her fists on her hips. “Ah, it was a fight like no other, let me tell ya. Old Odin put up a good fight till his last but even he couldn’t fight against fate.”
“Does that mean your fate came to pass too?”
She nodded. “Killed by a different God after killing the big man. Heh. Still, if I had to die, I’m glad I went out fighting. I got the better end of the stick unlike you, Mímir.”
“Quite,” Mímir mumbled with a small frown.
“If you’re capable of killing a God when you’re that gigantic wolf, I imagine you’re just as strong as that like this,” Mania said. “Or are you weaker in this form?”
“It’s about the same, really. The main thing that changes is really just my size. Just as mobile, just as strong and just as durable either way. That said.” Fenrir pulled at the collar of her loose-fitting shirt. “I could do with some better clothes.”
“I’m sure Rebecca would be more than willing to accommodate you or, failing that, we could always go shopping for something in the city.”
“Why not just wait fifty days when the Demon Empire is born?” Mímir asked.
“You just don’t get it, do you, Mímir?” Mania huffed. “Some of us, unlike you, actually care about what we wear and want to look our best on a day-to-day basis.”
Mímir looked down at the armour, cloak and clothes he was wearing and said, “What’s wrong with what I wear?”
“Nothing, just that it’s rather boring to think that someone can wear the same clothes each and every single day and never get sick of it.”
“You never change either.”
Mania glowered at him. “I’ll have you know that I have changed what I wear to work here every single day.”
“Did you really not ever notice?!”
Mimir and Mania glared viciously at one another as Fenrir looked on bemused.
Then, someone knocked at the door before letting themselves in.
“Lord Mímir, Lady Mania, I have come to-” Sylvan started to say.
“Who’s this prat?” Fenrir rudely demanded.
Sylvan did a double take, but he quickly recovered, smiled, and bowed politely to her. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, servant of the Dark Lord. My name is Sylvan and I am your master’s loyal agent within the Sons of Tartarus.”
“So, he’s a rat?”
Mania laughed a little. “He’s an informant for us and has been for some time, haven’t you?”
“Yes, my lady,” Sylvan said. “I am here to make my fortnightly report, but it would appear that you are busy.”
“We just finished our conversation, actually,” Mímir said. “Do you have anything to report regarding Herakles and his plan to attack us?”
“I do, my lord. Two days ago, the last of Herakles’s elite squadrons returned to the city and he is now ready to make his move against you.”
“And you told us this two days after the fact because you wanted to die?” Fenrir growled.
“On the contrary, it’s because two days ago we had a meeting among the remaining heads and the four of us settled on the date.”
“When is it?” Mímir asked.
“Four days from now, my lord,” Sylvan answered. “Herakles intends to attack you with all eighty of his best men and himself in tow. The Sons no longer care about whether or not the attack becomes public and instead wish to see their reputation restored, no matter the cost.”
“Why four days from now?” Mania asked.
“Because Herakles is a very careful man. He wants to practice the assault a few times and he wants to be extra sure that the city watch or other groups don’t get involved in the fighting.”
If what Sylvan’s saying is true, then we’ll have plenty of time to prepare ourselves and be able to easily turn it around on them, Mímir thought.
“Then, we best begin our preparations.”
However, what Mimir and Sylvan didn’t discover during their investigations was that Herakles hadn’t trusted Sylvan for a long time, not since the auction house had been raided.
After the meeting when he took control of the Sons, Herakles had secretly bribed some beggars on the streets to stake out several streets that Sylvan and Yohan often travelled down. Herakles then used that information to determine if either, or both, of them had betrayed the Sons of Tartarus.
Then, when Sylvan went to make his fortnightly report to Mimir at the Hierophant, one of Herakles’s informants spotted him and reported it to Herakles. Herakles warned Carlson of the leak and he began making plans to attack the Hierophant to destroy both their enemies and the traitor.
Tonight, when Sylvan entered the Hierophant, forty of Herakles’s best killers, all as strong as B-ranked adventurers, surrounded the Hierophant and were ready to storm the building.
After their scouts reported that there were only four people inside, they struck.
Eight men burst through the front door, another eight came in through the back into the kitchen, and twelve more broke through the windows, leaving the rest on the perimeter.
The second they broke through the front entrance, one of the men charged at Sylvan and swung his sword at his neck.
The strike was so powerful that Sylvan’s head was cut clean off his body.
As Sylvan’s head flew through the air and the rest of the mercenaries lunged at the others, Mimir’s mind was confused, with a single question hanging in his head.
How did they get so close without us detecting them?