How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord
The breeze carried the salty taste of the Divide River, even though it is almost a week's ride away even by mount. The smell was a source of luck for the people of the village that is called Criss by travelers and traders. Criss sat between the city of Pierce and one of the few bridges across the Divide River that was not ruled by monsters or other countries. This would usually lead to prosperity, traders and travelers coming and going and bringing in income for the villagers, but it was far from that.
Rath walked the road, a bag of tools at his hip. He looked at the buildings of Criss, looking for wear and tear where he could. Miss Korvi’s roof was looking a bit worn from a recent storm, he would have to get some wood to get that fixed up when he could. The center of town was a buzz of villagers talking the early day away before they got to their respective duties.
“Rath” Came a calming voice from the town well. A beautiful woman approached, carrying her bucket of water easily without spilling a drop.
“Hello Mirv,” Rath said with his wide smile. “How are you today?”
“Very well, just gathering water for today. Where are you off to today?” Mirv asked with her large beautiful smile.
“Barder’s place.” Rath said, raising his tool bag for her to see.
“Ah poor Barder.” Mirv said with a look of sadness.
“Nothing that can't be fixed, he's got his health and that's what matters.” Rath said reassuringly.
Mirv sighed, her long black hair falling forward into her face, to which she pushed back behind her ear. “Just wish it would stop already you know?”
“What can you do?” Rath began. “Not like his highness will help.”
“Sometimes it makes me wonder what's worse, them or monsters.” Mirv said, almost in a growl.
Rath looked around at the other people of the village, catching their looks of annoyance and anger.
“I assume this isn't just you that feels this way?” Rath asked, concern showing in his tone.
“Yeah, it's all everyone has been talking about for a while now.” Mirv said, her eyes becoming distant. “Last week it was Lyn’s cattle, the week before that was Yun’s horse. How long before it's not animals and good, how long till it's us?”
Rath gave the largest smile he could give. “Don't worry, that won't happen. Not as long as I'm here.”
“Big talk coming from Mr Fixer.” Mirv laughed. “But it makes me feel better. Though not sure everyone else would agree. I doubt you could handle one of them in a fight.”
Rath turned his attention towards the other people of the village. Turv was outside his bar trying to chop firewood. Turv seemed to struggle to lift the heavy tool with his old bones and let the weight of the axe do the chopping rather than using any force. This lead to the axe being stuck in the center of the log and Turv struggling to pull it free.
“I should get going.” Rath began to excuse himself. “Barder needs help and it seems Turv could use help.”
With a wave of farwell Mirv left for work, Rath moving to meet old Turv. The old man was clearly angry about his position and the pain he had to feel in his body couldn't have helped.
“Don't over do it old man.” Rath teased.
“Gotta get it done, got cooking to do.” Turv said, not turning to Rath. “Unless you don't want to eat today.”
“Ill gladly take a meal oldtimer.” Rath said, not stepping in as the axe dropped again, finally splitting the log. “Do you need that urgently?”
“Nah, but takes a while.” Turv said, placing the next log onto the chopping block.
“Well for you.” Rath continued. “How about after i'm done with Barder I come chop this wood for ya and you treat me to a nice juicy piece of meat.”
“The food or the women?” Turv said, turning to Rath and giving a big toothy smile.
“Please do not serve me a woman, I heard Lyn sold you a pig recently, why not some chops for chop?”
Turv looked to the sky, tapping his ring finger to his chin. “I can give ya one if you chop all this for me, but only one chop, i'll even be nice and throw in a free drink to wet your throat.”
“I'll take it, I'll also try to get Barder into this rickety bar of yours free of charge.” Rath said before turning to leave. “Don't overdo it, I need you in shape to serve me tonight, got it?”
“Yeah yeah.” Turv said, setting the axe aside and heading into his bar.
Barder’s farm was close to the town, as all the farms were in Criss. The closer to the center of town the faster people could react to monsters and other things attacking. The farmhouse was small, Barder, his wife, and two kids didn't take up lots of space, but their fields were huge. The fields alone provided enough crops for the village and turn a profit, assuming he could sell it.
“Rough night huh?” Rath said, approaching the older man.
Barder was hunched over a fence that was smashed apart. The cornfield that stood high had a long path of chopped clearing now. At the other end of the path another smashed fence sat sadly.
“Wasn't even fully grown yet.” Barder sighed, moving the broken wood aside. “It was edible but it had a few more days, and they just had to break the fence! I can take the loss of corn but the timber cost is frustrating.”
“Well Relud gave you a deal right?” Rath asked.
“Yeah, thanks for that again.” Barder said, lifting the wood for a new post.
Rath got closer to help hammer the post into the ground and took a look at the field again.
“Monsters.” Barder said, not looking up as he set the post in.
“No.” Rath said, slights of his anger showing. “Adventurers.”
The work with Barder had taken less time than Rath had planned, as such he was able to return to the town center to help Turv, dragging Barder with to get a drink to feel better. Turv’s bar was still empty as most of the day's work had not been finished, it would be several hours before this place was filled with drunks trying to pass another day.
“Turv gets this sad sack something to make him forget, or become a woman, whichever is cheaper.” Rath called out.
“What do you think I am?” Turv called out, pouring a drink from a wooden keg. “Some kinda mage? Go to Depths for that waste of gold.”
“You sure?” Rath laughed. “Heard that a few nights back, Relud had a drink that made him a dragon.”
“He thought he was!” Turv yelled out, placing the mug in front of Barder. “Man was twelve in! Couldn't get out of bed the next day, his woman came around giving me an earful over it.”
Barder took a deep drink and let out a deep breath. “He had twelve of these! Man has the fortitude of a dwarf!”
“I hear he is part dwarf.” Rath said in a whisper for the two to hear.
“How? Man is as big as those trees he takes down.” Turv said curiously.
“Well, it's not where we can see it, it's a secret he only shows to his wife.” Rath said with a wicked smile.
Turv started laughing instantly, Barder slower on the upkeep.
“Poor lad, I hear they got a remedy for that over the river.” Turv said with laughter.
“They say they have a cure for everything there, even sexuality!” Barder said with a laugh. “How do you cure that?”
“Turv’s got a cure for that too, its outside next to the fire wood.” Rath laughed.
“Eunuch's a craze over there?” Turv asked.
“No, like it removes your desire for any of it, I don't know just a rumor from a trader coming back from Depths, things are weird over there so it doesn't surprise me.”
Rath looked out the window, catching sight of Mirv coming back to the well to gather another bucket. He smiled at her, he could tell she was working hard as she did every day.
“So when ya going to get together?” Turv said, noticing his look.
“I have no idea what you're talking about.” Rath lied.
“Oh shut it” Barder said, his mug empty and being refilled. “The whole town knows of it! You think a woman like that is unwed because none of the other options are any good?”
“Well at this point they are.” Rath began. “Any that arent wed are too old or too young for her.”
“Irelevent!” Barder said aloud, taking the refilled mug up in hand. “That girl rejected three men! Even a trader who offered to show her the world! Why wouldn't she take that offer unless she was into some already?”
“Because that trader was a creepy old man who just wanted a play thing and everyone knew that upon seeing him.” Rath explained.
“Irelevent!” Barder said again. “Just take the hint ya fool.”
Rath sighed. “Barder, you're a real lightweight, you know that?”
“Irelevent!” Barder said before laying his head against the bar counter. “Don't miss your chance, and don't keep that beauty waiting longer than you have to.”
Rath turned to Turv for assistance. The old man placed a bony hand on his shoulder and gave him a supportive look. “Don't be an idjit, if I was in your shoes I’d.” Before he could finish both Rath and Barder had raised a hand to cover his mouth.
Rath turned back to look outside and could see a few people entering the center of town, mostly women who were gossiping while doing their shopping for dinner. Rath could recognize every one of the people that entered the square by name, except one.
“Oh lords.” Turv said as his eyes widened.
Barder raised his head and faced the window, fear taking over.
“Adventurer.” Rath said slowly.
The Adventurer was a tall man just about as old as Rath. The man had a one handed sword strapped to his hip, leather armor covering his body from neck bone to ankles. He looked around the town and settled his eyes on the woman near the well, Mirv.
“Shit” Rath said, getting to his feet and rushing for the door, knocking over the stool he sat on. Barder and Turv rushed to follow.
As the trio reached the door of the bar the man had reached Mirv, who attempted to back away from the man, fear consuming her. The man continued approaching her, determined to press forward.
“You look lovely, milady.” the adventurer said, his city accent clear for all to hear. The women that had entered the center all turned in horror as if just noticing the man, backing away from him towards any building. “Please, you should allow me a night with you.”
“I'm sorry.” Mirv said. “I'm married.” A clear lie, but one most women had told to an adventurer from time to time.
“I am sure that I am more fitting for a woman of your beauty than any farmer from this village.” The man said, stepping closer and closer, his steps larger than Mirv’s back pedal. “You should join me, I am going to Depths, I can show you a world of excitement, you can be at the side of the next big hero of the age!”
“I'm sorry but I have no interest, thank you for the offer.” Mirv said dismissively, trying to be as neutral as she can be.
The man was upon her now, Mirv turned to run but the Adventurer was faster, grabbing her by the wrist and spinning her around, him wrapping his free arm around her waist. “Come now, you should rethink this. At Least allow me a night of your company.” Mirv fought back against his grasp but to no avail, he may look thin but he was muscle, an Adventurer.
Barder and Turv hadn't even noticed Rath until he was upon the man. He had sprinted in the matter of a heart beat and reached the Adventurer. Rath raised a fist and tried to slam it into the man's side, only for it to be stopped. It felt as if Rath had hit a solid wall, his knuckles un hurt but his muscles ached. The Adventurer magic, the shield that protected them against threats, guarded against Rath’s attack.
Rath sent another strike at the man, only to feel the same invisible force stop him. The man looked on at Mirv as her eyes locked on Rath. the man turned to notice his attacker, and smiled. The Adventurer raised the hand that held Mirv’s wrist and held his palm to Rath’s face. Suddenly it felt as if a steel ball had slammed into Rath’s face, sending him flying back towards Turv’s door.
“Rath!” Mirv called out, resisting hard, using her now free hands to scratch and strike at the Adventurers face, only to face the same invisible wall.
The Adventurer looked around the rest of the center to notice no other action, just the angered look of Barder and Turv who wished to act but knew better. The Adventurer returned to face MIrv and smiled warmly.
“Do not be afraid, once you get to know me, you'll never want to leave.” the Adventurer said with what he must have thought was a charming smile.
Tears filled Mirv’s eyes. The town center felt like a dark cloud was hanging over it as the villagers looked on helplessly. The fear of the Adventurers, the ones that had freedom from the laws of the kingdom, and the power that made them untouchable, was a fear that was ingrained in them.
Mirv watched the man’s eyes light in excitement, even through the assault on his face. As she felt completely hopeless, she caught the glimpse of something moving sharply down on the Adventurer. Sparks shot out from behind the Adventurers head as Mirv caught sight of a long wooden handle, being held by Rath.
The adventurer spun around, tossing Mirv away. Mirv caught sight of what had caused the sparks, Turv’s woodcutting axe. A sound rang out, the sound of breaking glass, and Rath stumbled for a second, pulling back the axe. The adventurer reached for his sword, but before he could draw it, the axe was embedded in his face.
The Adventurer's body dropped lifelessly to the ground and Rath stood over him, the axe left and now lying in a pool of ever growing blood. He felt sick, his head spun with what he had just done. And then, it happened.
Red words appeared over Rath’s eyes, they read ‘Observation Unlocked’. It took a moment for Rath to process the words in his eyes, as he moved around they remained there. After a moment the words vanished but were quickly replaced. ‘Growth Unlocked’ appeared next then vanished, before a new line of words appeared ‘Shield Unlocked’. A tiny blue bar appeared towards the bottom left of his vision, just in the right spot for him not to be annoyed by it.
“Rath!” Mirv said, wrapping her arms around him. “Thank you, thank you.”
Rath didn't hold her back, the words distracting him as they finally vanished. Turv and Barder approached him sckepticly.
“You killed him.” Barder said, sobering up. “You killed the unkillable.”
“Oh lords.” Turv said, rubbing his forehead. “You did what you had to but, oh Ulith above.”
More of the village was rushing to the scene, someone having to alert them when Mirv was being attacked. A crowd grew around the four as shock and horror covered their faces.
“Rath killed an Adventurer?” a voice said, Rath too stunned to recognize it.
“He shattered the shield with an axe!”
Rath moved for Mirv to release him, which she did. He looked around at the village that watched him with mixed expressions.
“Screw em!” Rath yelled out. “Look! They can die! The people we thought were untouchable are dead! The people that raid us, that say they will protect us but do more damage than any monster! They can die!” Rath reached down and pulled forth the sword from the Adventurers belt, waving it high above him. “I say no more! No more Adventurers! Who is with me!”
Silence filled the village. Everyone unsure of what to say. It was Barder to speak first.
“Screw em!” Barder yelled out. “Destroying my fields and taking what they want! Good riddance!”
“Cattle thieves!” Lyn yelled out “Who needs em!”
“Stole my horse cause he had blisters!” Yun yelled out “Pathetic!”
More voices rang out, complaints and fears being expressed out for all to hear. It was Turv to speak that silenced everyone.
“And what do we do when they come?” Turv asked. “The kingdom won't do much but other adventurers will come. What happens when they do?”
“Ill kill them.” Rath said, his face clear and honest. “Leave it to me! Ill kill them all, and if the kingdom ever has a problem, I was the one who did it, none of you.”
The village looked on at Rath with admiration at the sacrifice he was willing to make before erupting into cheer, the corpse before them no longer even being considered. Rath clearing the clouds of fear from the town center and letting light shine through.