The Children of Eris
It was night before the battle, yet David couldn’t sleep.
Ever since the signing of the Demonic-Blood Covenant, David had spent every night with Lilith. However, she was at Castle Bathory tonight, helping Lord Ruthven organise the Court’s troops for tomorrow’s battle.
From David’s bedroom window, he could see many of his followers working late into the night to get everything ready for dawn.
If everything went according to plan, then the city of Themis would fall.
He would have done as Eris asked and kept himself, and his family, alive; then, he’d have to spend the rest of his year getting ready for Eris’s summoned heroes.
This won’t even be over after all of that.
I have to solidify my control, prepare my armies and wage war in the north after this.
He shut his eyes and took a long, deep breath.
The room grew cold.
“…I was wondering when you’d show up,” David whispered, turning to face the familiar sight of Eris floating in the air.
Eris giggled softly. “I thought I’d come and offer my most heartfelt congratulations to you, David Athelward.”
“…Thank you very much. If that’s all, do you mind going away? I have things to-”
“Aren’t you visiting your little ‘comforter’ tonight?”
David’s body tensed.
His hand curled into a fist as he stared daggers at her.
“Your blushing bride isn’t here, so you’re all lonely.” Eris licked her lips as her smile turned sadistic. “Isn’t tonight your last chance to do her?” David stared angrily at her, but Eris only purred in response. “There’s that look that I love.”
“Don’t you dare speak about Kella that way.”
“Isn’t that what she is to you?” Eris asked innocently. “Don’t you just feel so much better about yourself after sleeping with her?
“Shut up,” David growled quietly.
“Don’t you just love the way she looks at you, calls your name sweetly? The way she lights up just from seeing you?”
“Don’t you just love the fact that you took advantage of an emotionally broken girl and took her virginity after killing her brother?”
David summoned his armour and swept his weapon at Eris, but the blade stopped right before her eyes.
She let me get this close-! David cursed, his anger overflowing from his heart.
“Wouldn’t your family just be so proud of you?” She whispered, her voice growing distant as her body began to transform into feathers. “Don’t worry, though. Whatever you do tonight, I won’t judge you for it.”
With one last giggle, Eris vanished, leaving David alone with his rage.
David teleported to the alleyway where he’d first spoken to Kella in Themis.
The city that had once been so warm and full of life was gone.
It was now a silent, eerie place that only had soldiers and adventurers wandering its streets.
The only warmth left in the city came from the fire of the torches along the street.
“It’s not like that,” David mumbled.
He and Kella hadn’t made any plans to meet since David had been busy with the Court and the Gørviligr, but he had to see her tonight.
His only hope of that, though, was just to walk around and get lucky.
The word that Eris had used echoed in David’s mind as he wandered the streets.
While a few guards and adventurers looked at David, none stopped him when they saw his unusual characteristics. Given the build of his body, David wondered if they mistook him for an adventurer whilst he was in disguise.
A few feet behind him, with a gentle smile and red cheeks, was Kella.
…Please, make this easier for me, Kella.
David smiled weakly back. “Hi.”
Please, hate me.
Together, the two lay naked in bed, holding each other closely with their eyes closed, though neither of them could fall asleep.
They both feared the dawn for their own reasons.
…This will be the last time, won’t it? David looked at Kella’s face and tenderly stroked her hair. David bit his lip and scrunched up his eyes. Is there no way I can save her? Is there anything I could come up with as a good excuse to appease Eris and not destroy anything more of Kella’s life?
“What’s wrong?” Kella asked lovingly, touching his cheek with her hand.
David forced a happy smile on his face. “Nothing, just…anxious.”
“About tomorrow?” David slowly nodded; Kella smiled back. “Yeah, me too.”
“Yeah, but I’m used to it. Adventurers are always scared that their next job will be their last one, so it’s a familiar feeling. Connor and the others probably felt the same before Black Port.”
Her lonely smile made David feel like someone was crushing his heart in a vice.
I always knew how this was going to end, and I still got involved with her.
“Why are you scared?” She asked.
“…Lots of reasons,” David said.
“Do you think you’ll die tomorrow?”
“In a way,” he whispered with a weary smile.
He shook his head and kissed her. “It’s nothing. Especially not compared to what you’ve got to worry about.”
“Allaric.” She grabbed his cheeks in her hands and made him meet her gaze. “Don’t say that.”
“Say that your worries are nothing compared to mine. If the person I love is worried about something, then of course I’m going to worry about them. Don’t dismiss your own feelings as worthless.”
Stop saying stuff like that.
Lilith’s face flashed into his mind.
Don’t tell me you love me.
The face of her brother’s smiling face in her family portrait appeared next.
He remembered watching the Battle at Black Port, and the charred ruins of the city.
Don’t make this hurt anymore!
“…I have to go.”
David pulled her arms off him.
He got up and started to get dressed.
“Allaric, please, tell me what’s wrong,” Kella said, reaching to hold him but he pushed her arm away. “Why are you being like this? Why won’t you tell me? Why are you running from me?” She felt tears well up in her eyes and yelled, “Why won’t you tell me the truth?”
David’s hands began to tremble, stopping him from buttoning his shirt.
He bit his lip hard to try and stop his entire body from shaking.
David’s lip began to tremble and he stopped buttoning his shirt. Then, he bit his lip hard as his limbs started to shake.
“Allaric, please…” She lightly grabbed at the hem of his shirt. “Why won’t you tell me?”
“…I don’t want you to hate me,” David mumbled.
He spun around and shouted, “It’s because I don’t want you to hate me! If I told you everything, there’s no way you’d understand! You wouldn’t know what it’s like to have people look at you like you’re a monster beyond their worst nightmares!
“You wouldn’t know what it’s like to feel like you’re drowning just by being around other people!” David took a sharp breath and clutched his heart. “I didn’t want to live like this…I didn’t want to become a monster that has to destroy so much just to protect what I love the most.”
David whimpered and held his body in his arms. “You don’t know what it’s like with her arms around my neck…her sickening voice in my ear, her eyes that see into my soul and that scare me more than anything else in the world!
“If I’m happy, she drags me into despair.
“If I’m in despair, she drags me deeper into it.
“If I scream or cry, she enjoys it.
“What could you or anyone in the whole damn world know about something like that?!”
David collapsed onto his knees as he struggled to catch his breath, tears pouring from his eyes.
He closed his eyes. “I shouldn’t have tried to cling onto my humanity…Why did I do this? Why am I even here? You wanted me to be honest, right, Kella?” He slowly stood up as the vice entrapping his heart grew more and more painful. “Well, here’s the truth.”
Mana began generating around his body, forming a metal suit of armour one piece at a time.
“My name is David Athelward, I’ve been sent from another world by Eris, the Goddess of Strife and Discord, to invade and dominate your world.” His armour formed around him. “As the Demon Emperor.
“I’m responsible for the Great Disaster. I’m the one who killed your brother and friends.”