Chapter 3:

Shattering Glass

How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

The wall of the town was beginning to form nicely.the western gateway was missing a gate but that would come in time. Relund and the town carpenter, Kivis, had been working day and night to get this up.

Rath had spent his free time with the wand, getting used to the invisible veins that he had inside himself and learning to let them flow more freely. Rath had learned that if you cast spells too much with no rest that the spells would start to fizzle up and fail. He had realized that he could cast the Agnibolt about ten times in one sitting before getting to his fizzle point.

Rath stood atop the western wall looking out towards the field and the tree lines. Urin and Talon approached, wide smiles from a good hunt. The two had their bows and quivers on hand as they had only just returned.

"What's this about?" Urin asked. He was a middle aged man and the most experienced of the village's hunters.

"Just wanted to ask you two for a favor." Rath said, turning towards the pair who looked confused. "You both are the most experienced archers we have and I'm no good with a bow. I want to know if you could have my back. These walls were built for archers to man them."

"You want us to help kill the Adventures?" Talon asked. He was younger, just a few years below Rath.

"Only if it's needed." Rath began to explain. "Ill handle them as best as I can but i need to know if I can trust you to have my back."

“Talon, remember that bird thing we fought way back?” Urin asked.

“The Nevir?” Talon asked.

“The monster you two spent days hunting and worried the entire village because you didn't tell anyone?” Rath asked.

“That's the one!” Urin said as if he just realized. “Well, that thing was a monster, but it hunted for food, it didn't kill just for fun, only for survival. It didn't steal because it was bored, it did it because it was hungry.” Urin paused before he continued. “Adventures don't do what they do for survival, they will steal from us just because it's easier for them. You got my back taking those bastards down.”

“Mine too.” Talon said far too quickly.

“I appreciate it, thank you.” Rath said before turning out, a cart coming out of the tree line in the distance. “Looks like a merchant. I'll go meet them.”

The merchant was a younger man with small streaks of silver in his hair. The cart he rode in was pulled by a Olues, a long necked animal with a pudgy body and long thick legs.

“Hello there.” the man said in a cheerful tone.

“Hello.” Rath said, keeping a calm demeanor. He looked above the head of the man and saw no shield, the man looking up as if something should be there. “What brings you this way?”

“Heading to Kryit Depths.” The merchant said with the widest smile Rath had ever seen.

“Are you an adventurer?” Rath asked.

“Based on the signs all around it would be stupid for me to say yes.” The man laughed. “Though I am not, just a merchant looking for his fortune.”

“Very well you can pass through, will you be staying the night?” Rath asked.

“I could use a night, and old Jen here could enjoy a nice rest.” The man explained.

“Very well. You can set up in our town center.” Rath said, leading the cart forward. “If you need a place to stay there is a tavern run by Turv, and we have a stable nearby for you Olues. You can sell as long as you'd like while you're here.”

“I appreciate the hospitality.” The merchant said with his wide smile. “May I ask if there is a reason for the Adventurer ban?”

“They have destroyed and stolen from us, we are no longer supporting the King’s law on Adventurers in this town because of it.” Rath explained.

“That is brave.” The man said, leaning forward in his cart, Rath walked alongside it. “The King loves his Adventurers, he wouldn't like hearing they were banned from somewhere in his kingdom.”

“Then the King can shove it.” Rath said plainly.

The man laughed loudly, throwing his head back. “I like you, what is your name?”

“Rath.” Rath said, his attention on the village.

“Well Rath, call me Kider.” The man said, holding out a hand for Rath to shake.

“May I ask why you're so friendly?” Rath asked. “I just said that the King can shove it and you act like I made a joke.”

“I did not take that as a joke. I can see from your gloomy expression that you fully meant it.” Kider said. “I just have respect for anyone who stands up against an adventurer, and fully knows the consequences. Most that would stand up to Adventurers would back down as soon as the King’s name is dropped.”

Rath walked on, unsure of this strange merchant. “You have a grudge against Adventurers?”

“No more than any other merchant.” Kider laughed. “Trying to sell out their junk to us, trying to rip us off, some stealing from our stocks. Though I gotta say they keep me in business with their monster hunting and dungeon delving.”

“So you support them?” Rath asked.

“Not really, I buy their loot for cheap and sell it for a fair price.” Kider explained. “Most merchants only like Adventurers for the money they could bring in, which outweighs the money they lose to them mostly.”

“So why Depths?” Rath asked.

“Adventurer’s bring rare and magical goods out of Depths all the time.” Kider began to explain. “And I buy those goods cheap and sell them back in Pierce where they are a lot more sought after. Though I do tend to sell them along my way back as well, to places like this that I come by.”

Rath looked at the man as they entered the village. “Would you bring weapons and items that I could use to fight Adventurers?”

“I might be inclined if the gold is there.” Kider smiled.

“We have gold, but mainly trade. Crops and animal goods.” Rath began to explain. “Though we lack in the metal department, we have a smith. Names Peel, ask him about reshoeing your Olues.”

“Oh you noticed Jen’s leg?” Kider said surprised. “Observant of you.”

Rath pulled forth the wand from below his sword sheath, the makeshift holder attached to it. “How much would this go for?”

Kider looked it over in his hands. “I'd say two silver if I buy it for, sell for five.”

“That cheap?” Rath asked. “It's a magic wand!”

“Yes, with an iron rod, cheap metal, and a ruby focus, not very large either, very cheap.” Kider explained. “These are the kind of wands that Adventurer's and Mages start with, you can find hundreds of these in the city. Plus it isn't well kept, the rod looking pretty shabby.”

“Do you have Observation?” Rath asked.

“Hm? Do you mean that Adventurer magic?” Kider asked. “No I have no such ability, just knowledge and experience.”

“You know of the ability though?” Rath asked.

“Oh yes, I interact with a number of Adventurers.” Kider explained. “I found out about the ability and sometimes ask adventurers to check goods I purchase to make sure of what I got. I assume you have that ability?”

“What makes you assume that?” Rath asked.

“Oh I figured you had Adventurer magic from the moment you met me out on the path.” Kider laughed. “If you're brave enough to fight the ‘Immortal Adventurers’ then you gotta have a trick to fight them.”

“Yes I have the same power as them, though I have not had it for long.” Rath explained.

“Well that makes this village even more of a useful stop for me.” Kider laughed. “Assuming I can return after going to Depths.”

“Depending on how you act while you're here.” Rath said plainly.

“Then allow me to act in my best behavior, I would like to set up my cart soon if that is okay? And I would like to visit your smith.” Kider explained.

“Do not let me hold you up.” Rath waved him on.

“Thank you very much, Rath of Criss.” Kider smiled as he lifted the reins, the Olues moving forward towards the center of town.

The day rolled on, Kider’s stall got a lot of attention for the strange city goods he brought with him. He had said he wanted to sell off as much as he could since most Adventurers didn't buy anything from him, only sold, meaning he wanted as much gold as possible for his trip to Depths.

Rath was relaxing in Turv’s tavern, sitting alone as Barder went to do a trade to get rid of his excess crops. It wasn't long before Mirv came and took a seat with him. She had a basket of small knick-knacks with her from Kider’s cart.

“It's always nice when these merchants come into town.” Mirv said with a smile, looking out the window towards the cart that Barder was at now.

“Yes, it's always great to break up the normal day to day.” Rath said sincerely. “He seems like a nice guy, and took our stance very well.”

“Maybe he is an ally?” Mirv asked.

“He's a merchant, he's here for the money.” Rath laughed. “But that is admirable, no hidden agenda, you know exactly what he wants.”

“I don't know, he was asking about how we fight the Adventurers, and when I told him you did it he seemed concerned.” Mirv explained.

Rath looked curiously at the man now, who chatted with Barder. Could he be trying to figure out the village's defenses? Why?

“I take it back, I don't know what he could want yet.” Rath said, taking a deep drink. The ale didn't affect him, as he always got the lightest thing on tap.

“Probably just curious.” Mirv said, trying to shoo away the distrust. “A village fighting Adventurers with only one person is worrying.”

“I don't want to bring anyone in that I don't have to.” Rath sighed. “Hell you are the one who said I should get Talon and Urin to help.”

“Yep, I don't want you dying out there.” Mirv smiled.

Rath stayed quiet for a moment. “I don't want to die either, you know.”

“Then take the help, maybe we should get some of the other’s training with swords?” Mirv asked.

“No!” Rath said angrily. “Archer’s are one thing, but in the heat of the battle, I don't want to risk anyone, plus they don't have the shield like I do.”

“You know, we may not have a magic shield but we can make normal ones.” Mirv said casually. “People want to help you, let them.”

Rath was thinking of a response, when the sound of the town bell rang out. He was out the door by the third ring, rushing to where the bell sat, just outside the town center.

“West!” Came the voice Yun, Rath turning towards the West gate without looking at her. “It's two!”

“Well this is an interesting welcome.” The adventurer said. He was tall with dark hair, a pair of short swords at his hip.

“Man, after a week of travel I figured we would be able to finally rest.” the other Adventurer sighed, he was shorter with short cut brown hair and a long sword at his hip.

“State your name and business.” Rath yelled out, his hand already at his hip. He was worried, two Adventurers were trouble for him. He could feel the village people gathering at the gate to watch.

“Lees, my business is my own.” The Shortsword carrying man said.

The smaller one slapped his arm. “Lees come on!” the man said, annoyed. “My name is Irin, we're looking for a place to resupply before heading to Depths.”

“I apologize.” Rath began. “We are not accepting Adventurers at this time, there is a village north of here, you should head that way.”

“That is too far out of the way.” Lees groaned. “Not to mention the path to Depths is overrun with kobolds.”

“A group of kobolds should be no issue for a pair of Adventurers.” Rath explained. “You are not welcome here.”

“Probably, but fighting kobolds is below two of the best upcoming heroes.” Lees laughed. “Plus this is the fastest way to Depths. So please let us in.”

“No.” Rath said, standing his ground.

Lees sighed. “Very well, sorry Irin, looks like we will be camping out again.”

Rath sighed, his hand relaxing a little.

“But what about supplies?” Irin asked.

“Oh well get those once we kill him.” Lees said.

Rath straightened quickly, his hand wrapping around his sword. Before he could draw his sword, Lees was already upon him. The two short swords were drawn and the tips of their blades were pressed into Rath’s magic shield. The force of the attacks sent Rath back, his feet sliding in the dirt. The shield had dropped by a third, Rath feeling the fright, noticing Irin pulling out his sword.

Rath, his sword now in his left hand, the wand in his right, readied himself for the next attack. Lees barely gave him time to react, pushing the attack even more. Raising his sword to defend against the two blades, Rath attempted to cast the Agnibolt, only for Lees to push both of his blades down, carrying Rath’s swords with it. The spell fizzled, Rath confused on how. He realized he must have disrupted the spell, he needed to focus for it to happen but he could not focus.

Realizing that the wand would be useless here he decided to focus on his sword. First he pulled his sword free, moving to the left of Lees. Rath had known that most Adventurers were right handed, meaning that the left would be Lees weak side. Rath decided to drop the wand rather than attempt to sheath it, using both hands on his sword to get some extra strength. Rath plunged the sword tip into Lees side, his shield dropping a third. Lees used the momentum of Rath’s attack to spin himself, sending his right sword into Rath, sending him sliding to his side. The shield dropped to half, the single sword dealing less damage then the two together.

Rath took no time pushing forward, but Lees did the same. Lees continued his spin attack, his left sword coming around. Rath swung his sword down on the left sword, pushing it down into the dirt. He followed the block up with a kick to his left hand. With the sword in the dirt, the force knocked his hand from the sword, pushing him back. Rath now had the goal to keep that second sword away from Lees.

Lees stumbled back, recovering and darting towards Rath, ignoring his dropped sword. Rath raised his sword to block the attack, but Lees dropped low, sneaking the sword into Rath’s stomach area, his shield dropping down to a quarter, his body sliding again. Rath knew he had one hit left before his shield would break, and he still had Irin to deal with, who was now moving towards the two, but keeping a distance.

Rath rushed forward, Lees making no attempt to grab his sword, his eyes locked on Rath, gleeful joy filling his face. His sword raised, Rath dropped his sword into Lees, who made the attempt to parry him. He had expected the parry and put all his strength into his arms and dropped the sword harder onto the sword. Lees sword twisted, dropping out of his hands under Rath’s strength. Rath’s sword dropped onto the shield, the sound of breaking glass sounding out, rath being forced back.

Rath allowed room for Lees to concede, but he instead darted for his fallen Left sword. As Lees short forward, Rath was upon him, directing his sword towards his back. Just as he was about to impale his back, Lees turned around, the sword plunging deep into his stomach. Lees took both hands and grabbed hold of Rath’s sword. Blood dripped from his mouth, his eyes focused, the look of pure joy still on his face.

“Irin now!” Lees yelled out, gripping Rath’s hand and pushing his sword in deeper.

It was like shattering glass, loud and echoing. Rath took a glance at his shield, it was still at a quarter. He turned to where he had seen Irin. It looked like shards of glass were floating around him, his sword raised as if about to stab aty Rath even though he was several yards away. Irin’s eyes looked sad, tears filling them. The glass began to surround his sword, a bar filling above his head, but his shield bar was empty. Just as the bar was about to fill, an arrow shot through the Adventurer’s eye, killing him instantly.

Shock and horror filled Lees eyes as he yelled out for his friend. It wasn't long before Lees had passed on, still clutching Rath’s hand’s. Rath stood stunned by the exchange, turning towards the town gate and catching sight of Talon, standing in disbelief, his bow raised, and no shield above his head.

“What was that!” Rath said, his body still shaking from the fight. The village had celebrated their victory and Talon’s save. Rath sat with Kider, Turv, and Barder.

“A sacrifice play?” Turv said. “Man must have known he was dead, so set it up so his friend could win.”

“But he had a shield before the fight.” Rath said in disbelief. “And he didn't when I stabbed his friend.”

“That is because of the ability he used.” Kider said, taking a drink of his ale. “It's called Break. It's an ability where you shatter your own shield for a massive attack. Though its dumb to use. From what I have been told, you need to have a full shield and it takes a few seconds to activate.”

“So they both made a sacrifice play.” Barder said, taking a long deep drink.

Rath sat quietly, he had confirmed that Talon had not gained the Adventurer magic, which made Rath wonder what caused him to get it. The village cheered the two, and Rath smiled at Talon, grateful for his assist.

“Kobolds huh.” Kider said. “I have heard the trade road up there was being attacked.”

“What about it?” Rath asked.

“Well.” Kider began. “If those Kobolds were gone, then trade would pick up in that area. Meaning more reason to go that way, meaning Adventurers have an alternative route to take.”

“But those Adventurers said that Kobolds were beneath them.” Rath said.

“Yep and most hold that opinion, most would take Goblins before Kobolds since Kobolds are so weak.” Kider said. “Maybe someone who has a lot to gain from the Kobolds being removed might take them down.”

“Like me.” Rath said, realizing what Kider was getting to.

“Exactly!” Kider said. “I have a proposition.”

“I'm listening.” Rath said, not on board yet.

“You ride with me and Jen, we can get you up there faster than walking, you take out the Kobolds, we open up trade, and come back. I go to Depths and spread word of a faster way to the city that is less dangerous, people avoid this town and go that way.”

“Sounds like a lot of positives for me, what do you get out of this?” Rath asked.

Kider smiled. “A trader pass, allowing me full access to trade here. And a bit of money for my trouble.”

Rath thought it over, it wasn't much of a loss to him, he had the four Adventurers coin purses, though he planned to give Irin’s to Talon.

“Very well, let's head out in the morning.” Rath said. Rath pulled up the Adventurers bags. “Now let’s see if we got anything of use okay.”

The night was full of drinks, cheers, trades, and surprise. Talon and Urin had agreed to watch over the village while Rath was gone. Rath was hesitant at first, but the collection of goods he got in the bags gave him confidence. The next day the two packed and headed north to fight some monsters. 

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