Chapter 7:

A Fish out of Water

How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

Kryit came into view after several days of travel and rough sleep. Kryit was a town built outside the dungeon of Kryit Depths, which stood atop a hill as a large cave mouth. Kryit was a town full of one story houses, with a large section of taller buildings that Kider confirmed as the shopping center.

“I gotta check in with the merchant guild I told you about.” Kider said as they rode into the town. “Don't want to sell goods without them in the know, could get me into some trouble.”

Rath was too amazed at the town to even think about Kider’s statement. The people that walked the streets were all of many different races, the slender Elves, the stout Dwarves, the tiny Halflings. Most of the great races were walking around the city, dressed as Adventurers.

“Try to play nice.” Kider laughed.

“What do you mean?” Rath asked, turning his attention to his friend.

“Don't go picking fights with Adventurers.” Kider said sternly. “This isn't Criss, you pick a fight and Lords only know what wraith will fall upon you.”

“I'm not an idiot.” Rath said. “That's like shaking a beehive.”

“Well, have you thought about a party?” Kider asked.

“Why would I need a party?” Rath asked. “I'm here to get stronger then them, working with them to get stronger together is counter productive.”

Kider sighed. “You wont get deep in Depths if you don’t work with others. Place is dangerous, most solo Adventurers don't get far, work with people to get deeper. Maybe even learn from them.”

Rath pouted. “Ill think about it.”

“That is all I ask, till then, don't go beyond the first floor on your own.” Kider said, waving a finger at Rath like a mother would.

“How many floors are there?” Rath asked.

“According to Kryit’s notes, ten.” Kider said.

“Depths has notes?” Rath asked.

“When I say Kryit’s notes, Im talking about the Adventurer who was the first to reach the lowest floor.” Kider said with a laugh. “They named the dungeon after him and then the town that formed around it.”

“I see, is Kryit still alive?” Rath asked.

“I do not believe so.” Kider said, scratching his chin. “After his exploration of Depths he kind of vanished, legend says he went to the way east but that's all we know, never heard he died or anything. Though that was like a couple hundred years ago so he is probably gone at this point.”

“Well dragons live for centuries.” Rath stated, Nekra educating him on the fact.

“Yes but Kryit was a normal human, not a dragon.” Kider laughed. “Well, normal being a stretch since he did conquer Depths, a feat no one else has done since.”

“Really?” Rath asked. “Why not?”

“Well, the deeper you go the more dangerous.” Kider explained. “Plus once most parties reach the eighth floor they say that loot stops completely, so there is no profit reason to keep going. Even Kryit said the last floor had no treasures.”

Rath rubbed his chin in thought. “So then going deeper is just to fight stronger monsters?”

“Yes, though most just move on to other dungeons that are stronger. Depths is considered a weaker dungeon overall.” Kider said.

“Well then, guess I will have to just get as low as I can as fast as I can.” Rath said.

“Are you serious?” Kider questioned. “Take things slow, most Adventurers aren't here longer than a year at most but still, don't rush things.”

“Sooner I get stronger the sooner I can get back home.” Rath said, looking at an Elf woman with a circlet.

“Then get a party.” Kider said frantically. “Dont go on a suicide mission.”

Rath gripped the handle of his sword. “I won't, I'll look into getting with a party, maybe I can work on spreading the word of Criss.”

“Sounds religious.” Kider laughed. “Careful of the clerics if you wanna spread the holy word of Rath.”

Rath laughed. “I will watch myself.”

Kider looked off, slowing the cart to a halt. “Ah, here comes someone.”

Rath caught the person who approached, and was surprised he didn't notice him sooner. The man stood several heads taller than anyone in the crowd, his frame massive, his eyes white orbs, and his shoulders exposed to reveal tribal tattoos.

“What is he!” Rath said frantically at Kider.

“A goliath, they are common in the Untamed.” Kider laughed at Rath’s shock.

“The Untamed?” Rath asked. “He's from the far north?”

“Oh yes.” Kider said, waving the man over. “I also had asked him to get me some things in the dungeon.”

The Goliath reached the cart and towered over the pair. Rath took notice of his massive great sword that was held on his back by an easy release holster. The man's wild hair reached well below his shoulders. The armor he wore was studded and light, a shield bar above his head.

“Hello,” Kider said. “How are you today?”

“Well, how was the city?” the Goliath asked.

“Oh you know, a dumpster fire.” Kider laughed.

“I got you some of what you asked for.” The Goliath said, pulling out a bag and pulling the strings free. “Who is this?” He asked, as if just noticing Rath.

Kider placed an arm around Rath. “This is a friend, and an upcoming Adventurer. You would like him! This guy has some crazy potential!”

“Kider.” Rath said, pushing him off, embarrassed.

“Don't be so shy!” Kider laughed. “You gotta get yourself out there if you're going to find a good party.”

“You are looking for a party?” The Goliath asked, his face stern and rough.

“Potentially.” Rath said, changing his expression to be tougher.

“What is your name?” THe Goliath asked.

“Rath.” Rath said.

“Rath of what?” The Goliath said. “You come from somewhere right, even if you hold no title you hold the title of your home.”

Rath stood up in the cart, trying to stare down the Goliath who still was a good head taller than him. “Rath of Criss.”

The Goliath raised an eyebrow at Rath, then turned his attention back to Kider. “These good?” pulling the bag open to reveal different color crystals.

“Oh yes!” Kider said. “Though sadly I can't get those just yet. Gotta stop by the merchant guild and check in, could you meet me there later?”

“Of course.” the Goliath said.

“Or maybe tomorrow, unless you're interested in silver?” Kider asked.

“Silver coin?” The Goliath asked.

“No bars.” Kider laughed. “I just came into some wealth with them, though mainly i'm looking for coins, got some miners to pay you know how it is.”

The Goliath turned to Rath, who still stood. The Goliath gave a half smile, turning to walk away. “I will be by tomorrow then.”

“Thank you.” Kider said with a wide smile. “Ill be expecting you.”

“What is your name!” Rath yelled out at the leaving Goliath.

“Malphis.” The Goliath called back.

“Malphis of what.” Rath yelled out.

“I never said.” Malphis called back, moving deeper into the crowd.

Rath sat back down in the cart, Kider giving him a comforting laugh. Rath was infuriated by the Goliath.

“Malphis is like that.” Kider said. “Don't let him get to you.”

“That sword was huge.” Rath asked. “Where did he get those crystals? They were pretty big compared to mine.”

“From what I hear, you find crystals of that size around the third or fourth floor.” Kider said, looking up to recall. “They grow constantly which is why Depths is so lucrative for trading magical goods.”

“He got that low?” Rath asked. “He must work in a party then.”

“From what he told me he rarely works with parties.” Kider stated. “He has been working solo for a while now.”

Rath looked on at the towering giant moving further and further away. Kider began to move the cart again, forcing Rath’s attention away. The two continued through the city before the cart slowed again due to the traffic of people.

“Probably best you get off here.” Kider said. “Ill be tied up in the merchants guild for a few hours, paperwork and all that. There is an inn a little ways down the street, can't miss it. Get yourself a place to stay and meet some people. Oh and do not do anything at the Inn, Adventurers first rule.”

“Thought they were exempt from the rules.” Rath said, pulling out his bag and throwing it across his back.

“It's an unspoken rule, Inns are safe havens for Adventurers, mess with one and any Adventurer there will turn on you.” Kider said, patting Rath’s back. “Good luck, I'll find you when I can. Or you can find me your choice.”

Rath waved his friend off, Jen pulling the cart slowly into the crowded streets. He stood alone, surrounded by people he did not know. Each step was slow, people obstructing his path constantly. He felt like threats were everywhere, who in this crowd would be someone he would have to fight in the future?

“People hear me!” A man in plate armor yelled out. He was tall and proud, his armor having a crest with a shield and spear on fire. “We of the Flaming Brotherhood are looking for recruits!”

Rath decided to hear the man out, he was flanked by other men in uniforms. Two banners with the flaming shield and spear stood behind the trio.

“We are going to march south!” The man yelled out again. “Tatalis is a threat to all eastern countries! We of the Flaming Brotherhood will go and take out the Demon Lord! If you truly wish to see a brighter world, you must join us!” The man took notice of Rath. “You there! You must be interested!”

“Not really.” Rath said, brushing him off.

“So you are just fine with Tatalis attacking your home!” The man yelled out. “I see you are of Tirim! You think you're safe just because Kyol stands between you and Tatalis! You are not! If we do nothing, Kyol will be lost, and Tirim will be next!”

Rath turned his attention back to the man. He realized he was not Tirim like Rath, but Kyol. Kyol people were known for their thinner frames and olive toned skin, as well as the piercing green eyes.

“Sorry, I'm not here to fight a Demon Lord.” Rath said, waving the man off again.

“It is the duty of those with power to protect those without power!” The Kyol man yelled again. “As an Adventurer you should fight! We are no idiots, we do not plan to attack with greenhorns, we shall take you to the DreadFort and train you there to be mightier than you could here. Do not waste your time at this dungeon when DreadFort can train you to be even greater! Realize your full potential!”

DreadFort was a new place to Rath, though from his tone it was most likely another dungeon, probably a stronger one then Depths. The Kyol man would have continued trying to recruit Rath but another Adventurer arrived, excited to join the cause. Rath took the time to sneak away.

It was called ‘The Young Dragon’ a two story tall Inn with a large drinking area. The Inn had a bar in the front and the Inn just behind it, a way to enter it from the second story that overlooked the bar. Rath gawked at the open second floor for so long that an Adventurer had to push him out of the way.

“Five silver a night..” The Innkeeper informed Rath at his questioning. Rath could afford the room for a week, but Kider told him to look into making some money in town from his adventuring.

With his lodging settled, he sat at one of the small wooden tables with enough chairs for three others, and observed. It didn't take him long to catch a glimpse at Malphis, who was sitting on his own, drinking a tall tankard. Rath considered approaching the Goliath but decided against it.

“Come on!” a voice yelled out, drawing Rath’s attention.

The yelling came from a nearby table with four people around it. Three men and a woman. The woman wore blue robes with a yellow trim, a mage staff leaning against her chair. One of the men wore chainmail and the sigil of the god Orize, another wore simple armor with a sword at his hip, both men carried a metal shield. The third man wore black armor, two blades on each side of his hips.

“You can't be serious!” the simple armored man said. “We need you! How else will we get down deeper!”

“I'm sorry but I must get back to Pierce.” The black armored man said. “I do not have any time to waste on people who cant help themselves.”

“Quil!” the simple man said. “Come on! Another few days, just let us get to third!”

“My decision is final.” the black armored man, Quil, said. He got to his feet, throwing the bag he had at his feet across his back. “Best of luck to you all. Good bye.”

Quil began to walk across the bar towards the door, Rath catching a glimpse of his hands. All of his fingers held rings with different gems, Rath focused on one, triggering his Observation. ‘Lital’ was the spell that Rath saw as the man left. Each of the rings had to have a spell in them, and he had at least eight of them. Rath hoped that he traveled the north road.

Rath was about to get to his feet to follow the man, before he was pounced on. The simple armored man had darted to Rath as soon as the Inn door had closed. His breath stunk of ale, and his eyes were almost begging.

“Hey there.” The man said, wrapping an arm around Rath. “You new in town?”

“Yes.” Rath said, noticing the other two coming and taking a seat at his table.

“Great!” The man said. “You must be looking for a party right!”

“Perhaps.” Rath said carefully.

“Knock it off Jeel.” the woman said.

“Sorry!” the man said, taking a seat and removing himself from Rath. “Let me start again, I am Jeel.”

No location, Rath threw an angered look at the Goliath, who sipped at his tankard without a passing notice.

“These are my comrades.” Jeel said, raising a hand for the other two. “The pretty lady is Tivis. And the cleric there is Ion.”

“Its nice to meet you, I am Rath.” Rath said.

“A pleasure.” Tivis said with a head bow.

“Listen lets get down to business.” Jeel began. “We need someone to come with us into Depths, were looking to get stronger, you in?”

Rath looked above their heads, they all had Shields, like most people in this town. He looked again at Malphis, he had a second tankard.

“Why not him?” Rath said, pointing towards the Goliath. “He looks pretty strong, wouldn't he make a better companion?”

Jeel looked where Rath pointed. “You mean Malphis, the bad luck charm? No way.”

“Bad luck?” Rath asked.

“Yeah, anyone that interacts with him and goes into depths, does not come back.” Ion said from his seat.

“Guess I got some bad luck.” Rath said to the trio. “We met when I entered town.”

“What!” Jeel said, wiping off the arm that was wrapped around Rath,

“Who cares.” Tivis said, waving the superstition away. “We haven't interacted with him, so we should be good.”

“You know if your talking about someone you shouldn't point at them.” Came the voice of Malphis who now towered over the table.

The trio’s faces all dropped to pure horror, jaws as low as the floor. Rath looked on in shock, he was so quiet, how did he sneak up on them?

“Sorry about that.” Jeel said quickly.

“Are you looking for party members?” Malphis asked.

“Um yes.” the trio said in unison.

Malphis turned to Rath. “Will you be coming?”

Rath thought it over briefly, he could use these Adventurers as a starting point, learn the basics of the dungeon, and move on. “Yes.”

“Very well, I am in too.” Malphis said.

The trio’s heads dropped low.

“Oh well.” Jeel said sadly. “If we are cursed, what's the harm in bringing him?”

Rath held out a hand to Jeel. “Let's work together.” For now, Rath thought. He already realized that if there was a chance these four threatened Criss, he would have to kill them. Malphis caught Rath’s eye, it looked as if he was reading his mind, and simply smiled. 

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