Chapter 8:


How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

The party had many drinks, the trio talking up a storm. After an hour of trying to get Malphis to speak, the trio gave up and focused on Rath. Rath had learned that the trio came from Pierce, or surrounding villages, and that they had come here ahead of some friends who were late coming so they needed to start adventuring without them. After a few hours of drinking, the trio retired for bed, agreeing to meet outside the inn in the morning.

Malphis guided Rath away from the inn, leading him to a large open courtyard that was dimly lit in blue light from magic lanterns. The flat earth of the courtyard was covered in cobblestone, pressed low into the ground from constant travel.

“Why are we here?” Rath asked, looking around curiously.

“Those three have been in deep.” Malphis began, his voice monotone. “You are a greenhorn even amongst those three. I want to see what I can expect of you.” He then drew out his large sword, it was thicker than Rath’s forearm and as long as him.

“You want to fight?” Rath said, reaching for his sword and wand.

“Train.” Malphis said. “I want to know if you have any potential like Kider says. From the looks of it I may be wrong.”

“Why is that?” Rath asked.

“Look at how you draw your weapons.” Malphis said, raising his sword to point it at his sheathed weapons. “You have your wand below your sword, a smart move for surprising your enemies, but not for speed.”

He took notice of the wand that was hidden under the sheathe.

“In order to draw both weapons you must make an odd movement with your body and arms.” Malphis said. “You will put yourself at a bigger disadvantage like that.”

“Then should I have my wand out for my enemy to see and Observe?” Rath asked.

“Might as well, will do you better.” Malphis stated. “Or you could get a smaller focus.”

“I do not have the means to do so.” Rath stated. “I dont have the money yet, and even then I would need to find this spell on another focus.”

“Agnibolt?” Malphis asked. “I'm surprised you haven't mastered it yet. Do that and switch focus.”

“Master it?” Rath asked, he felt like he understood the spell and its timing well enough.

“Once you have used a spell enough.” Malphis began. “You master it, meaning you can use it no matter the focus, assuming the focus is of high enough quality.”

“How does one master it?” Rath asked, pulling the wand free, Observing it, not seeing any change.

“Use it enough in battle and it will be mastered.” Malphis stated.

Rath took notice of the ring on Malphis finger; it had a clear gemstone and was large, much larger than Raths. He Observed it, no spell appearing.

“Your focus?” Rath asked.

“Yes.” Malphis stated. “It has no spell, so even if my enemy Observes it, they will find nothing. I have mastered the spell I need, and the ring is more concealable than a wand.”

Rath took the knowledge to heart, if he could master spells he could hide his spells better then under a sheath. This was the knowledge he needed to learn, things he could not understand with just his small world view.

“Draw your sword.” Malphis said. “Attack me, I will not attack back, only defend, show me what you can do.”

Rath did as instructed, drawing his sword to his left hand, the wand in his right. He took a low stance, and launched himself using the force of his legs. He planned to slip under Malphis' large defenses and strike hard. Rath was not prepared for the Goliath to bring his sword down, plunging the tip of the blade into the ground and blocking Rath’s blade.

Rath, taking notice of the blade now in between the cobblestone, maneuvered himself to slip around the blade. The giant sword was swung up, threw the dirt, knocking Rath’s blade up. Dirt shot into the air, Rath stepping back to avoid being blinded. Rath nearly lost his sword if not for the fact he loosened his grip to adjust for the change in trajectory.

The large sword now was raised up, still rising from the force put into the swing. Rath took advantage of the opening and threw himself forward, low to the ground and swung his sword down, the tip hitting Malphis knee. He did not take the chance to check Malphis shield, choosing to take his left leg and push against the cobblestone, sending himself to the right.

Malphis' sword now was straight up, ready to send it at the low Rath. Rath did not wait, moving behind the Goliath and striking quickly, his sword hitting the man's back. Rath took the chance to take a peek at Malphis shield, now at less than half. Rath bounced back, raising his wand and shooting off the Agnibolt, dropping Malphis' shield lower, only a hit away. Malphis turned towards Rath, his sword in his left hand. Rath took notice that Malphis was right handed, holding the sword in his left only to try and get a back swing on Rath. Rath watched patiently, Malphis moving his left hand slowly towards his right. Rath took the moment and darted forward. Malphis pulled back from the hand swap, attempting to move to block Rath’s sword.

Rath raised his sword up, grinding it against the blade of Malphis blade, pushing it away. Rath slipped into Malphis open chest and swung the sword across it. The shield shattered, knocking Rath’s sword back, leaving him open. Rath, recovering from the attack, suddenly noticed the blade sitting right at his throat.

“Dead.” Malphis said.

“What do you mean?” Rath asked. “I had your shield shattered, and mine was untouched!”

Malphis let out a sigh, then lowered his sword. “Let me show you some things.”

Rath stood straight, the man approaching, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“I just touched you.” Malphis stated. “Your shield sits atop your skin, protecting you from damage that would hurt or kill. And yet, I touched you.”

“What of it?” Rath asked.

“A shield isn't anything.” Malphis stated. “South there is a group that has learned to attack people through their shields.”

“How?” Rath asked.

“Form my understanding.” Malphis began. “It is an attack designed to strike safely through the shield, then once threw it, strike at full force.”

“So it's possible to kill someone with a full shield?” Rath asked.

“Yes.” Malphis stated. “As well, there is something else.”

Malphis took his sword, and plunged it deep into Rath’s stomach, the shield stopping it, shattering in an instant. Rath watched as a millisecond passed, and Malphis recovered, the tip of his blade almost in Rath’s stomach.

“How?” Rath asked, amazed.

“With enough strength, you can shatter a shield in one shot.” Malphis stated. “And if you know when the shield will shatter, you can prepare your body for the knockback, and act on it.”

Rath was so amazed at the realization. ‘Will you teach me?”

“I can, yes.” Malphis stated. “It will take eight minutes of rest for the shield to recover, and ten during a fight.”

“There is a difference in time?” Rath asked.

“Yes, and knowing the time is key to fighting. Know when to hold back and when to strike.” Malphis said. “Every shield works in a similar time frame, some might take longer but a few seconds, or shorter by a few seconds. Breaking takes twelve minutes no matter what though.”

“Such a long time.” Rath said, taking in the information. “Why do you know so much about fighting Adventurers?”

Malphis raised an eyebrow, cracking a small smile. “Who said it's for Adventurers? Monsters can have shields too.”

Rath caught his breath, he didn't know that Monsters could have the ability too. The two stared at each other for several moments.

“I understand wanting to improve yourself.” Malphis stated. “A warrior always wants to get stronger, and more powerful.”

“Yes.” Rath said, avoiding his eyes.

“Understanding any threat that could come to you is a good thought.” Malphis said. “What do you plan to do with these skills?”

“Protect people I care about.” Rath said, looking Malphis dead in the eye.

“Criss?” Malphis asked.

“Yes, they are my people, and I care about them.” Rath said, not blinking.

Malphis nodded to himself. “Very well, our shields should be recovered soon, then we can start training you on how to fight through shields. You will need to get a new focus as soon as you master that spell.”

Rath agreed, and the two trained on and on through the night. They retired successfully to their separate rooms and Rath slept deeply. The next morning he awoke early, the room he slept in felt so large in comparison to his normal home.

The trio were late to meet Malphis and Rath, who had already gotten breakfast and gotten rid of their drowsiness. Tivis sat next to Rath, taking a drink and eggs. Jeel was looking hungover, Tivis saying he drank more after everyone went to bed. Ion came into the inn looking refreshed.

“How are you so awake?” Jeel groaned. “You're the latest of all of us.”

“I was up hours ago.” Ion said, an amulet of Orize hanging from his neck. “I had to travel across town to do my prayers, you'd think inns would be closer to shrines. I also checked for any letters.”

“Any news?” Tivis said, her eggs gone as if they werent there a second ago.

“Still no word.” Ion sighed.

“They are either dead or turned back.” Jeel said, taking a drink of hair of the dog.

“Wouldn't they have sent word if they turned back?” Malphis asked.

“Means they are probably dead.” Ion said, taking the drink from Jeel and finishing it for him. “Lord’s almighty, what is this piss?”

“Like your some dwarven connoisseur.” Jeel groaned.

“How about we all get something to take the edge off.” Tivis said, her cheery expression taken over by grief.

“Ill join you in that.” Malphis said.

It took moments for the table to all have cups of drink, which they all raised high.

“To Irin and Lees” Jeel said.

“To Irin and Lees.” Tivis and Ion said.

The cups all clinked together, taking deep drinks. The only one who did not drink, was Rath. Rath sat in shock, the weight of the sword at his hip doubling. The table took down their drinks, unaware of Rath’s hesitation, all but one. 

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