Chapter 15:


How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

Nekra sat around the wooden table with the rest of the council. Turv had volunteered the bar as the council meeting place, and so every meeting had been here since its founding. The council was larger than when it started at Rath’s request.

The first edition was Kivis, since they needed the carpenter on hand for plans of expansion. Next came Urin, Peel, Barder, Relund, and another Kobold named Kokin. They had all come one after the other and now worked at improving the village. The map of the village was in between of the group, showing the village and the kobold district as people began calling it.

“I'm saying we put it in between both parts of the village, we got a large space here we can utilize.” Turv said. He was talking about the Fortress that Rath had mentioned to them. Rath had not moved forward on any plans just yet, but the rest of the council wanted to have a proposal for Rath when he returned.

“Why not east?” Barder asked. “We could have it face where we expect the greatest threats to come from.”

“Don't be a fool.” Peel said, his frame being the biggest of all the members of the council. “Let's say we are attacked from the east, the fortress is meant to defend the people, so we would all be running towards danger. South in between is a good idea.”

“Not to mention.” Nekra began. “We could fortify it well.” Construction of the Kobold district's walls was over halfway done at this point, two gates being formed to the north and south, which is why they even considered other projects. “If it is north of the kobold district, we can fortify the space in between the two areas and eventually connect them with walls.”

“Are you all thinking of the cost of resources?” Relund began, leaning forward. “The timber for these walls having been killing me and the boy, even if we use mostly stone for this fortress, that is a lot of resources.” Relund had become a sort of resource manager for the people, him and Kivis knowing the amount of resources that went into most projects.

“We have begun mining the stone and stockpiling it.” Kokin chimed in. He headed the miners for the Kobolds, which is what led to him joining the council, since Nekra struggled keeping up with that and the rest of the kobolds. “We also have iron for the nails and other things.”

“Hinges.” Nekra said. “Oh and locks, do we need locks on a fortress?”

“I assume.” Barder laughed. “Though the iron for nails and hinges isn't that much.”

“We would have a main lock on the main entrance.” Turv explained. “It would mostly be a large wooden beam that would hold the gate shut from attackers.”

“Why not something like stone instead of wood?” Nekra asked.

“We have to be able to move it quickly.” Turv began. “Drop it once everyone is inside, but not trap ourselves if they climb the walls.”

“So south good with everyone?” Relund asked, after a nod he continued. “Good then we should sort out some schematics, let's all come up with some ideas.”

“A central building.” Turv began. “Large enough to overlook the village, sort of have a watch tower.”

“Outer walls.” Barder said. “We should get more walls around it, you know, to connect the village, but also some just to protect the fortress.”

“The walls would need guard towers at important spots.” Relund said. “Some on either side of the gate, a path around the walls, maybe some towards the rear incase of attack from the back.”

“Vault!” Kokin said. “Sir Rath said we needed it for a vault.”

“Some undergrounds to protect people.” Nekra said. “We good at working underground, maybe get a tunnel system down there?”

Turv wrote the ideas down on some paper. “We got a lot, let's settle this for today, we still have to run this by Rath when he comes back. Let's keep brainstorming ideas in the meantime.”

With that, the council dispersed to their duties. Kokin went back to the mines immediately. The mines had been set up slightly south of the Kobold district, just far enough away that they didn't see it. Nekra watched his fellow kobold walk away, ready for another productive day.

Nekra remained in the main village for a short time, he had spent far too long cooped up in his tent going over his scrolls. He felt odd in the main village, as if he didn't belong. No one said as much, they all were kind to Nekra, but it always felt like they viewed him as a monster, he still did not know why.

A woman had caught Nekra’s eye, Mirv. She was very kind to the kobolds, always taking them food deliveries. Most of the kobolds looked at her like a motherly figure, which was appreciated by Nekra. She was walking through the town center with a basket and a watering can.

Nekra ran up to Mirv, stopping just short of running into her. “Hella Miss Mirv.”

“Hella Nekra.” Mirv said with a large smile. “You just finish your meeting?”

“Yes we just dismissed, we were talking about the fortress today.” Nekra said. He wondered about Mirv, does she view Nekra as a monster like he felt the others did. It was a thought he feared, even Rath had viewed Nekra as a monster when they first met, though now they were good friends due to the sheer time they have spent together. “What are you doing today?”

“Im gathering some herbs for Miss Korvi.” Mirv said.

“Herbs?” Nekra said, wondering.

Mirv nodded and pulled out a book from her basket, a leaf used to mark a page. When she opened the book Nekra saw several sketches of leaves with words that Nekra did not understand next to it. “She told me to gather some of these, they have healing properties for potions.”

“Miss Korvi makes potions?” Nekra asked, he had met the elderly woman rarely, and never took her for a herbalist of any kind.

“She said she has knowledge of it, but she knows more about medicine in general, not the potions that adventurers use, this book had a few recipes we plan to try.” Mirv said, putting the book back in the basket.

“Your a baker aren't you?” Nekra asked.

“Yes, that is what my father had taught me.” Mirv said, her smile unbroken. Nekra wondered if that woman ever stopped smiling. “But things are changing, I want to help the people that are fighting, I tried to learn to fight but Rath told me no.”

Nekra looked confused. “I had heard that it was uncommon for a human woman to fight, we kobolds do not care about gender. Though I am surprised to hear that Sir Rath followed that belief.”

Mirv laughed. “It's not like that, first he doesn't want any of use fighting, he has even told me he hates the idea of you fighting in his place. But he had a different reason for me to not fight.” Nekra tilted his head to signal Mirv to continue. “I went to practice with Barder, I held a wooden sword in my hand and Barder told me to attack, when the swords hit each other the shock made me drop it. Rath came by and noticed. He took my hand and said ‘Your hands aren't meant to hurt people, leave the fighting to me.’ and he is right, the feeling of the impact sent a shock through my body, it was awful.”

“But wouldn't a grip help that?” Nekra said, confused.

Mirv laughed again. “There was other things that led to my decision, but since I can't be a fighter, I can do whatever I can to help elsewhere.”

Nekra made a motion for Mirv to hold out her hands. His hands were padded on the palms, so he could feel the soft touch of Mirvs. He understood Rath’s statement, these were the hands of a subtle crafter, or seamstress. She had no scars, not calluses, nothing.

“You humans are strange.” Nekra said. “But if that is what you say, then I understand, and following Sir Rath’s request, I shall make sure you must never fight.”

“Thank you Nekra, I am glad to have a brave warrior like you in the village.” Mirv said.

“May I ask about the watering can?” Nekra said, pointing at the metal can.

“Oh this?” Mirv said, lifting it from the ground she had set it when Nekra asked for her hand. “I am watering the plants at Rath’s house, just doing a check up.”

Nekra’s curiosity overflowed. He had never seen Rath’s house before, so he wondered about it. “May I join you?”

“Of course.” Mirv said. “I'm sure Rath wouldn't mind it, and if there is an animal that snuck in you can help scare it away.”

“Does that happen often?” Nekra asked as they began to walk.

“No, though it has happened once.” Mirv looked to the sky as if remembering something. “Rath kept that raccoon for a long time, he was a good boy.”

Nekra was almost caught off guard. Racoons had often troubled the Kobolds during the night, so Rath keeping one was strange to him. He suddenly had another question to ask. “What does Sir Rath do here?”

“He protects us.” Mirv said plainly.

“Has he done that forever?” Nekra asked.

“No, it's a recent development.” Mirv explained. “Before that he did, well, anything.”

“Anything?” Nekra said, confused.

“Yes.” Mirv smiled at him. “He tills fields, helps with the harvest, he chops wood, moves branches that fall from storms, he works with Kivis to repair houses, anything he can do he does.”

Nekra was aghast at the statement. He had noticed that all humans had one major role to play in the village, and the fact that Rath served many was strange to him. “What did his parents do?” Nekra made the connection that most people did what their parents did, he had yet to meet Rath’s parents either.

“They were farmers.” Mirv siad, her eyes growing distant.

“I have yet to meet them, and I haven't seen any farm house owned by someone that would fit.” Nekra explained.

“That's because they died a while back.” Mirv said, her smile finally shattering like an Adventurer's shield.

Nekra stopped in his tracks, he felt awful for not realizing before. “I am sorry, was it Adventurers?”

“No.” Mirv said calmly. “Just sickness. They didn't suffer, there was no great tragedy, they just went out in the night, in there sleep.”

Mirv turned to continue her walk, Nekra moving to catch up to her. “So does Rath live on the farm then?” He still had no idea which of the few farm houses would meet the requirements for Rath’s home.

“No, he gave it to Barder.” Mirv said, her smile returning. “It was a funny story. Barder was wandering around looking for fertile land. Rath just happened across him and asked him ‘what are you looking for land for?’ Barder said ‘I want to be a farmer’ and Rath just said ‘I know a great place, got a nice house on it, all yours.’ and just gave it to him.”

“He just gave up his home!” Nekra exclaimed. “I understand they are friends but why!”

“Well, that's just how Rath is.” Mirv said, her eyes turning east. “Though I think he had a different reason. There was a rumor going around that Elane had said she would marry Barder if he proved he could provide for her and the family they would have. Barder took the challenge and said he would get a farm to take care of them. I feel like Rath heard about the rumor and helped him. Now Elane and Barder are married and have two wonderful children.”

The two continued on before Mirv moved to turn, stopping next to two houses. Both were cozy, thatch roof, wooden walls, framed windows with the shutters blocking the interior view, and a cosy chimney.

“Which one is Raths?” Nekra asked, eyeing them, trying to make a guess.

“This way.” Mirv siad, moving through the small alleyway between the two buildings.

Nekra followed Mirv, the pathway wide for him, but cramped for MIrv. Once they emerged from the ally, Nekra’s jaw dropped. The area they found was a spot where the backs of three houses came together, forming a small area in between them all. In the clearing, was a small shack, smaller than Nekra’s tent. The shack had thin thatch on its roof, and thin boards, and a single window in the front by the door that looked older than Turv. in front of the house was a patch where small flowers of various colors grew.

“This is Rath’s house?” Nekra asked, the shack could only be one room, and a small one at that.

“Yep.” Mirv said, pulling out the watering can, letting the water fall over the leaves as she looked them all over.

“Why does he live like this!” Nekra exclaimed.

“Beats us.” Mirv said, but her eyes said otherwise. “Whenever someone says he should move somewhere else, or even offer him a room, he just says no.”

Nekra turned to the flowers, Mirv gave them a loving look, making it clear they held much value to her. Nekra looked over the colors, there were many white ones, the rest being different shades of purple, light red, yellow, and blue.

“What are they?” Nekra asked.

“Freesias.” Mirv explained. “They are wonderful flowers, Rath loves them, gathered them from all over the village.”

“Why does he love them so much?” Nekra asked.

Mirv did not answer, she gave a smile, reflecting on a memory that she wanted to keep to herself. Nekra just stared, eventually turning back to the house. How could someone live like this?

“I won't live in it.” Rath had explained, after being asked at the council meeting before he left. “The Fortress is for protecting our resources and people, I dont need to live in it when I have a perfectly good house already.”

Nekra hadn't realized the significance of the statement, or why Turv pushed for it so much. Until now that is. Would the house even survive a hard winter? Nekra was about to ask Mirv more about the house, push her for information. When the bell rang.

A surprise for Rath’s return was the bells that the village had set up. The first was the original bell, now set to signal when someone approached from the west. The second was in the Kobold district, it had a higher pitch and was a smaller bell, its sound would be able to let anyone know when someone came from the south. The third was set on the east, it would ring in a low pitch, slow due to its larger size.

The bell that rang now was slow, deep, full of gloom. It signalled an Adventurer from the east. An Adventurer from Depths. 

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