Chapter 21:

A Walk in the Woods

How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

Rath had finished packing, meeting outside Turv’s tavern for his group. He had arranged for everything to be handled while he was gone. He had wished that this could wait a few days so the Kider would arrive and they could use him and Jen to travel. Sadly a people under siege can't wait.

“Master Rath.” Nasui’s voice came out from behind Rath. He turned to face the naga, watching him slither up to him. Rath found it a little off putting how he moved but also was curious how he was able to hold his torso up so much. “I apologize if I made you wait,” Nasui said, bowing oddly to Rath.

“You didn't don't worry.” Rath said, looking over the naga, his exhaustion seeming to be gone already. “Fenrin is still sleeping I assume, and Nekra has to make sure the Kobolds are organized.”

“I see.” Nasui said, raising himself. He wore a green button up shirt without sleeves that exposed his thin arms. By the way he lifted himself, Rath had to assume that he had insane abs, some that might even make Fenrin jealous. “How long do you think he will sleep?”

“Fenrin?” Rath questioned. “I'd say a few more minutes.”

“How do you know?” Nasui asked.

“Oh simple.” Rath said, walking over to the well, pulling the bucket up and taking it off the rope. “It's how long it'll take me to get into his room.”

The travel out of Criss was slow at first, a drying Fenrin was not too happy as they walked. Nekra was in high spirits, marching at the head of the group, though he would often start going the wrong direction and had to be corrected by Nasui. Rath simply followed along, letting the group get up to their antics.

“Hey snake,” Fenrin said, annoyed. “How come you don't call me master? I saved you too.”

“I apologize.” Nasui said timidly. “Master Rath was the one who spoke up in my defense, you seemed to be acting more out of impulse instead of kindness.”

“While you are right I still think I should also be your master.” Fenrin said with a snort.

“Master Fenrin.” Nekra said with a chuckle. “The only way people would look up to you is because of your size ya big meat head.”

“What are you saying down there little lizard?” Fenrin said, turning a dirty look down to Nerka.

“Nothing Master Fenrin.” Nekra laughed, hopping over a stick that Rath simply stepped over.

“Are you mocking me?” Fenrin said.

“Most likely.” Rath chimed in with a laugh. “Careful Nekra, you shouldn't pick fights with people bigger than you.”

“Then I wouldnt fight anyone!” Nekra said loudly. “Besides I have to fight people bigger than me, how else would I become a great Shaman!”

“Is that how it works?” Rath asked. “You did mention you got a new ability from that fight with the Adventurer.”

“Maybe.” Nekra said with a sigh. “It's not how I learned my fire breath, maybe I just acted off of instinct.”

“Instincts are the perfect way to learn something!” Fenrin explained. “We should spar some more! I can trigger that instinct to kick in! What kind of powers do you have to unlock little lizard!”

Nekra turned his head in annoyance. “Water Breathing and Dragon wings.”

“Lame.” Fenrin said, suddenly bored. “Can you do anything like breathe fire.”

“Yes!” Nekra said, exasperated. “You have seen me do it! I just said I could do it as well!”

“Oh did you?” Fenrin questioned. “I apologize little one.” He said it with a wide smile.

“You did that on purpose!” Nekra said, turning to face Fenrin and waving his staff around wildly.

“How do you breathe fire?” Nasui asked, slithering across the forested path.

“I use dragon souls.” Nekra explained. “Ignol lets me use his fire, and I use it.” He started to head in the wrong direction, Rath grabbed his shoulder and tilted him in the right direction.

“You have the power of a dragon?” Nasui said in disbelief.

“I swear I can!” Nekra said aloud. “I can show you!”

“I wouldn't do that in the woods.” Rath said. “Also seems like a disrespect of Ignol’s power.”

“Good point!” Nekra explained. “Well, let's hope I don't need to show you when we get there.”

Nasui got tense at the statement. Rath watched him closely, hoping to avoid a sore spot.

“What do you mean little lizard!” Fenrin said, joy in his voice. “I would love to see you breathe fire, maybe you could mow down an army! Though you won't be able to stand up to me! I'll take down all seven billion of them!” Rath felt overcome with defeat at the statement.

“Where do you get those numbers from!” Nekra yelled out. “Sir Rath, is there even an army that large?”

“How would I know?” Rath said, exhausted. “I haven't been far out of my village, Kyrit is the farthest I have been. Though I know Tirim in particular does not.”

“How big of an army do you think they have?” Nasui asked, his voice holding grave undertones.

Rath thought it over. “I'm not sure actually. Maybe a couple hundred?”

Fenrin laughed loudly. “You have a small scale mind Sring man. A kingdom like this would have an army in the thousands.” He shot a look at Nasui. “Though that depends of course. Tirim doesn't have a unified army, its groups brought together by lords, the whole of Tirims army wouldn't be there unless the king declared it but that would be a waste of resources.”

“He wouldn't be able to spare it, I'm sure.” Rath explained. “He is probably preparing for an attack from Tatalis.” Rath thought about it for a moment. “GreyHold is where Gol said he was from, that is the fortress south, so we might just be dealing with the GreyHold army.”

“I did see a banner.” Nasui explained. “Two, a spear piercing a dragon, and a castle with high spires.”

“First one is Tirim, I assume they have to wave it in some way to singal what kingdom they are from in case they get too close to a border or something.” Rath said, trying to figure things out as best as he could. “The other one must be GreyHold. I do have a feeling that is right.”

Nasui turned to Rath. “What is your banner?” He asked curiously.

“Hm?” Rath began, looking off into the sky. “We don't have one, we have no lord over us currently, we are close enough to Pierce so we fall under the spear banner.”

“But aren't you the lord?” Nasui said, confused. “You mentioned it yesterday, Master Rath.”

“I didn't mention it.” Rath explained. “It's just what our council wants.”

“You are correct.” Nekra said casually. “I agree, you being a lord could solve a lot of problems. Turv said that if you swear fealty to the king you could get control of the village, and maybe even set laws.”

“You're right.” Rath explained, he seemed to drift off from the group, his eyes wandering away.

“Would he allow my people to still live in Criss?” Nasui asked.

“He wouldn't have a choice.” Rath said coldly. The group all turned to him. Nasui felt it again, the anger emanating from him. It was like an aura that was engulfing everyone around.

“That is the spirit Spring man!” Fenrin said, pouncing on Rath, throwing a beefy arm around his shoulder. The aura seemed to dissipate before Nasui’s eyes. “Stand strong in your beliefs! Don't shake them for anyone! Not even yourself!”

“You almost had good advice there.” Rath laughed. “Keep it up, one day you'll be a philosopher.”

“This beef knuckle?” Nekra laughed. “I can barely believe that he has a thought going through his head besides fighting.”

“You are not wrong!” Fenrin laughed.

“Don't agree with me!” Nekra yelled out.

Nasui was in disbelief, it's like they hadn't felt that feeling just a second ago. Rath was now laughing at the pair as they continued on. The group carried on like this until the sun set, setting a small fire to warm themselves.

“Might I ask something Fenrin?” Nasui said.

“Still no Master huh.” Fenrin laughed, eating at the rabbit that Rath had caught. They were all surprised at how his speed was faster than a rabbits. “Go ahead, snakeskin coat.”

“Wait, what was that name?” Nasui said, his body shaking slightly. “Anyways, How do you know so much about armies?”

Fenrin paused for a moment, the rest of the group sat looking at the minotaur. Suddenly, Fenrin launched into laughter, a loud bellow. “Because I was in one!”

“Really?” Rath asked. “You haven't mentioned that before.”

“I just did!” Fenrin laughed. “Plus it was years ago, and I left cause I was bored.”

“You were bored in an army?” Rath explained. “That doesn't seem like you.”

Fenrin sighed. “Fine fine, listen well weaklings! I shall tell a tale of the glorious Fenrin!”

“Nah, I'm not interested anymore.” Rath said, stretching his arms.

“Say what!” Fenrin said in disbelief.

“I'm joking. Please tell us oh great master of the pasture.” Rath laughed.

“That is more like it!” Fenrin said loudly. “You should bow before my story!”

“Like we should bow to the story? Or bow before you tell the story?” Nasui questioned.

“Just tell the story.” Nekra said annoyed.

“Very well!” Fenrin began. “It began long ago! A young minotaur named Fenrin grew up in a small Minotaur colony, we only had a couple thousand people in my village.”

“That isn't small at all!” Nekra yelled out.

“There I was, my father a great warrior, my mother a great seamstress.” Fenrin laughed.

“How do you sow anything with big hands like that?” Rath questioned.

“We sow with hoes.” Fenrin said, looking at Rath confused. “I have seen your people in the fields.”

“Just continue.” Rath said, defeated.

“Very well!” Fenrin continued on. “One day a great Demon Lord comes into my village, or so I was told, and recruits our village into his army. It was there I served for many years, and then! I left!”

“Thats it!” Nekra yelled out.

“Yes, what else is there to know.” Fenrin said with a laugh.

“A demon lord recruited your people?” Rath questioned. “Does that mean Minotaurs fight for Tatalis?”

“Who?” Fenrin asked. “I believe the name of our Demon Lord is LightKiller.”

“Havent heard of that one.” Rath said, thinking back to his time in Kyrit.

“That is his title Sir Minotaur.” Nasui explained. “The one you call Tatalis is known as the Raging Storm.”

“Oh is that so!” Fenrin said with a hearty laugh.

“You served a demon lord?” Nekra questioned. “Should we really trust him?”

“What does it matter?” Rath asked. “He isnt apart of it now, plus he was already welcomed.”

“Exactly!” Fenrin began. “Besides, this place is way more interesting! LightKiller was all about just sitting around, he didn't even let us fight, he just wanted us for our numbers.”

“So you left looking for greater challenges?” Nasui asked.

“Exactly!” Fenrin exclaimed. “And I have found the challenge! Little Lizard and Springy Man are great training! And having the chance to fight more and more Adventurers! It's a dream come true!”

Rath looked into the fire, feeling like he was surrounded by cave walls again. “Nasui, are you a part of your people's army?”

“Yes in a sense.” Nasui explained. “We don't have a standing army, but we have soldiers, I am just a.” He paused.

“A what?” Nekra asked.

“Soldier.” Nasui said, his tone a little sad.

Rath took note of the statement. They all bantered until they rested. The journey was faster than they realized.

It was sunset, and the group was closing in on their destination. Nasui had said there was a secret tunnel they would need to find inorder to get into their fortress. They were looking around for it, when Rath looked up past the tree lines. The group was caught off guard, halting there and staring in disbelief. From across the trees was a large quantity of campfire smoke rising into the air. Hundreds of fires, all representing a group of soldiers that were laying siege to this fortress. Rath thought to himself that they needed to hurry, and hoped that there were even nagas left inside when they got there.

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