Chapter 26:

A Promise

How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

The air was tense in Criss, people running about preparing for the arrival of the nagas. Mirv had taken to gathering as many medical herbs as she could. She now was north of the village, near the river that ran east and west. The river flowed east towards the Divide river, and was large and deep. Growing up Mirv spent many days playing in the river with her friends, Rath included.

Mirv lowered herself to a crouch, looking at the flowers in front of her. The white petaled flowers were the ones that she looked for, they had jagged edges and green veins. These were part of what she used to make her health potions, an art she has been told is improving significantly.

Finding a small batch, she stretched her gloved hand, careful to pull the roots clean with it. She had begun migrating the plants closer to the village, in a little garden outside her house. Looking around for more she spotted a white Freesia flower. Moving closer, she looked deep into the flower, feeling the past absorb her.

“Flowers?” Rath had asked, he was much younger then he is now, only a boy.

“Yes, aren't they pretty!” Mirv said, she too was tiny. She raised a collection of different colored Freesia’s for Rath to see. “These ones grow all over the village, and their color varies so much!”

Rath cracked a smile then kneeled down next to her, looking at the flowers that remained in the land. “These are pretty.” He said, rubbing a gentle hand on the petals.

“This patch is my favorite.” Mirv had said. They were a tad to the east, in her secret place in the woods. Mirv had dragged him here to show him the flowers. “I bring them here, giving them more color!” She pulled free her tiny shovel and began to clear the dirt for her next batch of flowers.

“Why do you bring them out so far?” Rath asked. “Why not grow them at home where you can see them all the time?”

“Hm.” Mirv said, not looking at him. “That is a good question, maybe because if I saw them all the time, they would lose a little bit of their magic.”

“That's stupid.” Rath laughed in a childish way. “What magic do these flowers have?”

“Guess you wouldn't understand.” Mirv pouted. “It just feels special for them to be here.”

Rath looked around, falling back on his butt, his hands lifting him from the ground. “I see, then I will enjoy this with you.”

Mirv cracked a small smile. She continued on, planting more flowers. It was days later when Mirv returned, and she stood frozen in the clearing. At the edge of the woods, sat a snarling wolf. Its blood red eyes glared into Mirv, who stood frozen. The creature's lips dripped with saliva, flashing its teeth.

Mirv hadn't asked Rath to come today, she didn't want to bother him all the time. She was happy she hadn't, she didn't want to see Rath die like she was. The wolf pounced, shooting forward in the air at Mirv. Mirv went to protect her face, but felt no impact.

Lifting her hand from her eyes, she caught Rath standing in front of her. His arms were placed near the joint of the wolf's claws, keeping them just barely out of reach. The wolf's hind legs now sat on the ground and the wolf snarled at Rath. Rath took his head, pulled it back, and slammed it hard into the wolf's head, knocking the beast back. The wolf, blood dripping from its head, readied to pounce, snarling at Rath.

Rath moved his body lower, making himself look larger, and growled back. The two exchanged snarls, Rath not giving an inch. The wolf began to step back, to which Rath stepped forward hard. The wolf backed away faster, running back into the woods, its eyes full of fear.

Rath turned to Mirv, a streak of blood sliding down from his forehead, past his nose, around his lip, and off his chin. Mirv wondered at him, his face was completely calm now, worried even. “Are you okay?” Rath asked, looking over MIrv. “You're not hurt right?”

“No but you are!” Mirv yelled out. “Let me bandage it!” She ripped off part of her dress, letting her leg show, and wrapped the length of cloth around Rath’s head. “That was stupid! Why would you do that!” She hadn't realized the tears streaking down her face till now.

“Cause it would have hurt you.” Rath said, the pain not setting in yet. “What else would I do? Let it kill you?”

“Why are you here!” Mirv said angrily. “I didn't ask for you to come!”

“Yeah I know.” Rath said with an ear to ear smile. “I just wanted to see this place again, I hoped I would see you here.”

She blushed, tightening the wrapping. Rath cried in pain at that. “Don't do that again.” She said, looking low.

“No can do.” Rath said. “If I didn't, youd be dead.”

“Promise me you wont.” Mirv said, looking at the dirt. Blood had splattered on some of the flowers.

“I can't make a promise like that.” Rath said sternly.

“That's creepy.” Mirv said with a slight smile.

“What! Is it! I'm sorry!” Rath dropped into a bow, doing it over and over.

Mirv laughed. “It's now.” She took a hand and plucked a purple Freesia from where it was planted. “Have you ever heard about the Freesia legend?” She asked.

“No?” Rath questioned.

She smiled slyly. “If you and someone else pick a petal from the same Freesia and make a promise, that promise would never be broken.”

“No way!” Rath said, his eyes lighting up in excitement.

Mirv was lying, she knew of no such legend. She felt really good, and wanted to take this opportunity to make a promise to him. “Do you want to do it?” she raised the Freesia, looking into his eyes.

“Yeah!” Rath said. “How do we do it!”

“First, use your off hand to help me hold the flower, we both have to make contact with it for it to work.” Mirv lied again. The stem was short, so Rath overlaid his hand with hers, holding the flower together. “Then you go first.”

Rath looked confused. “Why me?”

“It's gentlemanly!” Mirv said quickly, her face burning red.

Rath pouted for a second, then he looked off into the sky. He was thinking hard about something, trying to draw it from the cloud. “I got it.” He suddenly said, snapping back. He grabbed hold of a petal and looked deep into MIrv’s eyes. “I promise to protect everything you love and care for!” he said it as he pulled the petal free.

Mirv smiled, she reached out and gripped the petal with her index and thumb. “In that case.” She began. “I promise.”

MIrv’s mind returned back to the present as strange text flashed across her vision. Observation Unlocked’ the text floated for a moment before finally vanishing. ‘Spellcasting Unlocked’ a second set of words appeared, vanishing shortly after.

Mirv fell to her knees in disbelief, the healing herb still in her hand. She had been told about this happening to Rath, Nekra explained a similar event happening to him. An Adventurer, that is what she was, she had unlocked their magic. She sat for a while, thinking, finally she decided that she needed to talk to Rath as soon as she could.

Fenrin hated tunnels. To be clear he hated cramped tunnels, Minotaurs loved caves, but tunnels where he had to walk on all fours, that wasn't fun. It was less fun when naga children kept trying to climb up him for a ride. He led the pack of them, civilians and soldiers following shortly behind him. They had not lit a torch, they all had fine enough vision for the dark, and did not want the light to draw unwanted attention.

The weight of the thousands of nagas behind him didn't pressure Fenrin as much as he had thought. He had no plans to lead them too far, north was good enough direction for him to find Criss. No Fenrin wanted to fight, an army would be great warm up! He wanted to be the one to take the prick Tix head.

He had no real grudge against Tix for what he did, he just hated that stupid smile on his face. His speed was incredible, he perfectly blocked Rath from saving those people, he was a challenge. Fenrin puffed in excitement, he felt bloodlust rising inside himself.

“Mr Bull!” A kid yelled, he had wrapped himself around Fenrin’s arm. “Look! A coin! Can I keep it!”

Fenrin stopped abruptly, he felt the line of snakes behind him stop in a wave. He looked at the coin, a sign from Nekra that the coast was clear when he left. The exit was just a little farther now, he smiled wide, shaking the kid free.

“Alright bois!” Fenrin said, turning his neck. “From here on out, north! I'll cover your escape, guards handle the people, i'll try to draw any hunters away, you all get that?”

“Yes Sir Fenrin.” A lead soldier had said, Fenrin hadn't bothered learning his name, he may be dead after tonight so what does it matter.

Fenrin smiled, edging closer to the tunnel exit. Finally he emerged, standing tall quickly. He drew his weapon and spun around, looking for any targets. It was silent. He led them all out of the cave, watching carefully. He looked up, seeing a bird dart across the sky, headed west. Fenrin followed it, seeing trails of smoke rising high.

These trails were not from smoke, they were from buildings burning. The raid had begun, but why were they so far away from the fortress? The sound of a horn blaring drew Fenrin’s attention back, he caught sight of it too late. A hunter held the horn, he dropped it and pulled forth his bow.

Fenrin smiled, this was it. He launched forward, boring his horn deep into the man's stomach. The man was no adventurer, but he had done enough with his short life. With the man still on his head he turned to the nagas. “Run! I got this!” he yelled out, turning, seeing the shadows in the trees rushing him. He didn't care if they ran, just as long as they stayed out of his way. “Guards, protect your people, don't waste any arrows or energy on anything else!” It was with that declaration that Fenrin charged into the night.

Fenrin barely even noticed the first person, he had knocked him down on accident and stomped his foot on his chest. The second he did notice, as he took the axe side of his weapon and dropped it hard on his head, the shield of the man shattering. Sadly for the man, Fenrin was strong, and the axe bored into his head. The third and forth were a blur as he swung the hammer side back, crushing both of the men's heads between the hammer and the tree.

This was Fenrin’s zone. His head felt clear here, in the midst of battle. He smiled widely with each kill, none of them brought a challenge, so why was he so happy? He realized it was because he was helping Rath, what an annoying thought, but if even one of these men stood a challenge to him, Fenrin would be happy.

“Men!” A stern voice called out. “Back away, leave this one to me.” Fenrin turned to the voice, he took this as the man Luid that Rath had told him about. It was clear he was a general, and hopefully a challenge. “No more of my men shall die to you beast!”

“Oh they will!” Fenrin said, blood covered his body. “You just won't see it, you'll be dead first!”

Luid pulled free his large greatsword, and charged. Fenrin smiled, he already won. Luid dropped the sword on Fenrin, who simply raised his arm to block it, his shield taking the brunt of the damage. He swung his arm, knocking away the sword. Fenrin’s shield was halfway down from the strike, but it didn't matter. Fenrin began to charge the man, who stepped back to avoid Fenrin’s swing.

In range, Luid had the advantage, his sword was massive. However it came with a fault. Luid tried to swing at Fenrin, just as he had set him up to do. However, Luid’s sword stopped hard, it dug deep into a tree.

“Humans have such bad sight.” Fenrin said. “Maybe if you could see better, you'd know where the trees were more clearly.”

Luid realized his mistake, he was too far from his soldiers, he told them to stand back, their torch light wasnt lighting this area. He tugged at his sword but it was deep in the wood, he had to abandon it, but his shortsword wouldn't be enough to win. He released the sword, drawing his short sword. Luid had heard the stories of small weapons toppling mighty monsters, this was no different, his men would sing his praise and bards would tell his story for this.

“If you plan to fight in a heavily wooded area with a big weapon.” Fenrin called out for everyone to hear. “Make sure you can break through your obstacles!”

Luid felt hope drain from him as he heard it. It was only a moment, the sound of wood splitting, the sound of a shield shattering, and the sound of metal slicing through flesh. In his last moments, Luid saw the largest smile on Fenrin’s face, as his axe sent Luids head flying away into the dark.

Fenrin let out a hearty laugh, then faced the rest of the soldiers, who all stood in terror. “Do not run worms!” Fenrin yelled out. “Come! Fight me! Give me a challenge! Come at me all at once! Maybe one of you will kill me! Come!” he taunted on and on. This was his zone, he was a butcher, a warrior, a master of his craft. This was his pride, his dignity, as long as he kept fighting he would push back those feelings he hated.

“I'm proud of you.” the gruff voice whispered in Fenrin’s mind, it was the same voice he heard every time he cut through a body. “I'm proud, we finally found a place for you.” the voice said again. Fenrin pushed back those emotions again, he smiled, cutting down more and more. He had to keep fighting, he had nothing else. 

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