Chapter 29:

The Visitor

How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

Mirv traveled towards the river, the whole north part of Criss was becoming a naga district. She passed through the tents, the snake people smiling at her happily. The nagas had become accustomed to Criss quickly, they took up the fields, helped in the mines, manned the walls, they were a part of Criss already.

The northern forest was pushed back already, the timber being used to build houses. With the fortress complete, the wall being built around it, the carpenters find themselves free of work. They took up the job of building homes for all the residents, it was a slow process, but one that was coming along.

Mirv reached her destination, Fenrin had said she would find it here. Rath sat on the river’s edge, a large fishing rod stuck in the ground next to him, a rope for a string. Mirv had no time to speak to Rath since his return, they both were far too busy working on getting the nagas taken care of. She saw it, she saw it when the snakes arrived, and when Rath, Nasui, and Fenrin arrived. The blue shield bar.

“Rath.” Mirv said, coming up alongside him.

Rath was watching the water, jumping at Mirv’s sudden appearance. “Oh hey sorry I didn't see you.” He said.

“Mind if I sit with you?” Mirv asked. Rath patted the ground next to him for her to sit, and she sat. The two sat in silence for a moment, watching the river flow, bubbles rising from one spot. “I'm glad to see you back.”

“I'm glad to be back.” Rath said, turning to her. “I'm glad to see you again.”

Mirv flushed. She wanted to ask about magic, tell him about her abilities. It was clear she had the same power as Rath, just no shield. “I heard about the lord.” Mirv said instead.

“Yeah, might cause us issues in the future.” Rath said, looking at the grass between them.

“That's fine.” Mirv said. “Were stronger now, and if you think its best then you know everyone will support you.”

Rath gave a little smile. “Lord Rath, what a weird feeling.”

“You know you should pick a family name.” Mirv said, looking low. “All lords have one from what I hear.”

“I'm not recognized as a Lord of Tirim.” Rath said, eyes locked on the grass.

“And yet you're recognized by Criss, and that is what matters.” Mirv said. “Come on, you can make your case, we pledge ourselves to King Pierce and i'm sure he will let you rule. Just think about a name.”

Rath continued to look low, he had that look of concentration on his face. “Ill think it over.” he said, holding something back from her.

“By the way.” Mirv said, looking towards the rope fishing rod. “What are you fishing with that? Got a cage at the end or something? Haven't seen you fish in a long time.”

Rath looked up confused for a second, then turned to the rod. “Oh shit.” He said, jumping to his feet and scrambling over. He pulled the rope hard, and from the other end of it, emerging from the river, was Nekra. The Kobold gasped in for breath, Mirv noticing rocks tied to his feet. “Sorry sorry” Rath said quickly.

“What in Hells is happening here!” Mirv yelled out, now on her feet and rushing to Nekra’s side.

“Sir Rath.” Nekra said between breaths. “Was helping me with my training.”

“Drowning yourself is training!” Mirv said, looking at the two of them.

“Sadly yes.” Rath said, a little ashamed.

“I unlocked the fire, earth, and air souls.” Nekra said, finally having his breath back. “That leaves only the water soul before I become a full fledged shaman. The water soul is the Water Dragon’s lungs, we hoped to spark it with this training.”

“By Lords that is stupid and dangerous.” Mirv said annoyed.

“Was worse before.” Rath laughed. “He was originally doing this with Fenrin.”

“What happened to that?” Mirv questioned.

Nekra held himself, shaking violently, eyes bulging. “No, not again.”

“When I showed up, Fenrin was yelling ‘You got this! Just five more minutes!’ had to resuscitate poor Nekra here.” Rath explained.

“Yeah that seems about right.” Mirv said, unsurprised.

“Dont be mad at Rath please.” Nekra said, pleading. “He was helping me get stronger. Once I master this, I can find my specialty soul, and be stronger, strong enough to protect everyone.”

Mirv sighed. “Fine, but just.” she was cut short, the sound of a bell ringing in the distance. It was the eastern bell, meaning Adventurer from Kyrit. Before Mirv could say anything, Rath and Nekra were off.

Fenrin had picked a good day to go on guard duty. He took over Rath’s shift so he could work with Nekra, and it paid off. Standing across the field, was a Goliath with a large sword on his back. Fenrin stood outside the gate, eyes wide in joy.

“You look like a good time!” Fenrin said, his weapon drawn already.

“I'm not here to fight.” The goliath said, looking rather bored. “I am seeking the one named Rath, he will vouch for me.”

Fenrin puffed. “And what would Rath want to do with someone like you?”

The goliath looked at the walls of the village, seeing the archers that lined it, arrows aimed at him. “That is my business, if you can get him for me, I will wait here.”

Fenrin was annoyed at that, he wanted to fight. “What is your name?” He asked the Goliath.

“You may call me Malphis.” The Goliath said. “I have urgent business with Rath, please send him here at your earliest convenience.”

Fenrin thought hard, how does he stall him here. How does he provoke Malphis. “Why would I let some Adventurer see our Lord?” Fenrin said, pulling a card he didn't like to pull. “Our village does not allow Adventurers, and you are one. You break our laws and ask to speak with our leader and expect me to comply?”

Malphis turned his head curiously. “Yes, wouldn't he have to pass the judgement that I deserve to die before you kill me?”

He was right, Fenrin messed up. “Draw your weapon Adventurer! You may speak to our Lord after I have beaten you!”

“Oh I see, that is the game you are playing.” Malphis said with a sigh, drawing his weapon. “You are a meathead aren't you. Very well Minotaur, show me what you got.”

Fenrin smiled wide. “Yes, that is more like it!”

“Though I wonder something.” Malphis began. “I had heard that Minotaurs specialized in Labyrinth magic, and you challenge me in an open field with no magic set? It would be very helpful to your Lord if you had set some traps for any intruders. Or can you not do that?”

Fenrin charged blindly. He hated that statement with burning passion. He raised his weapon to strike, the hammer head preparing to slam into the Goliaths side. Malphis sword was turned so the flat of it took the hit, a resounding noise ringing through the field. Malphis stood unmoved, holding back the hammer with both hands on his blade.

“I do not wish to fight, but if I must humiliate you to make a point, I will.” Malphis said, then pushed against Fenrin’s hammer, who then pulled it back to swing again. Malphis however simply raised a ringed hand at Fenrin who could see the bar above the Goliath’s head filling. “Mudo” He said and a black energy lashed out, slapping into Fenrin’s face, sending him flying back.

Fenrin rolled across the dirt, his shield was barely damaged from the spell. He used his free from hand to steady himself, three limbs pressed against the ground, while the fourth held his weapon. Malphis was already upon him, using the butt of his sword to slap Fenrin across the face. Even though his shield took the brunt of the damage, he felt the recoil. Fenrin quickly retaliated, swinging his head back, his horns locking around the sword and threatening to pull it free. Another Mudo was cast, pushing Fenrin to the ground, his shield nearly broken.

“You fight like this.” Malphis said. “Your head strong, too weak. Think more, charge less.”

“I am no such thing!” Fenrin yelled out from the dirt. He felt the Goliath press his foot on his head, not allowing him to raise. “I am the great Fenrin!”

“Not if you stay like that.” Malphis said. “Not until you can notice your own weakness.”

“What is going on here!” a voice called out. Malphis released his foot and Fenrin raised his head, seeing Rath standing close to the two.

“Your guard wanted to spare, I figured I could give him a bit of practice.” Malphis said casually, sheathing his weapon.

“Malphis?” Rath said, just noticing the Goliath. “By Lords, what are you doing here! I looked for you back in Kyrit and couldn't find you!”

“I apologize.” Malphis said casually. “Though my reason for being here is a good one, may we speak?”

“Of course!” Rath said, ushering him towards the gate. “Though, the laws of Adventurers do not apply here, so dont do anything stupid. Fenrin come, Malphis is a friend.”

Fenrin sat on the ground, falling to his back and looking at the sky. “Worthless.” the voice echoed in his head. “Cripple. Pathetic. Waste of space.” the voices were all different, but each was distinct to Fenrin. He hated them, he hated this feeling, he was powerless against Malphis.

Fenrin got to his feet suddenly. “Haha!” yelled out. “Of course he would be your friend! He is strong! Mark my words Giant! I will topple you!”

Malphis scuffed at Fenrin’s boast. “I welcome that challenge.”

They all began to move into the village, the voices in Fenrin’s head even more distinct than usual. They walked to Turvs bar, where they sat. Nekra and Nasui had joined them at this point. Turv got them all a drink, and Malphis leaned forward to speak.

It had been too long since Rath had seen Malphis, he was glad he was okay. Nasui stood next to Rath, though he had offered the naga a seat many times. Nekra sipped at the cup in front of him, and Fenrin seemed quieter than usual.

“What happened at Kyrit?” Rath asked.

“Once I returned to the surface, I left, simple as that. I figured you were gone by then.” Malphis explained. “I spoke with Kider, passed him on the way here. Told me you had just returned so it was a good time for me to come.”

“What about the others?” Rath asked. “Jeel, Ion, Tivis?”

Malphis looked at him. “I saw them, they had just finished training on a higher floor, but I left them. Didn't want to deal with Jeel’s attitude.”

“Understandable.” Rath said, looking into his drink. “So what brings you here?”

“You.” Malphis said. “I would like to ask you a few things.”

“I'm all ears.” Rath said.

“Firstly, you're a lord here?” Malphis asked.

“Elected by the people.” Rath said, raising a drink. “Though I wasn't when I last saw you, so don't think I deceived you on purpose.”

“Even if you did it does not matter.” Malphis said, taking a drink. “So the King recognizes you?’

Rath paused, his tankard to his lips. “No.” He said, lowering his drink. “He wants to put someone else in charge here.”

“I see.” Malphis began. “And how do you feel about that?”

Rath caught sight of Nasui gripping at his swords, Nekra’s eyes began to narrow. They wondered if Malphis served the King, and is here to remove Rath. Fenrin seemed calm, perhaps he had not yet thought about it.

“I decided not to let them.” Rath explained, Malphis raising an eyebrow. “He either lets me serve as lord and leave us be, or we leave his kingdom.”

All eyes turned to Rath, looks of surprise on everyone but Malphis face. “What do you mean Sir?” Nekra asked.

“Ive been thinking on it alot.” Rath explained. “It is the best solution in the long term, if we have to, we will declare independence from Tirim.”

“Would make it hard for the king to replace you.” Malphis said, taking a deep drink. “But would he let someone so close to the capital leave his country? Would make the king look weak. If you plan to do that, you have to prepare for opposition.”

Rath nodded. “I would like it to not come to war, but it might. And if it does I need to be strong enough to fight it all myself, keep my people from getting hurt.”

“That is ludicris.” Fenrin laughed. “It's war! People fight in war, you're not me, the slayer of seventy two thousand!”
“Did that number go down?” Nekra asked.

“He is right Master.” Nasui said, bending near Rath. “If war is to happen, we all would fight along side you, you cannot do it alone.”

“I cant do it alone as I am.” Rath said, looking deep into his drink. “I need to get stronger.”

Malphis took down his drink in a big gulp. “In that case, I may have an offer for you.” all eyes returned to the Goliath. “I serve a great man. He is powerful, he studied magic, and military. He had weapons and artifacts that he may be willing to part with, as well as knowledge to pass on. I come because you seem like a man worthy of my masters time, he simply seeks a good man to teach.”

“Why would someone do that?” Fenrin questioned. “He wants to give up power?”

“My master is getting on in age.” Malphis said, looking low. “He is not long for the world, and as such would like to give what he can. I believe you are worthy of his time, Rath, will you come meet him?”

Rath thought it over. “How long will we be gone?”

“Only a weeks time at most.” Malphis said, his stoney expression returning.

“And can you guarantee my safety there?” Rath stated, glaring down Malphis.

“Smart question to ask.” Malphis laughed. “Yes, you and any others that come with you will be given protection, my master follows the laws of Hospitality, as long as it is returned.”

“Alright, a week, can't be far then.” Rath began. “I'll meet him, Nasui, Fenrin, Nekra, please watch over the village while I'm gone.”

“I am going too.” Nasui said sternly. “I serve you master, I must remain by your side.”

Rath sighed. “Okay, is that fine Malphis?”

“Of course, bring whoever you would like.” Malphis said calmly.

“Alright, Nasui should be enough.” Rath explained.

“I am going to.” Fenrin said, his eyes were locked on the table. Rath felt a strange emotion coming from the minotaur. It took a moment for Fenrin to look up at Rath. “If you get weapons, you will need an expert to tell you if they are good or not.”

“Is that what you're going with?” Rath said with a smile. “Very well, Nekra, can you handle things here?”

“Of course Sir Rath!” Nekra yelled out.

Rath turned to Turv. “I assume you can pass along the message to the council right?”

“Of course.” Turv said, he then excused himself, headed for a back room.

“Alright, we can leave in the morning, take the time to rest for the journey.” Rath explained to Malphis.

“Actually.” Malphis began. “I would prefer us to leave now, our travel will be quick.” The group raised an eyebrow. Malphis guided them out of the tavern, and stopped by the large well. “Nekra was it?” Malphis said, looking at the kobold. He pulled his bag forward, and removed a long grey stone with a gold inlay of runes. Rath had recognized the runes from his artificing book, he hadn't managed to make it but he knew that it was a teleportation stone. “I will set this here, I ask that you do not allow it to be obstructed, it will be how your people return.”

“Okay?” Nekra said confused.

“This is a waystone.” Malphis explained. “It connects to places, this one to my master's home.” He set the stone down, and it seemed to mesh with the ground below it. “Once we get there, you will have rooms and food, should my master not dismiss you right away.”

Rath caught sight of Mirv returning to the village. “Hold on a second.” Rath said, rushing over to her. “Sorry for leaving you in the woods like that.” He said, bowing his head in apology.

“Dont worry about it.” Mirv said, eyeing the Goliath. “What is happening?”

“That is a friend of mine from Kyrit.” Rath explained. “Nasui, Fenrin, and I are going to meet with his master, who may offer to help us. We will be gone for about a week.”

“A week?” Mirv explained, looking low. “Okay.”

“Were going to be heading out, dont worry, worse comes to worse we will just fight and come back.” Rath said with a laugh.

“Rath.” Mirv began. “When you come back, I want to talk to you about something important, okay?” Rath turned his head, concern showing clearly. “Nothing bad!” Mirv said quickly. “Just important okay?”

Rath smiled warmly. “Of course, Ill make sure to make time for you when I get back okay?”

“Thank you.” Mirv said happily. “Oh and when you get back youll be moved into the Fortress.”

“What!” Rath said quickly. “Are you going to move my stuff?”

“Oh yeah.” MIirv said with a smile, she poked his chest with her finger. “Everyone worked hard on it, you can atleast live in it, i'm even moving your flowers to the garden.”

“I can do it when I get back!” Rath said quickly.

“I'm sure you could, when you felt like it.” Mirv laughed. “However I think you'll find another thing to distract you from doing it when you get back. So i'll just beat you to it.” Rath pouted at Mirv, who simply laughed. “Be safe okay, and figure out a family name okay?”

Rath smiled. “I will.”

Rath returned to the others, who eyed him awkwardly. Rath’s face slushed as he got close. “What.”

“Nothing.” They all said in unison.

“Let's go.” Rath said.

Malphis helf out a hand, he spoke a word quietly, and a doorway appeared atop the stone. The doorway was a pool of blue energy that pulsed randomly. Malphis stepped through first, Rath following behind, Nasui and Fenrin taking up the rear. With Fenrin passing through, the gate sealed, leaving Mirv and Nekra standing alone in the square, hoping for the best. 

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