Chapter 31:

Fine Dining

How I (Accidently) Became a Demon Lord

Rath felt off as he entered the dining room with his guards. Malphis had walked the three in silence, pushing open the large double doors to the hall. It was massive with a deep red carpet, a tall roof with glass windows along the walls, and a long dining table with dozens of chairs placed along it. Rath was offered a seat right next to the head of the table, Nasui sitting next to him, and Fenrin next to Nasui.

“My Master will be along shortly.” Malphis said, standing awkwardly. “I will return shortly with the food.”

“You will be serving us?” Rath asked.

“Yes and no.” Malphis said. “Our staff is short handed currently, I help where I can.”

“Then let me help.” Rath offered, rising from his chair.

“Please don't concern yourself.” Malphis said dismissively. “Chaoram would be quite upset if his guests were forced to work.”

Rath pouted but sat back down, Malphis walking out a side door. He noted the long sheet that covered the length of the table, it was a light red with a yellow trim that fell just perfectly above the legs. The chairs also held the same light red on their cushions, though upon closer inspection Rath noticed that they all seemed worn. The chairs were either patched with similar fabric or had slight rips. Rath quickly realized that the furniture that he and his companions, as well as the ones nearest him, were in the best condition.

A door flung open, revealing Pelone walking in on her taloned feet. She jumped into the air, flying over to take the seat across from Nasui, sitting with her feet on the cushion. She leaned her back against the chair and sighed deeply.

“So it's duck on the menu!” Fenrin said loudly, startling everyone at the table. “Thank the Lords, I worried about beef.”

“What are you getting at, Beef.” Pelone said, leaning forward, shooting a nasty look at Fenrin.

“Oh I just figured that the bigger one would bring the food, not let it come to us.” Fenrin said with a hearty laugh.

“Fenrin!” Nasui said, panic on his face. “Why would you say such a thing to one of our hosts!”

“I thought it was that demon that was our host?” Fenrin said, turning a head to Nasui. “This is just a servant from my understanding.”

“That is still very rude!” Nasui said quickly, turning to Pelone. “I apologize for my companion lady Pelone.”

“Lady?” Pelone said, turning a raised eyebrow to Nasui, still holding the dirty look. “I aint not noble snake. Mountain bird here. As for you Beef, what makes you think I'm dinner huh?”

“Pelone.” Came the voice of Chaoram, it echoed menacingly from all around them. Rath turned to see the Demon Lord enter from a side room, standing in the doorway casually. The demon wore a light brown set of commoners clothes, he seemed relaxed in how he approached the table, sitting at the head next to Rath. “Don't be picking fights with our guests.”

“He started it.” Pelone said with a pout, looking away from the group.

“I'm aware.” Chaoram said, he sat with resting shoulders and a warm smile. Somehow even in that position he still felt intimidating. “Sir Fenrin, may I ask that you not make an attempt on my assistant's life.”

Fenrin opened his mouth as if to speak, but stopped as if something caught in his throat. He turned away almost in shame, his fist clenched below the table for Rath to see. Rath could see the anger of Fenrin for not speaking to such a powerful figure.

“I apologize.” Rath said, lowering his head in a bow.

“For what?” Chaoram said as Rath raised his head. “You keep interesting company, I expect situations like this to happen. Strong personalities tend to clash, it is what I enjoy about life. Keep life interesting right?”

“I agree.” Rath said with a wave of joy. “You should see how Fenrin and our friend Nekra bicker back home.”

“We bicker?” Fenrin asked in confusion.

“Like an old married couple.” Nasui said, defeat in his voice. “It is quite enjoyable though.”

“Of course he doesn't realize he bickers.” Pelone said with a sly smile, resting her head on a taloned hand, the elbow of which rested on the table. “It takes at least a little brain power to figure that out, which I feel he lacks, how sad for you.”

“I thought birds had pretty voices.” Fenrin said, glaring at Pelone. “This one just squeaks.”

“I have a beautiful voice!” Pelone spoke up. “Not that some brute like you would understand the beauty of the world!”

“I don't need to know beauty to know you dont belong with it.” Fenrin said.

Their fight was interrupted by the sound of laughter. Rath couldn't hold it in any longer and had let it sneak out, though tried to keep it down. However, Chaoram sat with his hand across his chest as if gasping for air, laughing hysterically.

“This is what I mean!” Chaoram said, tears in his eyes. “It is always fun to watch the show of interesting people.”

Before Rath could comment, the double doors opened again. Malphis emerged with a strange creature pushing a cart with silver trays topped with food. The creature was tiny, had a disfigured face and bulging teeth and stood only three feet tall.

“Dinner.” Malphis said with a bow

“Enjoy it!” the creature yelled out, lifting a tray from the cart. He laid the tray, filled with Venison, in between Nasui and Pelone. The creature seemed to hop as it walked, bouncing to the height of about five feet.

“Thank you very much.” Rath said to the creature as it turned back to get another tray.

The creature turned, whispered something under its breath and glared at Rath before turning back to his cart. It got a tray of vegetables and quickly placed them in front of Rath. Malphis set silverware and plates, three sets on each side with one for Chaoram.

“Do not worry about Reese.” Chaoram said to Rath. “It's in his nature to act grumpy.”

“His nature?” Rath asked.

“Red Caps are always like that.” Malphis injected, staring straight to Reese, not hiding his statement. “Grumpy for one reason or another, he's just is that he doesn't like cooking.”

“Then why does he cook?” Rath asked. “Do you force him to?” He turned to Chaoram for the last part, realizing the error of his question immediately.

“He just likes to cook.” Chaoram said, pulling some venison onto his plate.

“I don't understand.” Rath said, his brain feeling like it was melting from the contradictions.

“Neither do we.” Malphis said, taking a seat across from Rath.

Reese took the seat next to Pelone. He then got to his feet and walked on the table, grabbing some meat and vegetables that were out of his reach from where he sat. He then returned to his spot and sat quietly, his hands folded in front of his food.

Fenrin was the first of Rath’s group to grab at food, grabbing the largest chunk of meat he could with nothing else. Malphis had placed several bottles of wine all around them, all of different colors, and fine chalices for them to drink from. Fenrin took the darkest colored one and filled his chalice to the brim, then began to devour.

Nasui looked to Rath, clearly waiting for him to take food first. Nasui had been like this since they had returned to Criss, always hesitant to do anything before Rath did. Rath took some meat, pairing it with vegetables and some soup and a piece of bread. Nasui followed suit, taking a tad more vegetables than Rath and less meat. Malphis was the last to fill his plate, as Pelone had taken hers when Chaoram had taken his.

“Pelone.” Chaoram said, drawing all eyes to him from Rath’s group, the demon lord's servants didnt even lift an eye from their food. “Have your sisters been fed?”

“Yes Sir.” Pelone said humbly. “I saw to their food before I came down.”

“Excellent.” Chaoram said with a thoughtful nod. “Malphis, anything to share?”

“Tatalis is still at Fort Bolin apparently.” Malphis said casually sipping some soup. “Though he hasn't been sighted in some time, I believe he is giving time for Tirim to send reinforcements.”

Chaoram rolled his eyes. “Of course he would be doing that. What else.”

“I have reports of the Oni’s trying to make alliances with Exial.” Malphis said as he cut a piece of meat into a smaller piece. “Karkien is still doing nothing but fortifying its borders. Seems Tatalis won't be getting in through the south.”

Rath heard the familiar locations being mentioned. Exial was the country south of Tirim, the Elven lands. Kraken was to the south east, it was ruled by dwarves he heard. What interest did the demon lord have in the south?

“Sad the Oni’s must make an alliance with the elves.” Chaoram said, a hint of sadness in his eyes. “I do wish they would come north, there is plenty of land for their people here.”

“I believe they are looking for strength to take back their home lands sir.” Malphis said casually. “We cannot fault them for that.”

“No we cannot.” Chaoram said. “What of Kyrit?”

“Nothing to report sir.” Malphis stated. “At Least from my last report.”

Chaoram nodded to himself. “Pelone, how are your homes doing?”

“We have been well Master.” Pelone said with a wide smile. “The Augurials have not been seen in our lands for some time.”

“That is reassuring.” Chaoram said with a kind smile. “Reese, this food is amazing.”

“It's awful.” Reese said, his face low and said, raising the soup above his eyes, and letting it fall back into its bowl. “I should have seasoned the meat, but my supply is low. The soup is bland. The vegetables are starting to turn, and even the bread is stale.”

“You are too hard on yourself.” Chaoram said.

Reese simply let his face fall into the table top. Rath realized that Reeses food had not been eaten yet, only played with. The Red Cap released groans of annoyance as he turned his head, revealing his face.

“Can I start over?” Reese asked in anger.

“No.” Chaoram said, eating more. “I'm already thru most of my plate.”

“You should not have to eat such garbage my lord!” Reese yelled out, his head still on the table. “This filth isn't even good enough for the livestock!”

“Ish quite good” Fenrin said, his mouth stuffed with meat. “Shooo good.”

Reese rolled his face downward again, quiet this time. Chaoram looked over his guests with a curious eye. He settled on Rath’s plate, noticing how little its been touched.

“Tell me Rath.” Chaoram said. “Tell me about Criss.”

Rath was stunned for a moment. “What exactly do you want to know?”

“Whatever you can tell me.” Chaoram said.

Rath thought about it, he was going to offer help. He must be looking for a gain. “We have a silver mine.” Rath explained. “We also have very good farm lands, and a good river for fishing. We also are placed in the middle of Pierce and Kyrit, making for good trade routes.”

“And what of the people?” Chaoram asked, catching Rath off guard. “Tell me about the people there.”

Rath looked at his food for a second. “Turv runs a bar. He is a great man, he used to be our kinda sorta mayor before I was elected to be the leader. He always has a smile on his face and gives good wisdom. Barder is a hard worker and a romantic at heart. The idiot once fell from a tree because he wanted to give his wife the first autumn leaf. Peel is our blacksmith, he looks tough but he is a big softy in his heart and cares about everyone greatly. Nekra is a kobold, he is also one of my best friends. He wants to be respected by his people and lead them, take care of them. And MIrv.” He paused, then realized he was done, looking back at Chaoram.

The demon lord looked at him, a smile on his face. “I see, you are a kind person arent you.”

“He is!” Nasui chimed in. “He came to my aid with no ill will towards my people! He even saved us from Lord Tix of GreyHold!”

“Tix you say?” Chaoram said, though he didn't look surprised.

“Yes Sir.” Rath said, Nasui shying down as he realized he said too much. “I killed him.”

“I'm sure the current king wouldnt like to hear you say that.” Chaoram said. “What exactly is your plan?”

“Well.” Rath began. “Should he not accept me as Lord of Criss, we declare independence.”

“And if he doesn't accept that?” Chaoram asked.

Rath clenched his fist on his knee. “Then, we fight.”

Chaoram raised an eyebrow. “Fight the king?”

“Well we defend against attacks.” Rath stated. “We have been fighting off Adventurers for sometime now already, so it wouldn't be much different.”

Chaoram leaned back. “Let's pretend I'm the king of Tirim, lord Garion I believe. I found out a village was breaking my law for the Adventurers I love so much, then found out that the village had a source of valuable silver. Now I find out one of my lords was killed by the now proclaimed lord of said village. What do I do?”

Rath sighed. “Attack and take control.”

“Attack with an army.” Chaoram explained. “Wipe the people of the village of this world, then place new more loyal people into it. What is your army?”

“Me.” Said sorrowly.

“That is a lie Master!” Nasui chimed in. “We have a thousand naga soldiers, as well as nearly a thousand Kobolds. The humans only make up about a hundred or so people but they can fight to! I have seen to training some myself! As well we have Fenrin!”

“You have such a loyal servant.” Chaoram said, looking over Nasui. “Though a idiot, don't reveal exact numbers till you know you can trust the one you reveal it to.” Nasui shied away again. “Now then.” Chaoram continued. “What do you do now? The king is on your doorstep, demanding your land, and your life. What do you do?”

Rath inhaled deeply. “Then I kill the King.” He said, all eyes turning to him in shock, all except Malphis and Chaoram. “Any that threaten my people will die by my hand. King or no king.”

Chaoram smiled. “You truly are an interesting one, Rath.” He leaned back. “Most would try to make a deal with the king first, and yet you go straight for the kill. You also could have tried to move your people.”

“I made the choice the day I killed the first Adventurer.” Rath explained. “I will defeat any threat to my people.”

Pelone smiled at Rath. Malphis showed nothing in his stoney expression. Reese simply rolled his face back and forth across the table.

“Rath, would you mind staying for a few days?” Chaoram asked. “I am willing to offer you my support, but I would like to talk with you further, one on one, and have you learn a little more about me, and the world you live in.”

“Of course.” Rath said. “As long as we can teleport back before long, I fear for my peoples safety.”

“That shall be fine.” Chaoram said. “You and your people have free reign of the castle, please explore to your hearts content, except the Aviary in the Northern tower, that is off limits.”

“Why is that?” Fenrin said, perking up at the thought of causing problems.

“Because that is where me and my sisters stay!” Pelone yelled out. “If any of you come anywhere near ill flay you and hang you from the outer walls!”

“I promise we will not enter that area then.” Rath said, shooting a glare at Fenrin. The Minotaur had turned away to avoid his eye. “And thank you for the opportunity.”

The meal went on quietly, and before long they all returned to their rooms. Rath laid in the comfortable bed, he wondered about what he would learn from the Demon Lord. He started prepping questions for Chaoram, what is the red words, does he know anything about the Growth ability. He drifted before long, feeling Freesia watching over him from the desk that he had set the blade. 

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