Tendrils of curiosity tickled my brain. The demon in front of me was the one that meticulously attacked me in Ivora looking for the Shadowsiphon dagger, Demon King Fyren. I’m certain no fool could ever become a king, and this was cemented further as I recollected his following me bit by bit out of Ivora and into more lonely parts of Reuland. He knew very well I was leading him away from people to avoid casualties, the demon even used spells that weren’t too destructive or lethal.
Fyren was conscious of what he was doing, and proved that he cared for the lives of others not just by his seemingly dumb actions in Ivora, but by the fact he didn’t march his armies into the human continent and performed a hostile takeover. The kingdoms of the humans’ defenses were paltry compared to the strength of the Hellfire clan, or even the Doomhorn whom numbered fewer in soldiers; I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much of a joke it would be if he let loose all the clans upon us.
In the end, Fyren, just like Lilith, desired not to harm humans in their attempt to save their kin from affliction. As I concluded those things in my mind, it made me wonder just what the difference would be should Lilith take Fyren’s place and become the new demon sovereign. What would change and what wouldn’t? Fyren’s longing gaze at his father’s portrait cast a shade of sympathy over me. I’d seen those eyes before in Isaac.
Suddenly, Fyren scoffed, unlinked his hands and let his arms droop loosely at his sides. “Lilith is cunning, lich. I presume she knows that I am onto her schemes.” He continued walking down the hall, stretching his arms out even. Sometimes, he felt more humanlike than other demons. “And I am curious as to why she sought your help to overthrow me. Alright, enough rambling.” He rested his hand on some beautifully varnished wooden double doors. “Let me show you the truth you seek.”
In this new room, dim green Dawnlights alit the stone architecture inside. The ornate carvings of polished wood made the pedestals in the room stand out. A bright Dawnlight hung over each pedestal, and each light was directed with a cone wrapping around it, something of a magical spotlight. A glass box encased a rather curious pair of items.
Demon King Fyren walked proudly behind them, yet he had a melancholic glint in his eyes. “This tradition was started over a thousand years ago. The first sovereign to be immortalized like this.” He gestured at the pedestal to my leftmost side. A masterfully decorated golden brooch was on display. There were four sections of it, and each section had the symbols that were tattooed on the members of the different demon clans. In the middle was the symbol of a white flower, denoting royalty. I reckoned a piece of jewelry like that was more expensive than my castle. However, the brooch wasn’t the most striking thing, it was the other item on the pedestal that had me baffled.
The elves stored the skull of their sovereign. Each glass case followed the same layout – a skull in the middle, and a royal brooch at the side of it.
“These three,” he walked along the lining of pedestals, “aren’t my ancestors, but they are sovereigns respected by all demons.” He stopped at the fourth and final pedestal. “This one,” his eyes scanned it with a mixture of fury and love, “was my father, the king who made a deal with a devil for power. Yes, elves didn’t need bows and daggers anymore, for now we had magical power quite unlike the humans.” He sighed. “Do you know what the price was for this power, lich?”
I shrugged. “Y-your souls?”
“Correct. Eternal damnation. From the lowly pauper’s child who hadn’t the slightest chance to mature,” he clenched his fist, “to the great sovereigns who rule over every demon, all elves, all demons are bound by this pact. When I die, this will be my fate.” His father’s skull cracked and caved in, and a faint scream of agony erupted from the case. Then, it reformed, and continued to do this, endlessly. “As much as we hate it, the affliction is a curious thing. It is the culmination of our lives as demons, and all the sins we commit. It is the greatest form of self-torment. We suffer from the weight of guilt that is not our own, but the demons that inhabit the underworld. It’s so painful that most children find some way to kill themselves to escape it, but that only makes things worse when their souls reach the underworld.”
Fyren sighed. “This pact we made, is one specific to our elven biology, therefore every elf is subject to this fate. That’s the pact you know about. However, it isn’t the only pact. Father knew the price he had to pay for the power we have now,” the king’s hand squeezed upon a corner of the glass case, “and he cursed his own bloodline with another pact. Every person that carries his blood is doomed to suffer a great portion of the affliction that haunts each immature demon.” He laughed out, quite hysterically. “He doomed his own son to suffer, as a way to soften the blow on his people. I feel it all, even as the strongest demon, I feel all their suffering, lich.”
His magic flared up as his anger accumulated. “If I die, then our children feel the full brunt of the affliction. If I die, our race dies. And if I don’t bear an heir into this torment, our race dies. So,” he forcefully calmed himself and tried his best to smile, “I hope that if Lilith takes over, she has some answer. Should she wish to put me to death, I hope she has a way to deal with the second bloodline pact.”
“And if she doesn’t?” I asked.
He gave an even brighter smile. “I don’t care if I have to make yet another ungodly pact. I will make it my business to secure the future of my race, my people.” His dejected eyes rested on me. “Even if it means a small fraction of my people survive, I will destroy all who oppose me.”