Author Note: Before ya’ll take out your pitchforks, hear me out. I support equality. I have always fought alongside and walked with whoever wanted equality. I have done programmes with people who wanted equality for women. But I really can’t support when feminism turns to simple man-hating. As for Sangraal, feminism has just taken root there and is still pretty much confined to ideals of the upper echelons of the society in practice, but normal people are enthralled by the idea. Since it haa just started as an idea, many have taken it up vehemently in opposition to the Chauvinism that was prevalent in Sangraal. The socio-political structure will see more powerful and self-reliant women in future chapters. I will show you how real women are, powerful, progressive. Strong women characters are…just a chapter away.
“…Riladvael sung the world into existence. Her voice of pure before pure existed harmonized the world to the tune of creation. Her aria rose the mountains, dug the seas. Then came her children, the Tarufavels, scions of the song. They created the creatures and each made a world for them to inhabit, hiding between them to guide them through their journey. However, from the songs also rose Za—”
- Broken inscription on the East Wall of the Rilivaesaekgar temple.
“Are you looking down on us, you chauvinistic pig?!” a red haired girl pressed her fine rapier on my throat.
“No, I was just- I got cut off mid-reply.
“ ‘Just’! you demeaned us and call it ‘just’!” the girl motioned her companions to come closer, preferably with their weapons pointed at me.
The young leader of the team of 4 girls had red hair and wore fine armour. She had an agreeable face and features that caught your eye. Her haughty tone was a dead ringer for the privileged upbringing she had. Many adventurers would kill for the rapier she had on. Hair the colour of blood framed her petite face, reaching down her nape.
Her companions drew closer. All of them probably belonged from well to do families. They had murder in their eyes. The blond pixie-head had already conjured up a fireball to lob at me.
My day had started quite ordinary, I had woken up to the sound of drunken brawling from the whorehouse underneath. Loud crashes had announced that the Mama had thrown the brawlers through the door. I had got up from my bed. The sheets were moist from the cold sweat that had poured from my body the night before. My body was stiff from all the turbulent twisting and turning in my sleep. I looked at my room. Articles of clothing lay discarded all around the small bed and floor. I have clean this up sometime. I dressed myself in the crumpled clothes that lay about, yawning loudly.
I got down the stairs, my armour and sword clanking softly. Mama Urun saw me and passed a greeting.
“Trouble again?”, I asked, eyeing the bleeding drunks who lay half buried in the filthy gutters outside the establishment.
“Ei, Eri-larr, these bastards won’t listen when their time is over”, she drawled, flexing her muscles. Urun was the mistress of the whorehouse, looking after the girls and conducting the business. She had a plump but muscular body, and acted as the bouncer when trouble was afoot.
“Won’t you get in trouble with the city guards?”, I asked offhandedly, sipping at my juice. A half dressed girl waved at me while she stepped on the drunk men’s faces.
“Naaah, they don’t disturb us. After all they have their needs too”, Urun looked on as the girl stomped on the men’s crotches.
I could hear sounds of giggling and beds creaking furiously as somewhere above us, people still had their fun. Two more girls alighted from the stairs, holding a passed out old man.
“Mama Urun!”, one of the girls called while she wiped her privates with a cloth, “This geezer passed out after we whipped him.
“Which one is that?”, Urun scrunched up her nose trying to remember.
“The one that ordered me and Aulia together. He wanted us to beat and insult him while we drop burning wax on his cock”, the girl replied, waving at me.
“I’ll go ahead, then”, I informed Urun while greeting the girl back.
“Bring me some Berriut today too, Eri-larr!” Suri’s voice drifted down from somewhere as the creaking of bed stopped momentarily.
“Don’t I always?”, I answered back.
As usual, I went into the forest to kill some monsters, making my way to the cave at the base of the Spire. I have to kill the spire-master today!
I saw some women hacking at an Errlat ineffectively. The Errlat had unloaded its slime on one of them, while the girls tried to insult the Errlat. Why were they calling the Errlat names? Calling it son of a krumper doesn’t exactly work.
Seeing them in trouble, I slashed the Errlat down, “Need help?”, I had offered.
The red haired girl who had been trying to poke the Errlat’s butt whirled around, her eyes widening. Her face had turned a vibrant crimson, her breath ragged. She had looked at me and the dead Errlat alternately, finally deciding on whatever conclusion she had come to.
“Rintrump shit! You looking down on us because we women?”, She had shouted at me while waving her rapier wildly.
“Just caz we women, ya think we need help?”, the companion with a blond pixie hair had screamed at me, spittle flying from her small mouth.
“Its not that”, I had managed to answer while the red haired girl closed down on me.
Feminazis! Alternate world feminazis!
While I was pressed to the tree, the women bared their weapons and prepared to cut me down.
“I…Grisaria von Armatech will take you down for discriminating against women!”, the red hair delivered in an imperious voice while she pointed her rapier.
I sighed. I dropped my sword and pressed my hand at my waist, taking out the wakizashi-dagger.
“Wrong! I vouch for equality! I treat men and women the same!”, I shouted while backing away, maintaining distance.
“What does that mean, you illiterate oaf!?”, a black haired woman with twin-swords asked.
“It means I will treat you same as any man attacking me”, I flashed my wakizashi, a grin painting my lips. I jumped the distance between me and the red haired girl, stabbing the dagger towards her.
After I was done with the overzealous women, I had continued my way through the thickets, searching for prey. The sun was at the zenith, the heat beat down mercilessly. I was just about to enter the mildewed cave.
“Halt!” A gruff voice called from somewhere behind me.
I turned around and saw a party of three people. A woman and man wearing full set of bloody plate mail and a wizard wielding a large staff. The man in the plate mail had called me.
I walked towards them, slinging my sword on my shoulders.
Before I could blink, the wizard threw something at me. I jerked back as the thing hit my body and vanished in a yellow burst of light. Extreme stinging pain racked my arm as it transformed into the clawed black forelimb.
My heart had started racing as I guessed what it was. Sweat slicked my palms.
“Fucking demon, we got you!”, the woman screamed, brandishing her large sword. The man said nothing but whirled his large axe, making a brisk run towards me. The earth seemed to shake at the combined charge of the two, the heavy mail making the earth rumble.
I seem to be in demand today.
“By the holy name of Talaviel, we purge you, Demonkin!”, the woman shouted, the metal helm distorting her voice to something draconic.
“Die you fil- the woman trailed off, watching entranced as her arm holding the sword tumbled to the ground.
I had crossed the distance between us like a speeding bullet and slashed at her. A red fountain gushed from her stump as she stumbled down, screaming. With the same forward motion, I engaged the plated man, blocking his large axe.
Our weapons clashed, sparks scattering from the exchange. The wizard started chanting . I need to finish this before he completes! I spat fire at the plated guy, the one trick I had learnt from Karro.
The fire washed over his helm, making it hot instantly. The man clutched at his burning face as smells of searing meat wafted up from him. The steaming helm didn’t help his cause either, the hot metal burning his face further. I kicked him hard in the gut which set him stumbling backwards on his ass. The plate mail crashed violently to the ground, the weight making it impossible for quick recovery.
By then, the wizard had already finished his spell and a wave of fire rushed towards me. I held up my black arm and charged. The arm singed and smoked as the fire slowly burnt it, in spite of its abnormally high resilience. I could hear myself screaming in agony as the fire washed over it. The arm had charred black by the time I closed in on the wizard.
The wizard’s eyes went white with terror as I came face to face with him. As a last ditch attempt he swung his staff at my head. The staff broke when I caught it with my burning left arm and crushed it. I could see the wizard’s robes grow wet as liquid streamed down under the clothes.
I plunged my sword deep into his heart, making it explode with an AP charge through it. If I didn’t disrupt the magic circuit, who knows what might happen. The man coughed up blood from his exploded heart, the blood dying the green grass into a dark red. He had died before he hit the ground with a thud. The stinging smell of urine clung about him.
I jogged back towards the plated man. He had died when the fire had burnt out his eyes and face. Melted skin stuck to the helm as it popped and creaked with the temperature change. Just to be sure, I found the gap between his armour and slid my blade though his ribs. With some resistance, the blade went in.
The woman was still screaming, holding her bloodied stump with her hands. Tears and snot trickled down her face as she lay wailing. I throttled her throat; she scratched and bit at me when she asphyxiated. However, I didn’t kill her. I need her alive.
Finally, her struggled died down after she passed out. Her flailing limbs had thrown the plants underneath in disarray. I stripped the male and female Knights of their heavy armour and weapons. I could not have them have it where they are going.
I made a mental note to dispose of the armour as I dumped those in a shallow ditch and covered it with huge leaves. The armour would fetch some good rita later. Maybe even a royal rita.
I had to laboriously drag their bodies to the other side of the Spire, near a marsh. No one visited this part since the marsh was nigh impassable. That’s why it was the best position for the room to exist. The woman groaned when I dragged her over the jagged rocks.
I whistled loudly as I waved the dismembered arm of the woman inside the marsh water. After a while, the water swelled up as two large black shadows crept up from underneath the water. The Crezets centred their eyes on the bloody hand, making loud clicking noises.
The crezets looked like Crocodiles with large whiskers trailing off their noses. Their black bodies were spotted with green lichen. The tough scales glistened in the shadowy sunlight. The monsters came up the marsh bank and looked at me expectantly.
I shoved the arm towards them while making soothing noises. They were like dogs, but far deadlier. No one wanted to come near them. However, they were Zain’s sacred animals. Hence, I had some form of dominion over them as the chosen of their god.
The monsters snapped and growled loudly as they fought about their meal. Their furious shaking sent bits of meat and fat swinging about. After they had finished, I loaded the bodies on one Crezet and carried the woman to another. I lashed the bodies to the monsters with the strong vines that grew beside the marsh.
I sat on one the Crezets, holding it tightly. The Crezets were crazy strong and nimble swimmers. They sunk down the marsh, taking us with them. I held my breath as we went under. The Crezets went down to the bed of the marsh, muddy water swirling all around us. The dead bodies had their limbs flailing about due to the buoyancy in the water. The scant sunlight filtering thought the water made it seem like some strange flower was growing on the back of the Crezet.
The Crezets went through a dark underwater tunnel, the water current swirled into the deep abyss with force, sending bits of flotsam flying. The monsters breached the surface in a deep dark cave, free of water.
As the monsters clambered up the crystal strewn bank of the underwater lake, I gasped for air. Anymore than that and I would have run out of air. The water had turned bloody red at our wake, attracting shoals of fishes by the scent of blood. I unlashed the bodies and let the Crezets go. They jumped into the water to catch the fishes.
I carried the bodies deep into the cave, towards a chamber blocked by a huge circular rock. The cave had little light that filtered down from the small shafts extending through the rocks all the way to the surface. Bunches of crystals reflected that light and glowed like jewels, sending rays of light clattering through the cave. The cave had a damp air owing to it being right next to a marsh.
I came up to the rock covered room and pushed at the rock with my shoulders. Stench of rot drifted from between the rock, staining my nose. With a final heave, the stone shifted, revealing the room beyond.
The room was small and irregular. Stench of rotting meat permeated its very air. Skeletons littered its surface, both human and monster. Sounds of groans and bestial growls could be heard from the deep dark corners of the room, where shadows shifted about in strange shapes. Dark forms moved slowly across the far end of the room. The sight made me shiver. I didn’t want to be here.
I tossed the bodies and the still living woman into the room, taking them a bit deeper. Bones and bits of unidentifiable organs clattered away when we hit them, making eerie noises. Something whimpered in the distance, shying away from the light that had come through when I had moved the rock. I laid the woman down, and looked towards my old friend.
The Executioner sword stood buried deep into the torso of the knight’s body who I had left here a month back. The man had died sometime later and now his half exposed skeleton laid crooked as if twisting in agony. The blade shone through the gaps of his exposed ribs, its edges dull with crusted blood and smeared with unidentifiable smudges. The handle had bits of intestine wound around it.
I whistled in the room, the reverberation set the blade tingling. Things far away in the distance scampered away at the sound. I walked away from the room and its horrible stench of putrid flesh and excretion. The smell was thick enough to leave a nasty taste in my mouth with every gulp of air.
I rolled the stone back, covering the mouth of the room. Then I scattered some bright green dust around the rock. It was the magic-numbing ore, Sulpurian. No one could use magic to break through the cave this way.
I came back near the bank, the Crezets were still busy in their feeding frenzy. I whistled and one of them came splashing water. Red stained water dripped down its sharp jaws. I shivered a little at the sight. I got up on the monster as it started swimming again, back to the surface.
As I slowly sunk into the water, I could hear the woman start screaming.
When I finally made to the chamber of the Master of the Spire, two hours had passed. Every Spire had a strong monster governing it, like a dungeon boss. The one here was a flying goat that spat fire. The ears of the goat had elongated and formed into feathery wings. The goat looked at me with red eyes shining with hatred.
I had killed this one hundreds of time during my stay in Salrest, of course it hated me with its guts. I stopped its charge with my sword, avoiding the ridiculously large horns. The battle was over in a few minutes in a well versed exchange. At this point in time, I had grown many, many times stronger than the Spire-Master, not monster stood a chance unless it was a large group.
I hacked at its body to collect the precious core. After that, I turned to leave.
“I knoewst what thou seekest”, a quiet voice emanated from a dark corner of the shadowy room.
“Who is it?”, I readied my sword, anticipating an attack. Huh. This has never happened before.
“The one thou slayed but moments ago”, a flying goat like the Spire-Master walked out of the dark space between the high walls of the cavern. The thing stood at a cliff jutting out from the high wall, looking down on me.
I looked back where the body of the Spire-Master lay. It was still there, gutted and bleeding out.
“Look not for my body. It is but a vessel for my wretched soul”, the goat rambled on, shaking its long white beard.
I just looked at him with widened eyes. The sword went slack in my hands. What the actual…
“You can speak?”, I asked it, unsure as to what I should do. The goat was grazing on the scant grasses at the edge of the cliff.
“Nay. Normally nay. Even now thee can only hear me in thine mind. Killing is intimate business. For those few moments thee and thine prey is the most intimate in the whole world”, the goat flapped its ear-wings and floated a few feet above the cliff, “So for all the times thee has thine blade in my heart, hundreds upon hundreds; now I can speak to thee”.
Now even flying goats want a piece of me?
“So…what do you want?”, I asked it.
“Nothing. I just want to warn thee. You become a little more like thine enemy every time you swing your blade at him”, the goat flapped his ears faster. “Beware of becoming what thee seeks”.
“You are just bitter at how many times I have killed you”, I shouted at the goat. It can’t be that it knows… I started feeling a chill down my spine at the harrowing prospect.
“I know what thee seeks, mortal. I am the Spire-Master, I know what lies in that room of yours”, The goat now descended on the ground and glared at me with a strange sympathizing look, “What doth thee think we monsters are anyway?”
“Wait, what do you mean?”, I asked the goat, readying my sword.
Meheheh Mehehehhe. The goat called out in that annoying voice of his.
“What are you—
Meheheh mehehe. The goat glared at me, readying its charge.
No matter what I did after that, the goat wouldn’t speak. It was as if the intelligent light that had filled its eyes during the conversation had died out. Like as if the conversation never happened; it was all in my head. Well the goat did say it was in my head.
I killed it two more times out of pure spite. The Spires regenerated the Spire-Master every hour or so. The goat will be flying and mehehe-ing soon enough. Maybe I should have killed it a few more time to get it to speak. The room was in danger…
“Y…ya went to see the…the abomination didn’t ya?”, Kraus was standing at a corner, far away from me when I visited him today.
“There were knights”, I offered, passing him the Cores I had gathered today.
“Do…don’t come near me while ya smell of that thing”
“Even though you were the one who told me of it”
“I never thought that ya would actually do it”, he shivered like cold winds were whipping his body , “Therru forbid…”
“The fusion, Kraus”, I urged him.
“Not today. Not while ya smell of dried blood and terror”
“Use a mask”
“Closed for business today. Come tomorrow”
Kraus refused to fuse me today because he said I would get his ahrecht machine all bloody and dirty. Frankly, I could relate to his revulsion, but it was a fact that it was the only way left to me. I felt like losing a little bit of myself when I tossed more people into the room. The screams haunted me in my waking hours, making me feel like drowning in a deep lake. However I needed them. I needed their souls, their hate and madness. I needed their faith. The faith of souls condemned to darkness and death. I needed to sacrifice myself for what I sought. It didn’t mean that others agreed with me though. Not even a member of the Order like Kraus.
I came up to the Guild doors while shuffling unmindfully. Though I kept calling it an ‘Adventurer guild’ out of habit, it was actually called a Suppression Guild. The town was busy as ever, the sun beating down its last rays on the tired people. I needed to get off the sweat. More than that, I needed to get off the blood. Every time I killed, the blood felt like it was stinging me. An itch under the skin I couldn’t get rid of… I kept scratching at my back.
“I am telling you! That barbarian is from here!”, a girl was shouting at the Guild master. She was absolutely furious, judging from the shaking and vehement gesturing. Also, she had red hair the colour of blood.
Everyone whirled at me as I stood rooted to the ornate handle of the Guild front door. They seemed surprised for a while then started raising a furious din as they saw me.
“THAT! That is the beast that played with my honour! Arrest him! Kill him!” the red haired girl spotted me and went wild. Spittle flew out of her mouth as she shook in an epileptic rage.
Her companions had had a change of outfits. Now they were wearing something even more disgustingly rich. Laden with gold and silver, the clothes seemed to sparkle and announce their opulence. However, the ladies wearing the fine clothes weren’t…fine. They looked at me like I was some worm, readying their weapons.
The adventur—I mean suppressors formed a busy ring around the girls, raising an unholy clamour. They all seemed objecting to their accusations.
“I have been telling you, Torr-Eridan couldn’t have had done that! He is not that sort of a man!”
“Yes! Yes! He would never do anything to you!”
“Just because you are rich…Eridan won’t even!”
I never knew that these people thought so highly of me. I wish I could repay them somehow…
“What do you mean! he obviously-the girl with the red hair was cut off mid reply as a burly man with a bald head walked to her.
“Torr-Eridan isn’t interested in pretty snatches. He likes men. Big, hulking muscular men”, the burly guy delivered while looking at me.
“Right Right! He likes fit young guys who can play a good fiddle!”, Sasha the young tracker spoke up, clutching at his chest.
“No! I know his taste! He likes only little girls! Disgustingly young without any experience that’s what Eri preys on!”, the middle aged receptionist pointed her finger at the noble girls.
“Oi guys I just stopped them from attacking me by slashing—I was shown an open palm.
“We know, Eridan. Every one knows you like doing Elvish-twins while twisting their ear”, The old Suppressor who once sold me a knife said.
“Wha…what…”, the group of the young feminazi nobles seem to be shaking in fright.
Alvis, the leader of the Blue Fyre mercenary troop sauntered up, a mug of ale in his hand, “WRONG! Eridan-lai is not that shallow. He only likes racking a good healthy green tree. The tight hollow in the twisted branches….that dripping clear sap…that’s what Eridan is into!” he slammed down his tankard, going red in the face, “Ramming forcefully into the tree while ripping out leaves that’s what its all about!”.
Everyone just whirled around at Alvis. Silence reigned supreme…then some more. There was enough silence to make pancakes with it.
“As if you guys never fantasized about a Dryad!” Alvis shouted while he spilt the rest of his ale into his shirt. Then he stormed off, apparently upset about no one sharing his passion.
Thank god there ain’t any porn in this world…
Taking advantage of the silence, I stepped in and walked towards the Guild master. He was wearing a crisp white shirt and a leather half jacket of brown. His pants were black with black fastenings.
“They disturbed me in the forest. I stopped them non-aggressively”, I told him in a loud voice.
“Non-aggressive enough for them to say ‘played with my honour’?” the Guild master replied in a worried voice, glancing at the girls who had crossed their arms glaring at us. “You do know who they are right?”
“I can guess, Rilid”, I tapped his shoulders, “question is…which guild”.
“Daughters of the inner circle of the merchant guild”, He croaked in a dry tone. “You’re screwed”.
The middle aged receptionist woman came between us and the noble girls. “Please file a complaint while the guild judges the matter. You may not influence the witnesses or the parties involved”, she shoved a pile of papers at the girls.
“Y…You dare turn down Grisaia von Armatech! I will have your head! Grisaia von Armatech vows!”, she stormed off followed by her lackeys, “This is not the end, you beast!”.
“Princess!” I called out a bit urgently.
“What is it you filth? Ready to beg for your life?”, she glared at me with a triumphant smile on her face.
“Be careful not to bite your tongue saying your name”, I offered while I ordered a cup of chilled Saruri wine.
Turns out that the guild could do precious little except delay the proceedings for a while with bureaucratic red tape. The Merchant Guild was too powerful for the adventurer guild to fight. At least not worth enough for a single low level suppressor. They could have taken on the guild, but not for a Kivala-class suppressor.
I wondered what I should do as I prowled the streets searching for Berrirut fruits and some dinner. I was eating some Surmar, a dish of sautéed meat inside baked Chuligan intestines. Suddenly I spotted Shinar, a suppressor I knew pretty well, amble towards me.
“Today was shit, eh?” he offered in a way of greeting.
“It was. Want some Saruri?” I asked while we took our meal together.
“Sure…say wanna hit Clench Feathers today? I hear they got some elves…” he trailed off, a goofish smile on his face.
“You go ahead, I have some work to do”, I replied him as I always did. There aren’t any rubbers in this world and besides, I have an Elder Circuit.
“Its okay, Eridan. All of us have our…interests”, he offered apologetically. “Dammit he really is into little girls!”, I heard him murmur under his breath.
Suppressors live a life of constant danger. You would be hard pressed to find an suppressor not milling around either in a pub or a whorehouse. Looks like not being seen in one has given birth to some strange rumors.
Shinar and I parted ways at Harrengaz, the alleyway of pleasures. I continued on my way to my rented room, Berrirut fruit in my hand. It had become sort of a ritual, this giving of Berrirut fruit and Suri’s ineffectual advances. I wondered if I would have stayed sane in all those days of panicked existence, hunted by Talaviel’s order if I hadn’t met people like her. Suri, with her clumsy attempts had given me at least some semblance of normalcy.
Arin…have you reached the end of river yet?
Today Mama urun gave me my daily dose of the Shivang liquor and the Apopris fruit. Like Suri, she too looked at me sternly while giving me the fruit. Finally, she called over two Urinak girls.
The urinak girls fluttered their long feathery ears and came over, looking down at the floor.
“Eri-larr, how about taking these two for tonight? They are quite skilled and…small enough to make you feel like caressing a child”, Urun said while she rubbed one the girl’s head.
The Urinak with black hair swished her tail. The other one looked at me while pulling at the hem of her white nightrobe. They were so innocently adorable. As if!! I had seen these two whip and sodomize two women while praising the demon king. They were masters at the ‘disgraced knight play’, as they called it.
“I am sorry, Mama Urun, I have to pass”, I refused politely while backing up the stairs.
I had gone up into the second story when I heard Urun murmur, “Such a charming lad with a disease. Suppressor life is sure hard…”
As I said, the rumors are unsettling.
I walked past Suri’s room. I could hear her moaning and begging. I dropped the Berrirut fruit beside the vase in front of her room. She already had a customer today.
I walked up to my room, unslinging the sword while stretching my overworked back. I need rest.
I woke up with a start in my dark room. How long had I slept? The night was still not over, judging by the silence. I knew I had been screaming in my sleep, evident by my hoarse throat. I tried to think what had woken me up while I rolled in the sheets, wet with my perspiration.
A touch of cold steel sent a chill down my throat.
I opened my eyes and saw a woman standing beside my bed, with a knife to my throat. The moonlight silhouetted her slender figure against the window.
“Do not move, or the knife will kill”, the voice was like a rustling of leaves in a silent forest.
“Listen well, humankin”, the woman was colder than moonlight. “You have wronged”.
P.S- If you think there was a rape in there somewhere...just wait till a few more chaps to know what happened.
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