Well, getting all the leaders together was somewhat difficult. We sent out messages to everybody we could think of. It took us about two months to work out every little detail and to actually all come together. We chose a trading outpost between the Human kingdom and the Demon kingdom, which also was close enough to the Great Forest.
I had to do some actual work for once. Flying around on Flaer, trying to get messages where they needed to go. I didn’t go directly to the leaders of the factions, only carried messengers close enough to cut the travel time greatly. In the end, the results of our effort was more than satisfactory.
Unsurprisingly, the snow elves didn’t show. Their research into necromancy and immortality took precedence over any other affairs. They were like a bunch of lunatics, just chasing out our messengers. Monsters also didn’t show because they weren’t invited. This meeting would decide if we would invite them in the future. For now, I would represent monsters.
Surprisingly, almost everybody else showed up. Humans were represented by Eleanor and some nobles. They were good people, as deduced by Leah after thorough investigation. Val people were represented by Elaya and three elders that previously showed support for me. I also had a feeling that two vixens were around, making Aedim the only one not present. Meriden was by my side as always.
Demons arrived, with their Demon Lord Hooligein representing them, with a few demons in tow. They were representatives of the main houses; a lustful succubus from the house of Lust, a fat demon from the house of Gluttony and a crooked-looking very thin demon from the house of Greed. The others decided not to participate, as they didn’t seem the matter important. House of Wrath was there to fight, not talk.
Elves were represented by their two leaders, Lord Galadrim and Lady Cerebria. They were accompanied by their escorts, ensuring their safety. Overall they looked very pretty, their long hair flawless and their skin pure and fair. They were very beautiful. Meriden actually made a point by stabbing me with a dagger not to look at the Lady Cerebria for too long.
What surprised us was the Merfolk from the west and the Naga from the south who showed up. We sent messages to them, but only out of courtesy as to not offend thems, we didn’t expect them to show up.
Merfolk sent their prince Swivier who was accompanied by two beautiful girls of little importance. They didn’t have fishtails like I expected, instead they wore very revealing clothes and a lot of jewelry, most of which was enchanted.
The Nagas sent their matriarch princess, Parsisilla, who was accompanied by two large, bulky guards, in full plate armor. They looked like lamias, with snake bodies, but they also had fins and scales like fish. The princess had four arms instead of two, and she was adorned with expensive looking jewelry like the Merfolk.
We also didn’t expect Dwarves and Gnomes to show up, they came in as a single convoy, which was expected as they lived together. The dwarves would sometimes venture out of their mountain fortresses, but the last gnome seen out of their home was decades ago. Nevertheless, a stout dwarf, reaching slightly higher than human waist, clad in heavy armor was accompanied by a small bearded man, slightly taller than a normal human child of the age of six, in wizard robes. Flaer was taller than the gnome. Those two were Zigmen, a dwarven general and Gnostic, a gnomish court wizard.
Any other races would be represented by the people present here, like Lord Galadrim representing dryads and centaurs of the Great Forest. Monsters were represented by me, Flaer and Nrogara, who were a part of my faction now.
While we waited for everybody to settle down, people chatted amongst themselves and consumed refreshments offered. At some point it was clear that everybody was present, so it was decided to begin the talks. I raised a heavy tankard and flicked it a couple of times with my clawed finger. The dinging sound was just enough to quiet everybody down.
“I welcome all of you here. It was pleasant to get acquainted with all of you, but now we must settle down and talk about the issue we came here for. Alliance with the monsters. I represent Regios the Dragon, leader of the monster territories, who expressed his wish to sign peace treaty with other races, promoting mutual non-violence and possible trade. I wish to hear any suggestions or objections to that idea.”
Lord Galadrim was the one to speak first, saying what most people present thought.
“Why would we believe you, the Fiend? You say that monsters want peace, but how can we trust them or you? They may be peaceful for now, but if they get more powerful, what would stop them from attacking us after that?”
I was about to reply, but dwarven representative interjected.
“Exactly! How do we know this ain’t some ploy to get our riches? We dwarves ain’t so trusting to believe some darn monsters.”
“Yes, we gnomes also think the same. How can monsters be trusted? We don’t want them near us. They are evil and they want to get their hands on our most prized possessions.”
“I as a Demon Lord don’t see any benefit that could outweigh the risks involved…”
“How dare you insult the King? He and his Queen rule our kingdom justly and wisely. If the King says the monsters can be trusted that he is right…”
“We, as the elders of the Val tribes support the decision to enter the discussion with the monster races…”
Quickly the meeting turned into people randomly shouting things at one another, hoping to be louder than the next guy. Facts and opinions were thrown around, people quoting their counselor and my words. It was total chaos.
I waited a little to let everybody scream and shout to their hearts content and then stopped the mindless shouting.
With two words spoken loudly, people shut their mouths and listen.
“Now. I don’t insist on signing the treaty now and letting monsters do whatever they please. That was not my intention. I want to discuss the possibility of including the leaders of monsters in future meetings, to hear their say in the matter and to allow you to judge for yourself, whether they are trustworthy. None of you have even been in monster territory, much less spoken to any of the people there. As I was sent on my mission to gather intelligence, I witness how they live and I can say, while they are not as civilized as most of us here, they strive for better life just like us. Who are we to deny them such luxury?”
People stir in their sits considering my words. What I said was true, people have their opinions about monsters formed entirely on rumors and false facts. Speaking to a real monster would be a better way to know of them. But people still seemed skeptical.
“I have met their leader. He is a reasonable dragon, he cares about his people like we care about our men. He made it very clear that he won’t sit by idly if we try to harm his people, but he also said that he wants a peaceful resolution to this situation. Off the top of my head there are numerous benefits to the alliance…”
I speak of the workforce, the resources we could gather, of extra trade routes and money we could gain. Eleanor also spoken about possible benefits the human kingdom will have by allying with monsters. The other leaders listened.
“Above all those, there is one more merit to this. You have all heard by now, but there is darkness stirring to the East. The Val elders presumed that monster population growing had something to do with that, and they were right. But only because monsters want to fight said darkness.”
“How do you know that whatever monsters claim is true? What if they are really controlled by the darkness and just try to misguide us?”
Elven lord spoke once more, raising a valid question.
“I don’t. But, they hope for our support, which Val tribes have already provided. I have sent a handful of personally picked best Val men, who will go and investigate the darkness and if necessary help fight it.”
“What? How could you go lending them help and then come here talking about possible discussion of peace? What kind of farce is this?”
Demon lord was not amused by my words.
“I nor my tribe have not lent help to the monsters. They were sent with the mission to investigate the darkness, which coincidently appears to be close to monster territories, in the jungles. If there is any mutual benefit in cooperation, they were not forbidden to do it, but they had no instructions to help or to fight for monsters. This is an issue of safety of our realm, which is exactly what Val men were tasked with by Great Guardians.”
“You expect us to believe such things? What if Val men are already working for monsters? What if King Robert was right?”
“Lord Hooligein, the issue with the previous king has been solved. He was proven to be a fraud, with many people supporting my future Husband and his rule. It is perhaps you who should be questioned, whether you have this realms best interest in mind. Throughout the commotion involving previous king you did nothing, only raising prices twenty percent. You didn’t care about demons who were taken as slaves nor did you try to aid your neighbors.”
“What are you implying little girl? You think now that you are a Queen, you can accuse people left and right?”
“Oh no, god no. I accuse you of nothing Lord, but I have to question, why would you care so little when conflict, directly influencing your kingdom and your people arises, yet now, you oppose the possibly of alliance with monsters so strongly? Could it be that it is detrimental to you in some way? I wouldn’t imagine that well being of the realm would be opposed so strongly, it could prompt some questions, like what if Demon Kingdom is allied with darkness or worse, was the cause of it?”
Demon lord just glares at Eleanor, hoping that she drops dead. His red skin turns darker shade of red, showing his anger. His horns start smoking.
“How dare you girl, accuse us of such a vile act? You dare imply that I would aid destruction of the world?”
“I imply nothing Lord and I accuse you of nothing. But your reaction seems questionable at best. If you have no real contribution to the discussion, I would suggest you sit and stop talking about my fiancés competence as a ruler, when yours is slightly more questionable.”
With that Eleanor turns away from the angry demon, showing that she finished with him. Her cool demeanor forces demon lord to sit down, as he can’t reply, and only grind his teeth.
“Well, I heard some questions whether monsters could be considered intelligent enough to be involved in discussion and future relations. Here with me are two members of monster races, now my subjects. Nrogara is a troll adventurer and Flaer is a dragon princess, niece of the current ruler of monster territories. You can ask them some questions to judge their intellect.”
With that I threw the two as little lambs to the wolves that were leaders of the other factions. They were questioned thoroughly, asking them about their origin and their lives. Dwarf made a slight remark about Nrogara’s speech, which in turn made other leaders snicker.
Then people begun discussing everything amongst themselves. This whole thing was very draining on me. While I could easily charm anybody with my amazing speaking skills, talking politics was the same as knitting while walking across a vast chasm on a rope – very hard. There were a lot of different things said, but I lost track of most of them, my concentration was slipping.
Merfolk and Nagas all were for discussions with monsters. It seems they felt some kind of kinship towards them. Elves also had expressed that centaurs and dryads felt that monsters should be trusted. They were almost like monsters, only more civilized.
Eleanor showed off her skills in conversation, masterfully enticing people to join the discussion with monsters. Majority of the representatives agreed to get in contact with Regios and allow him to participate in further talks on the subject of peace. I was glad that it went rather smoothly. The rest I left to the elders and my dears, while I just lost myself in my daydreams.
At the end, I presented every leader with a whisper-stone. These were bigger than the ones I used to speak with Leah before, because all of them were interconnected, speaking into one would prompt all others to produce sounds. There were some spares as well, which we just kept in storage. This would allow leaders to stay in contact in the future, without needing to come out God knows where.
After the official part was over, everybody was prompted to enjoy the party after. We had a lot of various beverages, so everybody could choose anything they liked. During this time, everybody got s chance to talk in the casual manner with one another, after all the taxing work was done. I approached Lord Hooligein with Meriden in tow.
“Lord Hooligein, greetings. We haven’t met before the talks, I am Zern of the Val tribes and the current king of Kernun kingdom.”
“What? You came here run some dirt in my face after your little girl made me look like the source of all evil?”
Demon lord was rather rude, but I could understand, seeing that he was in a sour mood after exchanging words with Eleanor.
“No, forgive me. I wanted to apologize for the behaviors of my intended. Whatever she said was uncalled for. I will lecture her later today, when we will have some time in private.”
“Your words don’t matter now. Everybody believes that demons are somehow related to the darkness. And nobody knows anything about it!”
“Well, Lord Hooligein, perhaps we should take some actions as to convince people of your good intentions. We could open up some more trade routes, perhaps even have a demon embassy? Although I know a good way to show your goodwill.”
Demon lord eyed me curiously. He didn’t expect me to approach him like that.
“What would you have in mind?”
“Well, you see, I have a former demon noble, a girl from the House of Lust. She is one of my Bloodborn. I would imagine that reinstating her as a noble would show your support of humans and of our alliance.”
This was very unexpected development coming from me.
“Hmm. Firstly, even if I could reinstate somebody as a noble, the Houses don’t ever give back somebody their status within the house. Even if your girl could join back into the house, she would start as a servant of somebody else. Besides, Ratisin, the Head of the House of Lust would be against such idea. She is opposed of the alliance and of the foreigners. And lastly, what benefit would I have in all this?”
As expected of demon lord! Always thinking about profits. Their whole life is centered around pleasure and profits.
“In all honesty, I had a different idea. I don’t want her to be part of her previous House, which abandoned her and forgotten her. No, I would like to create a new noble house, especially for my Bloodborn, consisting of not only demons but other races as well. This would show your openness towards others.”
“Hmm. And if I decided to entertain this ridiculous idea of yours, what Sin would you pick for the new house?”
“Well, Lord Hooligein, isn’t it obvious? A former noble of Lust, now a Bloodborn. It would be criminal to not create a House of Bloodlust.”
“Bloodlust? We already have a House of Wrath.“
“With all due respect, Wrath is about fighting, violence and war. Bloodlust is much more intricate, more diverse. My Bloodborn are trained in various arts, from information gathering to assassination. Torture, spying, tracking, even seduction…” I made a gesture towards a certain succubus, doing exactly that with an Elven Lord. “My people treasure blood, they won’t spill it needlessly, but if prompted, they will savor the feeling. You must know about the initiation into the Bloodborn?”
“Yes, I’ve heard some stories.”
Bathing in blood of enemies was not a practice used openly, mainly because it required a lot of enemies. It somewhat impressed and intrigued the demon lord.
“And what benefit would a House under my ruling give you? From what I gathered so far, each House lends its support and resources when needed. How much help would a House backed by an entire kingdom and Val tribes could offer in dire situations? My coffers are full to the brim with gold, after the ruling of previous foolish king.” I spit out the last to words, still disgusted to even think about that filth. “Just think how could such a powerful house benefit you, when it is not controlled by somebody who wants power in your kingdom. We only want cooperation, everything else we have plenty. And meanwhile, I could use the talents of my people and investigate who is loyal to you and who is not.”
I stop, to let the horned demon think for a while. He considers the options and possible merits of my offer. It is a very enticing offer.
“Lord Hooligein, I won’t ask you to give me the answer right now. In fact, I will let you think as long as you want. When you are ready, you can contact me using this.” I give him a smaller whisper-stone. “This stone is connect to the other one I have. Nobody else could listen in to our conversations. If you ever need to contact me regarding this matter or otherwise, feel free to use it.”
With that, we exchanged some farewells and I drifted off to have conversation somewhere else. I found myself engrossed in a minor argument with Lady Cerebria, regarding how violent monsters are and how easy they are to deal with.
“…Lady Cerebria, I give you my word, the monster races are more tame than you were led to believe. They are no more barbarians than the people of Val…”
I never got to finish my argument. At that point the wall of the building exploded, sending chunks of rock everywhere.
“I have come here to free my beloved Master Zern. Let him go or I will slaughter everybody present!”
Everybody present just looked in the direction of the voice. There was a Valkyrie, a girl absolutely naked, with leather cape fluttering in the wind, only a horned helmet, with two golden horns coming off of it. She had dirty blond hair, with two strands of gold, as well as two green eyes with gold around the irises. She stood with all her naked glory, a sword and a shield in each hand, looking menacingly at the crowd. When she saw me, her face lit up and she smiled. At that moment I could feel five distinct pairs of eyes, sending their killing intent at me. I did the only thing I could, one thing I didn’t have to do in a while. I face palmed.