Having established the House of Bloodlust, my girls began to play games. Lilith enjoyed having fun with the Bloodborn, it seems she was infected by the same bug I was. Long story short, some people were given special training to raise their pain tolerance. I won’t say I was against the idea, I very much enjoyed my special time with her and Eclaire. But she felt like she wanted to be on top, metaphorically speaking, and even if I allowed her to, there were no whips made from titan alloys, so they would not hurt me. So Lilith decided to train her own little group.
Of course it was optional, it would even give some benefits and such. By benefits she meant that whoever could go through the whole training with Lilith, they would then have nice time with me. When she told that to me I drooled a little. I really began to enjoy my time with Lilith.
I don’t know whether it was my own darkness or the stress from the upcoming trial, but both of us turned dark. We felt powerful and we marveled in that feeling. Lilith really turned into a demon, submerging herself in their mentality and their ways. Now living in demon territory, she had plenty of time and ways to research torture and interrogation. Not that she wasn’t pretty good at it before, but any kind of ingenuity needs a kick of some sort and here Lilith had plenty of those.
It actually was quiet funny how most other girls somewhat avoided me, afraid of Elaya and not wanting to break the promise, while I spent most of my time with Lilith. I could always smell their longing for me. We all knew that most of our peers have long parted with their virtue and given in to lust and desire. But I just had to take my outworldler ideas and blabber my mouth about a promise to a girl, who otherwise would have been taken long ago, only to save some points in my own internal moral system.
Seriously, this world is pretty much in medieval times, back then the concept of “children” was alien and new. There were only adults and small adults. And here I am trying to keep them innocent and pure a little while longer. I am pretty sure Aedim lost her innocence the night I slaughtered two hundred people in front of her. Being in the middle of bloodbath is fine and good, but taking a girl few years too early is a ticket to hell…
Uh, I am just frustrated, being around so many girls and having to state abstinent I annoying. I mean, I have all the Bloodborn for the taking, but I don’t want to hurt Elaya. Although what she doesn’t know can’t hurt her. I might need to kill the other girl after I do the deed but…
No! This darkness can’t be allowed to control me. I need to be the one in control! This is bad. I am immune to mind control and most other magics, which is good usually, but it also means that my own turmoil can’t be fixed with some simple tinkering with inner workings. I have to solve my problems myself.
Meditation doesn’t help me here. I am not in turmoil or in conflict. I just received some knowledge I wasn’t supposed to and now I have two different parts of myself in the same lifetime. Although I have to question whether it is really random. Every time previously, I gained just the right knowledge when I needed it. The Zone, the teleportation. Perhaps I need this darkness right about now. Maybe otherwise I wouldn’t survive in the demon kingdom or would push Lilith away when she would be succumbing to her own dark side.
Right now it feels that we are bonding over this. The pain we share, the darkness that we bask in, the torture we dish out at others. But, we don’t force them, at least I like to think that. We offer them a choice. I mean Lilith doesn’t have much choice, she is guilt tripped into taking her sister’s place in my games, but she also enjoys them. She loves them in fact, perhaps as much as she loves me. I wonder if I should be jealous of my torture.
Anyway, we are doing extensive play within the demon kingdom. There are plenty of people who would like to work for us. Being one from the House of Bloodlust, or perhaps even one of the Bloodborn, it would give them more power and more opportunities. We recruited many lower nobles from other houses and common folk, hoping to get their help. Spying on other houses wasn’t easy, but it was simpler this way. Of course there was the possibility of counter spying, but we prepared for that.
Leah also played a big part. She used the port-stones a lot, traveling between the human kingdom, the elven forest and myself, carrying information back and forth. She did her work well and I wanted to reward her, but she refused. Self control wasn’t something she excelled at. It was easier for her to wait for a little longer.
Her subordinates amongst the Bloodborn were doing the best spy work. Their skills were better than the ones’ who worked for Lilith. We actually had to make up names for the two groups. Ones under Leah we called Droplets, keeping with the theme of blood, small and quiet, unnoticeable, they spied from the shadows and then slithered away. Ones under Lilith were called Scratches, literally meaning cutting or letting the blood flow. Silly names, but the girls liked them. Besides, only us three and the two groups knew of the names.
We had discovered some things. Firstly, Lord Hooligein was innocent, or as innocent as a demon lord can be. He didn’t know anything about the darkness and its origins. The houses under him however were seen meddling with the things that they shouldn’t. Every house had something to do, although not everybody knew what was it that they did. Mostly just work given by another house or by some third party, which couldn’t be traced.
We were pretty sure that Houses of Lust, Envy and Pride were all in it. We didn’t have much hard evidence, but we weren’t pressed for time. Regios and the Val were doing a splendid job keeping the darkness back. We could take a little more time and do a more thorough investigation.
What we pieced together was an idea, by some demons to bring some dark power into the realm, to enslave other races and control the world. Demons are made of darkness, the unknown entity is made of darkness, it’s a win-win for them. The Houses didn’t really knew what they were dealing with, only financing the cults and asking for power.
If only it were that simple. Rummaging through various ancient archives from all the different places, thanks to Aedim and Leah, we were able to piece together a fuller picture than the cultists or the Houses had.
Originally there were ten gods who lived in this realm. They warred and they erred, they made peace and forged the world. They were swell guys from what archives talk about them. But at some point they seemed to be dying or falling asleep, their powers leaving them.
One of the gods was defeated by the Gargoyle, who than became an evil God himself, becoming the embodiment of evil in the realm. He was having fun, killing, torturing, all the things decent demons do, but he never tried destroying the world, he liked it a fair bit.
Four other gods fell asleep, their followers built temples for them to reside in, full of traps and other dangers. There was one temple within each corner of the world. The south, where naga now reside, the east where Regios lords over, somewhere in the jungle there. And there are two more we don’t know of, somewhere up north and somewhere to the west, perhaps in the Great Forest.
And the other five gods instead of sleeping, gave away their powers, however small they were then, to five beasts, so that they could fight against Gargoyle and the evils of the world. Pretty standard setting, five good guys, one bad guys, powers shared between them and a whole bunch of fighting.
That lasted for several thousands of years, until darkness appeared. Something happened to one of the slumbering gods, perhaps a ritual of some sort was performed or he just stank too much, but the darkness appeared from somewhere and it began changing and consuming everything. The animals and the people changed, the lands turned infertile and were devoid of life. So, as the classic plot twist, the bad guy and the good guys all came together to stop the imminent end of the world. They sunk the temple but perished in the process. For some morphing reason I get an idea I’ve heard this before. I guess I will never know.
Now something seems to have happened to another god and it was surely caused by somebody. The cult did something and created the darkness again. Whether it is the same one or a different one is up for debate, but the main points all seem to be there.
I sent this information to Regios, which made him think a lot. Even if we defeated the current darkness, there were two more possible other location for it to appear. And one of them would be near my home. It was decided among us that some quests would be posted, asking for any information about ancient temples. Perhaps even few expeditions. If we would be able to find them, we could prevent fire rise of the darkness and stop the cult. It would be an important job to do.
Regios also talked about whatever was happening within the Zone and their progress, how they pushed it back, how they got pushed back, about what they find in there. As much as it was all fascinating, I knew a lot of that ahead of time, plenty of novels in my past lifetimes had speculations about the subject.
So, we had a somewhat eventful year. The deal with the demons was working out, we gained more influence and more subjects. Amongst the few people we temporarily recruited there were a few interesting ones.
There was a young sword master, noble from the House of Wrath, who was dissed by his higher ups, so he came to me. Black-skinned demon was very skillful in the way of the sword. He wasn’t as good as Meriden, but he was good nonetheless. His appearance was somewhat weird, his white hairs contrasted well against his ebony skin. He also had two distinct personalities, one of the evil demon and one of a noble, dark and light. It was like the demon and somebody else were mixed together. Sudiak was also good with magic, perhaps even too good but hid it well. But we took him in, hoping to train him and make him one of our own if he proved loyal.
There was also a demon girl, Belinda, she was a succubus from the House of Lust and she proved invaluable in gaining information. She knew a lot, she had her sources. Leah took a liking to her, hoping to keep her once the whole ordeal would pass. The girl seemed conflicted between which house to choose. We had greater benefits, but she and her family were all in the other one. Loyalty is weird.
There were some others, some we trusted, others we kept on a leash, hoping to learn of how loyal they are. But one thing was for sure, we never told them anything about our plans. They could learn of some of our capabilities, my weaknesses and habits, but they never knew what we did and what we had as out trump cards.
We were experts at manipulating the information and moving the chess pieces. They wouldn’t know what hit them until it would be too late. But that won’t be until much later.
The time was closing in on May, soon the next trial would be happening, the last and most dangerous of all. Perhaps the stress really did get to us, as my games with Lilith and her few chosen grew in frequency and intensity. Thankfully there were always my blood and the elixir, in case something bad happened. But some girls did get few extra memories to remember me by, some not so pleasant. Although girls felt fanatical about me, I couldn’t explain it. They were fine and rational, doing their jobs and being smart, but once it came to me hurting them, the were glad to receive the punishment from their Lord. It made them harder, better, faster, stronger…
The day of the next Rite was coming, we were all nervous. This would be the true miracle, the first trial to be successfully completed with the guardian living on. People spoke of me forfeiting, even Leah had s few mentions of the idea, but I kept on with in. I couldn’t let Frez’ efforts go to waste. He trained me for this. Even if he was busy being a warlord, he still rooted for me. Besides, it was only me trying to subdue the power of the dark God who copied the ritual he only heard about, what bad could happen? Who cares that any men who went through it was destroyed by darkness and withered away, I am not those men.
Men, my hands are itching. Better go find Lilith…