Greyskin. Chapter 8

Lemu was born a halfling. He was a common variant race, a catsun, a hybrid of gremlin and feline races. He was half demon, so moving outside of demon territories was out of the question. He lived in a village not too far from the pillars, about two days walk from the desert.

His father ran away when he got his mother pregnant for the third time. Now that filthy bastard is probably rotting somewhere in prison, or living in some cave somewhere. Lemu didn’t care, he hated that asshole. Lemu’s mother was feline Numa, who now had a litter of fourteen kids. She never stopped loving after her gremlin partner left, so now Lemu had about eight half-siblings, who were all of various races. He cared for them, but he wasn’t too close to them. He wasn’t too close to anybody in fact.

Lemu was a loner. It was thanks to his inborn ability, a trait that could appear in some individuals. Such traits were mostly exhibited by the non-demon races, as demons didn’t have them, but if a half demon was to have an ability, it would be powerful one. Lemu’s ability was commonly referred to as ’snake eyes’.

No, of course a half feline had vertical irises, but they weren’t really like those of the snakes’, instead they were usual feline eyes. The name came from a simple fact that he could see misfortune. People would ask him if there was misfortune around them and if he he affirmed to the statement, people would be unlucky and when playing dice they would often get snake eyes – two single rolls. So, people would refer to him by that term.

This was little uncomfortable for Lemu, he would always be asked whether good or bad fortune was upon a person and then if he saw them surrounded by black smoke and affirmed to it, they would curse at him. He wasn’t the one giving them said misfortune, he could only see it, but people didn’t care. Even those who had no misfortune would often simply forget about Lemu and wouldn’t speak to him until the next time they needed his gift.

So, Lemu was a loner. People didn’t like being with him, many believed that simply his presence would bring misfortune, so they stayed away. He didn’t care anymore, once he grew up and saw the world, he wanted to be alone.

Lemu became a thief. His gift gave him better vision in general, so seeing in the dark and being able to see people who are hidden was an asset to Lemu, plus his own heritage made him very agile and sneaky.

He was successful in his trade, often bringing some extra coins or tasty bits home to his family. His mother was a whore in a whore house, where most of her kids were conceived. Feline pregnancies were swift, so she would give birth after a few months and leave the newborn to the older siblings and then went to work.

Lemu’s oldest sister also worked at a whore house, but she was a receptionist, with only rare cases of taking in clients. She would be attending to the VIP clientele, of which there were only a few. The village was a shithole at the edge of the demon world, no lords on kings came by.

Lemu’s older brother was a hunter, well accustomed with a bow and able to hunt big game with enough preparation. He was one of the main people in the hunting party that fed the town, so he had a bit of fame amongst the residents. He would sometimes ask Lemu for help with this and that, but they weren’t too close.

The younger children all came in different flavor. The oldest of the younger ones was a whore, just like her mother, who went to work at an age little to young for the trade. Apparently she was good at it, but Lemu wouldn’t know, he didn’t have the money to try her out…

The other children were beggars, gatherers and assistants. Just useles bunch really, still too small for any real work. Lemu himself was barely considered an adult.

The half feline boy didn’t know what to do, until he was forced to take responsibility over another life. Two lives actually. When Lemu was younger, few years back, he had a very unfortunate day. He woke up, surrounded in black smoke and not knowing what to do. His first step was a wrong one, him stepping onto a nail on the floor. There were few nails used in building, and even then only on the good ones. Lemu’s house was mostly sticks and straw.

Next, when he walked outside, he fell face first in some shit. Trying to wash his face, he gets stung by a wasp. Flailing his arms around to kill it or make it go away, he hits his hand on the wooden board, splintering his hand and making the board launch at his face. Stunned, he gets stung twice more.

Running away from that place, he was caught by some man, claiming that the boy was a thief. He tried pushing the man off, only to slide his hand against the man’s blade and cutting his hand. The man got startled by the appearance of blood and let him go, making him fall on the floor and hitting his ass on a rock. He immediately bolted from there, trying to get to some safe place. All of this is accompanied by the black smoke, becoming denser and denser, making the boy feel uncomfortable, as if great misfortune is coming upon him.

Outside of town, he trips a number of times, until he ran head first into a tree. On top of his head a nest falls, two big eggs in it, which then crack and fall apart. Then, all the black smoke moves towards the newly hatched creature.

Lemu took some time to realize what happened. Before him on the ground were now two weird creatures. One of them was white, looking like a winged shake, but covered in short and fluffy fur, with leathery wings. The other creature was black, with snake-like skin and soft underbelly. It had a face of a bat, with a weird nose and two legs and two arms. On it’s back there were four dragonfly wings.

Both creatures looked very eerie, but what was strange was how the black smoke was affected by them. The white creature was devoid of any black substance, in fact, it seemed to be repelled by the creature, instead gathering around the black one. The black monster seemed to attract as much do it as possible, surrounded by the black miasma. All the misfortune that Lemu carried with him was transferred to the black one.

As far as they day was full of trouble, Lemu seemed to actually be fortunate. These two were weird, but not seeing a mother of any other creature like them, he decided to take them in. He carried the two to an abandoned building and made a home for them there. The building was hard to find, surrounded by overgrowth and canopy, it was a safe place for the two. So, Lemu was caring for the two winged beasts.

What he found out is that the white one was very lucky, like he was blessed, making everything easy for him. The opposite was true for the black one. Trouble seemed to follow him, the black smoke would almost intentionally trip the black monster or make things fall on him. Lemu never saw the black smoke act out like that before. He pitied the black little one, but he could do little but to ease his life a bit. Deciding to feed and care for them, he then took up thieving as a good way to provide for the two, because he had just the right talents for the thing, especially now that misfortune could be controlled, but giving it to the black one. Perhaps it was a little harsh, but in the end it was win-win.

So, since then years passed, the two beasts grew up and we’re now pretty big. If Lemu wanted, he could ride on them, but he wanted them to stay hidden. The white beast was ok to leave, but the black one would often get in some trouble, so Lemu didn’t let it out too often, at least until he finds the solution to the problem.

Even now, Lemu was trying to find some information on the black smoke he wa seeing. Being born in a poor family in some far away town, he didn’t know much about the scourge and how it affected those it touched. He didn’t know that it could change demons or how it affected those who carried plenty of it without using it. Demons couldn’t survive without it, but if it lingered on an individual too much, it would act according to its foul nature. He also wouldn’t know that the blessing would be needed to help his black beast.

As he was pondering about what to do, he walked through the town, looking for new targets. There were some adventurers, some hunters, but those he avoided, as they seemed to have better instincts than most. There were plenty of them, as they were investigating a number of strange events that occurred over the month. There was the disappearance of the spiders in a cave a few days away and then the slaughter of the demons in a nearby cave also a day or two away. Each of those was accompanied by shrieks of terror and lack of bodies left.

Then, there were some slavers who were roaming around, trying to get more merchandise or to sell some here. Perhaps both. Apparently the slavers captured some wild demons, who were coming to the cave that was emptied. Now they were lingering around, looking for new targets.

These demons were the females that were meant to arrive in the cave days after the slaughter. Their arrival was one of the reasons that red orc attacked Sel, because he knew that Sel would get the best ones out of the new arrivals. His strength, his good looks and his success would let him get the best females and make plenty of bastardoues offspring, which red orc hated to even think about. Too bad that the cave was a empty and there was nobody to greet the females who were coming, so they were captured by the slavers.

Well, not really slavers, just adventurers from beyond the pillars. They didn’t treat demons as anything more than wild animals, so getting few to play with or to sell was nothing bad in their eyes. They would capture some, sell them and go back with plenty of money.

Lemu didn’t like that fact, because now there were fewer opportunities for him. These adventuring types disliked thieves, so if somebody would see him do something inappropriate, they would most likely catch him and do something unpleasant.

So, saddened by the lack of profitable ventures, he walked around, looking for some way to get more money. He needed food for the two beasts that he hid and he was fresh out of money.

While he moved around, he noticed a weird occurrence. There was almost no black smoke around. Usually there would be plenty, flying around and just floating in the air, but on some streets there was none, only some fine bits still present, as if something walked through and sucked it all up. Lemu knew only of one thing that could do it, and he knew that the black beast was safely locked up.

Quickly, he followed the trail of clean streets, eventually coming to an inn. Inside there seemed to be something surrounded by the black energy. The inn seemed to be on fire, with black smoke fluttering around wildly, like fire.

Walking inside, he looks around, trying to find the one responsible for this. At a table, he sees three adventurers. One is an old human, talking with his companions. He looks like an average adventurer, perhaps little too tanned and thin from not eating for a while. There is also an elven slave who is hissing at the third man, very much unlike a slave. It is unclear why would anybody let her spout her profanities, but the third person just listens to them and pays no mind.

The third person was special, around him the black smoke formed flames, as if burning the man, but leaving bin unharmed. He just talks, saying something, not bothered by the massive amounts of black smoke around him. The smoke doesn’t act, even with such a huge concentration, instead floating around him and following his gestures. It seems that the smoke is commanded by the man, not even trying to harm him or to act against him. It is obedient and patient, waiting for the grey man’s command.

Realizing that this could be a solution to one of his problems, Lemu decides to come closer. The smoke around the man is disarmed, harmlessly floating around. There is more of it than around the black beast, meaning that the man has stronger attraction of the smoke than the beast, so if it hands out around the man, it’s life would become easier. Lemu would only need to convince the man to take in a pet. He already seems to be walking around with an unruly slave, what inconvenience would an obedient mount cause? It is a good thing for both of them.

Finally making a decision, the catsun walks up to the trio and begins to talk.

“Excuse me, could I have a moment of your time…”

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