“What do you want?” I asked, sitting casually on the back of the immobile wagon while sipping a glass of wine.
“Tomorrow, we will be entering into the territory of the elvish nation, Peri.” Saria sniffed, crossing her arms. “I need to prepare you so that you do not cause any problems. I know how you are.”
“I am a simple devil, what problems could I possibly cause?” I asked wryly.
“You… didn’t the last two cities we left get ransacked by undead?”
“If I recall, I destroyed Perang intentionally, and Virdainia was ultimately saved in the end.”
“Most of the nobles you had beheaded!”
“I had a bunch of traitors that would sell out their own people executed. Personally, I think the decision was the correct one.”
“Nevermind all of that…” She waved her hands as if dismissing it, “The elvish people are not nearly as crass and barbaric as yours. Plus, you have no authority here as a diplomat, so you’ll definitely have to restrain yourself. That doesn’t even get me started on my brothers…”
“I’ll gladly take my fiancée’s advice in these matters.” I responded coolly.
She made an ugly face, but there was still a touch of pink glowing on her cheeks and she didn’t attempt to argue the word fiancée at all. Instead, she continued on with her explanation of the country of Peri.
“Very well… in that case, you should understand the dynamics of our country. Our country exports mostly herbs, textiles, and timber. The capitol is known as Greenvale, which also houses my father’s seat. Are you listening?”
“Yes… yes…” I sighed as I casually made a shadow like illusion dance between my fingertips.
Of course, I had done some rather rigorous reading in the castle before we began our trip to the elf nation, and I naturally knew all of this. However, Saria seemed to want me to understand her usefulness. I had the distinct feeling she was afraid I’d abandon her once we returned home. Although she had wanted nothing more than to be freed of our marriage when she first arrived at my country, that opinion seemed to have flipped of recent. Now, she seemed to want to depend on me to protect her for some reason.
“My father is King Thrope. Unlike the human realm, there is no council. He is the undeniable ruler of Peri and he has been for the last three hundred years. He has always been at peace with your father, and during the last two devil wars, the two men marched together as allies. They’ve performed a ritual of brotherhood, and it is for this reason that father will be the most tolerant of your… condition.”
“So tolerant that he offered his daughters to me.” I added.
I expected an angry glare from her. However, she responded by blushing slightly again. She was a pretty girl with a small heart-shaped face. She wasn’t as tall or as shapely as her sister. However, she still had distinctly elvish features, such as pointed ears and pale skin. I never forgot that it was Saria who had planned the assassination of the former prince and brought me into this world. However, I didn’t know how I felt about this outcome anymore. Was she an enemy or a friend? I wish I had that answer.
“My mother passed away some time ago.” Her voice stopped for a second, “I have five brothers. Four of them are older, one is younger. Bala is the youngest. My brothers are not like my father. They are greedy and prideful men, the lot of them.”
As she spoke of her brothers, there was a feeling of tension in her words. It was clear that she didn’t think highly of them at all.
“Which one is pursuing my sister?” I asked.
Ultimately, before I could even think of mounting a defense, I needed to know who my enemies were. The ones who desired my sister would be the ones most eager to obtain power.
“Of course, all five brothers crave power.” She said bitterly, “Your sister means 1/5th of the kingdom. Any of them would want that chance. My brothers are Onvyr, Akkar, Gantar, Theo, and Gorwin, born in that order. I supposed if I had to specify, the eldest, Onvyr, is in line to inherit the throne. For true supremacy, he’d wish to have the throne. From what I recall before I left, it was third brother Gantar who had the best relationship with your sister.”
I ponder her words careful. My sister, Olivia, was technically a catgirl. My mother was from the faerie people, and when faeries had children with a human, there was a chance the species was different. Beastkin were most common, but elvish and dwarfish children were also known to exist. This had led some to believe that elves and dwarves are really just beastkin mixed with an unknown animal. However, they managed to create a distinct culture and country separate from all other Beastkin.
In very rare instances, so rare in fact that there was only one confirmed case, a devilkin was born. The devils lived in the south adjacent to the demons. Where demons were strong, the devils were smart and manipulative. Many times, devils had attempted to annihilate or invade the other realms, which left them as an extremely hated group. Or perhaps they invaded the other realms because they were hated. Either way, a human and a faerie creating a devilkin would be considered a curse and a plight upon the world.
Yet, I was such a devilkin, born to the king and queen of the human realm. My mother ran back to the Faerie realm in hatred and denial of me, only leaving a homunculus which she filled with the love that she knew she could never have for me. Meanwhile, my father suffered greatly to keep me, his only son, from being discarded or killed by his own people and the other countries. My sisters were turned into trading cards, each given away to another nation to placate their anger.
They were really hostages, but it was never explicitly stated this way. Unfortunately, father was sick and dying now, and when he passed away, the laws of inheritance stated that the country would be divided among the children. In the past, a single child rose to be king, and the other children would concede their rights. However, father was dying too early, and I was raised to be spoiled and carefree, not bothering to solidify my rule in the slightest, not that I’d be able to with my sisters each in a different country.
Thus, the day came when my fiancée visited the castle, except rather than accepting my marriage, she used those around her to make a mockery of it. In particular, her sister Bala, who was dressed and pretending to be a prince, shut down the marriage and insulted my honor. I challenged her, and she used her hidden skills as a magic swordsman and a will user, to kill me. At least, that was the life of the previous Prince David.
As for the true me, I was a man from Earth who died in a car accident and was reincarnated to this world. I met with a flippant god and he instructed me to take control of my sisters and bring the human realm under my control. If the king dies and I can’t retain our power, the balance of this planet will be broken, and it will fall into a war that even made this world god fear. In short, I had to save this world from themselves. It was truly a ridiculous situation which left me feeling frustrated, but I still felt compelled to do something.
“And which were pursuing you?” I asked.
This time, Saria did put on an ugly expression. It was known that her brothers weren’t above incest, and Saria had felt that she and her sister were at risk. It was likely that she had been trying to get her father to send the pair of them away for some time. It backfired spectacularly though when he decided to send them to the human realm to allow me to choose which one would be my bride.
“Gantar is a playboy. He’d happily canoodle with any number of women. However, it Is Theo and Gorwin who pursued me the most shamelessly before I left. I suspect there was a competition going on between older and younger brother. “ As Saria said this, she watched my face very carefully.
“What is it?” I demanded, feeling her eyes on me just a tad uncomfortable.
“Do you have no feelings about this? They will assuredly begin their harassments once again when I return. Does this bother you? Will you act upon it?”
I nodded thoughtfully, scratching my chin. “If your brothers do start to make a fuss and begin to openly pursue you, I will definitely intervene immediately. In fact, I will likely grow very angry and perhaps even openly challenge them. I will make it abundantly clear to everyone in Greenvale that you are my woman, and if they wish to have you, it will be over my dead body.”
“Ah… well… going that far…” She genuinely blushed, trying to hold back a smile. “Why would fiancé go to such an extent for just me?”
“It would make a fine cover.” I explained out loud. “If everyone believed me to be caught on you and distracted by the younger brothers, naturally your older brothers wouldn’t see me coming. I’d be more successful in gaining their trust and stealing back my sister. In that respect, you would make a very useful tool.”
“Y-you…” Saria stood up, her face completely red now. “You scoundrel!”
“Eh? What are you angry about? I already said I’ll keep your brothers from harassing you. I will also protect Bala in the same way. Since we’ve decided to work together, it is only suiting that I act this way with an ally.“
“Well, I suppose, in my eyes, you’re more of a tool. However, you’re a tool that I plan to take good care of. Even though I plan to use you, I will treat your properly as well.
“A tool? A tool!” She suddenly picked up her glass of wine and splashed it in my face.
With that she spun around and walked away, her ponytail she had up for traveling lashing like the tail of a snake. I put out my hand, and my maid put a napkin into it. I immediately began to dry my face.
“What did I say?” I asked out loud. “I didn’t say anything untrue.”
“Master is so intelligent sometimes, that it wraps right around to being stupid again.” Aeryn sighed.
Our entire party only consisted of eight people. Besides myself, there were the princesses Saria and Bala, my maid Aeryn, my mother doppel, a mage Baba, and two surviving human guards. Our party used to be a lot bigger, but many had died in Virdainia due to unforeseen circumstances. We continued on despite our smaller number because I didn’t feel that we had the time to just sit back and wait.
As I was chatting with Aeryn, a woman stepped out form the back of the wagon. Bala was taller than her sister and more deadly with a sword. However, between the two, I trusted her more. Part of it was because I had enslaved her, as I had done with Aeryn. Devil’s had a unique biology where their blood acted as an aphrodisiac on other species. Furthermore, their semen was the only antidote to that aphrodisiac. As a cruel twist, if a devil impregnates a woman, she becomes his slave.
Something about the pregnancy triggers her undying loyalty. Furthermore, the devil could stall the pregnancy indefinitely, leaving her pregnant and loyal. Both Bala and Aeryn were pregnant with my children, but I wouldn’t allow their pregnancies to progress. When the baby was born, the curse ended, but the woman’s blood mixed with her devil child’s aphrodisiac blood. This created a bond of absolute subservience. In other words, in devil culture, a woman had almost no free will. This could be part of the reason that devils were so hated.
In my previous world, I recalled reading some books that equated pregnancy to a parasite. They surmised that feelings of love and a desire to raise your child were all done outside of your control through chemical releases in the brain anyway. In essence, people’s own biology brainwashed them into being loving parents. Numerous species that didn’t care a lick for their children proved that this notion wasn’t necessary for all life. In that respect, what the devils did was hardly any worse. We were just more blatant about it.
“Bala… you understand your place as my tool, right?” I asked for clarification.
Bala suddenly lowered her head and blushed, holding her hands in a surprisingly girlish way despite her typically male dress. “Master can use me however he wants, but you need not concern yourself with using me properly. If Master wants to break me, I will allow it.”
With those words, she suddenly ran away, covering her face. I blinked, not quite sure what she was talking about. Why would I allow my tools to break?
“That masochist is truly lost.” Aeryn sighed.
It wasn’t that I didn’t understand their actions, it was just that those actions didn’t line up with my understanding of these women. In Bala’s case, perhaps the enslavement was slowly altering her brain. I knew that she had been frequently abused by her sadist sister, and had some degree of love for it. On the other hand, I didn’t expect Saria to have any affection for me. Even now, I couldn’t say if this was just a new play at manipulation or her genuine feelings.
The male me was naturally delighted to have the attention of any woman, let alone multiple. However, this woman was a snake, and her bite had already killed the inhabitant of this body once before. So, excuse me for being wary and distant. In fact, part of the reason I said what I said was to deflate any honeymoon feelings she might be having. After our time in Virdainia, it was a dangerous near life-or-death situation, and that might change how a man and woman see each other. For me, I was too busy trying to save the human realm to think about such things as love.
There was only once exception to this rule. The woman standing next to me had been enslaved by me first. She was the only concession I’d allow myself strictly for fun.
“Do not look at me like that.” Aeryn noticed me eyeing her attractive form.
I decided to ignore what she said and speak anyway. “If these princes are truly as bad as she suggests. I want you to stay close to me, Aeryn. If any other man touched you, I definitely wouldn’t be able to control myself and remain responsible for my actions.”
“Hmph!” She looked away, neither looking pleased or angry.
That was about all of the reaction I would get out of her from this. Yet, almost completely hidden, was a slight blush on her cheeks that she probably wasn’t even aware of herself. I let a dark smile form on my lips, but hid it by drinking the rest of my wine. When I was done, I slapped it back down.
“Baba! How are you doing?” I called out.
“You…” A groan came from a small cot set up next to the fire. “Why do you have to speak so loudly?”
“You’re the one who is hungover.” I sighed, sitting down next to the tiny girl who looked like she was no older than twelve.
“I was celebrating a powerful magic well done. It’s not every day I manage to enchant an army of 10,000 undead.” She whimpered. “I couldn’t help that the men of Virdainia showered me with alcohol.”
“If I recall, they weren’t showering you at all…” I said with a sigh. “In fact, a bunch of them kept giving me unhappy looks because I was letting a minor drink.”
“Boy… I am older than your father’s father…” She said, prompting me to pull the stuffed animal from her arms and hold it over the fire. “Ah… no… give me! Please… not McWolfertein. He’s my favorite!”
I sighed and dropped the wolf back in her lap. In the end, a girl with a face as young as hers truly looked pitiful sick, even if that sickness was just the fact that she drank way too much before she left, and then kept drinking on the entire journey up until this point. I only managed to find her source of alcohol and cut it off yesterday, which is why a three-day bender finally came to a culmination now.
She was only part of the reason we were stopped even though it was noonday. The other reason was that we were on the edge of the forest now. This was officially the point where the elvish nation started. If we attempted to enter the forest without an escort, we were liable to be shot down with arrows. We were waiting for a border patrol to find us and allow us entry. Regrettably, the elvish didn’t believe in manned checkpoints.
“You should treat me better.” Baba murmured. “Don’t you know I’m the grand magus! In my day, kings used to bow at my feet, and women used to court for my bed.”
“Yes… yes… I’m aware…” I waved my hand.”
She raised an eyebrow, her tone turning serious. “Are you also aware we’re being surrounded?”
I didn’t react, instead just giving the slightest nod. “They’ve been watching us for about an hour now. It looks like they finally got backup.”
“Is it the patrol we’ve been waiting for? Or an ambush?” Baba asked cautiously.
“That depends on how well-loved the sisters are. I wouldn’t put it past their brothers to have them assassinated on the border.”
“Then what will you do?”
“Of course… I’ll greet them.” I responded, touching my blade. “I take care of my women.”
“Your… women?” She responded wryly. “Aren’t you getting a big head?”
“See…” I let out a sigh, “I was right after all… it is preferable when I call them tools.”