“How long are the peace talks going to take?” a man asked the tailed demon next to him.
“I heard it could be another month. It sure is tense, isn’t it?”
“The demon bloodlines have been getting weaker over the years. No new demons, mixed with too much human blood… you see… They can’t afford a war. They’re too weak now.”
“Well, I heard the demon king won’t fight on the front lines. He doesn’t have an heir, so if he died, the demon lands would fall into chaos.”
“The humans are probably trying to exploit this.”
“One of the human nobles comes from a country that was destroyed by a demon. He’s here for vengeance.”
“The demon and human nobles are actually fighting over a woman. They say her beauty was enough to fall kingdoms…”
“The monsters lately are acting strange. They’ve been gathering up and fighting in larger numbers…”
“Women are being snatched every day, they say it’s too dangerous to leave. The farmers are coming into the city for safety…
“There is a problem with demon bloodlines…”
“There is a problem with magic…”
“The labyrinth is eating more mana lately…”
“The monsters are more violent lately…”
As I walked through the streets of the city, I heard various rumors all around me. Some were about the demons. Some were about the humans. Some were, surprisingly enough, about me. It was a tense time right now, and like cum, the rumors just ended up where I least expected. The ones that had something to do with me were the hardest to listen to. I just kept my hood lowered and quickly made my way away from those speaking.
My only consolation was that there were so many rumors, that for every rumor that was correct, there was a rumor that refuted all of that. The ones that touched on the labyrinth and my slowly building army were the ones that left me the most cautious. Was I moving too fast? No, I had no other choice but to keep building. Fortunately, those only made up a few of the rumors, and from what I could tell, rumors of the labyrinth going crazy or the monsters becoming abnormally threatening were common no matter what time it was.
Most people seemed to take comfort in the fact that the two armies were present. Well, they took as much comfort in that as they could. Simply put, any growing group of monsters would be unable to hide from the humans and demons, and would easily be put down by them. At least, that statement seemed to always accompany those that made such a statement. It left me feeling glad that no one felt the need to look into it.
Thus, the majority of the rumors centered around the peace talks. They’ve already been going on for nearly a month, and it seemed like they’d be taking place throughout all of spring and maybe even into summer. Where I thought this kind of talk would be over in a week, it turned out that wasn’t the case when it came to the demons and humans. When I considered that every offer needed to be checked by some council and sent overseas to the human lands, I remembered just how slow things were back in the day. A month seemed optimistic by some estimates. It didn’t matter, that just suited me fine. It gave me more time to prepare.
Other than the current peace talks, most of the rumors seemed to center around the Demon King. He was a mysterious person who hadn’t been in the public eye for many years. The Demon Queen, his wife, had apparently been executed recently. The reasons seemed to vary, but the most consistent one was that she was unable to bear him a child. This led to some, particularly the humans, to spread rumors that he was impotent.
Still, the Demon King had nothing to do with me. I came up to a man sitting down at an outdoor food stall and I wrapped my arms around him, giving him a hug as I pressed my chest against the back of his head.
“Are you done yet?” A gruff and annoyed voice answered. “You came from inside the town. Are you trying to get me hanged?”
I made a pouting face as I swung around and sat on his lap. “Baron, I was just looking around. I get bored of only talking to elves all day.”
This was the spot where we had agreed to meet. The reason was that it was close to the edge of the village, and it was easy for me to slip away and go where I needed to go without being seen. That said, on this particular day, I didn’t come that way, but I had ended up walking through town. During the last week, I had worked on overhauling the labyrinth and setting it up to build my army. As a result, I felt out of touch with the current events. Information gathering was a key part of the battle, and my monsters were unable to do that task for me.
The result was that I went and spent a few hours today going from bar to busy-body, trying to see what I could learn about Devon and Typhon. I couldn’t say that the day had been particularly productive. I’ve considered meeting back up with Fanreek to see if I could find out more. Thanks to Baron, I had regained enough of my freedom that I could do these kinds of things, even if we did have to report back into the elvish authority twice a day.
He rolled his eyes. “From what I hear, most of the elves stay away from you. Whether it’s your former association with Hector or your current association with Evan, there is something for everyone to hate.”
“What is going on there?” I tried to ask casually.
I was trying to act nonchalant, like the answer to that question didn’t really matter to me. In reality, it was about Min’s life, so I was a little interested. Somewhere, deep down, I thought that finding out what happened to Min would give me closure. Unfortunately, I couldn’t just ask. At the moment, no one knew my connection to Min. I hadn’t said anything to Evan at all. Baron, sometimes, looked at me like he might know something, but I felt that was just because he was good at giving off that mysterious attitude. He was a guy who knew nothing but acted like he was on top of everything. He gave me that kind of opinion. Like, the first time we had met when he acted like he had been waiting for me.
Even though I had offered him my body, he had refused to take it. The only answer I got was that if he slept with me, it’d be the death of him. I didn’t know if I should take that as a compliment, ie, I’m so beautiful I would make him have a heart attack or some kind of veiled insult. If it was an insult, I didn’t know what to make of it. I had never met Baron before, and for all intent and purposes we have no history together, but then he looked at me like he was right now.
“It’s a long and complicated story…” He said, trying to deflect me like he always did.
“Come on!” I lightly punched his shoulder and then leaned my head against him like we were close lovers. Tell me why those two hate each other.“
He hesitated for another moment and then made an agitated noise and scratched his long ear. “Ah… fine… what does it matter? It’s not like it’s a secret. Rather, few people who aren’t elves would even care. Evan and Hector used to hold the largest factions in our tribe. You could say they were the two in charge. They held absolute sway over the council. That is to say, they were two opposing sides.
“Evan believed in isolation. He wanted the elves to remain out of the public limelight. Hector, on the other hand, wanted to end our nomadic ways. He wanted us to integrate into the demon realm. They opposed each other on just about every point, and were fervent political rivals.”
That actually made a lot of sense, I nodded. “Then what happened? How did they fall?”
Evan did fall. I could see that even here. He was bullied by the council. Hector still seemed to be in control, but even his control felt somehow hollow, like the council only listened to him on matters that didn’t matter. Both men seemed broken in their own respect.
“Then? Hector fucked Evan’s wife.”
I winced. I had already heard that. At the time, I hadn’t dwelled on it too much. I couldn’t exactly ask for details after all. I had just made a flippant response. So, Min’s mother engaged in infidelity. It made me wonder how Min thought of all my actions. At least, I started to understand why it always seemed to bug her a bit.
“Why would she cheat on Evan?”
“She wasn’t…” Baron sighed. “As it turned out, Evan encouraged his wife to sleep with Hector, so that the two of them could destroy Hector. He had done a lot of things behind the council’s back. They spent years running a long con and collecting information.”
My eyes widened. This part I never would have guessed. How could Evan do such a thing? I was beginning to understand why Min was the way she was. She definitely had a complicated family.
“So, Evan failed?”
“He succeeded.” Baron shrugged. “But the night he made his move, Hector’s son made a move too. Although, he wasn’t aimed at Evan, but Evan’s daughter!”
“Min? What did she have to do with this?”
Baron gave a wry smile. “Officially, Hector’s son was engaged to marry Min. He felt it was his right. However, when he made a trap to catch her, he ended up catching her mother instead.”
“Wh-what do you mean?”
Baron looked uneasy for a second and shook his head. “Look, it was a long time ago. Bad shit happened, okay? That kid trapped Elmindreda and her mother. He… raped them both. He tried to kill Elmindreda, and her mother died instead.”
“What?” I stood up, and then a smile formed on my face. “What’s his name? Hector’s son, I mean.”
Baron looked up at me for a second, the expression on my face causing him to look away. “Min killed him. Before she ran away, she killed him.”
That expression flickered off my face as I frowned instead. “That… she was… before…”
A part of me didn’t know what to feel. A part of me felt sick. I was confused. I was sad. Min really had a screwed-up existence. I don’t know what happened after she ran away, but I do know where she ended up, being raped to death by goblins. Then she met me, and I only made her life even more screwed up until the moment she died. By the end, she didn’t even know what gender she was. That’s how much I screwed her up.
“So, what happened after?” I asked, my voice low.
Baron watched me for a couple of moments before sighing and responding. “The death of Hector’s son opened up the council for his return. They sympathized with him, and he was able to paint Elmindreda as some kind of traitor. Evan fought it, but he had just lost his wife and child, and so, he fell. Hector regained as much of what he lost as he could, but the damage Evan had done was nothing he could fix in a lifetime.”
“Hector… that bastard…” I breathed out.
I had slept with that man, and he was someone who slandered my wife. To someone else, the sides might seem equal, but how could I be anything else than on Min’s side in all of this.
“Look, the elf tribe has been through a lot. You could say our current predicament, even, is tied in with the fall of those two. With weak leadership, we were taken in and taken advantage of. We don’t need you going around stirring up more trouble.”
‘No… I won’t cause trouble.” I responded in a low voice.
I’m just going to get some closure.