Getting across the next country was relatively easy. Not many residents lived on land so the roads were almost completely empty. Every night as we pitched camp I carried Myrida down to a close body of water so she could stretch out. Being cramped inside the carriage all the time was uncomfortable for her. Once this trip was over finding a means of transport that suited everyone was a top priority. The few days of peace eventually came to a close as we approached the border.
“Are you sure they won’t figure out who you are?”, Ursela asked.
“At the most they will realize I am partially a demon. Like most people just knowing I am a demon isn’t enough to make them put together who my father is.”, I said.
“I understand.”, she replied.
After waiting in line for several hours it was our turn for inspection. Having everything taken out for them to examine things went by quickly. They patted us down thoroughly looking for anything suspicious. When they got to Ursela I was asked to provide paperwork for her. Presenting them the documents they confirmed everything was in order, and looked at my other two companions.
“Are both of you his slaves as well?”, the head guard asked.
“I am a knight!!”, Bellclair said with an angry expression, “I am no slave, but his personal guard under orders from my Grandmaster.”
“And you?”, he asked Myrida.
“I am…his lover.”, she said with a red face.
Looking at me I nodded confirming her story. Having no reason to hold us any longer we were allowed to pass the checkpoint. Having boarded the wagon I let out a sigh of relief. Looking over at my companions they seemed to be giving Myrida a lecture.
“Next time they ask you are his traveling companion!!”, they snapped.
“But we…”, she argued.
“NO BUTS!!!”, they snapped.
Puffing her cheeks out she turned away dissatisfied. Calming them down I explained it was more believable for her to say what she did.
“Not everyone in this country will be nice. She will be targeted less if they think she is involved with someone. At the very least bear with it for her safety.”, I said.
With a sigh they gave up as they didn’t want any harm to come to her. The next few days went smoothly as we stayed in small villages. On our third night of staying here the ambassador snapped.
“I can’t take it!!!”, he said while the rest of us ate, “I need women in my bed immediately!!”
All the groups sighed with disbelief.
“Shut up!!”, the storm brothers said, “It’s not like you didn’t get your fill back in port.”
“That was years ago!!”, he said falling to his knees, “We must stop in the capital so I can let loose!!”
Having heard his cries for the last several nights all of us were reluctant to accept this. At this point the other groups caved, and agreed to it. This put us in a bind as to get into the capital one would need to be tested at the gate via a Truth Stone. The magic item was able to see through all illusion magics, and give the correct details about a person without a single fault. Having to rely on the necklace I couldn’t take the test as my identity would be revealed.
“Maybe we can wait outside for them.”, Bellclair suggested.
“If we do we will lose a portion of our reward.”, I said with a sigh.
“Couldn’t you just leap over the wall?”, Myrida asked.
“If it were that simple I would. From what I know of elves they have magic in place to protect against it.”, I said remembering something else, “I could give her a call…”
“H.E.R???”, the girls said looking at me, “Who…is…she?”
“The succubus you girls already met.”, I said, “Aside from being part of the policing force she is a smuggler.”
“Makes sense.”, Ursela said nodding her head.
“To get such big breast she must have paid a pretty copper!”, Myrida said with a cramped smile.
It wasn’t like Myrida was flat by any means, but compared to my former comrade she was small. Most succubus had rather large breasts which they used to deadly effect against males to get their meals.
“Anyways…she may be able to get me inside without issue.”, I said.
“REJECTED!!!”, they snapped, “The big breasted succubus isn’t allowed near you!!”
“Listen you…”, I grumbled.
“We will find away to get you in.”, Bellclair said.
That night the women stayed up late thinking of ways to smuggle me in. When morning came they revealed their plan.
“You will hide in the floor boards of the wagon. Thanks to some tinkering we managed to make a space for you to hide.”, Ursela said pulling up the seat cushions.
True to their word their was enough space in the bench to hide. With a cramped smile I climbed into the hiding area before being sealed away again. Making our way to the capital I remained sealed away for what seemed like hours. By the time we reached the gate I swore it was past noon already.
“HALT!”, a guard yelled, “What business do you have in the capital?”
Since we were the front wagon in the caravan Ursela spoke up.
“We have been charged with protecting an ambassador on his way home from the Holy Empire north of here.”, Ursela said, “He wished to visit the splendid capital of this beautiful country.”
I made out the sound of the guards searching the wagons for others before making everyone us the Truth Stone. After some time everyone returned, and we entered town. When Ursela parked the wagon in the stable area I burst out gasping for air.
“You make it seem like it was horrible.”, Ursela teased.
“Try breathing stale air for several hours in this humid, shitty weather.”, I said wiping my forehead, “Now then lets find an inn for the night.”
Walking around town it became quite apparent the treatment captured demons received. All around us they were chained up like animals. Half starved, beaten, and abused they looked lifeless just like the captured races on the demon side. I looked away not wanting to see races I grew up with in this state.
“It’s not something to be disheartened about.”, Bellclair said trying to cheer me up, “These are all criminal demons after all.”
We stopped, and I pointed to a group of demon children tied to posts. Above their heads their crimes were list which numbered only one…Being Born.
“Did those children deserve this treatment?”, I asked her, “For the crime of being born they are abused like this. This is the reason that the war continues to this day.”
“You don’t blame our side for this!”, Bellclair said in shock.
“It’s both sides fault. Each side treats the other like this, and it becomes a morale booster for the opposite side. Do you think demon’s would stand by, and watch this happen to their own?”, I asked, “Just like humans, elves, dwarves, and many other races we do our best to protect our own normal. There are always exceptions to the rule, but it remains mostly true.”
“So it’s not just our fault is what you’re saying.”, she said.
“Listen, this war is important for both sides. Sure conquest is a big part, but it isn’t the only one. For example, the southern countries where food is scarce is receiving money, food, and supplies for helping out with the war. If it wasn’t for the war those countries would be starving to death.”, I said, “It is just a fact that both sides want this because it’s the only way to keep everyone happy…at the expense of young lives.”
“It is an unacceptable price!”, Myrida said firmly, “Trading away lives so people don’t starve.”
“You are only looking at the surface…”, I said, “Sure they send supplies, but it isn’t free.”
“You mean they are taking money from the poor like thieves!!”, Ursela said tightening her grip.
The thought must have struck a nerve with her.
“Currently the other countries provide money, and food to those countries as a loan. What do you think will happen when those countries default on the loan?”, I asked.
“They will take the resources?”, Myrida said.
“Absorb the countries?”, Ursela said.
“I haven’t the slightest idea.”, Bellclair said.
“What is the one thing that a country with no food, or much resources would still have?”, I asked.
The women looked around trying to think of things till they looked at the children. When they realized just how much control a king has their hearts sunk. They looked back at me with tear filled eyes realizing just how far gone things were. In their minds it was just a simple push the demons back, and reclaim lost ground. They were just now realizing that there was an enemy in the back as well.
“…the people…they are using the people as collateral….”, Ursela said with a pale expression, “I thought it was banned after my home country was destroyed…to think that they would still go this far out of greed.”
The three of the clung on to me tightly not wanting to believe it.
“That is why neither side can be allowed to truly win.”, I said, “To me though I care not about the war as much as stopping the cruel treatment I have seen. These demons on chains are half-bloods who more than likely escaped from demon country trying to find distant family members. Instead of open arms they have been branded beasts, and have been treated as such. For now my goal is open channels after defeating my father to stop this treatment.”
“That won’t be a simple feat…”, Bellclair said, “Aside from a few religious nations most countries allow this treatment of demons, and half blooded demons.”
“Fortunately those few nations happen to have the most pull in the world. I figure getting on their good side will benefit me in the long run.”, I said.
Continuing past the painful sight we found an inn to stay at. It was a hard decision to make leaving them like that, but what was I to do after freeing them. Returning to demon country would, in reality, be no better than here. None of these slaves are nobles so they would end up in a similar situation, or as play things of rich nobles. I knew all to well what would happen if I made a scene as well. Those I couldn’t get to in time would more than likely be killed.
“Are you alright?”, Myrida asked looked at me worriedly.
“Yes, just a bit anxious about everything.”, I said, “I don’t like being here at all. It makes my skin crawl thinking just outside these walls my people are suffering.”
“You already refer to them as that?”, Bellclair asked coming back with the key.
“None of my family would even think of taking them in. They look at prospective people for what they can offer. I try to look at them, and see what potential they have. A hard-working person down on their luck is someone I would choose, but a criminal who steals, rapes, and murders people is a no go.”, I said, “I have standards after all.”
The women laughed at me before suggesting we get something to eat. Sitting down a human/werewolf mixed girl took our order. Roughly in her mid twenties she seemed to understand this place quite well. On closer inspection though one could see that the woman was over worked, and on the verge of passing out. Placing our orders I asked if she ever got to take breaks.
“…no sir…I have to work or my siblings will go hungry. I work open to close everyday we are open…”, she said.
“But you are open everyday?!”, Ursela said in shock, “Surely you get some time off.”
“Only on holidays, but even then I have work to do.”, she said quickly running to the kitchen.
There was a few moments of silence at our table. The first to speak up was Bellclair who was critical of the situation.
“I understand making them do manual labor as war criminals…”, she said looking around, “But none of these people are such. They are being worked to death with no hope of freedom.”
Seeing a tray of waters coming our way I saw a child no more than five bring us our drinks. Passing the cups around when she got to me she stumbled spilling the water on me. The women started laughing at me as I was now soaking wet. I started laughing to till I saw the petrified look on the child’s face. Dropping to the floor she clung to her tail begging for forgiveness. Our waiter ran over to try, and apologize as well on her sister’s behalf.
“I am so sorry!”, she said bowing her head.
“Please…don’t hit my sister…it was my fault…”, the little girl said.
With a smile I patted her head gently.
“There is no harm done.”, I said warmly, “It is only water, and I am alright. Please don’t worry about it, but could I get another glass of water.”
I started laughing which surprised the two of them.
“You aren’t mad, mister?”, the young girl asked.
“Not at all. It was an accident so I can’t blame you for it.”, I said, “If I am going to blame anyone it is my companions. They haven’t stopped laughing yet…”
Turning to them I narrowed my eyes. The three of them looked away holding in their laughter. Shaking my head at them I reconfirmed that I wasn’t mad, and sent the girls on their way. I got another glass of water, and talked about our future plans on our journey till the food came out. As we were getting served one of the men at the table behind us grabbed the young girls tail. Knowing that the nerves in their tails are extremely sensitive I knew it had to hurt.
“My my look at this bushy tail.”, the man said, “I think my wife said she needed a new duster. This bushy tail should be more than enough for her.”
The girl realizing what was going to happen frantically tried to get away, but he held her tail firmly. Drawing his blade he was about to cut it off when I grab his wrist, and forced him to release the dagger. I made my mind up to not let the child be harmed by any means necessary, and the women were already behind my judgment call.
“Now now.”, I said narrowing my eyes, “If you need to buy a duster go to the General Store. This child’s tail belongs on her not in your home.”
“You know who you are talking to!!”, the man snapped.
I started applying more pressure to his wrist making him drop to his knees.
“I don’t think you know who you are talking to elf! Touch the child again, and I will rip both of your arms off.”, I said, “Since your food has yet to arrive I will shove them down your throat as an appetizer.”
When his comrades attempt to stand up Ursela shot a bolt of black lightning past the men.
“Sit down!”, she snapped.
The men did as she said since she already had the next spell prepped. Myrida checked the young girl for any further injuries while Bellclair got the other slaves together.
“What right do you have taking this half bloods?!”, the man snapped, “They are just lowly scumbags, and should be grateful we keep them alive.”
“It’s people like you that started this war in the first place!”, I said reaching the limit I could take of holding back, “Both sides treat each other like garbage, but neither side realizes it’s their fault. Look at these slaves what have they done to you!! They are not criminals, fighters, or even thieves!! You pushed the actions of a few demons onto those who were brought into this world against their parents wishes. Now you treat them even worse than demon’s treat them.”
“How would you know?”, the man mocked, “It’s not like…”
Removing the necklace I activated my demon form making the room dead silent. None of the elves moved an inch due to the pressure I was giving off.
“I am the Seventh Son of the Demon King, and son of the Priestess of the Holy Regana Empire.”, I said glaring at him, “I am a half blood the same as them! These people have suffered enough under your watch, and they are under my protection. You harm one of them in this city I will rip you apart like a troll!”
A pale light shone on the half bloods right shoulders, and my mark appeared on them. Their collars immediately fell away as they watched in disbelief. They looked at me, and dropped to their knees bowing their heads.
“Our lord please spare us from your anger!”, they said.
“I am not my brothers. As I said I am a half blood like you, and as such see you differently than them. You will not be beaten, drugged, and forced into manual labor like my brothers have done. From this point on you are owned by no one, and have your lives ahead of you.”, I said patting the young girl on the head, “So long as you follow my laws you will be under my protection. Stray from them, and you get what you deserve. For now please gather your belongings, and the other slaves in town. I will take you to a safer place than this elf kingdom.”
Hearing this their faces lit up with excitement as they ran out of the bar. Turning back to the elves I glared at them.
“Our side is no better than yours.”, I said, “Continuing your abuse will not bring back the loved ones you lost. It will only fuel the anger of the demon army which will only take more of you captive.”
Twitching the man slammed his fist on the table in anger.
“My son died fighting your damn brother!!”, he said, “He had no chance of winning yet your brother toyed with him like a rag doll!!”
“Are you saying if my HALF brother was on the other end it would have been alright?”, I said, “Do you not think my bastard father would hunt him down, and brutally murder him?”
The man backed down as he knew logically I was right. He had every right to be angry at my half-brother. Looking at the man again I shook my head.
“If you are going to be angry be angry. If you are going to be upset be upset.”, I said patting his shoulder, “You have every right to hate me, and my family for the loss of your son just like everyone here does. Just realize those slaves aren’t me, or my siblings…they are the result of abused civilians, soldiers, and merchants being assaulted by pure-blooded demons. In the end all you are doing is killing the defenseless civilians that only wanted a better life than their parents got.”
Hearing the words that needed to be said the people started tearing up in the room.
“What have we done…he is right those people didn’t take my son…they aren’t the ones killing our families…”, the man said slamming his head against the table, “In our blind rage we have been using them as punching bags to satisfy our sadness.”
Even though these elves were upset about the loss of family members they knew what they had done was wrong. Immediately leaving the inn they ran around town to talk to people. Satisfied my message got across I went to meet up with the freed slaves in the center of town.