I sat down heavily on the stool. Everything was going to hell far faster than I had thought.
I looked up, for the life of me I couldn’t place a name to the maid’s face, I had just made so many of them in the past year. She was beautiful like all my maids, but from her high cheekbones and golden curls I assumed she was fairly new. I hadn’t devoted much time or energy to her looks outside of her face and her, she was made for battle and only possessed this much beauty because of my taste.
She’s practically nothing more than a forgotten doll huh? Well, maybe doll is too much, she has a personality and emotions so she’s more like pet. I stood back up and looked back over the once peaceful and green field, there were bodies everywhere I looked.
“What are our losses?”
The maid looked down at the parchment in her hands.
“Thirty four combat maids KIA, six hundred and nine chimeras KIA, three thousand eight hundred and twenty four grunts KIA, and sixteen of the Night Company KIA.”
I held my breath, this was the most costly battle yet. Casting away the thought of the heavy losses I asked the question I was dreading.
The maid’s green eyes went hard and cold in an instant.
“Two of the Night Company MIA.”
I closed my eyes and spat out a sigh. There were always deserters in battle, but I thought I had trained my people better than that.
“Were they new recruits?”
The maid glanced back down at the parchment in her hands.
“…Yes, two of the demons that her majesty recommended.”
Nali wouldn’t like this, I bet she was going to read me the riot act in front of her entire court this time. Then she’d probably play power games all night just to prove her point, hopefully this time she doesn’t end up slipping chains on me this time.
“Hunt them down. I want them brought to the camp alive, they’re going to serve as an example for the rest of the recruits. Apparently they didn’t understand my meaning when I said that the Night Company doesn’t desert.”
The maid smiled with a charmingly pleasant expression.
“Shall I leave the hunt to the worgs?”
I turned and began to walk back to the command camp.
“Luna hasn’t had a good hunt lately, she’ll enjoy this…”
As I walked towards my tent I nodded back greetings to my comrades, my minions were silent though. They probably sensed my mood, they did have the edge over the rest of the Night Company in the senses department.
This war was going nowhere, a fact I had known for quite some time now. The demons had the better individual soldiers, but the humans had practically everything else. We were outnumbered, outgunned, and soon we’d be outmaneuvered. Flipping open the flap to my personal tent I let out a tired sigh.
I directed my gaze to the demoness that was standing beside my bed.
“I’ll be with you in a moment.”
I turned towards the pile of pelts in the corner.
“Luna, we have two deserters. Go fetch.”
The pile shifted as a gorgeous woman with bright silver hair and wolf ears leaped out. As her nude form crossed the room her tail swung with excitement and her grey eyes shone with a fierce predatory light. As she passed me by she patted my shoulder and gave me a peck on the cheek.”
“Be back soon master.”
As the silver predator masquerading as a woman left the tent I looked back at the demoness.
“Let me guess, her majesty the demon queen would like to see me?”
The pale skinned woman nodded with a nervous look.
“Oh relax, I’m not going to hurt you… And I don’t think your queen would want me bedding you, so you have nothing to worry about with me.”
The demoness relaxed slightly.
“Thank you Lord Evo.”
With a wave of her hand a purple portal shimmered into existence beside her. Gesturing towards the portal with a bow the demoness looked down humbly.
“…So what your saying is that the order of the griffon is no more?”
I clenched my fists under the table. I truly did not like this man.
“Yes the order was wiped out to the last.”
The demon gave a greasy fake smile.
“And it only cost you half your forces... Impressive.”
I could kill him in any one of a thousand ways, it would be easy. Even with my bare hands I could crush his body bone by bone, he would die screaming in agony. I’d like to see him use sarcasm when most of the bones in his body have been crushed into powder.
The voice was strong as steel and strangely sensual. I looked over at the woman sitting in the throne, she was majestic in her purple silks. The grand curving horns, pale skin, and tattoo like birth lines that were characteristic of the demon race coupled with her deep purple hair and soft lavender eyes. She was the demon queen Nalitessia, one of the two woman I loved who seemed to share my feelings.
“Evo, tell us, what do you make of our chances in capturing the Vale now that the order of the griffon has been… removed from the board.”
Directing my gaze back at the stylized recreation of Gaia the council had been using as a war map. The six thousand men that made up the order of the griffon had a piece placed just outside the Vale. Picking up the piece in the shape of a shield with a griffon standard I crushed it in my hand. Wiping away the stone dust I studied the now changed board.
I was no strategist, but like Nali if I didn’t think of this as a war I did alright. The fact that I approached things from a unique perspective gave my opinion value, though the sheer amount of results and accomplishments I had made probably contributed to that value more. Looking over the board I didn’t see how the demon forces alone could take the Vale, not without sacrificing territory somewhere else. There simply weren’t enough demon soldiers to take on the three knight orders protecting the Vale.
“Not great… I’m not seeing a way that you could realistically take the Vale, not without losing something in return.”
Nali nodded and held her chin with a thoughtful look.
“…And if I asked you to capture the Vale?”
I twitched as all the eyes in the room shifted to me. I had a very tentative position in the demon empire’s hierarchy, I was technically considered a prince concert and was engaged to the demon queen. I was also technically considered a monster after the various upgrades and evolutions I gave myself, so my standing was anything but stable originally. Add in the fact that I was the leader of a mercenary group that was supporting the demons in their war against the humans, and had ordered the Night Company to take a considerable neutral stance in the war by not taking invasive or overly aggressive missions. In essence Nali even asking me this was kind of stiffing me, and since she knew that it meant that she was a lot more desperate to take the Vale than I thought.
I stared into Nali’s eyes and tried to see what she was thinking behind those lavender curtains.
“It would be a personal favor to me, think of it as wedding gift.”
I worked to suppress my expression and maintained a neutral mask. Wedding gift? We were only going to marry after the war was over. Wait… Is this it? The closing move? But that would mean that peace talks have progressed significantly since last year…
Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath I realized that there would be no turning back from here. If I agreed to this Avalon would never buy that the Night Company was only doing a job. But then again if I refused Nali might forgive me, but I would lose any chance of the demon nobility accepting my relationship with the demon queen. I had to choose between Nali, a woman I loved, and an entire kingdom of opportunity.
It wasn’t really even a choice.
“Well, if it’s a wedding gift I should wrap it in a bow. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll find enough fabric for that, you’ll just have to settle for seeing your banner flying from the every city in the Vale…”
It had been a long day, and I really only enjoyed the end. Looking over at the girl in bed with me I let out a satisfied smile. It was impressive how knowledgeable she had been for a virgin, though I guess some of that may have been from the passion my pheromones inspired in her.
I guess it is sort of cheating though… I had evolved all sorts of attractive pheromones and auras, that a doping tongue that super loads dopamine to cause a pleasant numbing effect, and the fact my member shifts to fit any and all sizes makes being with me incredibly pleasant.
Moving the girl’s wild red hair out of her face I pulled back in surprise, her eyes had no whites to them and her grin turned from pleased to cruelly twisted. Her expression had become absolutely demonic in a moment.
“Demon’s lead demons. Monsters are slain. Demons lead demons. Monsters are slain. Demons lead demons…”
I got out of bed and composed myself. I had seen something similar before, this looked like a case of demonic mind revision. One of the most taboo and disturbed rituals of demonic magic that existed, one that was so far beyond forbidden that even learning the ritual was grounds for immediate execution.
“Shade, kill her.”
As the ghostly woman stepped out of my shadow she shoved a hazy clawed hand into the demon girl’s chest. As shade severed her life force and granted her a painless desk I considered what this meant, this wasn’t the first time an assassin had snuck their way into my bed. Honestly it wasn’t a very hard thing to do, I had a weakness for beautiful females.
“Master, I’ve granted the husk mercy…”
Shade turned back to me in concern.
I slumped and gripped at my chest as a sharp pain ran through it. I had no idea what was happening, I had evolved near immunity to most toxins and magical effects. Poison or spells shouldn’t affect me so much. Collapsing to my knees as the pain grew I fumbled for the dragon blood I always kept by my bedside.
Shade brought the flask to my lips faster than my hand could reach the table, drinking down the sharp sour liquid I felt no relief from the growing agony in my chest. As my eyes widened I realized that I had overlooked something essential.
I could evolve the traits and abilities of any being I killed and consumed myself, and over the years I had amassed a huge repertoire of traits and abilities to choose from. I could evolve almost any minion I could dream up from a single cell in under an hour, I had turned myself into a nigh immortal with my strengths and resistances, and I had amassed a huge army of minions, servants, and comrades that would give their lives for me. But from all that I had gotten arrogant, I had thought of myself as practically invincible.
As the sounds of panic around me began to fade out and my vision began to darken I thought of the irony. For twenty years I lived in a state of constant paranoia, I hunted down and consumed anything I thought would give me an edge in this world of cruel survival. I constantly evolved myself, my minions, and my equipment. I only let myself relax after slaying and evolving from those five dragons.
I had an idea of what had happened, they sent me a Trojan lay who had a powerful conditional death curse loaded into her. In a way I respected it, the idea was genius.
As the world faded away I could only think that this was an oddly familiar sensation.
“Hmm… Interesting. I think I shall hold on to this, it was entrusted to me by one of my fellows after all… A soul black as night, I wonder why any would give up such a precious treasure…”
I thought I heard a feint murmuring but I couldn’t be sure.
“Rest now Evo the Black… You shall awaken again when you are needed…”