The Demon Wolf (Book 1 of The Devil and the Huntsman)

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Chapter 5: City of Midland

The city seemed to be in good shape since there were never any invasions or encounters with the demonic creatures. The knights and guards made way for Julius as he entered the palace, and they were all speechless at the fact that he could not utter a single word about last night. Not all of them, but the vast majority of the knights were told of the brutal deaths of their fallen comrades by the powerful creature. He made sure that he remained silent of any type of encounter with a demon because the people would immediately think he might betray them. There comes a day when even the mightiest of all the people could do such a small thing that would be a direct betrayal to everything the people have fought for.

He saw that Harald was not sitting on his throne because he must have been doing something that was much more important. If he knew anything about his brother, he knew that he would lie out some plans that he could use in the future. Then, he continued to walk towards the earl’s chief in command; the man was a dark elf named Balvu, and he was sworn to Harald’s service. Julius and Balvu were close friends and usually fought side-by-side against any creature who would invade their city. The elf noticed that he did not have the time to be in a conversation with anyone else.

“Ah, Julius. You have returned,” Balvu said.

“I have. So, it’s been a while since we’ve last met. Hasn’t it?” Julius asked.

“It’s been about an entire week. You didn’t even get to speak to anyone about that tower. I hear that it’s been taken care of.”

“It’s a cursed place that shouldn’t be talked about by many people. If there is anything that needs to be known, the people should be told not to scurry around. Of course, if they already knew that.”

“So, Julius. Let’s be honest. Why have you come?”

“I need to speak to Harald. Is he awake?”

“Yes. He just woke up like an hour ago. He hasn’t spoken to anyone ever since.”

“Well, he must wait for me. It’s usually what he does every time he needs me for something important. It’s been about two weeks since we’ve last talked with each other in private. When people think of him, they sometimes think of me. He is their leader, and I am just someone who follows orders. He is in the planning room, isn’t he?”

“He is. He hasn’t said a word to anyone or even called someone in.”

“Very well. I guess I’ll see what he wants, then I must meet with my family. If Harald has planned nothing out, then I can only assume that he is asking only for me. And if there’s anything that you can do for my sake, do not tell any of the guards about that cursed tower. Knowing my brother, you and I might meet in different circumstances or any day when I’m not all that busy.”

Then Julius left Balvu to meet up with the earl, and he found him in the planning room. He was welcomed in all the rooms of the palace, and nobody ever treated him as a stranger. They all acknowledged his bravery and skill as he fought back against the demons, and they all made his name known throughout the region. The region of Midland was the only place on earth where the most powerful and violent invasions took place. But every man was always ready to fight back against the night creatures; they always sharpened their blades and ready their defenses before fighting the demons.

Then Julius entered the planning room and saw that Harald was sitting on a chair and looking at a map of the world. The world was a gigantic island and a large landmass of all the earth’s regions colliding together; on the other side of the world, a place is said to be known as the land of the dead. For now, there was nothing to be said about anything that had to be done with the island of lost souls. He walks up to his brother and sits on one side of the table as Harald is sitting on the other side. Julius could see in his brother’s eyes the same expression as him when he first encountered the powerful creature.

“I’ve returned, brother,” Julius said.

“Ah, well met. I see that you’ve come back in good shape,” Harald said.

“I’ve faced that mighty demon myself, along with a few other knights. The creature itself was so powerful that it could kill anything and anyone in just a single slash. There is a limit to what I can do while fighting a monster that’s three times my size. And there I was, fighting against the creature as most of the knights were fearful about the demon’s appearance. About ten people who were with me didn’t live to tell the tale.”

“My god. That’s some creature. I’m a bit surprised that even you could walk from that place to my doorsteps. It’s not uncommon that even I know of such terrors that plague this world. It’s only a matter of time before the entire world belongs to the demons. But tell me, what happened to most of the knights who were with you?”

“They got slaughtered. They got torn apart by the demon. Only two of them escaped the onslaught. Only two of them could live on and be haunted by such a creature of darkness. I was the only one to face that creature and put it out of its misery. The creature didn’t die, it was gravely wounded... but, it still flew someplace else.”

“I almost feel bad for sending you out there. If you and I did that task together, the demon would’ve already been dead. But I keep hearing of this saying that those who have slain thousands of demons will have their fates sealed. These are people just like you and me. Our very existence is to rid the world of any unholy creature and send them all back to where they came from. It has always been this way ever since they first appeared.”

“But, if you came with me and you were dead, who will it be to rule Midland’s citizens?”

“I have no idea. I’ve been the leader of these people for about six years and nobody has agreed to cast me out. I figured you must’ve known and should know by now that my son will be my successor. The only problem is that he’s too young and knows nothing about what it’s like to be a ruler of a nation that’s on the brink of death. If I had died, then all of Midland would question itself on whether it should fall into the hands of our enemies. And when that abysmal day comes, we must all be ready to fight back.”

“Ah, yes. I have not forgotten. I have also not forgotten about that day. However, what I have been hearing is that one demon you were handling got onto you. I hope... it didn’t leave a scar.”

“What are you on about, dear brother? I have never had a scar on my body. Or, maybe I’ve received four scars on my back, but they all seemed to heal. They were all minor scars and can be healed very quickly. Now, we’re getting a bit off-topic here. Why have you returned other than giving me what you’ve done last night?”

The question seemed a bit bizarre to Julius, and he knew that he couldn’t resist answering questions his old brother had for him. As a leader of the knights of Midland, he had to simply answer as many questions as possible. There was never a dull moment where it seemed like Julius would betray his brother, his family, and his kingdom. He had to keep his eyes open for any obstacle in his path; so much about the world needed to be known, but it would cost so much to do so. For Julius, it would cost him nearly everything if he did such a foolish thing, and he knew that he could never find forgiveness if he told a lie.

“I’ve returned because there comes a day that I think about you and how far you’ve come,” Julius said.

“Well, I could say the same about you. My men used to talk about you and your bravery. And because of that, some of my other generals are gathering a feast for the people,” Harald said.

“What kind of feast is it?”

“A feast where we honor the ones who gave their lives to fight back against the demons. And a feast where we recognize my son and your daughter. Your daughter will become a woman and my son will become a man.”

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