Lord Varren and his retinue approached the small town of Evansdale. Smoke still rose from the giant metal structure that sat in the fields.

“Shall we investigate this?” he asked the young man beside him.

Luther paused, thinking. The boy wasn’t old enough to grow a proper beard, Varren thought as he watched him. But Master Paul was too old to make the journey. The scholar swore by Luther, though, saying the boy soaked in information like a sponge. And Lord Varren had to admit that despite his youth, Luther seemed capable enough.

“I think I’d prefer to see this creature, first,” he said. “If it can speak, it could provide some context for what we are looking at.”

Varren nodded, and they pushed their horses towards the town. A young boy playing was enlisted to show them to the healer’s house. Luther coughed as the smells of the town assaulted him, and pressed a handkerchief to his face.

“You’ll get used to it,” Varren told him.

“I’m sure I will, my lord,” he said, although he didn’t sound like he believed it. He glanced around at the guards. “I don’t think we should all enter at once. We may frighten whatever it is. Just the two of us might be best.”

The captain of the guard stepped forward. “You don’t expect me to let my lord enter the presence of a demon unguarded, do you?”

The young scholar shrank away from the captain, looking mutely at Varren in appeal.

“Stand down, captain,” Varren said, before turning to Luther. “Do you really think it is wise to go in alone?”

“Y-yes, my lord. I spoke with the villager who came to Vellington. By his accounts, the creature was polite enough, but too weak from its injuries to be a threat.”

“That was a fortnight ago,” the captain countered. “A man can recover in such a time, to say nothing of a demon.”

Again, the young man looked at Varren, rather than directly oppose the captain. Varren merely nodded.

“Well, um… We don’t know it’s a demon,” he stammered. “The villager’s description was not very helpful. If we go in assuming it has hostile intent, we could make an enemy out of a potential ally.”

The captain began to speak, but Varren was growing tired of this. “Enough. You and your men will remain out here. If the creature causes trouble, you are close enough to aid me.”

Without another word, he grabbed Luther by the arm, and dragged him into the healer’s house.

The healer, an ancient husk of a man, sat dozing in a chair. On the bed lay a slender form.

The creature looked vaguely like a man, but it’s limbs were too long, too slender. It had no hair, but was covered in blue scales that seemed to shift in color, depending on the angle one viewed them from. The face looked like someone had attempted to imitate a man’s face, but wasn’t quite sure how to space things. The mouth was too high, the eyes too far apart, and there was no nose to speak of.

The eyes opened as Varren’s shadow fell over it. They were completely black.

“Greetings,” it said. “It is nice to speak with someone new. The villagers fear me, I think. The healer is nice enough, but he does not seem terribly…” It paused, as if considering its words. “I hope he is not suggestive of your entire race. He know his trade decently, but does not seem to understand it.”

“I am Lord Jael Varren, and I am the lord of these lands. Do you have a name?”

The creature stared at him for a moment. “I am called Kutien. Forgive me if I neglect any courtesies you are due, Lord Varren. Such blunders are inevitable, but they will be fueled by ignorance, not disrespect.” As the creature spoke, Lord Varren slowly became aware that it was not speaking English. It sounded vaguely like the speech of travelers from the Far East, if anything. Yet it seemed he could understand what Kutien said without any difficulty.

“Where do you come from, Kutien?”

“That is a… difficult question to answer. Knowledge can be a dangerous thing. For now, just know that I am from a distant land. My vessel was damaged, and this was the closest place I could survive.”

“This is Luther,” he said, indicating the scribe. “He is young, but he is wise for his age.” Luther merely stared at the creature.

“Luther,” Varren said, “You had questions to ask?”

Luther jumped as if suddenly waking up. He began to rattle off questions. Kutien listened patiently, answering whatever he could.

Varren watched the creature with a sinking feeling in his stomach. He did not think Kutien was a demon, or that it meant any harm. But he had a feeling his life was about to get increasingly complicated.

Advertisements