Chapter 4

New Beginnings

As Nelan's great gates shut behind us I got my first real glimpse of the city. I was in shock for a moment. The sheer size of what was before me was far beyond what I could have imagined Nelan to be. Doble was a group of shacks in comparison to this. Everywhere I looked there were buildings and people. The street I was on seemed to split into an intersection every fifteen meters. The buildings of Nelan seemed to almost all be built of brick, being that it's surrounded on three sides by massive forest, I was expecting to see more lumber. Most houses were simply painted a light tan color, making them blur together. The great city must've imported enormous amounts of stone from mountain towns like Doble. Each building stood at least two stories tall, spare a few that were wider rather than taller. The streets too were made of bricks, these ones left unpainted and gray. Some of the bricks even lay cracked, broken, or black with soot. Everyone in Nelan seemed to have somewhere to go. People were moving this way, and that. Getting lost in this city wouldn't be hard. How in the world are going to find a place to stay in a city like this? Are there even any vacant buildings here? I feared we would barely be able to stop someone and ask for directions to an inn.

Through the crowds and masses I easily spotted a couple demons. They stood together, both of them red. They were leaning against a building across the street from me; they seemed to be watching the gate. I nudged Brix and asked, "What are those?"

"Those are Void Demons. I've seen a couple black ones, but for the most part they're red like those. Awful close resemblance to humans huh? If it weren't for their claws, skin color, size and gnarly looking head they'd look just like you!" I gave Brix a skeptical eyebrow raise for his sarcasm then looked at the lumbering brutes once again. One of them was a brighter, blood red, while the other was darker and closer to a maroon. The first stood at about eight feet tall, while the darker demon towered at nine. They wore no shirts, which revealed their excessive muscle, probably for an intimidation factor. They did wear baggy tattered pants however; black and frayed near the ends. Their shoulders must've been three to four feet wide, and their arms were easily thicker than one of my legs.

Their hands consisted of four large claw like fingers including, of course, a thumb. Their palms were also massive; large enough to envelope my entire face. And on top of it all, rested a vicious alien like head. Their heads were huge and elongated. Unlike the normal sphere shaped human head, these were more like ovals resting on their long side. Their jaw lines were extremely prominent, almost as if it was the bone itself. As one of the demons spoke to the other, I could see glimpses of razor sharp teeth lining those powerful jaws. Their tongues were long and wicked, giving resemblance to a giant lizard.

Their heads curved inward along their temples, creating a resting place for their sharp piercing eyes. Again, the resemblance to lizards was apparent as their ears were nothing more than holes along the inward curve of their temple. Their heads didn't look made of skin, instead, more of a smooth, harder shell. The back of their heads funneled into a point, which looped down into a second spike guarding the backs of their necks. These demons were the most war capable beings I had ever laid eyes on.

"Your use of sarcasm is astounding." I reply, after my further assessment. Unfortunately, the two Void Demons had noticed my stares and had begun to walk towards Brix and me. The lumbering stride of the beasts was closing up the gap quite quickly.

"Kai you imbecile, now look what you've done." Muttered Brix under his breath.

"Don't worry about it; if demons attack anyone here they're slaughtered immediately by the guards... right?" I replied hopeful, though not confidently. The larger maroon demon spoke,

"Hey you, it's impolite to stare you know. A tiny human like you should learn some manners if you intend to survive in this city."

"He's a fool I know, but he really isn't looking for trouble." Brix started.

"Did I ask you, cripple? You should be trembling more than he; people don't seem to mind as much when it's a demon dead on the ground as opposed to a human." The Void Demon chuckled a bit before whipping its head back in my direction, "Well human, have you no voice?!"

"I was only intrigued by your appearance is all. I've never seen a Void Demon before, quite impressive." I flattered, in hopes that they'd refrain from tearing me in half as long as I praised.

"A decent response human. Others before you weren't quite so smart; they thought their precious guards would protect them bahahaha!" The demon threw its head back, despite the fact that many guards in the area had heard his bellows. "You see human, my brother and I own this town, and the guards here know it. Nothing and no one here can stop us, so you stay out of our way and we won't have to make a meal out of you understand?" I nodded, but Brix was less than enthused to be bullied.

"It's pathetic that you even live here," Brix began, "You two must be pretty cowardly Void Demons if you coup yourselves up in a war-free environment full of humans that you can't even eat." The guards were amused by Brix's taunts and a couple even chuckled.

"You insolent fool, I could devour you in an instant!" Screamed the large maroon demon. But before he could make due on his threat a man in a tattered leather jacket put his hand on the demon's arm. The demon turned enraged, but his whole demeanor changed when he saw who had interrupted him.

"That's enough." Spoke the new mysterious man.

"But Gon, it's only an insignificant Night Demon and it's pet, what use could they be?!"

"I said... That's enough!" The Void Demon's head sunk down to its shoulders, like a dog ashamed of what it's done. It motioned to its brother and they lumbered away, leaving Brix and me with this new stranger. How could a human's word be so powerful to those Void Demons? The large one acted as if this Gon character was a threat... Why? The strange human spoke again, "If you two plan on living in Nelan for very long, I suggest coming to the Red Wood Inn twelve blocks East of here around thirty two o' clock. I'll be waiting at the table in the far corner, I won't wait long." The stranger turned and left us before either Brix nor myself could reply.

"I'm already sick of this damn city." Brix mumbled once the stranger had disappeared into the crowd.

"Yes well, unfortunately it's the only one where humans and demons cohabitate. So unless you want to live amongst your own kind, you can scamper on back to the mountains and hope Cirr returns to you." Brix squinted and replied,

"You're no fun daedra."

"Regardless, what do you think of the man who stopped those Void Demons? Do you think we should submit to his proposal?" I asked.

"I think any human who has influence over Void Demons should be avoided don't you?"

"Hm, that's is a good point. But on the other hand, I'd rather be his friend than his enemy. Let's just swing by the inn and see what he wants, 'till then, let's walk about the city for a bit." The guards patrolling the gate had been watching our confrontation with the Void Demons and it seemed one was coming over to talk to us,

"I'd stay away from that inn if I were you two. There's another at the West end of the city, I suggest going there. There's also a few vacant homes for sale that I know of, and a barracks in that area. You would be much better protected. That man and his lot aren't exactly the bunch I would recommend hanging around with. Nothin' but a bunch of demons and ruffians that believe they're outside the law." I raised an eyebrow at the guard. I had to admit, there was a compelling argument to be made for what he said, but of course, Brix never likes catching an earful from anyone.

"Yes well, nobody asked for your insight now did they? Where was your generosity back when the two brutes were about to rip my head off? Yeah see, that's the thing with humans, only lookin' out for humans, no one else."

"You demons are all the same. I don't see why King Mhar tolerates the presence of your kind. You're Avalon's plague." The guard walked back to his post disgruntled. He whispered among the other guardsman which brought out a few sighs and shaken heads.

"Come Brix," I said, "Let us survey the city 'till nightfall."

"I have a better idea," He whispered as we walked away from the gate, "Let's figure out where the prison is."

"You are insufferable aren't you?" I sighed, "But I'd imagine it being near a barracks. We now know there's one West of here, I suppose that's where we'll start." Our trek through Nelan had begun: the streets bustled with townsfolk, and crowds surrounded stalls and venders. We did not see many demons, the two we encountered earlier had gone in the opposite direction. As we headed West I noticed the streets ran thicker with guards, it seemed to me that there was a division in Nelan: the West being for humans and nobles, where in the East, demons and ruffians dwelled. I knew Brix was coming to the same conclusion when he began to look left and right only to find less and less demons.

"It feels like a bad idea bein' over here," Brix whispered in my direction, "I can tell I'm not wanted, look at them glare... humans are so wretched."

"Once we hit the West wall we'll swing 'round and head Northeast, hopefully it won't be quite so uppity." Brix nodded at my response as we continued through the city. Despite the dirty looks from townsfolk and guards, the city itself was quite impressive. If Nelan was to be my new home, I wouldn't have much to complain about.

After another half hour of walking, we came across the barracks against the West wall. The structure was sound and surrounded by guards. Sitting right next to the barracks was indeed the prison we were looking for. I noticed Brix licking his lips with the thought of a good meal and whispered, "Not quite yet Brix, we must wait a day or two, and even then, wait for nightfall."

"I know, I know. You, daedra, are the insufferable one."

"Perhaps, but I'd simply like to stay here a while before being thrown out or slaughtered by the guards." I motioned at Brix as a sign to continue our walk. He left out a muffled growl but did not resist. We now walked Northeast, weaving between buildings and bustling people.

We eventually came across a vast marketplace in what seemed to be the center of the city. There must've been twenty or thirty different shops and venders. A fountain resided in the center, creating a piece for the crowds to revolve around. I saw a blacksmiths shop, equipped with an arsenal of weapons and armor. I turned toward Brix and said, "Maybe tomorrow we can return, I should probably look into owning a weapon of some sort."

"Do you forget so easily daedra? You are a weapon; far more capable than any human blade." I blinked and thought, I suppose he's got a point... This is still all new to me, but I'm not simply human anymore am I? But I can't exactly control myself much either so what good am I? I shared this thought with Brix,

"Regardless, it's not like I can control what I'm doing. I went on a rampage last time remember? I blacked out."

"I'm sure with time and practice you won't be so clumsy." Brix chuckled, obviously he cared not what my actions were as a daedra, so long as they weren't a threat towards him.

"Maybe I shouldn't practice considering we're now in a city full of armed guards. You say daedra are powerful, but there is always power in numbers."

"You worry too much Kai, you'll come to enjoy it; the power. It's in your blood; the need and desire a Night Demon has to kill." I blinked at my companion again, this was the first real time he had called me by my name. My name seemed so distant now, just as Doble was. He was right though, my body feels different; stronger. I'm actually eager to find out just how strong... if only I could control the damn thing in daedra form.

"We should probably make our way to the East side of town soon, the sun is beginning to fall behind the trees, and we still don't know where that inn is."

"Lead the way, I'm in no rush." Brix motioned East with his clawless fingers. We exited the market and began again our walk through Nelan. I decided that using the gate as a starting point to finding the inn would be the best idea, so we headed more South than East at first. In another hour we had reached our original position at the gate. I asked Brix,

"The man said the inn was twelve blocks East correct?"

"Yes, Red Wood Inn I believe is what he said."

"Ah yes," I replied, "Keep an eye out for it, most of these building seem to look the same." After eight or so blocks I knew what building we sought.

"Hey daedra, I believe this building is very hard to find." Brix sneered. I ignored his comment for the moment and continued to look over the building. What we saw was a massive four story wooden building, painted red as the name suggested. As we rounded the other four blocks and arrived at the entrance I noticed a large clock was hung above the two doors leading in. It read just past thirty two o' clock.

"Aw great, it seems we're late." I grumbled.

"How fashionable of us." Brix commented before we made our way through the double doors. The inside of the inn was quite extravagant. A large golden chandelier hung above us, there were beautifully crafted designs in the wooden beams, and the rug beneath us had to have been imported from somewhere for the patterns and images all seemed foreign to me. I looked over to the corner and just as the man had said, he was seated alone at a table. He had a drink in his hand which he seemed quite focused on. I looked at Brix and nodded in the man's direction. We walked over to him but before saying a word he spoke,

"You're late." He didn't look up from his drink, instead, his words seemed more like a statement of fact rather than angry.

"We took the time to..." I was cut off by the stranger.

"I really don't care. Sit." He threw back his drink and finally looked up at us. His eyes were blue, deep, like the dark ocean waters. They had power in them, a commanding tone that you didn't deny. I followed his order, but Brix was hesitant as usual. He squinted at the stranger before finally pulling a chair out for himself to sit in. "I'm not one for pleasantries," the man began, "I am Gon, as stated before, what are your names?" I was the first to reply,

"I'm Kai, and this is Brix."

"I see," Gon said, "Now, as I said, I am not one for pleasantries, so let's get right to it then; you," Gon said as he nodded toward Brix, "are a cripple, and you," now nodding at me, "are a daedra." I was shocked. My jaw dropped a bit and I hurriedly looked over to Brix who's eyes had widened considerably. "Oh please Night Demon, the scent is obvious to the trained nose."

"Yes, but no human nose could pick up such a scent in the blood." Brix looked cautious now, obviously troubled.

"That's the fun part now isn't it," Gon exclaimed with his arms outstretched, "I couldn't possibly be human now could I? Well I'm not you see," A devilish grin fell across Gon's face as he leaned forward to whisper, "I too am a daedra."

[8½ pages in word docx]