Chapter 21: A world Without Mercy
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Mercy was something we humans created. We created it with the idea that one day, once that idea has become profound, we may eventually be found on the opposite side of it. Thus, when the first man showed mercy, he had hoped that should he ever be found in the same position, the next human would show him the same courtesy. It was a foolish hope, begotten of selfishness. 

Nonetheless, we humans indulged in it. Because, as one person first reaches this idea, so too will the rest. Before, the world was one full of the most treacherous creatures. Animals. We were of course no exception. The same animals, who would kill a newborn to feed off of, were the same animals that called themselves humans today. 

Unfortunately, other creatures were not so as vain, as to believe in the idea of mercy. They continued to fill the world with the nonchalant cruelty that the world had shown them. They fought as they lived, killed as they lived, and lived as they lived. This was the first time Eris had run into this emotion before. The emotion could only be described as overwhelming indifference to the lives of others. 

Eris was one hardened by war. He had witnessed atrocities after atrocities committed by his fellow man. Many committed against him, and very few committed by himself. His skin and body was one toughened up by the beating of war drums. With each pummel, they hardened his exterior. The amount of men that had fallen victim to these very same hands he used to huge. 

He was marvelous. He was powerful, and unbeatable. His enemies trembled to face him, and his associates looked up to him as a hero. It was precisely because they needed him to be strong that he was as powerful as he was. To that extent, he killed off his emotions as best as he could. At his core, he killed his kindness and focused only on becoming steel-hardy. But alas, he is still only human.

 

Unbeknownst to the outside world, his interior was riddled with holes. Within those holes many emotions remained locked in and very rarely ever show themselves. Within those holes one could find guilt, fear, sadness, apathy, hatred, love, and vulnerability. Truthfully, Eris was a man who shouldered the burdens of the entire nation. The atrocities he committed were for the better of the nation and the hell he had witnessed for the past 40 years- all were for the betterment of the world around him.

The toll of course, was never so light that he could simply bury them within himself. If one were to see him now, they would be surprised to see him being the powerful man they had thought he was. Within the small room in his domain, the man sat in a frightened position. His head remained buried in his knees as his hands clenched tightly around them. It appeared as if his muscles were going to tear from how tightly he clenched them. 

There in that darkness, he was confronted by the faces of hundreds, no... thousands of men and women alike that he had slain. Among these faces were the comrades he lead to their deaths to ensure victory. Furthermore, there were those that fought alongside him and died due to his negligence. They bellowed at him in an indiscernible amalgamation of sound. 

At this exact moment, he relived the days of his first battle, where the enemy had burned prisoners and sent them running towards the army. The smell was one that could have easily induced vomit. He recalled having shot various arrows into the incoming allies. Many of them he was familiar with. The noise men made when burning was never nice. They sounded akin to beasts. He could have doused out the flames and healed the men, but it was war. He wanted the magicians to preserve their healing abilities and magic abilities for when it was absolutely necessary. When one runs out of mana, it can ruin the course of the entire battle. The guilt from a moment like that never left him. Especially since they won with mana to spare. 

The burning figures of his friends screaming filled his head so loud that he could only shout back at these people "STOP! YOU'RE NOT REAL! YOU'VE DIED LONG AGO, JUST LEAVE ME!!" 

 

"TRAITOR. MURDERER. MONSTER"

 

A child appeared in front of him with tears in his eyes. "are you really even human?"

Of course he was. Of course he was human. He's seen first hand the things that weren't... a shiver went down his spine- he shouldn't have thought of that. Whenever he did, he was sent down a spiral. This spiral wasn't the normal traumatic events he would have, no... instead, this was much worse.

In an instant, he was no longer in his room. He found himself back in the fractured capital city.

"Ahahahahaa! You've come to visit me? Again??? Oh how you must love me~"

There he was again. The demon clasped his hands together in delight with a huge twisted smile on his face. His hands were clasped together as if he was holding a bouquet of roses in front of him. He recalled the creature very well, it could only be described as something that was not supposed to exist in this world. The outfit he wore was confusing. He had a long hat atop his head, and donned some variation of formal wear. The coat's ends at the back split like the wings of a roach. They stemmed all the way down to his ankles, where instead of flowing freely, they joined his pants and melded together with the bottom of his shoes. 

The creature must have been over 7 feet tall, and absurdly skinny. Yet the amount of power he possessed was unmistakable. That foul energy could corrupt the minds of everyone around him. His own men that he had fought with for a decade, now put up their swords against him and against each other. All the while screaming from the intense pressure squeezing their brains. They were screaming and wishing for death.... and fighting each other to make sure the other dies. It was an act of mercy.

He killed all of his own men and yet again ignored the ringing pain within his mind.

 "Ohhh? What's this now? You're still able to move?" The demon blinked twice and pushed up his glasses. "Oh! And even think! How delightful."

He casually strolled over to the general as if it was just another walk. 

"Stay back demon..." 

The demon appeared next to Eris' shoulders, crouching down to whisper into his ear. 

"Keep watching, this is my favorite part." That's when he realized, he was physically watching the scene play out as if it was a play in front of him. The demonoid was actually standing right besides the real him, watching the scene unfold with him. 

He wasn't sure what was going on, but the technique allowed him to see the situation in multiple angles. As he was watching this, there was another pair of Eris and the demonoid watching him watch the scene. He didn't know which one was the real one, nor which one was the real him, nor what viewpoint he was watching this at.

The demon knelt down besides the great general and Eris had attempted to behead him. Only for his blade to ring out and fly out of his hand upon impact. He tried and tried again, and it would do no damage. In fact, he couldn't even cut off a piece of the demons hair. "Heyyy now general. I'm showing you respects by bowing. Do you knoooo~oow how hard I worked to kill everyone here?"

 

He looked as if he was genuinely hurt. "I've spent maaaanny long nights you know.- Oh... perhaps you think you can do better?"

 

The blade shattered against the creatures skull. "Grrrahrahegah JUST DIE ALREADY!!!"

 

"You really do think you can do better. Okay, Great General, let's put you up to the test." He clapped his hands together. Suddenly, there was movement. There was movement everywhere around him. 

He got up and walked away casually while Eris continued to try and attack him. With one single step, the creature was already somehow 90 feet away. "Great General~~ pleeeeeaase try to impress me."

That moment, the whole city arouse again. They weren't illusions. He could feel his blade tear through flesh as the very men he just slain woke back up to attack him again. Many more arose from near him. Children, Men, Women...babies. 

"stop... showing me this already." Tears fell down Eris' face, an unstoppable ravine. 

The demon put his hand on Eris' head. "Oh but you visit me everyday. You're showing yourself this...~ you were that impressed by me." He nodded towards another direction. In that direction, it was Eris watching this unfold as well, with pure interest in the events outcomes.

"And over that way." He pointed to Eris, watching Eris, watching Eris, watching this scene unfold. "Of couuurse, if you're tired of seeing this~~ I can show you a different sceeee~~ne." He clasped his hands together with a smile. "Let's fast forward. Except you won't have to witness anything... How about, you be there instead now." 

 

The Eris that was watching muttered a quick "Huh?" Before the world changed again. This time around him. He was now in the battleground, covered in blood and guts of the whole city. This was the aftermath of the challenge issued. He had killed and killed and killed, hacking and slashing until his muscles ached and he could barely lift his hand. This was an event that continued for 4 days while reinforcements were on their way. Al the while, the demon stood still, atop the same building, watching the events unflinchingly.

"Ohhh come noww Eriiiiis. That wasn't nearly as flaaaashy ~~. Oh? Whats wrong.. is that not your name?"

Eris was panting and he could only see this world in red. The voice that constantly kept taunting him was the only thing that kept him still awake. He now knew what this feeling was. It was fear. Overwhelming fear.

The demons tone became stern this time. "If you're not going to answer. I will kill you."

"So answer" There it goes again, the demon whispering in the ears of another Eris watching this scene unfold. "Do you like what you're seeing?"

"No...please... st- stop showing me all of this. I can't... take ..I-.t.. please."

Of course that was exactly what the other Eris was saying on that battlefield. The demon launched itself at him and appeared in front of him in the blink of an eye. "Let's play a different game. You're the only entertaining thing left here in this city." 

At that point something in Eris broke. He dropped the sword and screamed as he ran. He ran aimlessly like a coward. He tripped over the bodies of his own comrades and slipped from the blood as he tried to get up. "PLEASE! LEAVE ME ALONE!! AUAUHAGGHHH!!!" 

He threw guts and bone at the demon who simply kept walking towards him. He ran and ran, abandoning all the flare of his former self. Only once he ran did the terror end. The demon no longer chased him. He hid and cowered underneath the dark rubble slab, breaking down in irrepressible sobbing. What gives him the right to do that? Even after he had killed so many. Even after he had sent many of his own comrades to their death and through hellish circumstances. What gave him the right to flee and cry for his own life?

"Hmmm? It looks like a new toy may have appeared."

 

Finally, his mind released him from the hell he was in. The howls that continued to leave the Duke’s manor could be heard from its courtyard. It has been this way for several nights. For as long as this demon still tormented him, he would remain this weak forever. This was the tragic fate that befell Eris.

 

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