The harvest had gone well

The harvest had gone well. Small villages like the one they had raided often had an irritatingly large percentage of old and infirm humans whose healthiest years lay behind them. This was not so with the village Usor'an and the other demons had just gone through. These hopeful people had been foolish enough to build their community in isolation, too far from the protective eyes of the rulers of this land.

'They look so much like us destroyers. They just lack horns and hooves'.

Usor'an though all this over as he paced across the deck of the slave ship and reached the side where he hurled his apple core into the sea while raced by the speeding ship. While demonic sailors busied themselves with raising the sails, the slavers secured their yield. All brandished swords so to keep the quivering humans at bay. Usor'an paced back to the center of the main deck to address the lead slaver.

"Stora'canadair" Usor'an began as he reached the destroyer who was tapping his hoofs and eyeing the humans over, "How long do you think until we get back to Demon Isle?" Stora'candair spat into the face of one of the humans.

"Two weeks if our sails are as magical as the mages promised them to be my lord. Two months if they aren't. Not at all if the abysslodons give us trouble" replied Stora'canadair calmly. "This is a heavy vessel but I fear the bilge will have so many souls down below to draw those monsters up". The slaver shrugged and looked away from Usor'an.

"We'll concern ourselves with that later. For now though the crop must be sorted". Stora'canadair turned his attention to the humans and continued overseeing.

Usor'an strode over to the humans and looked them over. There looked to be about two hundred-fifty or so with four fifths at or under the age of thirty-six. They were all chained together by the wrists in four continuous lines while being inspected for injury or disease. Mothers held their children in close, protective even in these hopeless moments. Families with the fortune of being chained together tried to comfort one another. The slavers invariably broke up these unions with a shout or threat.

Usor'an walked up to a burly man and gave him a shove he stumbled back but did not fight back or show any anger. Usor'an walked over to another hairy man and shoved him but got no response. He tried shoving a boy in late adolescence who might not have known better, but even he bore the assault and gave little response, not even a dirty look.

'These people have no fight in them' Usor'an thought in disappointment as he broke the nose of the boy he had pushed with a hard wrap from his fist and gave a little chuckle when an equally aged girl, possibly a sibling, shouted a curse at him.

"Monster!" she yelled.

"Oh I get that a lot" Usor'an muttered as inspected this second youth and noticed her beauty. She looked very healthy and her skin was marred by no scars or marks. The shape of her body conformed to the standards of human attraction. She was not skinny or bloated. Her flowing hair was well kept and silky rather than stringy. While most of the people here would become fodder for the work pits, Usor'an decided this girl was destined for the humiliating life of a slave girl.

"Stora'canadair!" Usor'an shouted. "Take this girl below and have her prepared for the harem guilds".

"At once my lord" came the reply. Usor'an was deeply irritated when the girl and her brother, or whatever the boy's relationship to her was, screamed to one another while she was unchained and dragged away.

"Clairdanna!" the boy cried as he took his hands away from his bleeding nose and reached to the girl as a demon clapped a short shackle around her wrists and dragged her below decks. Usor'an smashed the boy in the face to silence his whining. He fell and did not get back up. Usor'an moved onward, brushing his long white hair from his eyes when a gust of wind took it.

About an hour later Usor'an was sitting around a table flanked by two guards. With them were Stora'candair and Stora'mashi: the captain of the slave ship. A map was spread out before them and upon it was painted the world of Jindaria.

"We are here" Stora'mashi said as he indicated the sea of water between the Chazzan coast and Demon Isle. "Our current headings look promising but there is only one problem which I know you are all familiar with".

"Then solve it and be done with it. I do not intend to die out here and leave Demon Isle ungoverned. My court cannot reach me if I am in the belly of an abysslodon" Usor'an stated.

"I know how to deal with the creatures. Do not fear them my lord" Stora'candair said to Usor'an. "Just let me deal with it".

"So be it" Usor'an said.

"My lord, when we get back to Demon Isle do you fear we might have angry humans pounding on our doorstep?" Stora'candair asked.

"Don't be stupid. This village was too small to get into a war over. Do not bother me with petty things like that" Usor'an answered. "What concerns me more than the humans is my empty stomach. I'm starving". He rose to his feet and left the room, his two bodyguards following him.

Usor'an walked aimlessly through the bilge where the cargo lay chained all across wooden shelves in the wall. Men, women, the young, the elderly, all lay. Over one hundred voices were clogging the musty air wailing in their newfound misery. Some of them had started the day waking up in their own beds and eating a wholesome breakfast and were now doomed to end it down here. It was such a racket that Usor'an had trouble concentrating on his thoughts.

"BE QUIET!" Usor'an roared as he drew his sword in a ring of steel. The commotion died down by a small amount though the screaming would be hard indeed to stop indeed. Usor'an began inspecting the humans for someone to eat. He came across the same boy whose nose he had broken and considered taking him. The youth bared his teeth like a hound and glared angrily at Usor'an through tearstained eyes. A swish of chain told Usor'an that the human wanted to strike out at him but the shackles were too short. Usor'an chuckled and moved on, deciding this healthy human could better serve Demon Isle as a slave rather than a meal.

Usor'an came to a pair of women which caught his attention. One was in her sixties and the other in her late thirties. By the way they clung to one another and the similarity in their appearance Usor'an guessed them to be mother and daughter. The older one wouldn't make a good slave but by the way she calmly patted the other woman's shoulder and the determination in her eyes Usor'an saw a person of courage. A worthy meal.

"That one" said Usor'an with a point to the old woman. Immediately his two bodyguards fell on her and unchained her from the shelf. The struggling human was forced onto her back. In one smooth stroke with his sword Usor'an put an end to the woman's struggling. He put his sword away and took a small dagger out. He raised the blade above his head and set about the task of removing the dead woman's heart. The enslaved humans watched in silent fascination with the exception of the woman's daughter who filled the air with her shrill bleating. Usor'an rose from his kill and began to eat the heart which he held in his hand. Blood dribbled down his lips as he savored his meal. Usor'an took a moment to look at the face of the woman whose mother he had killed.

The voyage was going well. The supernaturally fast demonic slave ship was captained well by its destroyer crew. Demon Isle lay not too far off. Soon they would disembark and their haul would be marched off into the nightmarish existence as slaves in Demon Isle. Two weeks passed before the coming of a dark and rainy night.

Usor'an sat in his cabin and stared up at his suit of armor which hung on the wall while waiting for his guest. It was black in colour and a short cape of dark blue hung from its back. The sound of lashing rain against his windows was almost hypnotizing as he considered putting it on when he spoke with his guest. He figured he would and suited up. He was finished not a moment too soon. A knock on the door was heard and he instructed the person come in. He turned his armored body around to see Stora'candair with the woman whose mother Usor'an had killed between his hands. Usor'an dismissed Stora'candair who left Usor'an and the human alone.

"What is your name?" asked Usor'an. The woman didn't answer at first. "Answer me damn it!" Usor'an spat.

"Karneai" the woman replied timidly as she looked away from the white haired demon and out the window.

"Do you know who I am?" Usor'an asked. When no answer came Usor'an provided one. "I am An of house Usor but to everyone my name is Usor'an. I am the lord and ruler of Demon Isle. You are in the presence of royalty". He looked at her inquisitively. "Did you ever dare dream of being addressed by a king during your days as a peasant-wife?"

"I am unmarried".

"It is just as well. The work pit is a place where union and love and family and friendships all disappear. Life as a slave in Demon Isle is a simple struggle to survive. The life of an animal. You are destined for the life of an animal, the life which all your kind deserves".

"My kind?" Karneai asked. "What kind is that?"

"Humankind. I know I just look like a white haired young human with horns and hooves but I am something different. I am a destroyer: a type of demon from Demon Isle. My people live for centuries longer than your people and have thus far seen two generations of humans pass". Usor'an pulled a chair over to Karneai and let her sit down. "Neither generation did anything except spawn a new one. That's the thing with you humans. All you do is survive".

"What do you want?" inquired Karneai.

"I am here to apologize for what happened to your mother and explain to you the meaning of human life" said Usor'an as he walked over to the table and fetched an orange which he gave to her. "You must think us to be monsters and murderers. We are not". Karneai nodded timidly as she peeled the fruit.

"I…you're apologizing?"

"I am sorry you had to see what I did to that woman. But I was hungry and your mother was old. I could have taken the heart of a younger person but chose her. She had the least years left, the least potential. I ate your mother's heart and I'm sorry it had to be her but there was no other option. I was hungry" Usor'an said.

"She was my mother…"

"She was a human. A useless human who had already fulfilled her purpose in life: birthing you. I gave her a new one: feeding me. Now I give your entire community a new purpose. You could at least say thank you".

"No one in my community wants this. I promise you. We want to be free" Karneai said as tears dripped down her cheeks.

"No one in your community will be alive in one hundred years and have nothing to show they were ever around. My slavers gift them with the chance to serve and make an impact under the guidance of a superior race, the demons. That is the meaning of human life, to serve greater species" Usor'an explained.

"I don't think so" Karneai said as she popped a slice of orange in her mouth.

"I do. I have seen enough years pass to know the futility of human life when left to its own devices. People get born, reproduce, and die while all their works are ravaged by time. Under the guidance of demon overlords human life works to a greater end to help perpetuate a society far greater than their own".

"Human societies are every bit as worthy as demonic society" Karneai complained.

"No it isn't. Demon society is superior to human society. Just as we live superior lengths of years so too do we build greater, infinite works with lesser creatures to do the labor". Karneai's limbs suddenly fell limply to her sides and Usor'an stopped talking. "It is time" he said.

"What's happening?" Karneai asked in alarm as her face took on a look of wild terror.

"That orange I gave you contained a paralyzing juice. Your muscles are freezing up" Usor'an said.

"What are you doing?" screamed Karneai.

"You have a great purpose to fulfill. I didn't tell you all that about humanity just to educate you. I needed something to talk about while the paralysis took effect" Usor'an explained as he hoisted Karneai up over his shoulders. The woman's paralyzed limbs could not fight him off and he carried her out of his cabin and up onto the main decks.

"What are you going to do to me?" sobbed Karneai.

"There are a kind of sea creature that live around the waters near Demon Isle called abysslodons. They can smell flesh in a ship even from the depths of an ocean trench. We need to throw them a meal to distract them from the ship so we don't lose any crew to their hunger" Usor'an said as he stepped into the lashing rain. The crew had gathered on the main deck to watch the spectacle. Usor'an stepped to the railing and squinted down into the frothing waters. Razor sharp waves lashed relentlessly against the hull. They were down there somewhere. Usor'an could not see them but he knew they were there.

"Throw her in!" someone called. Usor'an lifted Karneai up to do just that.

"Please! Gods please! I don't want to die! I don't want to die! I…I'll do anything, please no!" wailed Karneai. Usor'an listened to her plead for a few moments, savoring her fear as he had her mother's heart.

"You're a human. You're already dead" Usor'an whispered to the unfortunate before he hauled her shrieking form into the water below. She struggled around a bit like a fly in water. Then a tremendous dark form appeared below her, its outline hazy in the waves. Then she was gone, dragged under and into the maw of the abysslodon below. Usor'an laughed.

A week later they had made port. Thanks to Karneai's sacrifice not one destroyer slaver had lost his life to the beasts of the sea. Usor'an was walking away from the slave ship which lay berthed at the demonic port, going towards a coach which had come to collect him. He could see the slaves being unloaded and marching glumly away under the direction of their captors. Usor'an saw the youth whose nose he had broken among them. He also saw the girl, the one he had directed to be sent to become a slave girl, in chains and being led away from the main group by a single slaver. They were headed for a small wagon. For a moment the two youths met eyes and cried out to one another. The boy was jerked by his chain and thrown back in line while the girl was practically dragged by her captor to the wagon.

'Pathetic little beasts, so ungrateful' Usor'an thought with a smile as he and his bodyguards hopped onto his coach.