Path to the Throne (part I)

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I am a half-demon.

Oh, why have you all gone pale? Afraid I'm going to leap at you and rip your throats out? I'm not. First, that would be really messy, and second, there are oh so many ways to kill a man in a much faster and more efficient manner.

Why are you making the sign of the Bright Saint? I am no vampire, no spirit of darkness, not even a pureblood demon. Actually, I could even enter a church without any problems. I don't, though. There are a few reasons. First of all, I'm lazy. The service starts at dawn, as you are well aware, even a bit earlier. Why would I get out of my warm bed to drag myself somewhere and wail together with the parishioners? Dream on. The other reason is no less important. The people are so sure I'm scared of all that holy paraphernalia—no use in disappointing them. I'd rather that become the last thing they learn in their lives. Yeah, you know what I mean. They wouldn't be disappointed anymore afterward. Well, maybe at their funeral.

Hey, stop with the pale face! This is all pure theory. Oh, and the third thing, chances are, our god-fearing thrall would suffer a stroke if I were to appear inside the holy walls of a temple. After all, "ungodly vermin are to suffer in the eternal darkness until the end of time..." Yep, that's from his speeches. Oh well. If I got angry with each fool who crossed my path, I'd tire my tail out.

Which tail?

My tail—a long, pretty, scaly tail, with a scorpion's stinger at the end. One sting, and you have a date with the Bright Saint, telling him all about my wickedness. One drop of my venom could poison an entire barrel of water. I checked.

Actually, I'm quite catlike. Have you seen an angry cat? They strike their enemies with their tails...and so do I. Sometimes, I miss. Sometimes, I don't. Why not, really? I am a half-demon, am I not? An unholy creature? You bet! A crown assassin? Absolutely. Too bad for me, though, half-demons aren't fit to be kings. I fell into a trap; I served the crown so well that I ended up wearing it, and it doesn't want to let me go. How did it happen?

The usual way. They say, there is no fool like a fool with initiative. I can confirm that. Yet, there is an even worse idiot: a crowned one, with rich imagination and initiative. Now, this is a terrible combination—a real disaster—and that's what my uncle was like.

How did I turn out to be a half-demon? Don't ask me stupid questions. A half-demon is born when one of the parents is human and the other is a demon.

You say that's obvious? So what do you want to know? Ah, how could a human meet a demon? Fine. I'll tell you my story—from the very beginning.

My uncle—and I sincerely hope he gets the hottest frying pan in all of hell and no oil—was happily married to a beautiful girl. They were a gorgeous couple. He was a tall, fair-haired knight in golden armor, straight from the sappy dreams of teenage girls. He had a fair share of female admirers, too, and waited to settle down until he was thirty. He would have done it even later, but his father, my grandfather, forced him to get hitched. He needed heirs, you see—legitimate heirs, not bastards born by maids and ladies-in-waiting.

So half of our nobles are related to me through my uncle. They called it "merit to the crown" and took a lot of pride in it, and the especially daring ones even tried implying something in front of me. I didn't get it. If my uncle had screwed their moms, whose husbands had turned a blind eye to this, what would the crown have owed those people? Nope, no way. Whoring yourself out is everyone's personal matter. And don't tell me he was the king and would get furious upon a refusal, punishing the entire family. The proud ones had refused, not giving a damn about the money. There was one case... But I'll tell you about it later.

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