The only word that could describe the end of this situation was ‘anticlimactic.’ A few people had died, and a few more were injured, but overall nothing happened. Well, nothing aside from Lucas becoming a ‘high duke,’ whatever that was, and Terrasin gaining a title of ‘Lady Observer’ in Francinea. Again, whatever that was. Obviously she could figure it out, but it was so abrupt it gave the ducal court whiplash.
Terrasin had filled Archi in on the meeting that took place, and Archi was glad she had avoided that marriage. Her father would have approved, and Lucas was decently handsome as well as the Hero… But his personality was almost dangerous, and definitely unpredictable.
She was a little insulted that Lucas had essentially called her a child, but she was not about to argue it- she did not want him to reconsider.
Regardless, Lucas, Terrasin and Archi herself were leaving the city for a time. Part of the fallout from the meeting was redirecting the force to the front line, and to help keep the nobles- who would have grumbled about being mustered for one thing and doing another- in line, Lucas, as the Hero, was accompanying the army to the front lines.
“So explain to me this, given the open plains, why is there a ‘front line’ at all?” Lucas asked a little earlier, and Julian, who was with them in the carriage as well, was explaining.
“Well, partly it is because this area is roughly equidistant to the furthest points of the border- and so it can respond to either as fast as possible.” Julian was saying, “but that is mostly rationalization on our part. The real answer is, the highest concentration of demons attack there- and we don’t know why.”
“Demons have varying level of intelligence,” Terrasin chimed in. “But even the more intelligent varieties follow the same pattern. We see similar behavior on the Amaranthine Line- one gate is attacked far more than the others.”
“Perhaps they don’t have a reason,” Archi shrugged. “Not all demons are intelligent, and not all intelligent demons can control the lesser ones- if there goal is to kill, it is easier to incite demons that are already there then to coax them to go around.”
“Animal behavior is fairly predictable though,” Lucas muttered. “I would not expect the non-sentient demons to behave far differently from animals, and this kind of behavior does not make much sense.”
“They are unnatural and evil creatures,” Julian shrugged and Terrasin nodded in agreement. “You cannot apply normal logic to them.”
“I doubt that,” Lucas replied. “Their behavior must have a reason, even if they are not aware of it. There is either something drawing them to that area, or pushing them towards it. For that matter, we are probably only seeing a small fraction of the total that exist. They have to be breeding somewhere after all, have you ever found a pregnant demon?”
Archi wished she had stayed back now- but it was too late to turn around. At the very least she had never thought that she would be in a conversation like this, but here she was. Such an odd and uncomfortable subject.
“No, we have not.” Julian replied easily though, honestly Archi found it odd that he knew that information off the top of his head. “Not all of them appear to have sexual organs even, though many do.”
“Interesting,” Lucas thought for a second then laughed. “Well, that is neither here nor there for now- though it is definitely something I will have to look into later, probably with Blade around to ask questions to. More importantly, I probably should tell all of you what my current hope for this journey is.”
Lucas smiled, “That way we can get the accusations of me being nuts out of the way before we reach camp.”
Archi sighed, “Do we even want to know?” Lucas had a way of removing propriety and etiquette from a conversation, like sandpaper smoothing all of the niceties away… And he was just smiling wider now…
“I plan to domesticate a few of them.”
Archi would not have been more stunned if he had detonated one of his ‘bombs’ inside the carriage, and from the looks on the faces around her, they felt the same way.
“Lucas, that goes beyond ‘nuts,’” Archi said slowly. “That is lunacy. Pure lunacy.”
“Not to mention incredibly dangerous,” Julian added. “People have tried this in the past- it never ended without at least a few deaths.”
“They weren’t me,” Lucas just shrugged it off. “I will also be dissecting quite a few of them- I am quite interested in what I will find inside.”
If Lucas’s guesses were right, the demons would be pretty normal inside. Although he had dealt enough with the magical side of this world enough now to not be surprised if the demons were like nothing he had ever seen before, currently he doubted they were all that far away from animals.
While the people around him viewed the control over the non-intelligent demons by the intelligent ones as magical, Lucas himself had a different theory. While it could indeed be magical, Lucas wondered if they simply were feral populations of a normally domesticated species.
Studies indicate that domestication instills certain behaviors in animals- they will begin to behave and act, after generations of breeding, in ways that no wild animal would, even if they were a feral population of a domesticated species. For the most part, this was still in the hypothesis stage before Lucas was brought to this world, but Lucas considered it fairly credible, and it was not like he could actually wait for the studies to be completed at this point. And that meant working with what he had.
His theory was that intelligent demons selectively bred the others to be used as ‘war dogs.’ And after breeding in those behaviors, some had managed to be released into the wild and spread. Or perhaps were placed to provide opposition to human forces.
The point is that the triggers bred into them would still be present, and could be exploited to various degrees. Not enough that you could call it true control, but perhaps enough to get them to attack something.
Granted, this hypothesis was so flimsy that it would collapse if Lucas looked at it wrong- but that was what experimentation was for. He would develop a better hypothesis as he gathered data.
Of course, first he would have to deal with the fact that everyone was looking at him in horror.
“Why, by the Gods, would you ever want to do that?” Archi seemed particularly disturbed by his announcement.
“A few reasons,” there was quite a bit you could learn from how a creature was put together after all. “Though my current interest is to try and understand how different the species of demons are. The fact that Blade exists at all has certain implications that I would find difficult to explain to you, and taking a look inside the demons could help answer the questions I have.”
Of course, he would need to find an intelligent demon to prove his suspicions- and the dissection of it would be a morally grey area, but that was definitely a necessity line to cross. The long and the short of all of this was that calling this whole group of creatures ‘demons’ was problematic. They were clearly many different species, and probably not all that closely related, but the generalization of them group made it hard to gather specific data. So Lucas’s work would start straying into taxonomy as he tried to figure out just what everything was.
“I don’t know about capturing live ones,” Julian frowned, probably thinking of the logistics involved. “But dead ones will be easy enough.”
“Good, though I would prefer them in the best condition possible.” After all, a creature that had been stabbed to death would be harder to deal with in terms of figuring out where everything went and what it was.
“If everything goes well,” Lucas threw out a little bit of a treat for the others, who were all looking uncomfortable. “I might be able to use the information I gain to help you kill them easier.”
At the very least, Julian perked up at that.