IS, V1, Chapter 12: Rebirth

My light was gone and I was alone in the illusion once again. I could hear and see mana while wandering those silent halls.

The southern tunnel was different… empty and clean. Occasionally, second ring magical beasts would fall directly down, or slide in through the sides.

However, I never once stumbled upon a cluster of them or any of their remains. Something was out there, far beyond my obscured vision.

It was speaking to me in riddles, memories, emotions, and rhetorical questions, but I couldn’t understand my own responses. Perhaps I was under a spell, or maybe it was all in my mind, my body could have simply been insane.

I couldn’t remember my dreams, but I knew that they were important. Even just thinking about them was probably too dangerous, there are things that shouldn’t be known.

That little girl kept appearing in the distance, smiling and waving… flapping her wings, then fluttering off. She wasn’t real, I knew that I was hallucinating, but I didn’t understand why or how.

For three months I ventured through the darkness, succumbing to my nature. Like a mindless beast, I was once again raging about, without weapons, clothes or even the decency to wait until my prey was dead, before starting my meal.

The deeper I went, the faster my body was growing and transforming… but not by that much. I was only 8 years old and for the most part I was still very much a child.

In that time, my horns only grew about 30% faster, they were curving forward. My hair was growing considerably fast, but mostly just what was on my head.

The tail still looked like one from a black cat, but my ears were completely elven, proportionally the same size as Rae’s. With black ram’s horns growing relatively close to the sides of my head, combined with the third eye… yep, I was definitely some kind of demon.

My teeth were very similar to a vampire’s, but the top canines actually delivered a neurotoxin of relatively high potency. I was unconsciously dosing myself, the reason why Lorelei always had nightmares was probably because of her own venom.

However, she was born with it and probably had a massive resistance built up. If my poison was as deadly as her’s, I would have died pretty quickly.

Luckily, since the glands were just beginning to form, it was still very weak at the time. Yet, each day the toxin grew stronger and my memories faded faster.

It was something I knew from the moment I began losing control of my mana, I had reached my limit. My memories of distant past lives were resurfacing and interfering with my ability to perform even the simplest spells.

Magic is like an extra motor function, you can typically control it, but if your nervous system is damaged, it spasms and acts unpredictably or not at all. My subconscious probably understood what was happening and used nature magic to create the poisonous fangs.

My body was killing my mind, to keep from self destructing. What use is knowledge and pointless memories, if I can’t even survive long enough to use them.

However, that wasn’t the first time I had a similar situation occur… everyone forgets their past lives in order to live in the present. It was a rare opportunity to be free, unchained from a history which didn’t even exist in that world.

I couldn’t let go, because the moment I did, I would have unleashed a true demon into that relatively innocent world. That’s how it always ended when I gave into temptation, complete annihilation and destruction.

Actually, that’s how it usually turned out anyway, but I had high hopes for that world… it was far too soon for it all to disappear in my soul’s endless darkness. Resistance was the key to salvation and I knew that from… well, experience.

The trick wasn’t in a futile attempt to simply hold onto the memories, I just wrote down what I needed to remember. I predicted that my mind wouldn’t last forever and used blood magic to seal it all away… somewhere safe.

None of them would find out until much later, but each person in that room except Nadja, received a vital key to awaken me. He thought I was just giving magic and combat lessons, but Conor’s true purpose was as a fail-safe.

Some of the nature spells he used were actually designed to counter illusion and blood magic, in the event that I didn’t return. Throughout that world, even if it was relatively weak or poorly understood, those forbidden techniques did certainly exist.

There was also the slight possibility that I could become a true monster and he was probably the only person on the planet who could stop me. Well, he would need to become much more powerful on his own before it came to that, but I saw the path he was headed on, literally and metaphorically.

It was only a matter of time before he reached his destination and discovered his true calling, the hero who saved the world… or something like that.

Beatrix received my mark and the power to give it to others, but that was only on the surface. Imprinted and locked within her mind, was a crucial portion of my military knowledge, tactics, strategy, the ability to use understand various weapons and how to utilize them properly.

Even if she saw a tank for the first time, Beatrix would be able to drive it, load and fire the gun, even the best conditions to use them in. The side effect would obviously be my… less than pleasant ability to compartmentalize.

I chose her because when I read her mind, it was cold, cruel, loyal, sharp, cunning, and she was physically unable to reproduce. Eventually, if she manages to stay alive long enough, she would probably notice the fact that her body no longer aged.

Although, it was only to the extent of a wood elf’s natural lifespan. Genetics was never really my thing, but it becomes significantly easier when you can just cheat your way through with nature and blood magic.

If that psychopath Uriel was there, she probably could have created a retrovirus that would completely transform Beatrix into… actually, that bitch would have been more likely to start a zombie apocalypse for entertainment.

Sariel would have been the safer choice, but his method was equally undesirable. All I could really do was give her the extreme longevity, everything else about her body remained the same, including her lack of eggs to produce offspring,

My personal favorite trick to agelessness was Azriel’s technique, some of his greatest inventions were nanites… which caused an even worse zombie apocalypse. That was actually how they met, in the middle of a gigantic battlefield, with mutated, deformed and disgusting creatures, killing each other all around them.

Their love life was even worse than mine and… well, pretty much everyone I ever cared about. Seriously, I should have realized how crazy she was the moment I woke up in our dining room, strapped to the table, with a purple IV dripping into my left arm, while she was just smiling and taking notes.

Anyway, my most important technologies were hidden in that notebook I gave to Ailyn, but she wouldn’t be able to unlock them all at one time. Hell, it was practically an Azriel’s best inventions index, minus everything that I had no idea how to make.

Since it could take over a hundred years for her to remember how to create electrical generators, computers, microwave ovens, or other similar devices, among the infinite stream of important things she needed to eventually build, so I gave her hints.

I didn’t have enough time to write down everything I knew how to make and how, so I filled it with names, words that held significant meaning to their original creator. The order was from the simplest but most crucial for their current situation when I left, to the most complicated devices and technologies that he ever showed me.

Ailyn would only unlock the next name after she successfully understood and created the one that came before. That way she wouldn’t try to skip the hand cranked generator and start constructing a nuclear power plant, since it didn’t quite work out for us the last time.

Even if she couldn’t use magic very well, that didn’t mean she couldn’t create devices with it. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not an inventor, everything I knew was taught to me by Azriel or one of his incarnations.

Within Raelin’s body was every non-forbidden magical technique that I could remember. Obviously it would take hundreds of years to master them and thousands if she wanted to unlock the most powerful and dangerous fire, air, water, earth and nature spells that I knew about.

Ambition wasn’t something that I had to give Lorelei, in fact, she probably would have ended up as a great leader, even without my help. However, I did give her all that I knew about building a business, running a country, expanding an empire, founding a kingdom, and a decent amount of information regarding simple things like malls, shopping centers, supermarkets, and everything else along those lines.

Ethir was a strange one, but very intelligent, he had already taught himself how to read and write. For him, I left all of my academic knowledge, mathematics, several languages that could potentially be useful, various sciences, culinary skills, and even the concept of sports… which I never particularly enjoyed, but they would be useful.

I probably knew less about that worlds history than he did, so all I gave him were some predictions based on past lives. However, the spell would teach him how to read and write magical text or symbols, along with all the magical theory that Rae couldn’t comprehend.

My will was all written and distributed already, but there was something I couldn’t entrust to any of them. The last key and by far the most dangerous… was mine, no one else would be forced to carry that burden.

Aside from the obvious, blood and illusion magic, there was something so important and volatile that it could never be forgotten or erased. Memories of a life that never ended, the core of my soul and the universe where I was truly forged into existence.

I can’t say for sure if it ever actually happened, or if it was all something I imagined long ago. If it is indeed real, then it could have possibly been the beginning and end of everything that I have ever experienced.

An eternal prison that no one can ever escape, but some stories must never be written. You never know who might end up reading them.

It’s hard to remember exactly what I had forgotten by that point, but I always know my name. My mind was foggy, clouded with fragments of shattered memories.

The music was like a lullaby and it was becoming more difficult to keep my golden eye open. After a delicious pack of giant wolves, I decided to use one of their carcasses as a sleeping bag.

It wasn’t a nap, or even a deep sleep, I was in a coma… or maybe just hibernating. On my 8th birthday, I died, or at least my mind was no longer intact within that body.

He woke up 3 months later and began hunting, thoughtlessly slaughtering, devouring, casting spells subconsciously but not uncontrollably, I was just a hungry beast. I may have still looked pretty much the same, but the inside was nearly empty, there was nothing but a monster who craved mana.

When I finally passed the threshold, into the third ring, things began to change dramatically. I could literally taste the air, it sounded like an alarm was ringing in my ears, my third eye was blinded by the density of mana, it felt like oil against my skin and even smelled like a combination of coffee and bacon.

My body was conflicted, most of my senses told me to stay away, but the two that mattered the most, didn’t care. All I wanted to do was enter that delicious hell and I could feel my mana pool being crushed under the overpowering pressure.

Using my catlike eyes and a bit of lightning magic in front of me, I was able to cut through the darkness. What I witnessed was truly strange, nothing, it was exactly the same as before.

Life is always so anticlimactic, even when all indications point towards incredible danger, sometimes it’s just a trick. Quite often, the most powerful creatures cannot be seen until its too late.

The true purpose of my venom, was something I couldn’t have possibly predicted. Well, I probably should have been able to, but since I was constantly hallucinating and periodically having mild seizures… my mind wasn’t able to focus on the enemies that were all around me.

My body had a very strong immune system, so even a powerful curse or pathogen would have great difficulty surviving within me. However, there was one creature in particular which would typically fall under the category of microscopic organisms.

They could most likely sense that my body was poisonous, so I wasn’t considered food. When my lightning discharged, I was suddenly a target again.

The creatures were drawn to the disturbance in mana density and quality. Raindrops began pouring down around me, but each of them was several meters in diameter.

I was completely surrounded and only had my instincts to fall back on as the globs of strange liquid were slowly becoming rounder. Within their transparent bodies were many sphere and egg shaped discolorations.

They were slimes, but not nearly as weak or pathetic as the name would suggest. The giant monsters and powerful creatures in the second ring of Lorthon would be easily devoured by such efficient predators.

My electricity was still crackling through the air and even striking the giant balls of gelatin-like material. Luckily, I was able to predict and avoid their onslaught of tentacles, trying to pierce into my mana pool and drain me dry… literally.

Even without experience or knowledge, it wasn’t difficult to realize that getting hit was not a good idea. I stopped using lightning and switched to a full body black light, that way the nearly invisible slimy tentacles would become incredibly luminescent.

My skin had become permanently imbued with an assortment of irritating fluorescent colors, it was a side effect of unconsciously casting various nature magic spells for a total of 6 months. When I was with Conor, they never seemed to activate because I was inhibiting myself to protect him from a random fiery or icy death.

Switching on a festive skin light was as natural as blinking, so even if I didn’t understand how it worked, I still knew how to use and utilize it properly. Despite popular beliefs, slimes are very strong against magic and their main weaknesses are large bladed weapons.

Their bodies are typically giant sacks of water, filled with small sacks of acid and a nucleus which controls it all. Some of them have hardened shells, but the ones I was facing were essentially naked.

Those slimy membranes were still pretty thick and difficult to pierce or tear effectively and blunt force attacks would simply be absorbed. Fire magic would be ineffective unless I could produce an extraordinary amount of heat, or increase the temperature from within its body.

Lowering the temperature could potentially work, but the same problem was still in effect. It was pointless to use attacks that would only end up doing more damage to me, than to them.

When facing 12 opponents who are constantly stabbing at you, eventually a target must be chosen. They were easily visible to me, but since they had no sight, taste, smell, or hearing, they were probably able to use some sort of basic telepathy to find my location.

Essentially, they could feel the electrical impulses firing throughout my body, but probably nothing past that. Their clumsy attacks were extremely simple and easy to avoid with very little effort.

Although, in retrospect I may be able to view the scene with complete clarity, but at that time, all I could feel was danger and blood-lust. Well, they didn’t exactly have a circulatory system, so maybe I just wanted to pop them like giant water balloons.

On my body there were six weapons that would kill a slime if used properly… hands, feet, and horns. My instincts weren’t telling me to slam the side of my head into one of them, so I jumped into the air, used a bit of wind magic to propel myself forward and swung the very long and sharp toenails on my right foot like a blade.

The slashing motion was closer to a whip than a sword, so the tip of my foot pierced through the gelatin. My body was still very small and relatively light, one of my strongest assets was agility.

Instead of slamming into the slime’s upper half and bouncing off, I used my fingernails to latch onto it and tear a few more holes. The creature didn’t explode, it simply deflated like a rubber tire… filled with water and a bunch of very large organelles.

Everything poured out of the creature as it collapsed and the others began sucking up its juices off the ground. They were easily distracted and apparently their memory was nonexistent, after slurping up their fallen comrade, the other 11 magical amoebas began slowly moving towards the direction I came from.

Perhaps they could sense a magical beast in the distance, dead or alive, they didn’t seem to care about anything but food. Maybe they could sense that I was poisonous and decided that I wasn’t edible.

Either way, my light source had become useless, so I switched to a bright green glow. The darkness was dimly illuminated around my body, but it was enough.

I was hungry and just like the slimes, if something was inedible like they appeared, my attention was easily moved elsewhere. For a whole week, there was nothing to eat, my body was just instinctively moving forward while stopping to sleep each day.

The slimes tasted like sugar water for the most part, but their organelles were more like pouches of red wine vinegar. It was a nice source of entertainment, but the starvation and dehydration was probably being kept at bay solely by the density of mana in the air I was inhaling.

My body unconsciously fabricated the required water and nutrients using various forms of magic to keep me alive, but the feeling of hunger was impossible to quench with just that. I would often stop and stare towards the west with a strong sense of longing that I couldn’t quite understand.

Even if I didn’t know how the magic worked, my blood was still running through their veins and my mind was linked to their body’s conditions. However, my instincts would quickly overpower my desire to seek out that warm sensation which was being transmitted from at least 1000 miles away.

It was probably better that way, I had to let my body grow and ignore my unnecessary yearning. Even a lone wolf will still crave a pack of their own, but I couldn’t possibly understand that metaphor at the time.

My affinities towards various types of magic had not diminished and just like muscle memory, my mana pool knew what to do in many difficult situations. I could cast spells on reflex, but not something overly complicated.

Gentle flight using any element was very difficult, but creating thrust was simple. Launching myself with fire or wind and subconsciously activating water or earth magic to control my vector and rate of descent would make it possible to perform various acrobatic maneuvers.

It wasn’t my typical fighting style of limited effort and movement, but still worked out pretty well. The mana was replenished very easily and unless I just poured out massive amounts of electricity for hours, I couldn’t use any spells that would require restraint.

Eventually, I had left the territory of those annoying blobs of jelly and found my first advanced magical beast. It wasn’t a demon, but pretty damn close, the creature was a feral pale skinned blood elf and even though it had become significantly desiccated from starvation, he was still dangerous.

He was probably down there for a long time and I honestly couldn’t make out any recognizable features. We simply passed each other indifferently, my skin was glowing bright orange, so he could obviously see me as I glanced at him curiously for a moment.

However, he could smell my toxic blood and even with his extreme state of dehydration, he wasn’t willing to risk a confrontation. I saw the strangely shaped creature through the eyes of a child who had never encountered anything but blobs of slime in my roughly 3 months of existence.

It was obviously not edible and not openly hostile, so the decaying creature that appeared similar to a mummified elven corpse, had quickly lost my interest. Everything happens for a reason, even my ignorance had a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

At first it was only one or two of them, those vampires on the verge of fading away into dust. However, soon they became a horde of thirsty zombies, searching for anything that could pass for a quick beverage.

Usually they would part to the sides of the very large tunnel and stay as far away from me as possible. Out of the hundreds of thousands of the grey skinned blood elves I had passed, only one or two of them tried to attack me.

They were the size of children and were far too weak to pose a real threat. A simple flamethrower would quickly immolate and disintegrate such a pitiful creature with very little effort.

My instincts told me not to use physical attacks or try to devour them. Even with my incredible immune system and resistance to curses, there would be a high probability that I could still become infected.

Most of them simply trudged onward, without even glancing in my direction, they were being drawn towards something. If I still had my memories, I would have certainly tried to annihilate them all, but at the time, I could only feel the pull of that place.

The first three rings of Lorthon were roughly 200 mile long segments of a forest shaped much like a gigantic target. The last one is only half as long but far more dangerous than the others, the three wood elf tree cities form a triangle around the non-circular bullseye.

My goal was on the borderline, right before the fourth ring started was a triangular city, very similar to Black Mithril. Even the 6 other mine tunnels were lined up in the same way, there was probably another identical situation in the easternmost prong of the giant pitchfork as well.

It was completely empty aside from the grey or black skinned elven bodies that littered the streets… drained of all blood and other bodily fluids. Their eyes were typically large and pure black, very similar to a the rat tribe, they lacked colored iris’ or a white sclera and looked pretty eerie on a decomposing or mummified corpse.

Dark elves were about the same height as wood elves and their overall appearance was basically the same. The only real difference was the skin color and natural magical affinities, they were typically much better with fire than anything else.

My third eye and elven ears had finally become acclimated to the way extremely dense mana looked and sounded. Being in a relatively well lit and open area for the first time was very comfortable, so I was able to see perfectly fine with all my eyes at once and the strange scenery caused my curious mind to wander.

There was a gigantic pyramid in the center and I knew that it would lead me to the delicious food that I desired. A few vampiric stragglers were wandering about and some of them were mumbling to themselves, others were crying loudly or yelling dramatically.

When a frail female saw my strange appearance, she began to beg “Please! Oh powerful spirit! Please have mercy on us! Save us from our cruel fate!” while kneeling down in front of me and crying. The language was familiar, but I couldn’t truly understand what she wanted to communicate.

It was the first time anything ever tried to speak to me, the first words I ever really heard were loud and harsh noises that gave off a disgusting feeling. When she approached closer, my body reacted to her blood-lust and immediately fired a large ball of fire that completely engulfed her in an instant.

Someone asked for my help and I disintegrated them without a second thought. There was no malice behind my attack, simply a child trying to defend itself from a strange creature who was approaching too quickly.

Perhaps if my memories were still intact, I could have used blood, nature, or water magic to heal everyone who still managed to retain their sanity. However, anyone who approached was simply viewed as an enemy that was trying to devour me and promptly disposed of.

Maybe a quick death was what they expected and desired, before they were completely consumed by insanity. It didn’t take very long for me to reach the inside of the pyramid, which had a bright, triangular beam of light shining down onto the center of its interior.

I couldn’t look at it directly with any of my very sensitive eyes, but my gut was telling me to keep moving forward. On the surface, there was a grassy clearing with ridiculously large trees in every direction.

The ambient temperature was extremely hot and the air was incredibly humid, it was literally a rain-forest. All of the plants and foliage were consistent with some sort of tropical environment, there were even gigantic banana, coconut and various other types of fruit trees.

I could smell their sweet scent all around me and beyond that there was a strange sense of imminent danger lurking everywhere. The southern point of the triangle was like a giant arrow, urging me towards my destination.

Everything seemed to be scaled up to an outrageous degree, what caught my attention was a 50 meter tall banana tree that had thousands of significantly larger than normal fruits. I could see the mana radiating from each one and along with their overpowering smell, there was no way I could resist.

Climbing was easy and the first bunch was relatively close to the ground, with my nails and grip strength, combined with a bit of magic, I had already grabbed it and descended to the ground within seconds. The moment I landed, a normal sized black panther pounced onto me before I could even sense it.

That’s the tricky thing about demons, their appearance could be incredibly monstrous or stealthily mundane. The creature tore into my shoulder with its teeth and clawed at my back, but I was able to send a massive amount of electrical energy out of my wounds and into its throat.

Then I quickly healed myself as I rolled forward into the clearing, while still holding onto at least 5 large, green bananas. When I turned around the panther was gone, if it were a normal magical beast, it would have been extra crispy.

I’m sure it was injured, but it was still able to disappear back into the jungle without a sound. The bananas weren’t quite ripe yet, but that didn’t matter because my clueless self couldn’t even understand what they were.

Everything was very strange and new to me, but my senses were telling me to peel the skin and consume the soft material within. It was incredibly sweet, even better than the slime juices, and there was a decent amount of substance as well.

My first meal since I woke up in that dark tunnel and it was amazing. Even those bananas that weren’t ripe, with that extra magical ingredient, tasted incredible.

I was exhausted after eating, so I slept on the ground near the portal in the middle of the clearing. Since I had slept on the cold metal floor of a dark tunnel while thousands of blood elves walked past me, over the last few days, it was actually pretty comfortable on the grass.

In the middle of the night I was awoken by an intense pain in my right shoulder, there was no arm attached to the bloody lump of meat. Obviously it wouldn’t be safe to sleep in such an open and easily visible place, when the jungles all around you are filled with demons or magical beasts.

There was a nearly invisible panther fleeing towards the south and it was incredibly fast. However, lightning was inescapable, that time I didn’t hold back and released about 30% of my total mana into one powerful bolt.

All of its muscles contracted and it began violently seizing on the charred grass. The sound was deafening and echoed throughout the clearing, into the sky.

My right arm wasn’t burned too badly and after pressing the two mangled ends together, the healing process had started. Surprisingly, a dismembered limb isn’t really that big of a deal as long as you can reattach it quickly.

If you have to regrow one from scratch, its fine as long as you have a relatively long lifespan. The more you use regeneration magic, the more time you shave off of your life… assuming you actually age in the first place.

Actually, I probably could have just used water or blood magic to return my arm to its rightful place. Well, there’s no point thinking about every possible thing I could have done differently when I didn’t even know how to do half of them back then.

Demonic black panther meat tasted just as spectacular as you might expect. The mana density was immense and everything I had just lost was almost instantly replenished.

There was far more than I could possibly eat in one sitting though and I was still pretty tired. I wonder why I always seemed to sleep on animal corpses, it was comfortable but still pretty gross, I guess I just didn’t care.

After a few days, I finally ran out of panther meat and was starting to get tired of bananas. It was time to continue on my journey, or at least that’s what I wanted to do.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t strong enough… there were just too many obstacles standing in my path. There was actually a literal path which was just barely visible through the southern thicket and I tried to follow it.

After walking for a total of 10 meters, I was ambushed by a very small dragon that looked like a gigantic gecko. The large green creature lunged towards me from the right with its head that was nearly the size of my entire body and I barely managed to dodge.

Then a massive snake slithered past me and swallowed the giant lizard whole, it didn’t even slow down as it kept going towards the east. While I was distracted, a vine wrapped around my neck and started pulling me at an incredible speed up into an unreasonably tall tree.

By the time I broke free and began falling, I was far above the canopy. I heard a loud screech as something sharp, pierced through my abdomen and I began flying ridiculously fast, past the clearing.

Before I could do anything to dislodge the giant black beak sticking out of my gut, it disappeared and took a large portion of my small intestine with it. I didn’t even have time to begin repairs, because I needed to use fire magic like landing thrusters, to keep from building up too much speed.

The giant magical black eagle was completely covered in thick green ropes and being yanked towards a tree that literally had vines instead of leaves. I only took a few steps into the fourth ring of Lorthon, but was immediately sent a couple miles into the third.

Even without all my wisdom and experience, I understood that my body simply wasn’t powerful enough to reach my destination yet. My legs were paralyzed and I had a gaping hole where my lower abdominal muscles used to be, unreasonably large quantities of blood were pouring out.

By the time I reached the canopy, my mana became unstable and I couldn’t slow myself down any longer. That’s the biggest problem with having your body nearly torn in half, along with the missing chunk of organs, you also lose your ability to control your mana.

The blood pouring out of me didn’t really help much either, I was upset, most people tend to feel that way the first time they’re about to die. After smacking my waist against a tree branch, I really was bisected… not a fun experience.

Both of my halves fell into a river that was pretty violently raging and my left arm was nearly torn off by a sharp, jagged rock. My legs were getting mangled and if my horns weren’t so damn hard, they would have broken off several times over, but my brain couldn’t avoid the concussion.

You never truly realize how strong you are, until you’re cut in half, smack against a bunch of rocks in some rapids, fall down a waterfall into some more rocks, and then get attacked by a swarm of mutant piranhas. I was still conscious and very determined to stay alive, fortunately the frenzied fish weren’t immune to my poisonous blood.

It would be nearly impossible to regenerate everything below my waist. Luckily, I was able to use my mangled left arm to grab hold of my tail and the other arm, which was somehow intact, was able to use a tiny bit of water magic to carry me to the northern riverbed.

I learned my lesson the hard way, but I was still alive. Thankfully, I was in the third ring and the atmospheric density was so high that even with my broken mana pool, casting spells wasn’t impossible.

After laying flat on my back against the smooth stony riverbank, I placed my two parts together and went to sleep. It was amazing that I managed to stay awake that entire time, considering that my brain was being battered around and most of the blood in my body had drained out, I suppose it was more impressive that I didn’t simply die.

My resistance to pain is unreasonable, but with my enhanced senses I probably felt it even more clearly than most. Maybe it’s some sort of special technique that I picked up in one of my lives, or deaths.

At least I couldn’t shit or piss myself, since my intestines and bladder were completely missing. The demons didn’t seem to care about my tainted blood, but magical beasts typically wouldn’t try to eat me, even in such a weakened state.

I was unconscious for about a week, but all that had been recovered was my nervous and circulatory systems. Otherwise, my lower half would have started to decompose… I seemed to follow similar rules to magical beast meat.

A year earlier, such ridiculous injuries would have definitely killed me, but my body was becoming much more resilient. Which wasn’t a bad thing, since I didn’t want to die, but I still felt pretty weak.

My bones were still growing, so they weren’t nearly as hard or dense as they would eventually become. The muscles were far too underdeveloped, even after all that training and exercise.

During the end of my long sleep, I heard a voice whispering my name. It sounded very familiar, but I couldn’t remember why.

There was nothing I could do but lay there and wait for my body to heal itself, it was incredibly boring and the stones were really uncomfortable. On the positive side of things, I did get to take my first bath in nearly a year.

The dirt and grime had been completely removed from my broken body, but I was really hungry. Although, even if I did have food, my digestive system was mostly destroyed.

I could hear some growling sounds coming from the bushes to my right, but it was difficult to ignore the waterfall on the other side. They weren’t random, but it was definitely a language that I had never heard before.

My mana was far too low to scare them away with a flashy spell, all I could do was wait and listen. There were three voices, whispering to each other and they sounded like they were arguing about something.

They left after a few hours, but I never saw their faces or any other part of their bodies. When I woke up the next day, there were bright yellow eyes peeking out from the bushes.

As soon as I opened my third eye to see more clearly, the creature quickly fled. It was my first time ever hearing such pleasant mana, it was incredibly beautiful.

My digestive and urinary systems were nearly restored, but before anything like that, all of my skin was healed. It would be pointless if my organs remained completely exposed, my immune system wasn’t invincible and my body didn’t want to fight an infection while trying to recover.

For three more days, I continued to hear that interesting music. Since I was afraid of frightening my only source of entertainment, I didn’t try to look at it and simply laid there with my eyes closed.

Then I noticed it becoming louder, the creature was approaching me but I didn’t feel threatened. There were only two footsteps, but they sounded pretty heavy, it was relatively large.

My left eye opened very slightly and saw something strange, it was furry and orange with black stripes. Standing on two legs was a humanoid bengal tiger, but it was still pretty young.

Even from my position, looking directly up at her, just like the squirrel tribe… none of her reproductive organs were visible under the thick white fur. She had hands, rather than paws, but retained the claws, and her feet were similar to a normal tiger’s.

Her legs, arms, abs and even her pectoral muscles were extremely defined and only slightly obscured by her naturally thick coat. She didn’t have a white mane or beard like they typically do, but her head wasn’t even slightly humanoid.

I had no idea what kind of strange creature I was gazing up at, but I did know one thing for certain. Even though she was holding a sharp wooden spear with a giant tooth on the tip and aiming it at my throat, she wasn’t my enemy.

Since she knew that I could see her, I decided to just open all three eyes and get a glimpse of her aura. The girl jumped backwards a few meters but then cautiously approached me again.

It was like a purple flame with bright blue tips and a deep red source, swirling around her whole body very slowly. The aura seemed to rotate at the same tempo as the beat in her music, she was definitely edible, yet my instinct wasn’t to kill her.

I was starving, but I didn’t want to destroy such a beautiful creature. She said something, but all I could hear was a loud and deep growling noise, even if I could remember all those thousands of languages… it was something I never heard before.

However, there was an extra element, her scent was fluctuating and conveyed some sort of message to me. I was on her territory and she was probably curious about what race I belonged to.

It would have been so much simpler if I could have used telepathy. My internal organs were mostly healed, but the muscles and bones all throughout my body were still far too damaged for me to move.

Eventually, she gave up on communication and then walked over to the river. After a few minutes, she managed to catch a large fish with her spear and brought it over to me.

Using her sharp fingernails, she skinned and filleted the 10 lb piranha, then started feeding it to me. Such a familiar taste, raw fish was probably my favorite food in almost any world, if only there had been some horseradish or pickled ginger to go with it.

Since it was filled with dense mana, my body began regenerating at an accelerated pace. Within a few minutes, I was able to sit upright, but my legs and tail were still really busted up.

She seemed surprised at my quick recover and returned to the river to catch more medicine. Within two hours I could already walk and my mana was at least 20% filled, so I was able to catch more fish on my own.

After diving into the water, I quickly sunk my claws into a delicious meal and began shredding it. The scales couldn’t be eaten, but they were pretty easy to remove, even while underwater.

Other piranhas began to swarm around me, but that was what I wanted. One quick electrical discharge from my body and there were 10 very large and under-cooked fish, floating to the surface.

Using water magic, I easily gathered them all up and moved them, along with my body, to the riverbank. Tiger girl appeared confused and slightly worried, but I offered half of my fish to her as a tribute and she seemed satisfied.

She wasn’t even an adult yet, but her height was probably close to 225 cm, I was only about 175 cm. Typically, male tigers are much larger than the females, so imagine how big a fully grown tiger man would have to be.

Magical beast meat was like a mana potion, I really should have thought of that before I left Black Mithril. Anyway, combined with the density in the air, my mana pool was completely filled after only 5 of those relatively large piranhas.

The girl tried to communicate with me several times, but I just tilted my head and made the face of a person who couldn’t understand anything she was saying. There was something bothering me though, I kept hearing a few sinister mana pools that were lurking beyond the bushes.

We were being stalked by enemies, yet the tigress didn’t seem to notice. She was far too concentrated on me and I was probably overwhelming her senses.

A javelin suddenly shot out of the bushes and grazed her shoulder, but she immediately grabbed it and threw it back, while still sitting down next to me. A loud roar resounded from within the thick jungle and then several others cropped up all along our side of the river.

Once she heard that, she responded in kind, while standing up and holding her spear with both hands. I stood up and copied her with an imitation that wasn’t quite as threatening, my voice was still pretty high.

Several javelins shot out of the jungle, but I was able to easily avoid them. Surprisingly, the tiger girl was similarly agile, regardless of her massive size and weight.

Then they emerged, some of them were carrying crude swords and shields, others had spears, but they all seemed to be male tiger tribe. Each one was at least 250 cm tall and extremely muscular, they even had dense mana pools.

However, they didn’t seem to actually understand magic, so I had a huge advantage. There were six of them and two of us, but my instincts were taking over, they were my prey.

As they began to cautiously approach us, I fired a powerful bolt of lightning at the one directly in front of me. His white mane was quickly burned black and his green eyes exploded, the fur on most of his body had caught fire, but he was already dead.

I used a bit too much power because I was remembering the last cat I went easy on, they weren’t nearly as resilient as demons. After seeing my instant execution of the strongest looking warrior among them, who was carrying a huge two-handed bone sword, the others were temporarily stunned.

It was a perfect opportunity to use wind magic and launch myself towards the second target, a slightly older looking tiger-man with a large spear. He tried to stab me as I approached at an incredible speed, but I easily pushed the stick away using my left hand and latched onto his jugular with my right.

A quick squeeze and momentum carried my body past him as a huge chunk of his neck was torn away. Before he could even drop his spear, I grabbed it and used wind magic to accurately penetrate my third victim’s left eye socket from 20 meters away.

By that time, one of them was trying to flee and the other two were charging towards the tigress. A quick fireball was enough to deal with the coward, while I used a blast of wind to fling my body towards my last quarry.

An elbow to the base of the left one’s rather large skull and a quick claw slash against the right’s throat with my other arm was all that was required. They had so much physical and magical potential as a race, but if they couldn’t utilize it properly, there wasn’t much of a difference between them and any other race.

Well, they were much closer to magical beasts, since their dense mana pools would protect them from my usual, extremely complex but highly lethal, long ranged internal attacks. The tiger girl looked down at me with a confused and concerned expression, but I simply smiled at her.

They didn’t look very appetizing and there was a massive supply of other food all around me, so I decided to offer their bodies to the piranhas. The tigress seemed to agree with my decision and responded by easily throwing most of them into the river before I could even dispose of one.

It wasn’t that late, but the skies to the east and west seemed extremely dark. As soon as she heard the loud thunder in the distance, her demeanor changed completely.

Since the moment I was born into that world, I had never seen anything past a mild rainstorm. When I looked over at the tiger girl, she was trembling and I knew why, massive hurricanes were approaching us from both sides.

There was so much lightning, that the loud echoing created a deep and unending roar. Mana influenced the weather to an absurd degree. Those clouds probably traveled several thousands of miles over land, just trying to reach that place I was being drawn towards.

The center of Lorthon Forest was supposedly a gigantic pyramid, 100 miles across, surrounded by a 100 mile moat that was made up of dissolved demons, dragons and magical beasts. Nothing can survive there, probably not even a massive hurricane, yet we were all enchanted by its existence.

Maybe that was the device’s purpose, to kill anything that approached the mana well. Perhaps it acted as a plug to prevent too much power from spilling out of that giant magical hole in the ground and flooding the entire planet with lethal amounts of radiation.

I followed the young tigress into the jungle as she frantically began sprinting in a straight line to the north. It wasn’t just her either, all the magical beasts were traveling in the same direction and completely ignoring everything else.

We weren’t running from the storm, that would have been impossible. I could hear a different kind of tempest approaching us from the south, a giant tsunami of demonic mana was surging in to the north.

Regardless of how powerful they were, the majority of creatures in the fourth ring would have probably been annihilated by whatever those two storms would form into once they met in the center of the forest. All of the magical beasts and anything else that lived in the third was being evicted or devoured.

Screams, roars, growls, snarls, and just about every other vocalization that could be made was echoing throughout the thick foliage in every direction. The tiger girl’s stride was enormous and I had to use wind magic just to keep up with her.

If it was my normal behavior, I would never run under any circumstances… I might fly or launch myself around, but running was just against my nature. However, we do many pointless things when we’re young and using wind magic to make each step a huge leap, I was able to imitate her movements.

Huge flocks of giant birds were soaring beyond the canopy overhead and even while we avoided branches, plants and magical beasts, we managed to maintain a steady speed of about 20 mph for a couple hours. My mana was fine, but our stamina was drained by the time we reached a small cave and hid inside.

We weren’t alone, there was a group of small creatures cowering behind a rock at the back of the room. The tiger girl had to duck down, just to keep her head from rubbing against the ceiling, but I was able to fit pretty easily.

She walked over to the large boulder and began rolling it into the entrance-way, completely sealing us inside. There were still some crevices for air to come through and I’m sure a demon could easily destroy such an obstruction, but I guess it was more for concealment rather than a sturdy barricade.

Me and the tigress sat with our backs against the relatively long wall to the left of the blocked entrance. She was panting and seemed completely exhausted, somewhere along the way she lost her spear, but neither of us felt very threatened by the three humanoids who were huddled together across the room from us.

They were wearing ragged muddy clothing and their bodies were covered in grime, but their dark grey skin and long pointed ears reminded me of the blood elves I encountered on my way through that city. The man had pure black eyes and the woman’s were bright red, but the little girl was different.

Her sclera were black but she had large red iris’ and then her pupils were obviously black. They were whispering to each other very quietly, but it was easy to see the aura filled with terror, radiating around them like a barrier.

Similar to the tiger girl, their mana sounded like beautiful music rather than a loud siren or alarm. Even though she was still hyperventilating, the tigress began speaking to me with a series of distraught growls.

Her tail was actually poking against my side but that was probably unintentional since we were sitting pretty close together. The sound of the mana within that 30 square meter rectangular room was so tranquil that I was able to easily ignore the roaring wind and animal cries on the other side of the wall behind my head.

Everyone, including the tigress, was staring at me with very confused expressions as I smiled slightly. They were all terrified, but I was completely calm and content in such a precarious situation.

Eventually, the tiger girl looked at me, then pointed to herself and made a deep garbled roar. Since it was a name that I couldn’t possibly reproduce, I decided to call her Amber because of her fur color.

A few words and names from various languages, plus their meanings, were still floating around in my mind. However, my communication skills were incredibly undeveloped.

I looked into her glowing yellow eyes, pointed towards the center of my chest with both hands and said “Mi-ka-el.” in a serious voice. She grinned and then gazed over at the three dark elves, whom each had an expression filled with resignation on their faces.

Amber turned back towards me and growled quietly, it felt like a question similar to “Which one should we eat first?” but I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or serious.

After trying to understand for a few seconds, I finally stood up and used earth magic to unclog the boulder next to me. Almost immediately, a small red raptor lunged through the entrance and tried to bite a chunk out of my left shoulder.

She grabbed it by the throat with her very large and powerful hands, but it was violently thrashing its talons at her body. Before I could seal the cave again, three more of them were able to sneak inside and began latching onto me.

Demons are almost never in groups, but I suppose the circumstances were a little strange. When their teeth sunk into each of my shoulders and recently healed left leg, my skin began to freeze.

Ironically, the red raptors actually used ice magic. Before they could do significant damage, I turned my head to the left and spit some concentrated venom into one of their eyes.

They quickly let go and fell to the ground while writhing in pain. Then I shoved my left index finger into the other ones right eye, creating a very powerful bolt of lightning directly inside of its head.

There was a loud *Bang* as the electricity fired out of its tail and then the room started to fill with the strong scent of burnt raptor. My leg was almost completely numb by the time I shoved both of my thumbs into the creature’s eye sockets and created a concentrated fireball where its brain used to be.

Prying their teeth out of my frozen muscles and skin was rather difficult and took a few minutes. During that time, Amber was struggling to tear out the last raptor’s spine with her powerful jaws, while using all of her weight and strength to pin it to the ground.

I grabbed the electrocuted one by the neck with both hands and slid its crispy carcass across the floor, to the three crying elves. Then I walked over to the one that was still dying from my poison and began skinning it with my fingernails.

Demons could usually recover from nonlethal injuries pretty quickly and the low concentration of poison in my blood rarely affected them. Even being exposed to such a massive amount of venom while I was peeling its skin off, the raptor was still struggling violently.

However, once I began sinking my fangs and teeth into its exposed spinal cord, it finally stopped moving. With blood all over our faces and bodies, we turned towards each other and smiled, then began enjoying our delicious meals.

Only about two weeks after escaping from the endless metal labyrinth, I was back to living in a cave again. There was no way to know how long that storm would be raging around us… but at least I wasn’t lonely.

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