IS, V2, Chapter 1: Territory

There is a huge difference between understanding and speaking a language. Especially when it’s physically impossible for you to mimic or reproduce what you’re hearing and smelling.

Tiger Tribe retained much of their behaviors and communication skills from their ancestors. Amber literally marked our side of the room as her territory… we were stuck in a nearly airtight 30 square meter room.

Fortunately, her fragrance was more like a strong perfume, rather than the disgusting stench that emanated from the dark elves. We had been trapped in that cave together for at least two months by that point, but they still hadn’t spoken a word to us.

I did notice something else strange about the white haired little girl after a while, there were two relatively small, bat-like wings that came out of her back. She seemed to be trying to hide them from us, those three were more ashamed of that, than anything else.

Me and Amber used the hides of demons we killed as toilets and tossed them outside afterwards. However, the dark elves were just using the corner to their left and huddling together on the other side.

They all became pretty sick after consuming that first demon, but they continued to force themselves to eat whatever I let them have. I could see their auras becoming weaker each day, they were dying… either from the trace amounts of my poison or some illness.

It actually wasn’t that difficult to pick up on the Tiger Tribe’s language, since most of it was scent, volume and body language. The words weren’t really that important, so I was able to communicate with her using something that sounded very similar to an angry kitten mixed with various hand signals.

At first she didn’t speak very often, but after the first two weeks she began saying enough that I was able to understand her by the end of the first month. Her situation wasn’t that surprising or complicated.

Basically, one of the reasons tiger tribe were so physically powerful was to be able to survive on their own. Eventually they started creating communities a few hundred years ago, but the current social structure was similar to a pride.

They had no single leader, but there were groups of about a dozen alpha males and three times as many adult females. The rest were children and adolescents, but once they reached adulthood, the men would leave to find a new pride or create their own.

Tiger tribe women either stayed with the group or became nomads like Amber, who live by themselves until they decide to find a mate. The people I killed by the riverbank were some of her brothers, they essentially wanted to capture her and then have a death-match with each other until only one was left.

Probably not the most romantic way to find a mate, but apparently that was normal to them. There were a few who challenged her directly, but she was able to easily kill them.

It had only been about a year since Amber left the pride, so she still wasn’t that used to living on her own yet. When she first saw me, I looked like a corpse that had been torn apart and partially devoured already.

A strange creature that looked similar to an elf but with a cat’s tail and eyes, plus a ram’s horns. When I opened my golden vertical eye in the center of my forehead, she immediately recognized me as a demon.

She could see and smell mana pretty well, but mine was frightening and dangerous, so she ran. Even the tiger tribe knew the stories about the forest spirits, unlike the way elves viewed them, some of the beast races had a verbal history that went back thousands of years.

The humanoid demons were typically as monstrous as you might expect, given the name. Even the wood elf progenitor was a creature that enjoyed hunting, devouring, and raping pretty much any living thing that it found.

Their offspring were slightly less terrible but it took many generations before creatures similar to elves were created. A creature like me, ending up in her territory was very troubling and she decided to just wait for me to die from my wounds.

However, when I kept getting better, even without food or water, she had to either kill me or find a new place to live. After seeing me clearly from a closer vantage point, she noticed that I was just a child and my aura was almost nonexistent.

She took a gamble and offered me food, I healed myself and gave her even more… it all turned out for the best. When I was able to slaughter her brothers so easily and didn’t even devour their bodies, she realized that I could become a powerful ally and potential mate.

Apparently, tiger tribe don’t view sex as anything but a method to create children, the women who live life in prides usually choose the strongest male and take turns for a few seconds a piece. They keep doing that every day until they become pregnant and then lose interest until their litter is born and weaned.

Rape didn’t really exist in their society, since no one even cared about sex enough to force themselves on each other. The females were smaller and weaker, but much more agile and better at hunting than the men.

Aside from providing a crucial ingredient to making babies, their men would fight against other humanoids who tried to intrude on the pride’s territory. However, that didn’t happen very often and they usually just trained their bodies, made crude weapons, or hunted by themselves.

They reproduced pretty often and they become fully grown at only 12 years old. Their maximum lifespan was actually unknown, because they died very quickly in such a harsh environment.

A typical litter was 4-7, but only about half of them survived into adulthood. There was no sense of familial love among tiger tribe but the women did tend to form strong friendships with each other.

It was an interesting culture, but I didn’t exactly have a reference to base it against. As long as there was no rape or slavery, I wouldn’t be compelled to go out of my way to destroy a civilization.

Eventually, I was able to ask Amber about the storms and how long they would last. Apparently, it was an event that only happened once every 10 years, so she was only a baby the last time.

It usually continued for 3 months, but normally when someone was trapped like we were, they were pretty much doomed. If I wasn’t there, she probably wouldn’t have been able to escape in time and would have been eaten by demons or might have starved to death in a cave.

We had another month to go, but the elves weren’t going to make it. When the father collapsed and stopped breathing, Amber growled “I still don’t know why you’ve been keeping them alive all this time…” in an irritated voice.

Obviously that was a translation, she released some pheromones and sounded like she was roaring quietly. My response was a meowing sound, mixed with rubbing my head against her shoulder and scratching her back gently.

I was saying “Their mana sounds similar to yours and my instincts tell me to help them. They will be important later, I need to go heal him now.” in a sincere tone. Then I stood up and walked over to the man, who was laying on his back with his eyes closed.

The other two were looking at him coldly, to them, he was already a corpse. While standing over him, I placed my hands a meter from his body and started examining his aura with my third eye.

My ears were sensitive enough that I could hear his heart beating and I could feel the impulses firing in his brain with basic telepathy, he was definitely alive. I began moving my fingers against the current of his aura, which was being obstructed by several dark spaces.

After reaching my left hand into a large blockage, I clenched my fist and then pulled my arm out. Then that hole in his mana pool was sealed shut as he started breathing again.

There were hundreds of much smaller gaps, but I carefully closed each of them using my fingers. It was most likely some sort of parasitic infection and I was using water magic subconsciously to obliterate them.

Each of the three white haired dark elves had a similar problem, so I didn’t stop with just the man, I continued to fix their auras until they looked and sounded beautiful again. Their appearance was still pretty haggard and decrepit, but they did seem visibly healthier.

As soon as I finished healing the last one, all of them were awake and looking at each other with confused expressions. Then the little girl looked up at me and smiled, saying “Thank you.” in a happy voice.

They were familiar words and I did understand their meaning, so I smiled and returned to my side of the room. It was time for our daily shower, the dark elves never participated before, but it was something Amber and I would always do.

Unlike their ancestors, tiger tribe weren’t quite as flexible and they didn’t want to lick their entire bodies clean anyway. However, they did inherit their desire for cleanliness and it was part of my instincts as well.

I used earth magic to open a bunch of small holes in the ceiling that extended all the way to the roof, and then opened up a bit more to create a funnel. The rain would gather into a small pool each day and when I reopened the sealed stone pipes, water poured down onto us for about an hour.

Then I would use magic to control it and scrub our bodies efficiently, the whole experience was very pleasant and relaxing. The first time Amber saw me use such a simple water spell, she was amazed, but after a month and a half, it was just a normal occurrence.

However, that time was a bit different because after we were finished with our showers, I invited the three elves to cleanse themselves as well. The father and mother were hesitant, but the young girl eagerly approached the leaking ceiling.

Their ragged clothing had been completely destroyed by that point in various accidents, the fire breathing jaguar and acid spewing cockroach were responsible for most of the damage though. At first they were extremely awkward about exposing their bodies to us or each other, but such trivial feelings tend to fade pretty quickly.

In a warm and humid environment like that, nudity is much more comfortable than wearing sticky and disgusting fabrics. Instead of covering anything else, the parts of her body that she tried to keep me from seeing the most, were those two wings jutting out from between her shoulder blades.

They didn’t seem ugly or deformed, maybe a little bit small, but she was still young so they were most likely growing larger. I was going to start using a glob of water to wash her filthy skin off, but then her mother jumped up and came over to her side.

Amber and myself were sitting with our backs against the boulder, while the two of them were standing in our showers. Apparently, both the mother and daughter could use that same water spell and didn’t need my assistance.

The father couldn’t, but the other two used it for him, they were still incredibly uncomfortable around me. Neither of us did anything to harm them, yet they feared us with such intensity.

From what I understood of Amber’s story, I was some kind of monster and her tribe was usually hostile to pretty much everyone that wasn’t part of their pride. Basically, our behavior was confusing to them, so they assumed that we were planning something sinister.

When the girl stretched out her wings for a moment, her mother yelled “Daeris!” in an angry voice and the girl quickly retracted them. The two of them argued with each other for a few minutes after that, but I couldn’t understand anything other that that first word, which was used several more times.

The concept of names was easy for me to comprehend and pick up on, even if everything else they said sounded like nonsense. I interrupted their heated conversation by standing up, they all looked towards me with fearful eyes.

I smiled and pointed to my chest with my right hand while saying “Michael…” then I pointed towards the girl and said “Daeris?” in a curious voice while trying not to frighten them. The parents had puzzled looks on their faces, but the girl was smiling brightly, exposing a set of teeth that seemed to all be sharp canines.

It wasn’t my first time seeing them, but she usually didn’t open her mouth for very long. She pointed to herself and said “Yes, my name is Daeris.” in a slow but happy voice while nodding.

If it was just that level of speech, it wasn’t difficult for me to guess what her words meant. Especially after hearing both of her parents repeating the same sounds, while introducing themselves nervously.

The father was named Lachon and the mother called herself Nenor, I copied them and introduced myself once again. Then I placed my left hand on Amber’s head and attempted to do the same for her.

They understood what I wanted to say, but it did take them a few seconds. She growled deeply and yawned while stretching her extremely long arms that could nearly reach the ceiling, even while sitting down.

Tiger tribe typically slept during the day and were active during the night, but being in a cave had completely destroyed her sense of time. Amber slept for at least 18 hours a day and only woke up to take a shower or help me catch our meals.

We usually did both of them at about the same time but the three elves were taking a while to wash themselves off. Sensing her irritation, I decided to cut them off and closed the faucets.

Amber stood up and already knew what I was going to do, because it wasn’t the first time. After a long shower, all of the water pooled in the center of the room.

I motioned for the dark elves to move into the far corner of the room along the wall that me and Amber usually stayed near. Then I began using a much more powerful form of water magic to lift the entire pool up a few meters into the air, almost touching the ceiling.

The ball of liquid was then used to absorb all the filth and grime on the elves side of the cave. Then Amber quickly grabbed hold of the bolder and pulled it away from the entrance as I fired the gigantic, disgusting, water bullet through the opening without spilling one drop.

Before she could close the door again, a massive tentacle plunged inside and pierced through my chest. I was pinned against the wall at the back of the room. Before losing too much mana, I was able to use earth magic to smash the boulder into the slimy, suction cup covered, thin but muscular organ.

It was easily amputated and the entrance was sealed, but the giant wriggling limb was still somewhat alive. I pumped a decent amount of electricity through it, before the creature finally stopped moving.

Daeris screamed, her parents were too shocked to make a sound and Amber roared so loud it felt like my eardrums would burst. Then she rushed over to me and grabbed the slightly cooked octopus tentacle, getting her recently washed fur, drenched in my blood as she tried to dislodge it from the wall.

My heart and lungs were destroyed, along with my sternum, spine, and most of my ribs. However, my digestive system was intact and I could regain my mana faster than it was pouring out of me by devouring the delicious nourishment that was readily available.

I could unconsciously oxygenate my blood, while pumping it through my mostly intact circulatory system using water and air magic. Even though I couldn’t verbally communicate with her, the look in my eyes told Amber that I wasn’t going to die from such a shallow wound.

There wasn’t even that much pain, since most of my body was paralyzed. After realizing what I wanted her to do, she started biting and tearing chunks of tentacle meat out of the area closest to my chest.

It wasn’t long before I was finally let down and she began feeding me so much that I nearly choked a few times, but I didn’t have lungs… so it wasn’t really possible. The first thing I regenerated was my spine, then the heart and after that was the lungs.

At that point I could finally relax because my mana pool had been repaired, the broken or missing bones could be replaced easily but it would take time. Amber was relieved that I seemed to be recovering quickly, although it did take about an hour before my spine had healed enough for me to feed myself.

The elves were still in shock for several hours after witnessing what probably made me appear even more frightening. Eventually, they snapped out of it and the little girl came over to me, asking questions that I obviously couldn’t understand or answer.

Instead of speaking, I handed her a chunk of chewy octopus meat and returned to my meal. Bones took a decent amount of mana to reproduce, so even after hours of eating, I was still having trouble breathing properly.

The muscles all around my chest were torn and extremely sore, but in a few days I was completely healed. Daeris and her parents seemed to actually enjoy the way that demon tasted, and their physical conditions seemed to improve dramatically.

While Amber was sleeping, I usually spent all my time learning the dark elven language, which was very similar to the standard for Lorthon Forest. It all felt very familiar, so I was able to pick it up pretty quickly.

Within that last month we were trapped inside the cave, I was actually able to understand their language, but still had some trouble speaking it. The day before the storm ended, I was finally able to ask them a question I had been thinking about since we first met.

During their shower I pointed to Daeris’ wings and said “Why are you ashamed?” in a curious voice. She quickly turned around so that I couldn’t see them and then blushed awkwardly as her parents began looking at her with pitiful eyes.

Lachon said “It was our fault, her mother and I are from different clans. We thought that the old laws were just silly superstition, but we were wrong.” in an angry voice while clenching his fists.

Nenor sighed and said “Everyone in my family has red eyes, his only had black, it was something so insignificant. Yet, our child was cursed because of our mixed blood… it was our fault that our city, Angren, was destroyed.” in a sad voice while holding back her tears and looking into my eyes.

I tilted my head when I heard the word city, it wasn’t a word that they had ever used before, but I immediately thought of that place with the giant pyramid. After a few seconds, Daeris yelled “It wasn’t your fault! It had nothing to do with any of us! That wood elf just showed up on his own! I might be a hideous freak, but I’m not cursed!” in an angry voice while tears were pouring out of her eyes.

That outburst woke Amber, she quickly stood up and hit her head on the ceiling, then let out a pained roar while crouching down. She looked at me and growled “What the hell is going on?” in an extremely irritated tone.

For some reason, that made me laugh a little bit… it was a strange sensation that I hadn’t experienced since I had lost my memories. However, I quickly stopped when she wrapped her very large hands around my throat and roared a whole list of tiger tribe profanity that she used pretty often.

She quickly let go after I gave her a small zap, but then she responded with a strong right hook to the side of my jaw. Which subsequently caused my horn to stab straight through her wrist as my head turned violently.

Her reaction to the pain was to grab my horns with both hands and then pounce on top of me, slamming the back of my head into the ground with all of her weight. However, the spot we landed was the middle of the room, where all the water had been pooling.

Using magic I was able to easily cushion the blow and took almost no damage, but her wrist was bleeding profusely into my left eye. While her face was within my range, I punched her in the nose at least four times.

Her right knee was pressing against my abdominal muscles so hard that it felt like my spleen or pancreas might have been ruptured. There was a decent amount of blood dripping from her nose and mouth as she pulled her left arm back, while still gripping my horn with the other hand.

If it were a battle, I would have been able to kill her in at least a hundred different ways. However, regardless of how violent our little brawl might have seemed to our three spectators, it was just a fight.

The rules were pretty loose, but we both had a good idea of what it would actually take to do any serious damage. I tried to cast as little magic as possible, and each of us avoided using our claws or teeth.

Under those circumstances, the best defense I could muster against her powerful left straight, was slamming my right elbow into her knuckles. Which hurt her a lot more than me, then I used both of my hands to pry her hand and wrist off of my horn.

Before she could attack or grab me again, I released the water spell that was holding us up and in that moment, I was able to escape from her knee. Amber roared “This isn’t over yet!” in an angry voice as she tried to grab me, but fell into the puddle instead.

After escaping the small pool of water intact, I jumped onto her back, wrapped my legs around her waist and then put her into a choke-hold. My right arm was pressing against her carotid artery with a lot of pressure, but her neck muscles were incredibly dense.

Even with all of my strength, it wasn’t difficult for her to resist me, but that was part of the plan. She sank down deeper into the water for a moment and I just barely leaped off of her back, before it slammed into the ceiling so hard that a big dent was made in the stone.

After landing face first into the puddle again, she didn’t move for a few seconds and I started to worry a bit. The water was steadily becoming dyed red with her blood by that point, so I cautiously approached her floating body.

It was incredibly predictable, but I still managed to fall for the same trick she used the time before. She grabbed my ankle and pulled my whole body underneath her’s, then came her failed attempt to drown me.

Not surprisingly, the reason she was living on her own was because of her inability to hold back while playing or sparring with her sisters. After she killed a few of them, the alpha females decided to banish her from the pride.

After she realized that she couldn’t win by playing fair, she tried to take a bite out of my neck… just like what happened the time before. One very small bolt of lightning later and I was dragging her unconscious body by the tail, out of the water.

She weighed at least 500 lbs, so just trying to roll her from the center of the room, up to the wall where she normally slept, was pretty difficult. Amber’s shoulder blades were bruised, her nose was broken, she bit her tongue, her left hand had a compound fracture, and there was a gaping hole through her right wrist which probably damaged the bones as well.

With each of our little exercises, I was learning more about healing magic than actually improving my fighting skills. It was just a game to us, but Daeris yelled “Did you kill her?!” in a worried voice as she rushed over and knelt down next to me.

Her mother calmly walked over to us and sat down next to Amber, then started healing her lighter injuries, while I worked on the more serious ones. Nenor sighed, then said “The two of you were wondering why we were so afraid…” in a hushed voice.

I turned to Daeris and said “You aren’t cursed.” in a serious voice, while looking into her eyes that were being illuminated by my glowing blue skin.

She smiled brightly and then said “Thank you… have you ever heard of a city called Black Mithril?” in a curious voice.

It definitely did sound familiar, but I still said “No… why?” in a confused voice, while trying to remember where I heard that name before.

She sighed, but then said “It was an ancient city, like the one we lived in… the biggest group of survivors decided to head towards the west and try to make it there. There was another group who thought that White Mithril, which was in the opposite direction, would be more likely to still exist. Since no one wanted to travel with me… the three of us decided to go north towards the cat tribe sanctuary in the first ring of Lorthon.” as slowly as possible, so that I would be able to understand better.

Lachon walked closer to us and said “It took us a few months to just make it this far. I’m a fire mage, but the magical beasts are so powerful around here… we also had to carefully avoid tiger tribe territory.” in a dejected voice.

Nenor looked over to me, then said “Michael, you’re like our daughter, right? If you went into a normal city or village with your appearance… unless you want to live out here in the wilderness forever, you should come with us to the sanctuary.” in a sincere voice, while placing her hand in my forearm.

I smiled and looked towards the back of the cave, then asked “Why do I want to go south?” in a curious voice.

Daeris quickly yelled “I knew it! You’re a spirit!” in an excited voice while drawing my attention back towards them. After a few seconds of silence, she continued with “You probably aren’t strong enough to make it there though… why don’t you come with us and try to reach the center of the forest once you’re a bit older?” with a serious expression on her face.

It made sense and was pretty much what I had already decided to do while waiting for my body to heal by the river. However, my instincts were telling me to stay in the third ring, where the mana density is higher.

I stopped smiling, looked at each of them for a few seconds, then asked “Why don’t you stay with us? Then go north when you’re stronger?” in a serious voice.

They seemed to be thinking it over in their heads, but before they could answer, we all noticed that a certain sound had stopped. Our showers turned off, but not because of earth magic, there were even bright white beams of light shining down through the holes.

Daeris jumped up into the air and cheered loudly, then her parents started hugging each other tightly. Each of them seemed to be crying for some strange reason, but I couldn’t quite understand what was so exciting.

It wasn’t particularly surprising to me, since the storm had been raging for exactly 3 months. Apparently, I never quite got around to telling them about that, so they probably felt like it was going to last forever.

After hearing the loud noises, Amber woke up and tried to lift herself off the floor, but then realized that her hand and arm were injured. I scratched behind her left ear and growled “The rain just stopped, we can finally leave this cave. I’m almost done healing you, so be patient.” in a soft and docile tone while continuing to mend her wounds.

She rolled over on her back and then gently stroked my cheek with her right hand, while purring quietly “I guess I lost again… thanks for not killing me. We should wait another day, the demons are probably still out there.” in a calm and deep voice. Even without my memories of past lives, I could still recognize that cats were ridiculously cute.

I turned towards the celebrating family and said “We can’t leave here until tomorrow. Make your decision by then.” in a stern voice, then continued to heal Amber. They all stopped what they were doing and started showing worried expressions.

The next day, we all woke up at about the same time and I used earth magic to open our door to the relatively bright jungle. We waited a few minutes, but no giant tentacles, snakes, lizards, insects or other demons tried to get inside.

It was finally safe… well, there still some relatively powerful magical beasts and hostile races, but there wasn’t anything dangerous in our immediate vicinity. We all walked outside and gathered around the front of the cave, then just looked at each other silently.

A few minutes passed before Daeris said “I want to stay with Michael.” in a happy voice, while smiling at her parents. They each nodded in agreement, obviously they wouldn’t abandon their daughter, she was the only reason they were even going to that cat tribe sanctuary.

I turned towards Amber and purred “What will you do now?” in a curious voice while looking into her yellow eyes. She grabbed my horns with both hands, then bent over and licked from my chin up to my forehead.

Then she wrapped her arms around my back and lifted me into the air in a very painful hug, while roaring so loudly that it echoed throughout the jungle. Which loosely translated to “I don’t know, I guess we should find a nice spot near a river and make it our territory. That’s pretty much all I did last time… I’m hungry so lets go hunting!” in a relatively excited voice.

We were in the middle of the third ring, which meant that her original territory was at least 100 miles to the south. From what she told me, there was only about a week before all the prides, packs and other groups that left because of the storm, would return.

All of the scents had been washed away, so we technically could have picked anywhere we wanted. When I told her how much I enjoyed eating fish, she told me about a giant lake around 50 miles to the east of where we were.

According to her explanation, it was one of the most dangerous places she had ever been to. Within the lake were many powerful and very large magical beasts, but the shore was even more perilous.

It was basically a territorial war-zone, because every beast race in the region wanted to monopolize control of the endless food-source and fresh water supply. Although, there were herbivores who only desired the plentiful fruit that could be found pretty much anywhere, most were carnivores like the tiger tribe.

We walked south until we reached a river, then followed that all the way east to the lake. I was a little worried about the three dark elves, but each of them could use magic to some degree and Amber had already been there before.

Getting there was easy, and it only took about 3 days, but the next part was a little more time consuming. Amber and myself had to mark our entire territory, since the rest of them didn’t have incredibly high mana density in their urine and would have trouble using their fingernails to scratch at the trees.

We chose a small 3 square mile segment around where the northern side of the river met the start of the lake. Since the actual body of water was at least 100 miles long and 50 miles wide, we were at the westernmost tip of the giant oval.

My ultimate goal was to capture the large island in the center, but even if I could launch myself into the air and hover down to it… there were all kinds of gigantic fish that would literally shoot me out of the sky or jump out of the water and eat me. I needed to become much stronger before I could capture that particular fortress.

The last task we needed to complete before the week was up, was creating weapons. Amber had a collection of strange fangs, teeth, bones and claws from various demons we devoured during the storm, which she kept in a demon pelt sack.

The elves helped her gather wood for the spears, while I used my nails to carve some of the bones into more useful tools. Shelter was relatively simple, there were extremely tall and wide trees pretty much everywhere.

Some of those gigantic trees had already been hollowed out at their base a long time before we got there. We didn’t even have to build anything, there was a group of three which faced each other, that we chose as our main encampment.

Amber and I picked the southernmost one, we had gotten accustomed to sleeping close to each other over those 3 months and just felt more comfortable that way. Daeris was different, she wanted to have her own room and finally have some privacy.

Her parents also wanted their own place, for obvious reasons. Their daughter probably didn’t notice, but for the two of us who had excellent night vision… it was an interesting show.

The whole time Amber was quietly growling “She sounds like she’s in a lot of pain, I wonder how much longer they’re going to keep wrestling like that?” in a curious voice. Apparently, she didn’t know what sex was, even though she told me several times about mating.

I was actually a bit surprised at her level of innocence, and had to assume that the tiger tribe did it differently. The way she described their culture, I figured that their adults would fornicate in full view of the whole pride.

Since I was smirking, she kept asking me a bunch of questions… but I didn’t really know how to explain something like that in her language. It was better that she just didn’t know, both of us were still children and my sense of morality was pretty much intact.

My sex drive seemed a bit underdeveloped, if I were a human, I probably would have started craving it at a much younger age. Yet, I was already 8.5 years old and I could watch two relatively attractive people mating, but felt nothing towards it.

It’s also possible that I was subconsciously suppressing my desires, since I knew that the moment I unlocked that door… all kinds of problems would arise. When it finally ended, Amber purred “Ah! The female lost, oh well, maybe she’ll win next time.” in a nonchalant manner as she laid down and quickly drifted off to sleep.

Normally, you would have at least one person keeping watch and take turns getting rest, but the two of us were used to living alone in a hostile environment. If something came within a few hundred meters of our camp, we would both wake up pretty quickly and be ready to kill it.

We had an extra week of peace, before the wars began… it was boring. At least we could eat plenty of giant sashimi each day.

Another part of marking our territory was through Amber’s roars. Since I couldn’t copy her, I just shot large bolts of extremely loud and obnoxious lightning into the sky periodically.

Aside from the fish, we also hunted any creature foolish enough to enter our clearly defined area of control. Most of which were actually pretty powerful magical beasts, like giant snakes, and something similar to a rhinoceros that seemed to be native to the region.

Demon teeth were extremely sharp and some of them even had residual mana pools that could be powered and exhibited certain magical effects. It was kind of pointless for me, but a tiny enchantment to one of Amber’s ridiculously powerful attacks and even a rhino’s thick hide could be perforated with ease.

Her favorites were probably the icy raptor skulls, which she basically used like fist weapons. We discovered that cold based magic was extremely effective against lizards or snakes, while electricity worked best on those rhinos that had sharp blades sticking out of their sides.

The first group that we noticed was a huge tiger tribe pride that took up residence on the southern side of the river, directly across from us. They had at least 50 males, 150 females and 250 children… but they were only taking up about the same amount of space as the five of us.

That’s when we truly realized how difficult territory was to hold onto, but I was looking forward to the challenge. Their roars seemed to be much more frequent than ours, but no one could top my actual thunder in decibels.

It was only about a hundred meters wide, but the river was far too deep and dangerous to attempt crossing. Their children would often play around near the adults while they fished for hours at a time, it gave me a strangely sentimental feeling while watching them.

Amber called them cubs, since they were less than 3 years old and not yet adolescents. According to her, most of them would be dead by the end of the year, even if they weren’t in such a dangerous area.

Our second neighbors were further up the river, a small family of Kodiak Tribe. They had the heads of bears and thick brown coats of fur, but their bodies were even more humanoid than tiger tribe.

Their legs were relatively short compared to their upper bodies, but it didn’t look too strange. The father was about 325 cm tall, but the mother was only about 3 meters and the child was a male, the same size as me.

We were probably about the same age, but most likely not in years. It made me wonder about how tall I would eventually become, in a world full of giants and monsters… I was feeling a little underwhelming at only 180 cm.

Something that Daeris and her parents brought up, that I never even thought about until then, was the fact that all the third ring beast races didn’t seem to wear clothes. Mainly because they weren’t necessary, but the four of us were completely naked and didn’t even have our own fur.

I didn’t think it really mattered, but they insisted on making some simple clothing out of tanned magical beast leather and hides. There was definitely a certain cluster of organs that seemed overly sensitive to damage, but aside from something equivalent to a loincloth, I wasn’t really interested in restricting my movements.

My skin was actually pretty thick and unless it was a demon or Amber, I was very rarely injured. The Kodiak family to the west wasn’t hostile towards us and the pride across the river couldn’t actually get to us, but our northern and eastern neighbors were different.

They were called Red Wolf Tribe and looked pretty much like you might expect. Their average adult size was only about my height, but a bit more muscular.

The heads of wolves, along with similar feet and very bestial hands, which had sharp claws but were humanoid. Their whole bodies were covered in thick red fur and they had fluffy tails, but they were actually one of the more dangerous and aggressive races because of their cunning tactics and use of traps.

They were dexterous enough to use bows and arrows efficiently. On the first day that they moved in, Amber was poisoned by a throwing knife while scouting to the north.

It wasn’t too serious, but she was unable to fight for a few days while Nenor used water magic to heal her. Regardless of the severity, seeing her in such an injured state filled me with an incredible amount of rage.

I get attached to people far too easily, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If I wasn’t an empath, I probably would have been a sociopath… which would have been quite unfortunate.

My retaliation came in the form of an invitation, she couldn’t roar and I stopped creating thunder. They were cautious, but after a day of silence, a group of 4 males and 2 females stealthily approached our encampment.

Inside of our territory it was nearly impossible for them to smell my scent, so I was able to approach their group completely undetected. However, I refused to sneak around… I simply walked up to them with an unconcerned attitude.

They didn’t quite understand the situation, since I was such a strange looking creature to them. It was something I learned from Amber, but apparently my mana was abnormally subtle while my third eye was closed.

It was the middle of the day, so my skin wasn’t glowing or anything quite that obnoxious. The females were aiming their bows at me, while the males were preparing to throw their daggers if I made any sudden movements.

I expected them to attack me on sight, but they probably didn’t think I was very threatening compared to the giant tigress whom they had encountered the last time. If I had brought weapons, they may have had a much different reaction… but it wouldn’t have mattered either way.

The moment I raised my hands towards the six wolves, who were so close together, the battle was already over. They weren’t even able to howl in pain because their deaths were instantaneous, tiger tribe were much more resistant to electricity.

I’m sure that all of our neighbors could hear the thundering roar of my lightning that day, to announce that we were still very much alive. That night, loud howls of anger and anguish were resonating through the forest to the north and east.

They typically hunted during the night, so that was when they finally found the charred corpses of their family members, impaled onto various trees on the outskirts of my territory. It was a pretty clear message, a declaration of war… the two of us against over a thousand of them.

Every day and night until Amber was healthy again, I continued to slaughter the invaders and then display their charred, frozen, eviscerated and pulverized remains along our borders. However, as soon as she began roaring again, they stopped trying to get revenge.

A week later, I let her guard our territory while I investigated their sudden disappearance. We were still hearing the howls each night, but they seemed to have changed slightly.

What I discovered was a much larger and more ferocious breed of wolf tribe, with grey fur. They didn’t use weapons, only their claws and teeth, but were still able to overwhelm their clever counterparts.

I was wielding a long and thin fencing sword, that was basically a demonic stinger from the tail of a gigantic insect. The handle was whittled from wood and it was held together using the sap of a tree that was similar to industrial strength glue when dried.

Inside the tube was my concentrated poison, so it didn’t really matter if I only just grazed them with it’s tip. Their deaths were long and painful, but unavoidable, if they decided to flee… at least the electricity was quick.

After killing a few very small groups of them, I stumbled upon the remnants of the red wolf tribe inside of a well hidden den, a few meters underground and down a long, narrow tunnel. There was a weakened and whimpering adult female laying on the ground against the back wall, struggling to breastfeed her newborn litter of three very cute puppies.

She had a look of fear and disdain on her face, while gazing up at me… the person who was probably responsible for their swift downfall. If I didn’t kill a hundred of their best warriors, the rest of her pack might have survived.

I walked over to the mother and was immediately able to notice her dehydration and mild starvation. Her children were suffering as a result, since she wasn’t able to produce enough milk to feed them.

Their aura’s seemed so small and their mana sounded so serene… they were so adorable and innocent. I obviously couldn’t kill them, but if I simply left, they would have still died.

The mother was only about 150 cm tall and extremely light, plus the puppies were so small that they didn’t even appear humanoid yet. Carrying her bridal style with the babies safely in her arms was pretty easy and she didn’t offer any resistance aside from a few snarls.

I had to leave the sword behind, but I could always just come back for it later. My main priority was making it back to our encampment as quickly as possible.

After half a mile, I began hearing roars and howls towards the south. It did seem strange that we hadn’t been attacked yet, so they must have been distracted by Amber.

She was there when I arrived, surrounded by frozen and mangled corpses of at least three dozen wolf tribe who were nearly as large as herself. After seeing me, she fell to her knees, exhausted and roared “Hurry to the others! A couple of them made it past me!” in an angry voice.

I laid the mother down beside Amber and meowed “Watch after them… they aren’t food.” in a serious voice. Then I began using wind magic to increase the speed and distance of my strides as I sprinted towards our base.

By the time I arrived, it was already too late to kill anything. There were five crispy wolf men surrounding a little girl with dark skin, glowing red iris’ and outstretched black bat wings which were radiating a large fiery dome around her.

She was standing over a woman who was kneeling down, cradling her severely wounded husband’s mutilated body in her arms. Lachon was miraculously still alive, but just barely.

When Daeris released the protective barrier, I was able to quickly assist Nenor by performing the more vital repairs. His heart was beating and he was breathing, but the pulse was incredibly weak, the blood loss was immense.

The left eye and ear were missing, along with much of the skin on that side of his face. His right arm had been torn out of it’s socket, but the left was only missing a hand. Lachon’s legs were both shredded beyond recognition and the most serious injury was his disemboweled abdomen.

Sealing up all the bleeding wounds was the first step, then quickly forcing his body to regenerate the lost blood. By the time I finished patching up his intestines and shoving them back inside his body, Amber was back.

In her arms was the mother and three puppies, who were whimpering in submission to her terrifying presence. She roared incredibly loud, to announce that we were all still alive and ready to kill anyone else who tried attacking us, then carried the red wolves inside of our tree.

When she came outside again, she started disassembling the already cooked meals that were spread out around us. After bringing it to the mother wolf, she left to gather some fresh water from the river.

It took many hours, but we were able to bring Lachon out of critical condition and into a severely disabled one. However, he was alive and had an extremely long natural lifespan, so regeneration magic was possible… it would just take a while.

The wolf meat was a little burnt, but it did taste pretty good overall. Nenor and Daeris were exhausted from crying too much, so they skipped dinner and slept in the same tree as Lachon.

They survived an attack when Amber and I couldn’t protect them, for some reason that made me a little happy. Almost like watching your children learn to walk for the first time, but I was definitely angry.

The red wolf mother looked like a mix between a coyote and a fox, but all of the red wolves were about the same. It took a few days of providing meals, but once she was healthy, her demeanor seemed to changed dramatically.

Rather than whimpering and crying all the time, she was calm and composed. I could tell that she was finally able to think rationally when she began attempting to open a dialogue with me.

Just like the tiger tribe, rather than words, the wolf language was mostly growls, scents, and physical contact. The various barks and howls were similar to purrs or roars, but it wasn’t very difficult to figure out enough to speak with her within a week of learning and practicing.

The biggest difference was the fact that I could actually vocalize the same sounds as she did. Our first conversation started with me sitting down next to her and scratching the area behind her left ear with my right hand.

She rubbed her snout against my arm and growled “What am I to you?” in a curious voice, with her eyes scrunched closed. The biggest puppy was drinking from her left teat, while the other two were fighting over the right.

I smiled at her, then growled back “Family.” in a gentle voice, while rubbing her abdomen with my left hand. There was a huge difference between the way wolf and tiger tribe treated the members of their communities.

She opened her eyes and looked into mine deeply, then quietly howled “How? We aren’t even the same race… our children would be hideous.” in a distraught voice. There was obviously something lost in translation.

I sighed, then stopped scratching and petting her, I growled “No, I meant that all of you are like my children.” in an irritated voice. However, she just tilted her head in confusion and barked a word I couldn’t understand.

It was exhausting, trying to get my point across to her, but eventually she understood what I was trying to say. Using the same method I implemented when naming the orange tigress, I began referring to the red furred wolf girl as Scarlet.

Her actual name just sounded like a random barking noise, similar to the phrase “Don’t piss on that tree!” so I figured a name that just described the color of her coat would be much simpler.

Amber seemed like a younger sister, but the family of dark elves also felt like they were younger than me. It didn’t matter if I could only remember less than a year, my mindset was already being molded by my eccentric personality, I was incapable of thinking like a child.

I couldn’t quite understand why, but I always felt so much older than everyone I met. My adoptive family seemed to be growing larger, or perhaps our small lakefront property was more like a sanctuary for the orphans of war.

Our new neighbors were even more annoying than the ones before, they didn’t stop at our territory either. Within two months, the Kodiak family to the west was nearly wiped out several times, but when the father died, the mother and son escaped into our territory.

Perhaps it was because of my influence, but when Amber saw them being chased by the feral grey wolves, she actually protected them. I didn’t even have to ask her to, although… afterwards, she brought the two of them to me as something like a gift.

After healing the mother bear’s wounds, I attempted communication. There were a lot of similarities between each of the beast race languages that I had heard.

Basically, scents were always very important, which made it difficult for me to express myself properly. However, using something similar to touch telepathy and imitating the various vocalizations that they made… even on our first meeting, I was able to have a simple conversation with the brown bears.

The mother, whom I named Hazel, passed out immediately after treatment. Fortunately, her son… Coffee, was surprisingly eager to speak with me.

According to what little I understood of his angry roaring, he wanted revenge. His father and mother were powerful warriors, but he couldn’t do anything to help them fight the wolves.

My response was simple, I handed him a spear and pointed towards the river, which was about a mile south of our encampment. Then I roared “Catch fish!” or something like that, my intention was for him catch our dinner while me and Amber guarded the borders.

He probably interpreted it as, defeat a magical river monster to prove your worth to me. When we all returned to base that night, he was covered in wounds and dragging a giant octopus-like creature that was at least 4 times his size and still moving.

Maybe he thought I wanted him to keep it alive to prove some kind of point? It was definitely impressive, but his mother scolded him and made some loud grunts aimed at me.

If she wasn’t so tired and hungry, the angry tigress definitely would have responded violently to Hazel’s hostility. However, she was just peacefully chomping down on one of the wriggling tentacles.

We were all gathered around the large campfire between the three giant trees, even the gimpy Lachon was laying on the ground and talking to his family. His recovery was going pretty smoothly, each of his missing limbs were growing back with the help of his wife’s halfway decent nature magic, but it was going to take years before he was fully healed.

Eventually, the bears began using the fire to cook their portions of the cuttlefish. The creature still seemed to be alive, so I put it out of its misery with a couple of powerful shocks.

Scarlet was sitting on the other side, watching her children wrestling around with each other. They were already the size of human babies and could crawl around… they pretty much looked like regular puppies and it was still difficult to notice their humanoid features.

Two of them were boys and one was a girl, but I decided not to name them until they were a bit older. They were already being weaned, so I was able to feed them some small chunks of tentacle meat that I sliced up.

Their mother made a very strange expression whenever I fed or played with the puppies. She probably had some lingering anger towards me, but it wasn’t difficult to understand.

Normally, when the breeding male or female dies, they were immediately replaced by a different member of the pack or a complete stranger. During the storm, she replaced her mother and then a lone wolf that she never met before, became her mate.

She gave birth shortly after they returned to their territory, but since we had taken up residence in part of their old spot, their response was to challenge us. The father of her children was one of the hundred or so people who died trying to get revenge against me.

Scarlet didn’t even really know him that well, but there were probably plenty of brothers and sisters who I personally killed. Then, as a result of my distraction, the entire pack was wiped out by a different enemy… I was beginning to realize what I had to do.

It was the same thing that I always ended up doing, I needed to create an army. We were at war, and so was everyone else, but they didn’t even have a real goal or purpose.

They just wanted to hold onto a tiny piece of land that they had to abandon every ten years. There were no houses or property, just trees and woods that were in close proximity to a lake or river.

I already understood the key to victory, it was exactly what I had already been doing by just following my instincts. Sooner or later, the same thing that the grey wolves did, would happen to themselves.

When all of the belligerent and powerful warriors died, then there would be many more defenseless children and mothers. I had some reservations about raising children to be soldiers, but if I didn’t do something… the cycle would just repeat forever.

The most difficult part was going to be conquering the language barrier, but the dark elves were the crucial piece of that puzzle. If they never taught me an actual verbal standard, then I wouldn’t have been able think of such a plan.

Even if their vocal chords and mouths were a bit different from mine, I knew that it would be possible. As we were sitting next to each other that night, in our slightly crowded, hollowed out tree, I turned my head towards the tiger girl and said “Amber, I finally know why I wanted to come here.” in broken Lorthon, while making a serious expression.

She turned towards me and said “Mi-ka-el… I… all.. ready… know.” in a voice so deep and quiet that it was barely audible, but she actually spoke. She was still pretty terrible at vocalizing it, but she could at least understand the language in just those 2 months I spent teaching her.

Then she looked into my eyes, while wearing a strangely satisfied expression and growled “It’s because of the delicious food!” in a happy voice. I smiled at her, then began scratching her back, she made a cute yawn while stretching her arms out and then used my legs as a pillow, which was incredibly painful.

It was going to be a while before my plan actually came to fruition, but it was only a matter of time. Unless something ridiculous or unexpected happened.

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