IS, V2, Chapter 3: Experimentation

Affinities aren’t levels or numerical values and they definitely aren’t permanently set at birth. Think of them more like the ability to play a musical instrument, of which there are many types, shapes and sizes.

Some people can pick up a guitar and start playing chords immediately, because they either had previous experience with strings, or they could just be talented with that specific instrument. While other people can’t even strum at open chords without breaking the strings or hurting their fingers, it’s even possible that they wouldn’t understand what the device was or did and wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

Magic is very similar to music in many ways, but the most obvious is that practice will always be necessary to improve, rather than bothering with complicated theory. Everyone is born with certain affinities towards everything, some people are predisposed to be terrible at a specific one.

However, it is possible to become proficient or even master every element, as long as you have enough time. That’s the main problem with magic, you could reach the pinnacle of every instrument ever created in half the time it takes to become a master in just one of the minor magical elements.

The best mages, wizards, sorcerers, or healers, were never from short lived races like humans, dwarves, or even some types of elves. Yet, it all depends on their starting point, a prodigy is capable of reaching much higher peaks because they were born with an incredible advantage of some sort.

Races have a tendency to be born with similar magical affinities, but there are many derivations from the general populous. Clans are a perfect example of very mild differences in physical properties, while the quality of their mana is incredibly divergent.

Red or black eyes might seem insignificant to someone who can’t see auras, but there was a massive variation between their currents and colors. Nenor had a serene, slowly flowing, light blue hue swirling counterclockwise around her body.

However, Lachon had a raging inferno, quickly spiraling clockwise around him, which burned a bright orange that was almost blinding. The combination of the two had created an aura, which was completely still on the surface, but underneath, there was a rapidly flowing waterfall of blue flames.

They viewed their daughter’s physical appearance as deformed and hideous, but I thought Daeris was beautiful. She definitely wasn’t ugly and her wings seemed pretty attractive to me, but I also thought Amber and Scarlet were cute.

Maybe it had more to do with my own physical abnormalities, but I honestly didn’t think that any of the men or women in my little family were unpleasant to any of my three eyes. Their auras sounded like fascinatingly complicated and interesting musical scores with a myriad of instruments that were all playing in concert.

Of course, it was completely possible that they were all extremely unattractive by their own standards and beauty is usually in the eye of the beholder, but my vision was much clearer than anyone else’s. Even if a person had a horribly disfigured body and face… like Lachon, his mana still had the same charm that enticed me to help him the moment we met.

You can’t see your own aura, even in a reflection, but between what Amber and Daeris told me, mine was very strange. Under normal circumstances, it was transparent and completely silent, which was terrifying in its own way.

However, depending on my emotional state, it would suddenly transform into a blinding white light, or absolute darkness. The sound was similar to thousands of agonized screams, or an incredibly beautiful choir of angelic voices singing in perfect harmony.

According to Amber and Scarlet, my smell and taste were always very pleasant. It was one of the reasons they always tried to lick my face or sleep close to me.

Instead of salt, my sweat had pure mana crystals in it, which according to Maeleth, was something that only occurred in powerful demons. She also went on to explain how I would probably have the most delicious meat out of any creature she had ever eaten… which was such an obvious euphemism that I actually considered it to be the truth.

I was curious… so I ate a little bit of my own left forearm’s flesh and muscle. It was completely tasteless and I was extremely disappointed, but I needed to know for sure.

The two of us were basking in the moonlight, on the western beach, which was something we actually did quite often during the month since we moved to the island. Normally, we would go fishing or hunting, but that night I let my curiosity get the better of me.

Luckily, since she had taken my medicine, Amber was highly resistant to my body’s poison. I let her bite a chunk of meat out of my left thigh, which was extremely painful, but a little recovery or regeneration magic and I could quickly heal the injury.

My experiment yielded some interesting results, first she told me that it was the most delicious thing she had ever eaten before in her entire life. Then she started to feel sick, but after a few minutes, she was completely fine.

Then her aura exploded into a blinding vortex of white flames, that actually ignited the air around her. In moments, a massive cyclone of intense heat was scorching the sand below her feet and melting it.

I quickly created a massive wave out of the water to my left and used it to drown out the inferno. There was no effect, everything that touched her aura simply turned to steam in an instant.

My final resort was to use wind magic and remove all of the oxygen from the air around her body. Well, it was more of a reflex, than a conscious decision, since I had no idea how to use a spell that complex.

I had to close my third eye, so that I could actually see her, but the fire did stop burning the moment I removed its fuel. She was standing there in a trance, unharmed for the most part… but her color scheme seemed to have changed dramatically.

Her orange fur had been bleached white and her pure black stripes were ironically dyed a light shade of amber. The normally rounded pupils, had transformed into something more closely resembling mine and her yellow iris’ had a little red added in.

When I checked her aura again, it was completely transparent, so I released the air magic and allowed her to breathe. Then six gigantic wings, made of white fire, erupted from her back and stretched out at least 10 meters each.

Her eyes were shining with a blinding light and then she started giggling with the high pitched voice of a small girl. She smiled, with an evil grin, then said “Daddy is being naughty again… playing around with blood magic. You should know better by now, but you had to go and lose your memories, such a bad daddy.” in a cute, but slightly scary voice.

A name flashed through my mind and I immediately said “Lucy?” in a curious voice. I couldn’t understand why, but whatever was possessing Amber’s body, was someone that I subconsciously knew.

She laughed for a few seconds, then said “Daddy is so funny when he gets like this… but you really should be more careful when that evil witch is so close by. You need to deal with her, before it’s too late… you’ve already seen the results of her trying to help people already. She’s always like that, science this, experiment that, crazy bitch.

Anyway, I need to go back inside you to rest for a while… when you meet her, if it isn’t too late, you should try to seal her memories. If she wasn’t so useful, it would be better if Daddy just killed her off… but I still remember when little Yuri was so innocent, our precious little baby.

Ah! I went out of character for a moment there… remembering back to when I was Luke. Oh well, you really need to stop slacking off Daddy! You’ve been in this world for 9 years now, but you’re still so weak… those bastards are out there somewhere, I know you can feel them too!

Get stronger, grow your armies, remember what you need to know, gather the 12 shitheads… including myself, and do whatever else you need to do. You only have 768 years to prepare, the countdown began the moment you were born in the presence of that guy, just like always… once he awakens, war is inevitable.” in a voice that changed its tone and depth many times.

I didn’t have a chance to really speak to Lucy, not that I even knew who she was during that relatively short monologue. However, everything she said somehow made sense to me, which probably had to do with my seal being slightly unlocked.

During the conversation, I started to remember bits and pieces of information that were directly related to her words. When she mentioned ‘That guy’ Amber’s right hand was pointing up to the starry sky, not at the moon, but something bright blue that was slightly obscured behind it.

When I pushed my vision to its absolute limit, which basically meant that I was just squinting, I finally saw it. Not a star, but more like another moon that was a lot farther away, obviously I had no idea what planets were at that moment.

What seemed most relevant, was that time limit, which really wasn’t that long. However, my memories only reached back about a year at that point, so trying to imagine 768 more of those was quite difficult.

When it was over, the wings vanished and her orange eyes had stopped glowing. Her aura had transformed into something more closely resembling her original one, but it had much lighter shades of purple and blue.

Amber was awake, but couldn’t move and was just standing there. She roared in agony and I noticed that the melted sand had hardened over her feet, the unfortunate solution was to melt it again and then just heal her afterward.

It was something that she vehemently tried to hide from me, but I already knew that Amber had a relatively low tolerance for pain. When her adrenaline was pumping during a fight or battle, there was very little that she actually felt.

I never saw her cry, because she usually responded to discomfort or stress with uninhibited rage and violence. Which was typically not quite that serious, since even in the worst situations, I could somehow prevent anyone from being killed or maimed by her.

Even though she had started to learn a bit of magic during that one month without parasites, it was still at a relatively low skill level. However, her mana pool was massive, almost half as large as mine, but just like always, she had absolutely no control.

The problem was pretty obvious, with the change in her aura’s quality, casting spells unconsciously became part of her instincts. Since her main affinity was fire, I didn’t even have to remove the glass from her feet, because they burst into purple flames and blasted it away.

Just like all of the beast tribes who lived in the third ring, her secondary element was nature. Even when the mana worms were infecting them, they all had relatively high regeneration abilities and healed pretty quickly without having to cast spells.

When her eyes became fixed on me, I could immediately tell that she was already in her enraged state and there was nothing I could say to calm her down. Instead, I used what little time I had, to prepare myself for the unavoidable conflict.

It wasn’t as if I couldn’t escape, or at least ask for help from the gigantic water dragon who was actually poking her obnoxiously large head out of the lake, only a few hundred meters offshore. However, what Amber truly needed was a fight, not an overwhelming loss or victory… just an exhausting battle, to help her ignore the torment that her body was experiencing.

I didn’t know exactly how much my accidental blood magic changed her internal organs, but I knew that it probably didn’t feel too comfortable. Well, my first attack was an attempt to send her off to pleasant dreams, but the moment I lifted my right hand, she jumped.

If it was one of her normal ridiculously powerful leaps, I would have easily been able to finish charging my lightning spell and fire it at her. Unfortunately for me, the flames around her feet weren’t just for dramatic effect and actually fired off like rockets.

I’m sure that if she was in her usual mindset, and not just relying on instinct, she would have been tumbling around violently through the air and eventually end up crashing into the lake or forest. However, Amber did half of a front-flip and then aimed her thrusters at a 45 degree angle towards the sky.

She launched herself downwards, towards me, while engulfing her right fist with purple flames. Most people would either get the hell out of her way, or be too stupefied to even comprehend the situation.

My reaction was a bit different, she was definitely moving very quickly, but I was nimble enough to dodge if I wanted to. That would have been pretty boring though and completely ruined the purpose of our little sparring match.

Contrary to popular belief, elements aren’t like rock-paper-scissors. Fire magic isn’t weak against water magic, I know it may seem a bit strange, but it all has to do with time and mana consumption.

That’s why I decided to ignore the giant lake that was only a few meters to my left and harness the air, that was all around me. With both of my hands aimed at her flaming fist, while my body was angled to have the most leverage possible, I created a powerful gale in her direction.

She did slow down a bit, but the purpose was actually just to extinguish the fire around her hand and then catch it. Which did happen, but it also fed more fuel to the inferno behind her feet, which caused me to sink into the sand, up to my knees.

I was pretty damn strong… but her weight, combined with the force of that jet engine behind her, was just too much. Rather than being crushed, I decided to copy what she was doing and turn it into an aerial battle.

One quick explosion below my feet, which did a lot more damage to my heels than I realized at the time, launched my body a few feet into the air. The sudden change of direction, propelled both of us directly upward, into the sky for nearly a kilometer before she finally stopped pumping mana into her feet.

At that altitude, we only had about 14 seconds of free-fall time before impact. However, that would only be under normal circumstances… and an aerial magic fight in the third ring, wasn’t exactly the best idea I ever had.

It was pretty standard for a little while there, punching and kicking each other as quickly as possible while trying to maintain our relative positions. However, when I heard a loud roaring from behind me, I had intense deja vu, .

There was enough danger and blood thirst coming from my right, to even snap Amber out of her angry mode. We both stopped attacking at the same time and then turned our heads towards the sound that could be heard even over-top of the winds that were whipping around our bodies.

Unfortunately, our petty fist fight had to wait, because there was a much larger enemy who seemed to have a grudge against us. I didn’t mention it before, mainly because it really wasn’t that big of a deal… but during that 3 month long storm, we tried to kill a relatively small red dragon.

Well, it was actually some sort of pterodactyl type demon, and if you compared it to Maeleth, it wasn’t that impressive. However, the creature had a wingspan of over 100 meters, its long thin neck was almost 30 m and it’s body was similar in shape to a hairless bat.

The back of its skull had a massive horn that looked similar to a sharks fin, but was actually a gigantic blade. Well, it used to be, before we tried attempted to hunt it that one time… it also lost its left eye, but that seemed to have grown back.

It’s massive beak had a couple dozen dents in it, the size of a certain tigress’ fists. There were also a myriad of gigantic scars all over it’s leathery skin and apparently he or she remembered us pretty clearly.

Although, back then we were just beating on it mercilessly, while it couldn’t even fly away because of the maelstrom. It just barely managed to escape from our relentless assault by using intense wind magic and getting carried away by the raging hurricane, quickly drifting far outside of our range.

Me and Amber glared at each other with determined expressions, we were both pretty hungry anyway. Sure, most people would usually be panicking, they also wouldn’t have let themselves get into a ridiculous situation like that, but we were actually pretty calm.

She wrapped her body around mine, like I was giving her piggy back ride, then I used a massive burst of fire magic, propelling both of us towards the creatures gigantic, open beak. When we were about to enter it’s mouth, she pushed off of me and launched herself upward, straight towards it’s left eye.

On the other hand, I was forced downward a few meters and immediately afterward, smacked into it’s tongue, which felt disgusting. It shut its beak closed and if I didn’t have that third eye, there would have been complete darkness.

However, before the giant dinosaur bird could even attempt to swallow me, it opened its mouth again and roared so loud that I was fired out of its beak, like a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun. I was completely disoriented, since I was just flipping around through the air, but I did get a few glimpses of what happened.

Somehow, it reminded me of something I actually did earlier in that lifetime. Although, it looked a lot less idiotic when someone like Amber dove into a gigantic bird’s eyeball.

Mainly, because she burned her way through the back of its head and then rode its corpse, all the way to the lake, where Maeleth created a giant wave to help break the fall. Meanwhile, I inelegantly failed at stabilizing my descent while using fire magic and violently smacked into the water at an angle, then skipped like a stone across the surface a few times before crashing into some… mostly soft, sand.

Aside from a couple dozen broken bones and ruptured organs, I was perfectly fine. Well, it all worked out OK in the end, because returning to our abandoned territory was already on my list of things that needed to be done as soon as possible.

I just didn’t expect to be quite so defenseless during my first meeting with that ‘Evil Witch’ or ‘Crazy Bitch’ that the extremely suspicious and slightly familiar girl named Lucy warned me about.

That’s usually how important events happen though. When you’re completely unprepared, suddenly a 3 meter tall tree person looks down at your mangled body and says “Do you require assistance? Don’t worry, I will increase your maximum physical strength and durability by at least 137%…” as she uses dozens of tentacle-like hot pink vines to entangle your entire body.

She was a dryad, not that I knew what that was at the time, but her whole body gave off a poisonous vibe. When I tried to see her aura, it was pitch black and actually made me nauseous.

Her skin was a bright pink, but relatively smooth looking bark, and the general shape of her body was similar to a human woman’s. Well, it was all scaled up to a ridiculous size, but she was pretty small when compared to a treant.

However, her face was a bit strange, mainly because she didn’t have one. It looked like she was wearing some sort of full helmet, but it was the same color and texture as the rest of her skin.

Her eyes seemed like glowing blue orbs of light and had no real substance. She did have hair, but it was basically just long purple vines with pink and white lilies that were blooming.

She wasn’t wearing any clothes, but even though she had mounds that appeared to be breasts, there were no nipples. There was no genitalia at all, but her general body shape and voice did give off a strong feminine vibe.

Before I had a chance to say anything to her, thin vines shot out of her left hand fingertips, into my mouth and continued down my throat. They seemed to enter my lungs and then expand rapidly, but my whole body was too weak to even struggle.

I wondered what sort of expression she would have been making at the time, if she actually had a face. After a few minutes, I finally suffocated to the point of unconsciousness and I couldn’t even send a message to Maeleth, because my mana was being constricted by those wriggling tentacles.

There were no dreams, just a momentary darkness and awakening to a hollow female voice, that said “Your immune system is fascinating… you seem to be resistant to even my most powerful viruses. Very interesting, you seem to be tolerant to many toxins as well. I need to perform more tests, I’ll wake you again… if you manage to survive.” in a monotone.

My vision was extremely blurry and my whole body was in horrible pain, but from what I could tell, we were in some sort of cave. There were all sorts of strange plants along the walls, ceiling and floor, most of which were glowing vibrantly in various colors.

I was laying on a bed of purple flowers and pink vines, that was elevated up to her waist so she could easily examine me. It was somehow nostalgic, but at the same time, extremely unpleasant, since there were all kinds of vines and other plants that were either growing out of my body, or stabbing into me.

If there weren’t a bunch of tubes down my nose and throat, I would have probably tried to communicate with her. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of our doctor-patient relationship.

That time, I was unconscious for much longer and I actually had a chance to dream. It wasn’t telepathy, since my mana was being restricted, nor was it some fantasy that was created from my imagination.

Memories, maybe it had something to do with the mad dryad scientist’s experiments, but I was starting to remember bits and pieces of my life. Not part of what I sealed away, but a few experiences that happened before I woke up in that tunnel.

I was writing a letter to someone named Azriel, Nenor never taught me how to read but somehow I just could. There was a sentence that stuck out much more than the others and when I woke up a moment later, I immediately realized the significance.

The dryad had a face, it reminded me of a beautiful elven woman, but there was a strangely sinister smile on her bright red lips. She had long pink ears that extended well above the top of her head.

My body wasn’t being restrained anymore and I felt completely healthy. Actually, I really did feel a little bit physically stronger than before, my muscles seemed to be the same size though.

In the center of her chest was a large black burn mark that looked like a circle, with the number 777 written inside. She said “Don’t worry Michael… I decided to seal myself, but I just wanted a chance to speak with you for a little while. I won’t remember anything that happens over the next few minutes, but depending on how you answer my questions… I will at least remember if we are allies or enemies.” in an extremely cold and serious voice.

I smiled at her and said “Yuri… Uriel, you seem extremely familiar to me, but I can’t really remember who you are or how we know each other. Who, or what are you?” in a calm voice.

She completely ignored my question, and then said “What does my name mean?” in a curious voice.

The moment she asked, I immediately replied “God is my light.” in a monotone, without even thinking.

Uriel smiled for a moment and then returned to a serious expression, then said “What are our two laws?” in an irritated voice.

I sighed, then said “Thou shalt not enslave and thou shalt not rape.” in an angry voice, whenever I thought about either of those two words… I would suddenly feel intense rage.

She sighed and said “What is your goal?” in a disinterested voice, it seemed like she was getting bored. All of the other questions seemed to be incredibly easy to answer, but that last one wasn’t quite so simple.

Everyone has dreams and aspirations, even if they don’t realize it. We crave a purpose or meaning in our lives… even if we know that they will eventually end.

However, it’s rare than anyone truly accomplishes their goals, but I didn’t need my memories of past lives to have ambitions. That time limit the mysterious Lucy gave me had nothing to do with it either.

I made a serious expression for a moment, then smiled at Uriel and said “There is something that I have been searching for… but I never quite knew why or even what it was. When I was alone, it was beyond my comprehension. Yet, the moment I saw them, I knew exactly what I needed to do, what I wanted to accomplish. I am going to make this world into a paradise, for my family.” in a happy voice.

She seemed extremely disgruntled while saying “Then you will need my assistance… the others will be required as well. Your answers were satisfactory, the contract has been written, signed and sealed. It was relatively pleasant to speak with you again, Mother.” in an irritated voice.

Then the mark on her chest started to glow a bright red color and quickly faded away, into the hot pink bark. I actually felt a little happy after hearing Uriel call me Mother, but the moment the numbers disappeared, she returned to her previous state.

Her face remained the same, but she quickly raised both of her hands towards me and shot vines out of her fingertips. However, I wasn’t incapacitated that time, so I was able to actually defend myself.

While creating a wall of fire in front of me, I yelled “Stop doing that! Put the vines away!” in an angry voice. The inferno didn’t even faze her and the tentacles began entangling me again.

I stopped using fire and decided that electricity might work better, so I discharged a massive amount of it, through her vines. She did flinch a little bit, but that amount of power usually deep-fried giant demons.

It was pretty obvious that she was much more powerful than me and using my fingernails or teeth wouldn’t have been much help either. After I was completely covered in vines, except for my head, I yelled “Yuri! Stop it!” in a stern voice, while making a serious expression.

Suddenly, all of her tentacles quickly retracted back into her body and I was released. She had a puzzled expression as she said “There was a creature who referred to me by that name exactly 3697 years ago… why are you refusing my assistance? Didn’t you requisition my talents towards your desire for a more powerful physical form?” in a curious voice.

I sighed, then said “It’s not like I don’t want to become stronger, but…” in a worried voice. However, before i could finish my sentence, she quickly continued with her tentacle barrage.

Using all of my mana, I attempted to shock them off and she definitely was affected by my attack. By that I mean, she seemed to enjoy the feeling and actually smiled a little bit in response, but the end result was the same.

There were no names for the days and months in elven culture, they simply used numbers. It was the 5th day of the 8th month when I was abducted by Uriel.

Even though I normally had an excellent grasp on time, whatever she was doing to me was completely nullifying that ability. Occasionally, she would mention the date, while telling me all of the ways I didn’t die while I was unconscious.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t always sleeping… sometimes she would keep me awake for days, using various herbs in a similar way to epinephrine. Then she would test how much pain I could withstand, which was basically an excuse to torture me.

The whole time I was asking myself questions like “Why do I need this crazy bitch again?” but it wasn’t like I could really stop her ridiculous experiments. She actually wasn’t that sadistic, just extremely cold and analytical, or at least I hoped so.

It seemed completely random, but exactly three months after she captured me, I was unceremoniously released. Uriel was wearing a disappointed expression, when she said “The modifications are complete… there’s nothing left for me to do.” in a slightly sad voice.

When she showed me a large reflective mirror-like plant, I was able to immediately notice, that I pretty much looked the same. My hair was starting to get way too long, nearly down to my waist, and my horns had two large loops and needed to be clipped.

My muscles did seem to be a bit larger, it was difficult to tell that I was only 9 years old. Facial and body hair was still pretty thin and short, although my nails were all more like talons and needed to be filed down.

Aside from all that, I was about 190 cm tall… which still meant that I was a lot shorter than Amber, Hazel and Yuri. However, if I compared myself to the dark elves, I was pretty damn big.

Most people would be pretty angry if someone kidnapped them, then experimented on their body for several months. Yet, for whatever reason, I was completely calm, but I did have a few questions for my doctor.

I turned towards her and asked “What exactly did you change? I don’t really feel that different…” in a curious voice.

Yuri frowned, then said “Conventional genetic alteration methods failed, but pure nature magic was extremely effective. Bone and muscle density has been increased by 198%, but that made regeneration much more difficult. Therefore, I needed to raise your metabolism dramatically, which required a higher caloric intake.

Photosynthesis was necessary for maximum energy efficiency, which unfortunately removed your skin’s fluorescence. However, once I increased your primary ocular night vision, even in complete darkness, your eyes will produce the necessary light to see.

Olfactory organs have been enhanced slightly, but probably not to a noticeable degree. I can list the other minor modifications as well, but it may take several hours…” in an irritated voice.

Basically, nothing too drastic, it was a bit impressive that she could do all of that in only 3 months, but I didn’t really plan to spend all that time away from Amber and the others. Well, I did assume that I was in some sort of cave that was in my old territory.

However, when I walked over to the entrance and looked outside, the first thing I noticed was the gigantic pyramid and the three massive treants who were arguing with each other near the ground. My senses were so screwed up around Yuri, that I couldn’t even tell that we were inside of a tree branch, about 100 meters away from my house.

I turned around, then asked her “Have we been on this island the whole time?” in a confused voice. Then I heard a familiar roar, coming from behind me, which was quickly followed by my body being violently tackled to the floor.

Then I heard Amber’s deep raspy voice saying “Michael! You’re finally awake!” while at least 600 lbs of muscle was crushing my back. I definitely did notice a huge difference though, because I was actually able to lift myself off the ground and then flip my body over.

Before I could say anything, she was already vigorously attacking my face with her tongue. The conversation we had was mostly in growls, roars and partially through telepathy, so I’ll just give a brief summary.

Apparently, after my crash landing and loss of consciousness, Amber along with Maeleth, came to make sure I was still alive.

When they arrived, they assumed that I was being devoured by a crazy dryad… which wasn’t that far from the truth. However, the giant water dragon actually knew Yuri, from back when the elves still lived on Ael Tol.

Although, they used to call her the spirit of death, Gyrgerenil, but that name sounded awful, so I decided to stick with the other one. In Lorthon mythology, she was similar to the devil, you could ask her for something, but it usually ended badly for everyone involved.

It wasn’t like she extracted some ridiculous fee, she simply enjoyed experimenting… helping people. A couple thousand years ago, when the beast races were much more primitive, she assumed that they desired higher intelligence, mainly because they were stupid enough to attack her.

After a few failed experiments, she finally succeeded in creating a parasite that would feed off of their mana, and then use nature magic to help them evolve at a much more rapid pace. However, at some point, the worms got a little out of control and actually started hindering their progress, but she was already distracted by something else by then.

The wood elves who used to live in Ael Tol had an average lifespan of a few thousand years, which would normally seem like a long time. Unfortunately, they made the mistake of asking her for true agelessness… so she created a magical virus, to transform their bodies like they desired.

Basically, she created vampirism or an early form of it, which was fine for a while. Although, after a few hundred years, the virus began to mutate and become much more virulent.

A couple thousand years after that and it turned into a plague that had way more cons than pros. There were a few more stories about how she occasionally turned people into dragons, or transformed vicious demons into gentle animals.

After Maeleth, Amber and Yuri had a relatively peaceful conversation on the beach, they returned to the tree room that I was then incarcerated inside for 3 months. It was her old house, from a few millennia ago, which explained why there were various plant-like devices scattered around the large space on tables, most of which she used on me at some point.

In the back of the room, there was even a couple, gigantic shelves of research notes, that were written on thousands of books. Not that I would have understood what they were, if Yuri didn’t excitedly explained it to me.

She seemed to enjoy telling me about her past experiments. Although, by that time Amber had gotten bored and went out hunting.

Eventually, after a few hours of her giving detailed explanations of her activities over nearly her entire lifetime, I finally said “Yuri, don’t attack me with tentacles, but I want your help with something.” in a nervous voice.

I knew that it was an extremely dangerous statement and that I would probably end up regretting those words. However, there was a job that I needed her to do for me, something very important for the future of my city.

She made a sinister smile and said “You want me to replicate your pathetic cure for Parasite 139, correct?” in an irritated voice.

I sighed, then said “The mana worms, I want you to create and administer a safer treatment than what I came up with. I assumed that with your expertise, it would be a simple matter… don’t turn them into dragons, vampires, or demons in the process though.” in a slightly worried voice.

Yuri started frowning again, and said “Fine, regardless of how far below my capabilities that menial task may be, I haven’t exactly been asked for assistance very often lately.” in a disappointed voice.

With that matter settled, I decided to see if I missed anything important during my absence. Normally, my first instinct would be to find food, but regardless of how hungry I was, I needed to make sure Scarlet and the puppies were OK.

When I walked outside of the room, I was in a relatively large corridor that had many small windows. To my left was the pyramid and to my right was the southern part of the city, after reaching the end of the hallway, there was a spiral staircase inside of a large hollow tree, which I used to reach the ground.

It was nice to freely walk around, but it was still a very long way down and I was feeling lazy. After jumping over the railing, I used wind magic to slow my descent dramatically, but it was still a lot faster than using the stairs.

Since it was the middle of the day and there was a huge opening in the canopy near the center of the city, the sunlight felt amazing on my skin. Although, that was most likely related to photosynthesis… which was something I did understand, since Yuri was kind enough to explain it to me.

I still felt like I was starving, regardless of the minor energy boost I received upon entering the town square, which was technically a triangle. The first person to congratulate me on my recovery was Garah, the giant wolf treant.

Riding on his back were six of the puppies, but they looked much more like actual children and I barely even recognized them. They didn’t remember me either, but considering that I only knew them for about a month, it wasn’t that surprising.

While heading south, I came across a few of the other red wolf girls playing with the not so depressed tigress. Demil actually smiled and waved at me when I walked past them, but didn’t say anything and quickly returned to what looked like a four versus one, sparring match.

She was unarmed, but the children were actually using basic earth magic to attack her. Well, it was only at the level of slinging clumps of dirt, which probably would have been easier if they just threw it normally.

They were all laughing, so I wasn’t too worried about anyone getting hurt or killed. If they were flinging mud at Amber… that would be a completely different story.

It was something that I quickly discovered after removing their parasites, but each race had a natural affinity towards certain elements. For tiger tribe it was fire, kodiaks preferred water and red wolves were natural earth mages.

Luckily, they weren’t quite as ridiculous or uncontrollable as Amber, but I still asked Daeris and Nenor to help them as much as possible. However, Scarlet was different, she was probably a genius when it came to earth magic.

All of the ancient elven buildings were extremely high in the air, but she preferred to be below ground. Even before I left, her burrow was pretty large and was practically a labyrinth of tunnels, maybe she was part mole tribe?

Anyway, finding the entrance to her house was easy, since it looked like a small hut that was made of branches and large leaves. However, it was basically just there to keep the rain out of the 6 meter in diameter hole that was hidden inside.

It wasn’t a straight drop, but a steep incline that continued for a few hundred meters to the south. If you weren’t careful, it was easy to slip and then tumble down the rest of the way, but I wasn’t quite that clumsy.

Eventually, it led down to a huge open space, that was illuminated by glowing blue mushrooms, which was basically her living-room. There were various chairs, tables and other miscellaneous furniture that seemed to be carved from wood and then glued together using tree sap.

All along the walls were slightly smaller tunnels than the one that I had just came through, which meant that I had to duck down if I wanted to use them. There were various symbols that were carved above each entrance, they were from a written language that I had seen once before.

The red wolf tribe were a bit more advanced than most of the other third ring races. The only word out of the 13 that I could actually read was “Sleep” which could be pretty easily understood as a bedroom.

However, rather than just picking one at random, I simply walked up to each of them, one at a time, and then listened carefully. In the middle corridor to the left, I heard the familiar sound of Scarlet’s mana, along with running water.

It took a while, but eventually I managed to crawl my way through the extremely small tunnel and reach a relatively large room. There was a large stone bathtub dug into the ground, that was a few feet away from a river that was quickly filling it with water, through some sort of tube that was connecting the two.

I was able to stand up and not hit my head on the hardened dirt ceiling, which was pretty nice. However, I witnessed something that I didn’t quite expect, she wasn’t alone and she also wasn’t simply taking a bath.

None of them seemed to notice me, so I quickly scurried out of there before it became awkward. It wasn’t like I knew all that much about elven culture and Scarlet was single, either way it was really none of my business if the three of them wanted to have sex in a bathtub.

Well, what surprised me more than what they were doing, was that Lachon seemed to be completely healed and Nenor was pregnant. Although, it didn’t take much effort to guess which of our new residents would have been capable of restoring his limbs so quickly.

With their sex life, I actually assumed that Daeris would have had a younger sibling a lot sooner. When I reached the living room, I was greeted by a slightly familiar elven woman, who was missing her usual fish tail.

Maeleth had an evil grin as she said “Did you miss me?” in a happy voice. It wasn’t until then that I realized, I was missing my usual loincloth… a dangerous oversight, with a succubus as an adversary.

I couldn’t exactly run away from her, since I knew that she wasn’t even really there. However, that also meant that she couldn’t physically do anything to me, probably.

After looking back at the tunnel that I just came from for a moment, I sighed, then said “I’m guessing that little threesome was your handiwork?” in a disinterested voice.

She kept grinning obnoxiously, while yelling “Ah! You know me so well! People are happiest when they’re having sex after all! Love is such a beautiful thing, especially when there’s an orgy!” in an overly excited voice and using far too much body language.

I said “As long as you didn’t force them to do anything, or trick them into it, I really don’t care who you use your matchmaking skills on.” in an irritated voice, while walking towards the exit.

She giggled obnoxiously, then said “Even if one of them was your cute little Amber?” in a devious tone, which made me stop walking and turn around. I fell into her trap and revealed my relatively obvious weakness, but she was like a child, rather than a demon.

Mae just grinned, with brightened eyes glistening in the blue glow of the room. Then I said “Please don’t corrupt her… anyway, have you seen Scarlet’s two puppies? I actually came here to check up on them, but it would be simpler if you just told me.” in a curious voice, trying to quickly change the subject.

She sighed, while saying “You’re no fun, but fine, the little brats are probably on the surface playing around with the others. You really didn’t miss that much, I tried to tempt that bear cub, but he’s in love with that gloomy tiger girl.

Well, they’re still kids, but in a few months I might actually be able to see an interesting show. No one died or anything like that… Amber almost burned down the forest a few times, but I was able to create a quick rainstorm each time.” in a disappointed voice.

It’s always nice to know that there were no fatalities while you were on vacation for a few months. As we were walking up the steep tunnel, I asked “What about Hazel and Daeris? You haven’t really told me what they’ve been up to lately.” in an inquisitive tone.

She said “Hmm, bat-wings and grumpy-bear… well, neither of them are really that interesting to me. Daeris started to learn how to fly using fire magic after watching Amber fail at it enough times. I’m pretty sure that Hazel is dream dating that loser wolf… but since I’ve been avoiding the three idiots, I can’t really be sure.” in a disinterested voice.

I didn’t do much the rest of that day, other than going around and talking to a few people. However, when I went to sleep in my tree house that night, I had one of those dreams again.

In the three months since Yuri left my old territory, thousands of tiger tribe moved in. On the other side of the river, there were at least a couple dozen Kodiak tribe. However, there were so many more chains than I remembered… it felt like my mind was being pulled in every direction.

There were so many different things happening all around the lake and it was impossible to single out a specific voice out of the tornado of screams.

Then I heard a man praying “Spirits of the forest, I never really believed in any of you… but I’ve also never been in such a shitty situation before. I wouldn’t even stoop to such a pathetic level if it was for myself, but I’m willing to do anything if it has a chance of saving my family.” in irritated, but desperate voice.

He was in the far north, on the borderline of the 3rd and 2nd rings, at least 100 miles away. However, his chain was strong and glowing bright white, it actually burned my fingers when I first touched it.

Then it was as if I teleported there, it was a similar type of spell to the one that Maeleth always used on people, to make them see her while they were awake. For some strange reason, the moment I saw him, I became extremely angry.

It was a creature that Uriel had told me about, one of her favorite creations. The man looked like a dark elf that was scaled up a few sizes, but from the waist down, it was like a black horse.

His entire body except for the head, was covered in heavy bronze armor and he had a large ‘X’ shaped scar across his face. He had his eyes closed, with an extremely long, iron claymore stabbed into the ground in front of him.

Behind him were at least 5 other centaurs, three children and two adult females, each of them seemed to be slightly different races. They weren’t visibly sick or injured, so I asked “What exactly do you expect me to save them from?” in an irritated voice.

He quickly opened his eyes and pulled the sword out of the ground, then swung it horizontally at me while I was floating in front of him. The blade passed through my illusionary body and then he yelled “Holy shit!” in a startled voice.

After calming down a bit, he said “I don’t know what you’re talking about… why would I be asking some ghost for help anyway?” in a nervous voice while looking away from me.

I sighed, then said “You wouldn’t have been able to summon me here if it wasn’t something important. Someone better be dying…” in an angry voice, while glaring at him. A crazy dryad experimented on me for months and I was perfectly fine with that, but for some reason centaurs really pissed me off.

He looked back towards me for a moment, then closed his eyes and said “Well, if you’re offering to help, I guess there might be something you could assist us with.” in a hesitant voice. After opening one eye and seeing how irritated I was, he closed it again and asked “Can you turn back time for me? Just a few days should be…” in a hopeful voice.

Before he could even finish his sentence, I said “Nope! Even if I could do that, I still wouldn’t. If you aren’t going to tell me what you really want, I’m leaving.” in angry voice.

He opened his eyes and yelled “Wait! OK, I’ll ask for something easier!” in a frantic voice. Then he continued with “A few days ago, my family and I were banished from our village to the north of here. I sort of killed the chieftain’s son, but the bastard had it coming! Well, I did kinda have sex with his wife a few times… and then she left him to be with me. Anyway, the point is, we need help finding a new village to live in, but we kind of got lost.” in a nervous voice.

Out of all the hundreds of thousands of people who probably needed my help, I was seriously wondering why that polygamist centaur would be able to catch my attention. Unfortunately, regardless of how much he annoyed me, his family would probably die if I didn’t grant his request.

After sighing for at least ten seconds, I finally said “Wake them up and get ready for a long gallop, it’s going to be at least 100 miles away. I’ll be back in a moment, I need to make arrangements to ensure your family’s safety.” in an irritated voice, then pseudo-teleported back to the island.

It only took a few moments to find and tug on Mae’s fishing line to get her attention. Then I let her know that there would be a group of centaurs coming from the north, which made her far too excited.

Then I went down lower to the ground, near the pyramid and yelled “Garah! Wake up! I need your help with something!” in a voice that was loud enough to get his attention. The gigantic wolf was humping the ground while making a perverted face and growling for a few moments, before opening his eyes and looking up towards me.

He sighed, then said “Michael, what’s wrong? I was having a really nice dream…” in a disappointed voice, then yawned while stretching his whole body.

I came closer to his face and then said “Sorry about interrupting your special time with Hazel, but I need you to go on a quick escort mission. It should only take a few hours, you did promise to help me bring new people to the city, remember?” in a nonchalant voice.

Garah yawned again, stood up and said “Yea, but I assumed you would at least give me some sort of schedule or tell me ahead of time. Well, whatever, start flying and I’ll chase after you… just don’t teleport and it should be fine.” in a tired voice.

It was the first time I ever saw one of the the three of them leave the clearing around the pyramid and it was actually pretty impressive. Since they spent hundreds of thousands of years as treants, it was actually not that surprising that their nature and water magic was so ridiculously advanced.

First he ran up the northern side of the pyramid, which was at least 3 times taller than himself and extended beyond the canopy. Then he pushed off of the tip and jumped on top of the trees, which somehow supported the weight of his entire body as he ran across the branches and leaves.

It was nearly impossible to even see the green wolf against the jungle background, but his glowing blue eyes were always visible. He must have been running at least 200 miles per hour, because within a few minutes he was already jumping off the edge of the island’s canopy and about to land in the lake.

However, just like before, he simply ran across it using magic. It would have been more impressive if he could fly, but running across water and the tops of trees was still pretty amazing considering that most treants could barely even move.

When he approached the shore, he created a massive ramp using water and then continued sprinting after me. Every few minutes, he would howl so loudly that if I was actually there, I probably would have been deaf by the time we reached the centaurs.

My original plan was for him to go down and guard them on the ground, but there was a major flaw that I should have realized immediately. He literally couldn’t fit down there and he was too impatient to simply walk along the treetops at their relatively slow pace.

Before I even had a chance to warn the family of six, Garah was already firing off thousands of vine tentacles out of his back and towards the ground. I was going to go reassure them that everything would be OK… but honestly didn’t really care that much.

They were freaking out quite a lot, the kids were screaming, the women were firing their bows and arrows at the giant wolf, while the man was trying to cut the unbreakable vines with his iron sword. Within seconds, they were strapped to Garah’s back and he began sprinting back towards Ael Tol.

I landed near the male centaur, who was laying on his side and struggling to break free of the restraints that were all over his body, while yelling “Don’t worry kids, daddy will come and save you in a moment!” in an terrified voice.

After coming into his view, he stopped freaking out and pretended that he knew exactly what was going on the whole time. I yelled “Don’t worry, this will be a short trip! You should probably tell your family to calm down though!” in a loud voice, that easily cut through the roaring wind, mainly because I was just telepathically communicating with him.

By the end of the half-hour ride, all of them were too nauseous to even be scared anymore and one of his two daughters was unconscious. When Garah laid down on his side and gently released them onto the ground, none of them could stand for at least ten minutes.

The gigantic wolf was already sleeping by the time the heavily armored male centaur managed to prop himself up using the gigantic claymore. He was actually the only one who seemed like a horse, the others were either deer or something in-between.

They were all wearing clothing of some sort though, at least over their humanoid parts. When the man finally composed himself, he said “My name is Dogon, this is my wife Baineth and my mistress Ireth.” in a serious voice as he first pointed towards the small light skinned, deer centaur, then the much larger, grey skinned woman who had white spots all over her red fur.

Before he had a chance to introduce his kids, I started to hear another voice inside my head. It was completely blocking out whatever he was saying, so I yelled “I’m sorry! I can’t really hear you! As long as you don’t try to rape or murder anyone, you guys can live here! I have to go now! Talk to the spirit of sluttyness if you have any questions!” in a loud voice, but I could barely even hear myself speak.

Then I teleported up above the pyramid, so I could concentrate on that obnoxiously loud and high pitched female voice. Whatever Yuri did to me, must have somehow enhanced my telepathic abilities, because in that whole month since we moved to Ael Tol, I was never able to have so much control over it before.

When I reached a suitable altitude, the message came through much clearer. She said “Oh great spirit of eternal sight, I beseech thee for thy guidance. I am lost and alone, my eyes can no longer cut through the darkness.” in a serious voice.

From what I could see, her chain was connected far to the south, but it was almost at the fourth circle border. It was easy to guess what was wrong with her, just by listening to her plea.

I quickly grabbed a hold of the golden chain and was instantly teleported in front of her, but she just kept flying straight through me. She was basically a normal sized wood elf, the only difference was that instead of arms, she had huge white wings.

Well, she also had a feathery tail and her legs below the knee, including her feet, were scaly, thin and bird-like. Her breasts were small and her physique was relatively frail, like she was starving, but the most severe problem to her health was the fact that both of her eyes were gouged out.

It was easy to keep up with her, since I was just floating weightlessly, but getting her attention took a bit more effort. She was so concentrated on listening to mana and chanting that damn mantra, that it took me a while for her to hear me.

Eventually she heard me yell “Stop! You’re going the wrong way!” in an angry voice and she started to slow down to a halt, then began effortlessly hovering by flapping her wings and using a bit of wind magic.

When she did that, I realized that she probably came from the second ring or possibly even farther away. She yelled “Who dares interrupt my sacred journey?!” in an angry voice, that was directed towards me.

I sighed, then said “You’re the one who called me here, you needed some directions, right?” in an irritated voice. I was starting to see a pattern with the type of people who were able to get my attention easily.

She yelled “Rimeth of the eastern mountain peaks, requires aid from no one! Now leave me be interloper!” in an arrogant voice. Just like the annoying centaur, I was feeling a strong instinctual urge to help her… which was just barely strong enough to keep me from abandoning the egotistical little girl.

I took a moment to restrain myself from yelling, then asked “Why are you flying towards the fourth ring of Lorthon?” in a mostly calm voice.

Rimeth confidently smiled at me, then said “I lost my sight in a glorious battle against a powerful adversary… thus I have undertaken the sacred rite of endless flight.” in a slightly dejected voice.

I sighed dramatically and said “Rather than committing ritual suicide for such a stupid reason, why not let me heal you? For some reason, I have a feeling that your life is a lot more important than you realize.” in a sincere voice, and she began frowning.

She said “I apologize for my rudeness earlier… you seem like a kind man, but I may have been a little untruthful with my previous statement. I failed in my duties as a matriarch and my clan was slaughtered by a small brown dragon, even the eggs and hatch-lings were obliterated. The only reason I was spared, was because I decided to visit the ocean on that fateful day.” in a deeply saddened voice.

After waiting a few seconds, I said “Basically, you’re an idiot who decided to kill yourself because everyone you knew and loved was murdered while you were on vacation. If you really wanted to die, you wouldn’t have summoned me and I definitely wouldn’t be here trying to convince you to live. Now stop wasting my time and lets get going, you aren’t the only person who needs my help.” in an irritated voice.

Rimeth seemed like she wanted to cry, but without eyes or tear ducts, she basically just scrunched up her face. After a few moments, she said “I shall adhere to your advice, wise spirit of Lorthon.” in a serious voice as she began following after me.

Rather than trying to hold a conversation with her the whole trip back to the lake, I just hummed a melody that I made up as we went along. There were a few close calls, where giant birds flew by and tried to devour her, but somehow she managed to avoid them easily.

The same thing happened when we reached the lake and I forgot to ask Maeleth for help. The agile harpy was dodging the incoming water missiles or flying fish without any assistance from me.

When we finally reached Ael Tol, there was still a few more hours left of the night and I only had enough time to direct her towards Yuri’s office, before I received another desperate cry for my help. Mae started calling me “The Spirit Of Eternal Suffering” which actually seemed pretty accurate, because every day after that it was the same thing.

I could only trust in my instincts and pray that eventually my torment would finally end.


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