IS, V2, Chapter 5: Fate

Every night for a whole month, I was forced to deal with excessively annoying but surprisingly useful people. They were always in some sort of life or death situation, which was usually born from their own mistakes or foolishness.

I was only increasing the population by about ten people per night, but each of their combat potentials was equivalent or greater than an entire territory of tiger tribe warriors. It was definitely worth the effort, because it took a ton of mana for each of the treants to move, which made it impossible for them to actually be useful for more than a day out of an entire week.

Dogon, the centaur who wore bronze plate armor and used an extremely long greatsword, was a powerful warrior. His wife and mistress were each excellent archers and the three of them together, were our main hunters and gatherers.

They weren’t exactly what I would consider soldiers, but they were our first official forest patrol unit. Eventually, they were reinforced by a few other centaurs, that I found to the east, and their main job was to go into the island’s rather dangerous forests and find food.

There were no invaders that had to be repelled, it was just that Amber, Coffee, Hazel and myself were far too busy to perform such a menial task. During the day, the tigress would be sleeping peacefully in my tree-house, while the rest of us would perform rescue operations on low value targets.

Basically, I would consciously listen for the weak, dying, seriously injured, and extremely desperate voices during the day. It was essentially a war-zone in every direction from our peaceful island, so it was extremely easy to hear the cries of children and sometimes even adults, who didn’t want to die.

The younger they were, the better it was, but there was one instance where we liberated nearly a hundred ox tribe, from a tiger pride who were treating them like livestock. Even though the white furred minotaurs were a little bigger than their owners, most of them had lost the will to fight by that point.

However, it only took a handful of desperate prayers to grab my attention and a thousand dead tigers later, we gained a hundred new citizens. Of course, it didn’t always end that way… most slaves that I tried to help, were already too far gone.

Luckily, that didn’t happen very often and almost all of the people we rescued were mothers and children, who had just lost their pack, clan, pride, or families. We started calling Ael Tol, Beast Haven, which was much catchier and sounded a bit more meaningful than the original, which was just the words “island” and “lake” in ancient Lorthon.

Rimeth, the harpy who was an expert in wind magic, was receiving “treatment” from Yuri during that whole time. It only took a week for her eyes to be regenerated and upgraded, but there was no way that dryad would let her new test subject get away with so few genetic modifications.

By the end of the month, she had two extra angel style, white, dove-like wings, which grew out of her back and had a much larger wingspan than her originals. Although, she didn’t exactly need them, since her flight was mostly based around controlling the air currents and wind pressure with spells.

However, there was no way that Uriel could stop at just a few extra limbs, Rimeth received a couple dozen other random enhancements to her muscles, bones and organs. Her overall physical capabilities were increased pretty dramatically, but she was unable to actually be useful for at least a month after that, because her new wings were added on the genetic level and had to actually grow.

Amber dealt exclusively with the rather unusual and extremely annoying, nighttime crowd. My astral body would usually be enough to guide them towards the lake and then the giant water dragon, Maeleth, would escort them to the island.

When they required more assistance than my incorporeal form could provide, the hell-fire tigress would be directed to their location. Usually, the moment that she arrived there, I would receive my next desperate plea for help and occasionally I would have to ask one of the three treants to pick up a few passengers.

There were a few more interesting people, like the wood elf elder, Faervel, who could read people’s minds and cast powerful nature magic. She was actually a former resident of Ael Tol, back when it still existed, which made her at least ten thousand years old.

Fae was ancient, even by their standards… the reason she wasn’t affected by the mana parasites and still looked like a child, was obviously because of Yuri. She was one of the original blood elves, so she had the agelessness, without the vampiric eating habits or insanity.

Well, she was a little crazy, but that had more to do with the fact that she had been a hermit for ten millennia. It turned out that she was one of Garah’s ex-girlfriends as well, which caused some drama when Hazel found out.

Another one was a grey wolf tribe woman, who didn’t have a pseudo-penis and appeared surprisingly feminine. She was actually a hybrid, between several different kinds of canine races and was an excellent swords-woman.

I found Silver in the southwest, near the river, but she was one of the more difficult ones to convince. Even though she didn’t appear to be in any immediate danger or a life threatening situation, there was something she wanted badly enough to summon me, children.

Her mother died shortly after she was born and she spent her entire twenty year long life, completely alone. Somewhere along the line, she witnessed some tiger tribe warriors using swords that were made from magical beast bones, so she copied them.

There were a few intense battles in her life, but nothing too extreme, since she was a very cautious person. Which made the whole helpful spirit of the forest routine, completely pointless.

A few promises to provide her with a suitable mate and eventually she decided to at least visit Beast Haven. After a bit of curiosity brought her to doctor Uriel’s office, she made the mistake of asking for a sex ed lesson… she was successfully impregnated within a few hours of taking the class.

Well, it wasn’t like she had any complaints, but I had a feeling that whatever was going to be born, probably wouldn’t look anything like the mother. However, my fears were unfounded, because a few weeks after that, a litter of seven Silver clones were born.

In that single month of recruitment, our total population increased to roughly one thousand. Which meant that our city was still a ghost town, since it was meant to house over a million elves.

There were a couple of small rivers that ran through the island, but most of our drinking water was actually in the form of fruit. Yuri was the person responsible for creating most of the strange, and extremely convenient, plants that grew inside the tree-buildings.

Vines that could be molded into chairs, tables, beds and just about any other kind of furniture that you could think of. Giant pitcher plants, which functioned as toilets and organic garbage disposals.

She created plants that could dehydrate food, to preserve it, and even a type of hollow tree that would absorb so much heat, that its internal temperature was actually below freezing. There were various other innovative and sometimes, extremely dangerous, mutated plants… but she also created an assortment of fungi.

Glowing moss and mushrooms, combined with some sort of reflective spores, illuminated the entire city during the night. The previous residents actually picked specific colors that suited their tastes, but after thousands of years without anyone to control their growth, it was just a chaotic rainbow of strobing lights.

It was beautiful, but nauseating if you tried to stared at the mirror-like golden pyramid during the night. Once I had gotten used to it, I actually found the light-show quite soothing after a long day of running around, killing people and/or magical beasts with copious amounts of magic.

I was taking the third ring’s ridiculously high mana density for granted and becoming lazy. For a while, I was actually being careful and trying not overexert myself… but it was so much easier to use inefficient spells and just drink some concentrated magical fruit juice afterwards.

However, regardless of how much I replenished my body or mana pool, I was still accumulating a massive amount of mental fatigue. When my exhaustion had finally reached its peak, I couldn’t even sleep anymore and I definitely didn’t have the ability to concentrate enough to use telepathy.

For a whole week, I was just listlessly roaming around the city, but it was impossible to tire myself out. Whatever Yuri did to my body made it so that, as long as I had mana, I didn’t need to sleep… maybe it was more like I couldn’t.

Eventually, I ended up staring at the reflective pyramid for a few hours, possibly being hypnotized by the obnoxious light-show. Then I noticed a small, pale skinned, elven girl, who had six, brightly glowing, dove-like, white feathered wings coming out of her back and everything around her seemed to fade into complete darkness.

Her radiant blue eyes seemed to compel my body to move without my conscious approval, but I would have followed her even if she didn’t force me to. She was standing in front of a the entrance-way that the tiger treant usually guarded, but even if he was there, he wouldn’t have tried to stop me.

There was a thick mana shield that typically prevented even the most powerful of mages from entering the structure, I actually attempted it a few times out of curiosity. She placed her ethereal hand onto the invisible wall, then said “Terra, sweetie, Grandpa needs to borrow a little bit of your power, OK? I know you and your sisters want to speak with him… but there’s something really important that he has to do first.” in a voice that I recognized from a few months before, when Amber was possessed by the being named Lucy.

I didn’t really understand what she was talking about, but immediately after she finished speaking, the earth began shaking violently. After it subsided, two words were written across the invisible barrier in bright red letters “Request Denied.” and even though I couldn’t actually read the foreign characters… the little girl could.

She suddenly screamed “Damn it! System override, access code, Rapture seven hundred and seventy seven! Open the door!” in an extremely high pitched and loud voice, but she stopped freaking out when the words changed to bright green letters.

It read “Access Granted.” for a moment, before the barrier vanished… which I could actually see happening, using my third eye. Lucy’s angry demeanor instantly switched back into that of a calm, composed and extremely cute, illusionary child.

The pyramid was hollow and incredibly spacious, and the walls seemed to be relatively thin. It was a completely white interior, with no decorations or anything at all to look at, but at least it was illuminated efficiently by the angelic girl’s presence.

I stopped in the very center of the room and laid down on my back, but that’s when things became a little more confusing. The solid, metallic texture of the ground suddenly started feeling soft and comfortable.

My eyes were forced shut and all I could see was total darkness, but I could hear Lucy whispering “Don’t try to think… just listen to my voice and relax. Don’t worry Daddy, you don’t have to worry about anything right now, just get some rest.” in such a gentle and soothing tone, that I couldn’t stay awake for a single moment longer.

There was no way for me to know exactly how long I was actually sleeping, but I did feel incredibly rested when I opened my eyes. Although, it was obvious that I wasn’t really awake, because my perspective was a third person view of my body.

I tried to leave the pyramid, but the white walls felt completely solid against my incorporeal form. The large opening that I used to enter the structure, was nowhere to be found… so I was trapped in there.

Lucy was absent and there was absolutely nothing for me to do or see, aside from my unconscious body that was laying on the ground. It reminded me that I really needed to give myself a haircut, which wasn’t quite as simple as using a pair of scissors.

One of Yuri’s ‘Irrelevant’ enhancements included the hair on my head and tail, luckily my face and body were unaffected by the change. It wasn’t like I couldn’t possibly cut it, I just lacked the proper materials to create a tool that was sharp and hard enough to perform the task.

According to Nenor, Angren had a massive supply of mithril, which was originally a silvery metal, but was infused with so much mana that its properties changed. Since sharpened magical beast or demon bones didn’t seem to suffice, I had begun thinking about returning to that city and retrieving some high quality scissors from their vacant palaces.

After spending so much time trying to remember what that place looked like, the pyramid’s interior changed dramatically. My body was completely gone, the walls were black, there was a glowing blue triangle on the ground and I was able to see the exits.

Then I noticed a singular, radiant, white thread, that was connected to the center of my chest and felt so fragile that I was worried it was going to break the moment I touched it. I finally gave in to the temptation and gently wrapped both hands around the string that was pointing towards the southwest.

My astral body was hovering above a large, oval-shaped stadium, and in the center was the person who had summoned me. Everything seemed strange though, blurry, like it was out of focus.

The only person I could see and hear clearly, was that tiny mouse tribe girl, who was standing on a large platform. She said “Two years ago, in this very spot, all of our lives were changed dramatically. Some of us lost family, friends and loved ones… others weren’t even here when that damn dragon showed up.

However, the entire world was affected by that seemingly insignificant event. We were dying, even if we weren’t attacked, we would have starved to death, without ever venturing out of our self-made prison cell.

Black Mithril was once the greatest trading city in all of Alfirin, but that was hundreds of years ago. We would have disappeared into obscurity, if it weren’t for Michael’s arrival.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about how he killed the dragon by now, but most of you still have no idea who he is. Sure, I might be the amazingly beautiful and extremely adorable leader of this wonderful nation, but he is the person who gave me that job.

Most of you have probably forgotten how powerful he was back then, but just ask his mother, Rae, or his cousin, Conor. The most powerful mage and the strongest warrior in this country were both trained by him.

That isn’t all, our laws were created by Michael, and even the Great General, Trixie, was personally chosen by him. Our firearms may have been invented by Lyn, but without the gunpowder that he showed her how to make, they wouldn’t even work.

From now on, I proclaim the seventh day of the seventh month of every year, our first official national holiday. That makes today the second anniversary of Alfirin’s creation, so make sure to enjoy the citywide festival!

Anyway, I know you all want to hear my lovely voice for a few hours, but I’m pretty sure that the fight fanatics are a bit too impatient for that. Hopefully, Conor won’t kill anyone this time… but I wouldn’t bet on it.” in a cheerful and excited voice, but the look in her snake-like blue eyes, seemed very solemn.

As the girl walked off the stage, I floated down in front of her, yet she just walked through my body without even seeing me. When I tried to speak, I had no voice, it seemed like there was no way for me to interact with her.

There was something else that bothered me, time wasn’t moving at a steady pace. While she was walking up the stairs to her throne-like seat, which was far larger than her tiny body could possibly need, she moved so fast that I thought she was teleporting.

However, it wasn’t just her, all of the blurry humanoid shapes were acting in a similar manner. I knew that small, mouse tribe, girl… but no matter how hard I tried, it was impossible to remember her name or why she felt so familiar.

There was nothing that I could do, except wait and examine her for what seemed like about an hour. Her white fur seemed to compliment her pink frilly dress, but the large meat cleaver that was strapped to her back and the various other weapons were much more interesting.

Even with her erratic movements, following her was still pretty easy, since I was constantly linked to her body. She did disappear a few times, but all I had to do was touch the thread, and I was instantly floating above her head.

My vision was becoming worse by the minute, and by the time she finally stopped moving, I could only see a white blur in complete darkness. The thin string that was connecting us, had frayed and was tearing apart in several locations, so I decided to try something that I avoided since that first, extremely unpleasant, time.

I grasped the wire with both hands and let my mind enter inside of her’s, it was surprisingly easy. The moment that I did, there was a large snake tribe woman trying to kill me, so I gave her a small zap.

It was just a dream world, but there was no way to know for certain what might happen if I started killing things inside of someone’s mind. However, the woman suddenly exploded, and that cute little mouse girl was standing there in its place.

She was sobbing for a few minutes, but when she finally opened her eyes and saw me, she called out my name. It was obvious that we knew each other from somewhere, I wasn’t ignorant enough to not understand that her speech was mentioning me either.

After a short exchange, she finally introduced herself as Lorelei… which triggered the black ankh tattoo on my right hand to begin glowing a bright golden color. I knelt down in front of her, then place that hand on the side of her, very small, head.

It only took a moment for me to unlock her seal, but the memories didn’t return in a flood of information. There was only seven years of my life, which was mostly spent inside of a cave, practicing magic with my mother.

I simply gained a higher level of clarity, but after remembering everything I did so far in that world, my list of questions grew by a few thousand. However, I recognized Lorelei and remembered the rest of my Black Mithril family as well, except Conor.

Everything that I did before that last moment, when my mana discharged and I finally lost control, was recorded within that fifth seal. We had a very short chat, I warned her about the vampires, but I could feel our time running out.

With my memories restored, I realized that it was our birthday, since she had told me at least 27 times during our second hunting trip. It wasn’t until after I gave her the closest thing to a gift that I had on me, that I realized why my perception was so strange.

With enough mana, physics can be altered, reality becomes malleable and paradigms are no longer relevant. However, there are always limits, magic isn’t omnipotent and neither is anything that exists within a typical universe.

Traveling through time isn’t some amazing feat, but in a linear world… it takes a lot more effort to go backward than forward. Even while leeching copious amounts of power from the planet, I could only interact with the past by sending Lorelei a prophetic dream.

After she disappeared from that void-like space, it felt like I was falling. There was no wind resistance or any visual indications that I was moving at all, so it was similar to riding an elevator in complete darkness.

Eventually, a loud, booming, androgynous voice said “Do not make such an unreasonable demand of me again, Michael.” as the space around me was illuminated. It all seemed a little unnecessary, since we were inside of a dream world, but that person seemed to be the over-dramatic type.

I was standing on a small, circular, stone platform… that was floating on top of a gigantic pool of magma. On the walls of the extremely large chamber, there were all kinds of beautiful carvings of battles, landscapes, and even some artistic sex scenes.

Along the massive walls, were hundreds of 20 meter tall stone statues of males and females from various races, most of which I had never seen before. Directly in front of me was a humanoid shape that appeared to be made entirely out of molten lava, but there was no indication of gender or any defining features.

After a few minutes of completely silence, the golem said “Your children may have brought us into existence, but in this reality, the thirteen of you have no power over us. We are not programs to be ordered around, nor will we allow ourselves to be destroyed upon one of your whims.” in a voice that was filled with contempt and rage.

I sighed, then said “I don’t even know who you are… and that little girl, Lucy, I have no idea who she is either. I’m a bit confused though, this place is an illusion right?” in a curious voice, while looking around at the surprisingly realistic environment.

The golem seemed to calm down a bit, and said “I am Terra, the Earth, the soul of this planet, and even if I may have forgiven you, that does not make us allies. The others may not share my neutrality, but as long as you and your offspring do not attempt to harm me, I will allow you, and only you, to borrow a small portion of my power.” in a serious voice.

I said “OK then… that didn’t really answer my question, but whatever. If you hate me so much, why would you help me at all?” in a confused voice.

Suddenly, the giant lava golem’s body melted into the pool of magma, all that was left, was a 2 meter tall statue of a human woman. She was relatively beautiful, after a few seconds, her stone eyelids opened up and revealed two bright green spheres of intense light.

The whole scenery changed in an instant, and we were standing in a grassy field, very similar to the one I arrived in, when I was first born into that world. There was even a couple brown rabbits, hopping around in the distance, it was much more pleasant than the inside of a volcano.

She walked up to me, her body seemed to transform completely into that of a human female’s, and then said “When did I ever say that I hated you?” in a gentle voice, while smiling and walking closer to me.

We shared an extremely awkward hug for a few moments, before she let go and backed up a bit. She didn’t seem to understand the reason why a male and female humanoid of approximate height, shouldn’t embrace each other without clothes on.

It wasn’t unpleasant, just not something I would normally do with a person that I just met for the first time. Her skin was a bit darker than mine and instead of rippling muscles, like a certain tigress, Terra’s illusionary body was a lot squishier.

Well, she wasn’t fat, but she definitely wasn’t very muscular… it was basically just an attractive human female body, if you’re into that sort of thing. There was no fur, but the hair on her head was brown and shoulder length, she didn’t even have elven ears, it was my first time actually seeing a human in that world.

Her bright green eyes seemed to match the color of the grassy hill behind her, which probably wasn’t a coincidence. She said “My anger earlier was not towards you, I shouldn’t blame the father for the sins of his children. Perhaps you have forgotten, but that being you refer to as Lucy, cannot be trusted. Her soul is far too fragmented and unstable, she will destroy everything you care about and then convince you that it was necessary.” in an irritated voice, while scowling.

I sighed, then said “I’m not surprised, she did seem a bit crazy… although, I was also pretty sure that she was some sort of illusory manifestation of my subconscious. Either way, it seems like most of the people that I form familial connections with, are pretty sketchy. If she really is a hardcore lunatic, who’s completely uncontrollable, even if she ends up being one of my children, I won’t let her harm the rest of my loved ones.” in a completely serious voice, while smirking.

Terra gazed into my eyes and said “Very well, it would not be the first time that you had to kill one of your children, to protect the others. Which is why I trust you, and hope that you manage to find happiness in this life… but I will not directly offer you any assistance. I am just an observer, I do not interfere with the affairs of the creatures that live upon my body. As long as they do not attempt to harm me directly, their actions are inconsequential to me, you may borrow my sight and voice, but nothing more.” in a slightly cold tone.

There were plenty of other questions I wanted to ask her, but my time was up and the moment that I blinked, I was awake. The first thing that I saw was the rather large face of a beautiful white and amber furred tigress, she was carrying my body in her arms rather easily and said “Michael, why were you sleeping in a place like that?” in a deep, raspy voice.

It was the middle of the day and she was walking through the clearing, towards our tree. I reached up to her cheek and gently rubbed the back of my left hand against it, then said “Amber, how long has it been? My body feels weak…” in a curious voice, while smiling at her.

She said “I’ve been reclaiming our old territory for the past two weeks, but when I returned, no one had seen you since I left. If I wasn’t so familiar with your scent, I never would have been able to find you inside of that pyramid. It hurt my eyes and nose just being inside of there… I don’t know how you could possibly sleep in that place.” in a worried voice, although half of what she told me was in growls and purrs.

Even though I didn’t have to eat to survive in the third ring, that didn’t mean I enjoyed the starvation pains. There was also the fact that I needed to take a bath, for obvious reasons, so we stopped by the small riverbank that was near our house and took a quick swim.

I didn’t completely understand why the whole time travel dream nonsense was necessary back then, but I did make myself a promise to never do it again. After we grabbed some fresh fruit, almost all humanoid races were omnivorous to a certain extent, and then walked up to our home.

Just like most of the medium sized residences, our home was a single, extremely spacious, circular room. There were several round segments of transparent bark along the walls, so the house was typically illuminated during the day with natural light.

The bathroom was basically just a large pitcher plant that was sitting on the balcony, if they were actually inside of the house it would have been very difficult to breathe. There were a few vines that acted like water hoses and could be used for washing your hands or body.

At the front of the room was the main entrance and exit, which was a hollowed out branch, that had windows on the sides. It led to a nexus tree, which had a massive spiral staircase inside of it and each level had many other branches which spread out in every direction and connected to other houses.

Our floor was the closest to the ground as we could find, for convenience, but it was still a few stories of stairs. The trip down wasn’t so bad though, since we could just jump and use a bit of magic to break our fall.

After the annoying climb up to our room, we both laid down on our extremely large bed and then Amber nuzzled her furry body against mine. It was the first time we were both laying together since we started living in Ael Tol, since we were normally on different sleeping schedules.

I really noticed until then, but her body had completely matured and was a bit different from before. Her breasts, which used to be nothing but muscle, had become slightly swollen, they started to remind me of a scaled down version of Hazel’s.

She grew about 20 centimeters taller, and her bulky muscles seemed to become a lot thinner as they stretched out. Amber was still growing, but she wasn’t going through puberty anymore and she was technically an adult.

My body was still so much smaller than her’s that it was difficult to tell that I was nearly two meters tall, our combined weight on that rather sturdy bed was over 800 pounds. If it was a normal wooden bed, it definitely would have collapsed immediately, but the vine-mattress and tree branch legs, were only bending a bit.

I wasn’t particularly tired, but Amber fell asleep the moment that she cuddled up next to me and used me like a body pillow. We were both laying on our sides, facing the middle of the room, her back was touching the wall and my body was just about on the center of the massive bed.

It probably would have been comfortable, if she wasn’t intermittently scratching, biting, strangling, crushing or immolating me every few minutes. There was also the fact that when I laid like that, my left horn became lodged into the vines and it was impossible for me to use a pillow.

Her cute purrs of satisfaction as she was attempting to playfully sink her 3 inch long teeth, into the back of my neck, while lapping up the blood that was seeping out of my skin, made the experience surprisingly pleasant. I did realize something pretty important though… I was probably in love with Amber.

It wasn’t until I could remember my entire life, that I truly understood the way I felt about her. There were plenty of people who I cared about in Black Mithril, but they were either family or close friends.

Rae was my mother in name only, her life as a blood elf started after mine, so I was the one teaching, feeding and taking care of her, so she felt more like my daughter. Ethir was kind of like a younger brother, but our time together was pretty short.

Beatrix and Lorelei were similar to comrades in arms to me, but I was definitely a lot closer to the extremely small and cute mouse-girl. They were both my friends though… even if one of them seemed to think that our relationship was a bit more intimate than that.

Aside from Ailyn, Nadja, and the forgotten half-elf, I didn’t really get to know anyone else that well before I left. However, I was still debating whether I was actually in love with Amber, or the way she made me feel had more to do with the adrenaline rush that accompanied every one of our encounters.

There was also the fact that she was almost always bombarding me with a myriad of pheromones, some of which were related to mating. A normal tiger tribe woman would have had her first litter by then, but Amber was different.

Even though she had been through heat at least four times since we met, she never even tried to find a partner. Actually, she usually became increasingly violent towards me during those two weeks every four months.

It was obviously that time of the season, although the third and fourth ring didn’t really have any distinct climate changes. However, I still didn’t feel physically mature enough to go any farther than a little wrestling, which most people would consider a violent death-match, with a bit of magic.

Anyway, there was something a bit more important than my not-very-romantic relationship that was running through my mind. The constant rescue operations were put on hold when I became too burned out to telepathically hear the people who wanted our help, so I decided to start phase two of my plan.

In the week before I entered the pyramid, I sent Amber and the three treants out to conquer the territories around the northern and southern parts of the eastern and western rivers that were closest to the lake. There was actually more to my plan than just wholesale slaughtering all of the prides, clans, packs and villages that lived near the shore.

The bear treant, Medlinor, was strategically sent to the southwestern area, which was filled with Kodiak tribe. Well, there were only about 30 of them, but each of their warriors was worth a small pack of grey wolves.

It wasn’t a coincidence that he was considered a guardian spirit of the bear tribes, but after a couple thousand years, most of them just considered him a myth or legend. However, many of the Kodiak tribe communities actually prayed to him and there was quite a few religions based around a pantheon of ancient treants, four of which were citizens of Ael Tol.

Obviously, it was better to avoid advertising that the spirit of death, Gyrgerenil, was present within our city, but Yuri didn’t leave her research lab very often so most people never got a chance to meet her. Her job mainly involved developing cures to diseases that she was personally responsible for creating… it was a pretty long list, but she enjoyed the challenge.

Anyway, the gigantic bear marked his territory by creating a massive, six mile long, wall of vines. It was extremely simple, but took way too much mana, or I would have asked him to just make a barrier around the entire lake-shore.

From that point on, it was just a matter of waiting for every Kodiak tribe community in the region, to slowly gather within that territory and eventually start sending them over to our city. On the southeastern riverbank, a hundred miles away from Medlinor, was Garah’s… cult.

Maybe they were more like his descendants, or at least that’s what their folklore told them. They were originally a fanatical sect of wood elves, who worshiped the wolf spirit Garavon.

It was basically just a large harem of women, who were all dream dating him and considered themselves, the chosen ones. Eventually, they went to Yuri and asked her if it would be possible to bear Garah’s children… a little bit of nature magic later and a hundred elves were impregnated with litters.

All of the children were born with green hair, glowing blue eyes, and fluffy tails, but everything else was inherited from their mothers. They had a ridiculously high affinity to nature and water magic, but it wasn’t that much different from normal wood elves.

They were called the Garavon Clan or green wolf tribe, so it didn’t take much effort for him to go there and convince them to return to Ael Tol. The problem was that over the millennia, they ended up interbreeding with other canine races that were prominent in that region.

Basically, there were barely any pure-bloods left, but each of the other variations of green furred wolves and foxes all claimed that they were the true Garavon Clan. Who better than the gigantic treant himself to finally settle their little race war?

Across the river, to the north, was Rawon… I put him in charge of digging to enlarge the eastern river, since he was the most anti-social of the three treants. Well, I suppose he wasn’t quite as bad as Amber, who I sent to our old territory to massacre the tiger tribe pride who was living there.

It wasn’t like she went around murdering all of their cubs and noncombatants, but anyone who tried to challenge her was mercilessly pulverized, eviscerated or barbecued. Luckily, Maeleth was there to do all the actual convincing, in the form of a spectral tiger spirit, while also putting out the recurring forest fires.

After Amber killed a few hundred warriors, anyone who was still alive, either fled or decided to join the slutty water dragon fan club. As long as they followed our laws, they were allowed to keep living there, it was relatively easy for Mae to keep an eye on them and make sure that they followed the rules.

Coffee and his tigress girlfriend, Demil, delivered Yuri’s mana parasite cure to the Kodiak and Tiger tribe villages that remained in the annexed western riverside territories. It was in the form of a suspicious looking blue mushroom, that tasted delicious and didn’t cause muscle spasms, intense pain or fainting.

During the short time that I was unconscious, we managed to increase our population by a few hundred. While I was laying on that bed and being mauled by an adorable sleeping tigress, I was able to check up on the situation by asking the four winged harpy, who was hanging from my ceiling like a bat.

After she reported everything to me, I finally asked “Have you been living in my house the entire time I was gone?” in a curious voice, while raising an eyebrow to the eccentric, naked, bird woman.

After a few seconds, she said “Rimeth has claimed this nest in thy absence.” in a completely serious voice, while smirking triumphantly. A perfect example of how difficult it was to create a community with people who had no concept of currency or personal property.

That was probably why it was so important that I unlocked the seal which held all my knowledge of monetary systems. Unfortunately, until I could set up some sort of trade route with Black Mithril, it was impossible to develop an economy.

I had to settle for bartering, which was what we had already established, but owning a residence was similar to marking a territory. If you weren’t using that house for a few days, someone could just take it, but most people wouldn’t be obnoxious enough to steal a property when there were literally hundreds of thousands of empty buildings.

For the most part, crime was pretty much nonexistent, but there were only three ironclad laws which were strictly enforced. No rape, no slavery and no murder, killing was fine as long as it was in self-defense… but since our city had at least five spirits inhabiting it, everyone knew that it was impossible to avoid judgment if they broke the rules.

Rimeth’s face and upper body was beginning to turn bright red from impersonating a bat for too long, so I said “If you want to talk to me, you don’t have to hang from the ceiling or lie about stealing my house. Just stand on the floor like a normal person and say what’s on your mind, but before any of that, why are you naked?” in an irritated voice.

After she landed on the ground, surprisingly gracefully, she covered her body using her main wings. Then she said “Even upon the icy peaks of the eastern mountains, a true Sky Elf, would never be forced to cover their pristine bodies with the hides of beasts.” in a proud voice, while turning her head to the side.

It was true that in a tropical climate like the third ring, where the temperature never drops below hot and humid, normal clothes were only useful if you were trying to cover something. While I was thinking about pointless things, Rimeth said “I am weak… even if I was there when my sisters were slaughtered, I would have simply died along with them. Please teach this fledgling thy magics, powerful enough to even slay a dragon!” in a sincere voice, while staring into my eyes.

After prying Amber’s teeth and claws out of my skin, I managed to roll off the bed, then land on the floor. It took a few seconds to compose myself and recover from the constant state of intense pain I was in for at least a few hours.

I sat on the middle of the floor with my legs crossed and said “Sit down, I’m going to show you something interesting.” in a calm voice, while staring into her eyes, which were probably created from owl tribe DNA. They were were completely golden, except for large black pupils, I was actually surprised that Yuri didn’t give her a couple extras or a few antennae.

She had a little trouble copying the way I was sitting, since her birdlike feet didn’t exactly work the same way as mine, but she eventually figured it out. A few minutes of sitting in complete silence, aside from a certain tigress’ snoring, and I was able to link with her mind.

The telepathic technique was incredibly simple, and I was able to use the same method to teach Raelin spells that neither of us could practice inside of a cave or simply didn’t have enough mana to perform. I avoided exposing my mother to combat simulations… with her condition, it would have been far too dangerous for her mental health.

Me and the harpy were suddenly sitting on a snow covered mountainside, which was completely unfamiliar to me, but Rimeth yelled “How did we get here?! Did thou just teleport us to my homeland?!” in an extremely upset voice.

I sighed, then stood up and looked around, but there really wasn’t much to see, just lots of ice and rock. The sky was bright blue, but there were clouds preventing me from seeing any kind of landscape below the mountain.

It seemed a bit unnatural, mainly because I didn’t actually know what Lorthon Forest looked like from a couple miles above sea level. There was no point in wasting that much effort on a simple illusion spell anyway, the only things that mattered were us and our training dummy.

A relatively small brown dragon, who was six meters tall and had large wings on its back, spontaneously appeared a hundred meters away from us. I turned my head towards the terrified little girl to my left, and said “None of this is real, so stop freaking out, also, you look like you’re suffering from hypothermia.” in an irritated voice.

Rimeth was shivering uncontrollably while staring at me with a dumbfounded expression, she obviously couldn’t comprehend the situation. Her pale skin was flushed with a bright red hue, so I raised the ambient temperature to create a more comfortable, but less realistic, climate.

After she stopped freaking out and freezing, she confidently turned towards the illusory dragon and yelled “A proud Sky Elven warrior would never cower in fear from such a petty ruse!” in a slightly nervous voice, while wearing a stern expression.

I was beginning to suspect that she was a compulsive liar, but at least she wasn’t quite as annoying as that damn centaur. It seemed like every other day, he was trying to increase his harem, there were already three pregnant Ox tribe women… but it was consensual, and the only culture I had encountered in the third ring that had a concept like monogamy, was the Kodiak Tribe.

While I was becoming overly aggravated by thinking about unnecessary things, I accidentally activated my training dragon’s aggressive state. I said “Oops, well, I guess this is fine, but we should probably start moving around a bit.” in an irritated voice, while creating a large and thick wall of water, to protect us from the incoming balls of fire.

An interesting fact about brown dragons was that even the smaller ones, that had wings and could breathe fire, had a strong earth affinity and tended to be rather lacking in the other elements. Which meant that if a normal water mage had tried to block one of their flaming projectiles the way I did, a large chunk of coal would easily cut through the barrier or shatter upon impact, sending thousands of small shards into whoever was standing on the other side.

It was a pretty normal reaction, but when she saw the true form of the fireballs, which were completely stopped in the center of my waterfall, she yelled “Rocks?!” in a surprised voice as she jumped back. Several more of the boulder sized chunks of coal were caught by my relatively simply defense, and then the dragon was out of bullets.

Even if they were gigantic, they typically didn’t store too much ammunition within their own bodies, because that would have been incredibly uncomfortable. However, they did typically have a few other weapons in their arsenal, I dropped the water wall, then grabbed Rimeth’s right shoulder and launched us into the air with a large gust of wind.

I threw her a few meters to my left and she began flying by herself pretty easily, using all four of her wings in conjunction. The dragon seemed to simply jump and was almost instantly soaring at a ridiculous speed, straight towards me.

It was aiming it’s singular horn, towards my chest, while roaring loudly and only flapping its wings once, before I narrowly avoided his attack by using a bit of fire magic to push my body forward. His tail almost smacked into me as he passed by, at least twenty meters higher, before beginning its descent.

I yelled “Brown dragons have a huge mobility weakness!” to the startled harpy, who was far enough away from me that she didn’t become a target. The dragon was gliding down to the ground, very slowly, which shouldn’t have been possible with such a small wingspan in relation to its body’s density.

After landing, the dragon positioned its body and jumped again, but a little bit faster than the first time. However, it was such an obvious move that I had plenty of warning and didn’t even need the extra boost to evade the giant bullet.

Hovering in the air, using nothing but wind magic, was actually a lot simpler than you would expect, but I still couldn’t really figure it out until I recalled actually doing it. Although, there were a few other methods of flight that I had remembered as well.

Nature magic was pretty obvious, you would have had to lower your body’s density, change its shape a bit and then grow wings. For something like that, you usually had to seek out a dubious dryad and pray that she didn’t just turn you into a regular bird.

Fire and wind mainly focused on thrust and air resistance, it helped to have wings, but wasn’t necessary if you had enough mana. Water and earth used a sort of telekinetic leverage system, but they became much less effective the farther away you are from whatever you were pushing away from or pulling yourself towards.

Flying earth dragons could only be found in mountains or in spacious underground caverns, because in any other environment, they would be unable to maneuver properly. I yelled “Do you understand yet?! You’re a Sky Elf, why the hell would you try to fight one of these things when you can easily fly away?!” in an irritated voice, while dodging another one of the deadly but incredibly inaccurate charges.

However, in the wake of the dragon, there was a massive barrage of tiny pebbles that were impossible to avoid. Then I noticed a small, pale skinned elf, who had six wings coming out of her back, bright blue eyes, and was wearing a white dress.

The pebbles did sting a bit, but none of them had enough force to actually pierce my skin. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the target, when I looked back at Rimeth, she wasn’t there anymore.

Her heavily bleeding body was spiraling down towards the ground, I yelled “Shit!” in angry voice, then broke us out of the meditation. Her real body was completely fine and even if my programmed dragon had killed her, there wouldn’t have been any serious mental damage.

She looked into my eyes with an evil grin on her face, then said “Daddy, did you know that Sky Elves are all female? They usually reproduce Asexually, essentially creating clones of themselves… but it’s possible for them to breed with other races.” in a happy voice, while standing up and stretching her four wings.

I sighed, and said “Lucy, are you trying to convince me to have sex with you? Because that definitely isn’t going to happen.” in a serious voice, but she just started laughing hysterically.

She said “Oh Daddy, you’re so funny! That would be illegal, breaking both of our laws in one beautiful night of intense passion… I would never be so shameless. Besides, my new Mama is already pregnant with your baby, me.” in an excited voice, then giggled in a way that seemed pretty creepy.

It didn’t take much effort to figure out what happened, I said “Basically, all that time travel nonsense was just a way for you to escape my mind, then implant yourself into a new host. It was probably easy to convince Rimeth to ask Yuri for my genetic material, so that’s the reason she was in my house? Ah… and that’s also why she was naked, she probably jumped up to the ceiling to hide from Amber.” in a completely calm and composed voice.

Lucy pouted, then yelled “You’re no fun! Daddy is mean, I came up with such an awesome plan and you don’t even care! It was way more complicated than that! I had to send my consciousness back into the past and do all this other cool stuff!” in a whiny voice, while sobbing. A decent amount of tears and mucus were pouring out of her face, as she sat down on the ground, then wrapped her wings around her knees.

I sighed, walked over to her left side, knelt down and gave her gentle hug for a few minutes until she seemed to calm down a bit. Then I said “I don’t want to rub salt in your wounds but… I kind of figured that it was a time travel thing back when you told me that I had exactly 768 years left to prepare for some kind of war.” in a sympathetic voice, while looking into her teary eyes.

However, I think that last blow was probably too difficult for her fragile psyche to withstand, because a second after I finished talking, she jumped up and yelled “Rimeth still lives?! Such a powerful illusion! I truly believed myself to be soaring the eternal skies!” in a surprised and extremely loud voice.

My original assumption was wrong, rather than Lucy being some sort of parasitic phantom, she was actually my unborn daughter. There were so many absurd coincidences throughout my life… it should have been so obvious.

Rae just happened to randomly venture out into that field and find me, then she brought me to that cave. After seven years, I was just powerful enough to kill an earth dragon, who randomly decided to attack Black Mithril when the city was about to succumb to famine.

Ethir’s brilliant idea to steal a book from the royal library of the dark dwarven district, he probably would have been fine if he had chosen either of the other palaces. Yet, that made it possible for me to meet Beatrix and Lorelei on the first hunting trip, then get to know them even better on the second.

If the two matriarchs didn’t attack me, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with removing them from their positions right away. Ailyn joined that ridiculous competition and I had just enough time to prepare for my departure.

All five of them were able to receive my seals and managed to create a thriving nation in my absence. Even though I still couldn’t remember most of what happened in the labyrinth, Conor, who was actually related to Rae, would have died if I hadn’t made it there in time to help him.

Every instance where I helped someone based on instinct, was probably because of Lucy. Although, it was also likely that she manipulated them into being in those unfortunate circumstances in the first place.

I really hate paradoxes, but when it comes to time travel… sometimes you have to do things, just because they happened. It’s always annoying when you have to manually weave the threads of destiny, so I was happy to know that it wasn’t going to eventually become my responsibility.

Amber was miraculously managing to sleep through all of the noise, but I knew that continuing my conversation with Rimeth inside the house was extremely hazardous. We moved to her house, which was only a few dozen meters to the south of mine.

As soon as we arrived, I finally realized why harpies didn’t wear clothes… they didn’t have hands. Luckily, she had a roommate, Daeris, who normally helped her wear something similar to a leather bikini.

She walked over to the left side of the large room and sat down on her bed, which wasn’t shaped like a birds nest. There was a pile of relatively clean clothes in a basket against the wall behind the headrest.

Since she would have never asked me on her own accord, I grabbed the skimpy outfit and put it on her. After she seemed to be comfortable, I finally asked “How long do Sky Elf eggs typically take to hatch?” in a curious voice.

My sudden question seemed to have made her extremely nervous and she couldn’t look me directly in the eyes. It took her a few seconds, but she managed to compose herself and say “A pure-blood would take roughly two years… if a male is involved, tis possible for the mother to become pregnant and the duration can be unpredictable. Why dost thou require such miscellaneous information?” in a shaky voice.

I sighed, then said “Our daughter’s name is Lucy.” in a serious voice, and her eyes quickly met with mine. Our staring contest lasted for a whole minute before I said “It’s not a big deal, we aren’t even in a romantic relationship, regardless of whatever name you choose for her, she will still refer to herself as Lucy.” in a nonchalant voice, while faintly smiling.

Rimeth said “Thou art mine guardian spirit, I should have asked for thy blessing… yet I’ve shamed mine clan by stealing thy divine seed.” in an extremely depressed voice, her archaic Lorthon dialect was really starting to irritate me.

I said “You don’t have to apologize, but please never use the term ‘divine seed’ again. Besides, after the amount of modifications that Yuri probably did, I doubt that there was much of the original version left.” in a sarcastic voice.

She was still a bit flustered, but seemed to calm down a bit more as we continued to talk about various other topics. It wasn’t like she was the first person to receive my DNA, Uriel actually had genetic data from everyone in the city and she could replicate it using nature magic on a whim.

Although, by the time she was done altering it to suit the recipient’s personal desires, the children rarely resembled either of the parents at all. In the upper floor of her research lab, was a room that had hundreds of what appeared to be massive red grapes.

Even if wood elves could live for thousands of years, that didn’t meant that they stayed fertile for all that time. That room was essentially a baby factory, where she could create clones, or completely new creatures, without having to worry about accidentally killing the mother.

I gave her permission to begin production of new citizens, but it wasn’t like their growth rate was dramatically increased. Once the fetus reached the right age, the grape shaped womb would deflate and an infant would be born.

It may have seemed like an extreme measure, but not all races could interbreed naturally. We typically only rescued a handful of people at a time, after having to massacre hundreds.

We needed to artificially supplement the population or my plan was going to end up taking forever. Well, that was my reasoning, Yuri just wanted to create a bunch of hybrids.

Scarlet, Nenor and Lachon were already running an orphanage for children who we found and brought back to the city. However, the upcoming influx of babies was going to be far more than they would have been able to handle, so I enlisted at least a dozen other carefully chosen parents that I trusted.

When Daeris entered the house, I decided that it was time to return to my sleeping tigress. It was starting to get dark outside, so Amber was about to wake up and I didn’t want her to worry about my disappearance again.

As I easily glided from Rimeth’s balcony to mine, I realized how much easier it was to use a combination of multiple elements for flight, rather than just wind or fire. Each of the gigantic trees around me, were filled with water and leveraging that with what was inside my body, made a quiet landing possible.

Familiar voices didn’t really affect her too much, but if I loudly entered the house, she would have woken up in full rampage mode. I silently opened the door, then sneaked over to the bed that she was curled up in the center of and sat down on the edge.

She seemed so serene and peaceful, that I was lulled into a false sense of security. The moment I gently touched the top of her head, with my right hand, she grabbed my ridiculously long hair and pulled me underneath her.

Then she started gnawing at my left horn, which made my whole head vibrate, while my face was being pressed against the soft, rubbery, vines that the mattress was made out of. The weight of her entire body was pressing down on my back and it was incredibly difficult to breath.

In the midst of my desperate struggle for survival, I heard a small boy say “I want to live… please, God, spirits, anyone… I don’t want to die.” in quiet voice in the back of my mind.

Before I became burned out, my telepathic range during the daytime was never more than a few miles. I didn’t have enough time to experiment with it or try to increase the strength, and I definitely wasn’t going to ask Uriel for help.

He kept repeating that mantra a few times, but I couldn’t hear him anymore once Amber stopped grinding her teeth against my spiral shaped horn. She yawned loudly in my left ear and then roared “I’m hungry, we should go hunting!” in a voice that vibrated the entire room.

I yelled “Chew on my horn for a few seconds, I think I figured something out!” in an excited voice, and she didn’t even hesitate for a moment at such a strange request. Then I started to hear that voice again, it was coming from the north, I couldn’t accurately tell the distance, but I did know that it wasn’t coming from the island.

After a few seconds, my left ear and cheek started feeling extremely cold, then a sharp pain ran through my head. I winced for a moment and said “Amber, you can stop now… thanks.” in a calm voice.

There were so many cries, screams, pleas, howls, roars, shrieks, screeches and yells, that it all turned into white noise. My head was throbbing, my mind was being overloaded, but a moment before she stopped chewing, I heard what sounded like three women harmonizing and singing a very sad song.

It was something that I hadn’t heard since the day that I was born, the women said “Hanael, where are you? I’m here, don’t worry, Mama would never abandon you!” in extremely beautiful voices.

I grinned, then turned towards Amber, who seemed extremely irritated, and said “It’s been so long since the last time I had demon meat. Why don’t we take a short vacation into the fourth ring?” in an excited voice.

She quickly wrapped her arms around me, lifted me into the air and then licked my face a few times before roaring “Let’s go! We should probably grab a snack on the way though!” in happy voice.

Even though I didn’t know my biological mother’s exact location, at least I finally had an excuse to do something as incredibly dangerous and irresponsible as entering that hellish jungle. At least the food was going to be delicious, assuming that we could survive long enough to enjoy a meal.

 

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