IS, V4, Chapter 1: Of Mice and Pixies

Never start a war where you can’t achieve a flawless victory. That’s my motto, after more trial and error than I would care to remember.

It isn’t some nonsensical, pacifistic, philosophical metaphor; I have experienced far too many hollow victories, to ever lead another army into conventional battle again. Unless there is a massive technological advantage, it’s impossible to meet those conditions without an unreasonably large difference in forces; so that the enemies can be convinced to surrender without actually fighting.

Obviously, I could have gone around freeing slaves, uniting various rebel groups, and amassing an enormous military to conquer the elven kingdoms; which I had just decided to annihilate. However, that would have taken far too long, and in the process of that ridiculous charade; I would have turned the oppressed races, into overzealous monsters.

I had learned my lesson many times over; that path could have only lead to a tragic repetition of injustice, or complete genocide. There was another way… one which was much simpler; and ultimately, far more rewarding.

Michael: the Spirit of Eternal Suffering, and Puriel: the Merciless Spirit of Fire; needed to appear as demonic beings, whom had unstoppable power. Even with all of our new-found strength; without the ability to use magic freely, I knew from the very beginning; it wasn’t going to be quick or easy.

Our auras had become accustomed to a colossal amount of mana-pressure; causing the crystalline structures in our bodies to develop as well. Every organ, bone, blood vessel, all the way down to our cells; every part of Amber and I, was transformed to absorb, create, retain, amplify, and expel mana.

Even if our external mana-pools were just dissipating into the atmosphere; the twenty-five percent that we were capable of containing within us, had been more than anyone on the eyelid of Lorthon would have thought possible. We were monstrously powerful, but it was what we did with it… that made even our allies fear us.

After I collected the rest of the gold and silver beads off the five, decapitated, wood-elves; I gathered a few small, iron, knives and daggers that were hidden within their armors. The leather was useless to Amber and I, since our skin was much more durable; it was also far too heavy for the pixies to wear and still be able to fly: That was the main reason that they were naked.

Everything that was left of the corpses, I casually tossed into the relatively shallow lake. There were quite a lot of fish splashing around the floating remains, even a couple rather large sharks; it didn’t take long for the remains to be completely devoured.

However, there was still a wretched stench left behind; so I decided to move the village to somewhere a bit more pleasant. It was only a couple dozen huts and tents made from: leather, dry grass, insect chitin, and even a couple crab shells.

The little pixies weren’t capable of dragging the ten or twelve pounds of materials, but it was fairly easy for me to place it all in those four sacks; that the bandits weren’t using anymore, and carry it all back to Amber’s territory. There was a strong musky scent, reminiscent of the oranges from the third ring.

To me it was a pleasant aroma; for the tiny blue bugs that were lounging on my head, shoulders, and forearms; it evoked a primal terror, unlike anything that they could have experienced in such a mana-deprived environment. The little brats were crying, screaming, or trembling in fear; some even soiled themselves… I discovered that their urine glowed bright pink.

Angelica seemed to be their leader, and reprimanded them for their childish behavior. Hanael was teary-eyed; when she got on her hands and knees, on my left palm, and begged me “P-please forgive th-them! Th-they’re young; I’ll clean up the mess they made, so please don’t hurt them!” It was all very annoying.

I sighed, as the sticky pink fluids dripped down my chest, back, face, and arms; then I glared at the two glowing women: Both of them had taken a submissive posture. After a few seconds, I grumbled “It’s fine, I’m more bothered by the way you’re treating me right now. You aren’t slaves, nor are you my prisoners or subjects; free men and women should never diminish themselves, with such shameful behavior.” and the two of them rose to their feet, still on the palm of my left hand.

The majority of male pixies were sitting on my rather large tail, which almost dragged along the sand. Since they couldn’t fly, they were much more cautious of extreme heights; aside from that, a decent amount of the girls were literally hiding inside of my long and matted hair.

Angelica glared back at me; then she shrewdly asked me “What is it that you want from us anyway?” maintaining her balance; even though every step I took, must have felt like a massive earthquake for them.

My scowl had quickly turned into a wide grin; I nonchalantly responded “Didn’t we go over that already? I’m pretty sure that Hana is my mother, no idea how though… but that doesn’t really matter anyway. The important thing, is that one of you summoned me here; either muscle-girl or the chubby dove, perhaps it was your combined effort.” while leering at them.

The tiny redheaded woman appeared flustered, and was glowing significantly brighter than before; as she stammered “Wh-what do you m-mean? I d-definitely don’t have any ch-children!” which was unbearably irritating.

My intense gaze rested upon the slightly larger, wingless, female; she averted her eyes and muttered something, but it was completely inaudible: Especially over the deafening roar which signified that Amber was awake and starving. She wasn’t very far away; I could actually see her from the location of the old pixie village, even when she was laying down.

I heard a few of the little girls and boys whimpering and muttering the term “warbeast” a lot of times. The eight-foot tall tigress was standing upright, and stretching her rather impressive arms into the air.

Even if her muscles were a bit leaner than before our vacation; because of her height, she was definitely more imposing than me. Although, her scent and ferocious appearance were a pretty large factor as well. The tiny blue critters were actually afraid of practically everything; so a giant tiger-tribe who was feared even among her own kind, seemed to have been the most terrifying being that they had ever encountered.

It only took a few relatively short strides, before Amber was standing less than a meter in front of me. She grinned at the strange glowing creatures that were adorning my body, then growled “We haven’t eaten birds in a long time; they smell sweet, but I doubt they’ll be much more than a snack.” deeply; even if the pixies couldn’t understand what she was saying, their guesses were incredibly accurate.

I snickered; then told her “They aren’t food… though they do look pretty tasty… anyway, the two white ones called us here. Remember, the other reason we entered The Forest of Corruption; before we return to Ael Tol, I need to exterminate a few annoying wood-elves.” I was so hungry that when some of the pink liquid had dripped onto my upper lip, I actually tasted it. Surprisingly, the jam-like substance had a rather high sugar content; so I was able to ignore where it came from.

Yuri had designed them that way on purpose. According to her notes, which had been downloaded into my brain; the pixies were essentially wood-elves, mixed with lightning bugs and various bees. There was obviously a lot more to it than that, but all that really mattered; was that their urine was similar to honey, combined with a couple chemicals that produced pink light: It was a byproduct of their luminescent skin, and moderately toxic.

Amber brought her face up to mine; then used her tongue to lap up all of the sweet-smelling liquid. Once she was finished; she took a step back and asked “Michael, are you sure we can’t eat them?” in a deep, raspy voice.

All of the pixies and even the two little birds on my left palm, were shuddering and trembling. I chuckled at their reactions; I eventually sighed and told her “No… there’s plenty of fish; besides that, these little brats are officially citizens of Alfirin. Which means that arbitrarily killing them would be considered murder; although… if they were already dead, that’s a different story. Anyway, lets go catch dinner, lunch… breakfast?” as I set the bags in my right hand down, along with Angelica and Hanael.

I lowered my tail to the sand, so that my flightless passengers could disembark; then I shook my head back and forth a few times, forcing the tiny blue bugs out of my hair. There was even a particularly small little girl, clinging to my relatively short beard.

It was still dark out, but the eastern skies were definitely brightening up; unlike my feline partner, my body wasn’t capable of napping. When I slept, it was usually for twelve hours at the minimum; sometimes I would stay awake for several days in a row as well.

By the time that I hastily reconstructed the miniature village; which had a pile of daggers in the center, Amber had already caught and eaten a dozen small fish. She didn’t even remove the scales or perform any kind of cleaning, just swallowed them whole.

Our stomach acid and esophageal muscles, had become unreasonably strong; otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to digest demonic meat so easily. I could hear the pixies gasping in shock, every time she devoured a carp; each one was at least six inches long, the same height as the tiny glowing elves.

The main problem with eating that way, was that we couldn’t actually taste the food. It was obviously more nutritional though, since we didn’t waste a single part of the creature or plant.

However, it wasn’t enjoyable, just satisfying; once she had consumed enough to fill her stomach, she sat down and waited for me to join her. Amber roared “Hurry up! I’m bored!” and the vibrations were powerful enough, that some of the tiny huts had collapsed.

Even without wind magic, she was ridiculously loud… we both were; I just had a bit more control over my volume. Once I finished building the last hut; I turned to Angelica and asked her “What do you kids normally eat?” I was practically whispering.

From her perspective, I probably seemed pretty far away; but I was only a few meters away from her, since she was on the other side of the village. She sprinted over to me; then straightened her back, and looked up toward me with her arms across her chest.

Rather than kneel down, I scooped her up with the tip of my tail and raised her up to my waist; then it was fairly easy to gently wrap my left hand around her waist, abdomen, and thighs. Her body was incredibly sturdy, so I wasn’t too afraid of crushing her; although, she didn’t seem particularly comfortable.

When I brought her up to my face, she was violently struggling to free herself from my grasp. I let out a long sigh, inadvertently pummeling her with what probably seemed like hurricane force winds; then she screamed “Let me go!” so I turned my fist, allowing her to sit on my palm.

After a few seconds, I asked her again “Do you like fish?” while ignoring the roaring tigress that was half a kilometer in front of me. Then an angry dove crashed into my left cheek, and attempting to light my beard on fire; unfortunately, all of my hair had gained similar properties to black-mithril fibers… making shaving a challenge: When it reached a certain length, I would just tear or pluck it out.

Angelica yelled “Hana, stop it! I’m fine! I was just a little surprised!” to the woman whose wing was slapping against my eyes. It was annoying, so I took a deep breath; then released a powerful blast of air-pressure, which was enough to send her flying into the mini muscle-elf.

While they bickered with each-other, I began walking into the shallow depths. The air was relatively chilly, but the water was pleasantly warm. I learned from Yuri’s tentacle books; that despite being within the equator, because of the altitude, the climate up there was temperate.

Eventually they stopped arguing when Hanael began crying; by that time, I had already reached the deepest part of the lake: four feet. Finally, my question was answered by the weepy dove; who told me “We can eat fish, but we have no way to catch them. For the most part, we just forage for berries; ants are pretty dangerous, but worms are usually easy prey.” with tears in her eyes and a runny nose.

I sighed, then asked her “Great, that’s all I wanted to know. Why does everything have to be so damn dramatic with you brats? Anyway, can you carry the wing-less one back to the village?” and before she could respond, I gently tossed them both into the air a few meters above my head.

Ignoring the sound of their relatively quiet screams, I turned toward the tigress that was almost completely underwater. Her meter-long tail, was randomly whipping around; as she crawled along the golden sand.

Since my upper-body, face, and hair was still covered in the sticky, pink, jelly; I decided to join her. After diving below the surface, I immediately scraped across the bottom: It was a lot shallower than I had expected.

My skin was absorbing some of the mana from the water, just by bathing in it. That was what Amber had been doing as well, though she was also digging into the sand.

The density of my muscles and bones was a lot higher than I had remembered. If I used magic, I could have easily floated; but otherwise, it was as if I was made out of lead.

As I crawled, it was difficult to keep myself from sinking deeper into the shiny lake-bed. The air in my lungs, was the only thing that gave me any buoyancy at all; my alligator-like tail helped a lot with movement through water.

There were quite a lot of shellfish crawling around, or just hiding under the sands; so even without using telepathy, it was fairly easy to guess what Amber was doing. With my third eye open, I was able to see them clearly: regardless of their optical camouflage.

It was a trick that I developed from living in the abysmal swamp, but I could actually sense electric fields. I had converted many of the pores on my skin into electroreceptors; although, they only really did anything when I was underwater.

They would only react to weak signals though; otherwise, I would have felt like I was being struck by lightning; every time something that was actually dangerous approached me: especially a certain tigress.

I felt a small prickling sensation in my left hand, as I used it to tunnel through the sand; it only took a few seconds for me to find my prey. There was a mild pressure on my index finger, and I lightly closed my hand around the shelled creature; it was a fairly small golden-shelled clam, but still about thirty centimeters wide.

Well, size was relative; I had seen monstrous mollusks, that were dozens or hundreds of times larger. It didn’t even have tentacles, or explode; just clamped onto my finger and let me capture it.

When I stood up, I was blinded by the pyramids intense flash; then I closed my vertical eye, and opened the other two. Amber was standing in front of me, she was grinning triumphantly; while holding a three foot long, rainbow-colored, lobster in each of her hands.

It was actually pretty amazing that so many large creatures, could survive in the shallow water. Although, there was a decent amount of mana… and Yuri had definitely been there before; so I wasn’t too surprised.

I was actually more concerned by the fact, that the shoreline wasn’t populated with huge cities; there weren’t even any other pixie villages, as far as I could see. A few very small river-deltas, flowed into the circular lake; yet, it still remained so shallow.

While I was looking around, I felt a nibble on my right leg; so I reached down, and grabbed the fearless fish by its tail. When I lifted it up with my chitinous hand, I had to be careful not to squeeze too hard.

The yellow shark, with a white underbelly; was at least a meter long, and a weighed over a hundred pounds. I looked into its beady, obsidian, eyes; then sighed, as it wiggled around.

It obviously wasn’t a very intelligent animal, but it did have a decent amount of mana; Amber was still grinning while holding her two lobsters, they were even bigger than the fish I caught. I sighed, and growled “It isn’t a competition…” but she just let out a victorious roar; which caused my shark to go deaf.

Not that I was actually concerned about the welfare of something I was about to eat, but I was a little worried about what might happen to a pixie who was exposed to that many decibels. They were pretty cute… pathetic, but adorable; so I would have felt bad if we accidentally killed a bunch of them during a heated conversation.

She took a few steps forward, and licked my face; then she jumped over-top of me, smacking me in the head with her tail and landing on the tip of mine. Even though she probably weighed close to fifteen-hundred pounds, it didn’t actually cause any damage; my scales, muscles and bones, were all pretty durable.

Her strides were massive, and created a decent amount of waves; but she really wasn’t moving that quickly, since her feet kept getting caught in the sand. I just casually followed after her, walking at a brisk pace; we reached the pixie village in less than two minutes.

She plopped down a few meters away from the westernmost huts, so there was very little property damage. Until she decided to ‘gift’ one of the lobsters, to the tiny blue creatures; they had seemed a lot less active, since the sun had started to rise.

The rainbow colored titan scurried around, causing chaos and nearly killing a few unsuspecting kids… before I boiled it from the inside out. Its aura was fairly weak and easily penetrable; plus, under extremely low mana-density, long distance magic was a lot easier to perform.

Their high pitched voices didn’t carry very far, so I couldn’t understand what they were actually saying. Although, I assumed that it was just the usual nonsense; they all looked nearly identical to me, aside from the two little birds.

As they buzzed around the strange, red, steaming crustacean; I slowly emerged from the ankle deep water, and crouched down toward the village. Angelica ran over to me and shouted “What is the meaning of this?! You claim to mean us no harm; yet you allow your warbeast to wreak havoc upon us!?”

She seemed pretty upset, so I told her “Calm down, brat; no one died… except the lobster. Anyway, that thing’s at least sixty pounds; so it should be plenty of food. Also, her name is… Puriel, The Spirit of Merciless Fire; and she decided to give you a gift, so stop freaking out.” as I slowly stood up.

The muscular-elf was yelling something, but I quickly lost interest; once I had taken a few steps away from her, it became impossible for me to understand her anyway. When I finally sat down in front of Amber, she asked me “What does Puriel mean?” in a deep voice; while she began roasting the shrieking shellfish, that was struggling in her hands, with her usual purple flames.

I chuckled, then replied “The fire of God… or something like that. Anyway, let me have some of that rainbow-lobster when you’re done; I’ll slice the shark up the way you like it, give me a minute.” as I used the unreasonably sharp claws on my right hand, to quickly fillet the yellow fish. It suffocated not long after I had removed it from the water, so it wasn’t squirming around.

After she finished cooking the crustacean, she began roasting the clam in a similar manner. Once we were finished with the preparations, we slowly enjoyed our meal; the golden shark sashimi was particularly delicious, but the other two shellfish were very good as well.

It was entertaining watching Amber struggle to pick up the tiny slices with her talon-like fingernails, then carefully place them on her tongue, swallowing one piece at a time. The way she would close her violet eyes, and make a satisfied smile; before performing a similar action with the strips of lobster, was also amusing.

My mana-pool was barely even at three percent after eating, but that was still a massive quantity for a place like that; Although, it was going to take a few hours, for the hundred pounds of food to completely digest.

The satisfied tigress was already laying down on the sand; preparing for the continuation of her nap, only a few seconds after she finished eating. She purred something unintelligible, it almost sounded like a deep melody; then she closed her eyes, and curled up into a ball.

I sat next to her, cross-legged, and ran my fingers across her surprisingly soft, crystalline fur; then I quietly sang a song that she had reminded me of: Though it was drowned out by her snoring. After about twenty minutes, I noticed that the pixies and Angelica were still struggling to tear open the lobster; in the bright sunlight, their skin didn’t seem to glow anymore.

It took less than a second for me to rip the meter-long shellfish in half; revealing the cooled, white, meat, that was inside. The forty-five ravenous little creatures, quickly swarmed and began devouring it.

Angelica and Hanael had to keep them from attacking each-other; it was almost as if they were starving to death. Although, considering that there was at least ten times as much food, as their combined body weight; well, there were plenty of leftovers.

While they were feasting, I gathered up the pile of daggers and knives; then I took the ten steps that it required for me to reach Amber’s napping spot. Once I was comfortable, I began construction.

The mana required to smelt down five or ten pounds of iron and manipulate it, was inconsequentially small. As the molten sphere floated above my left palm; I started to separate it into hundreds of malleable globs of the viscous liquid.

My goal wasn’t anything particularly amazing; all I did was create about a thousand, eighteen-gauge, twenty-centimeter long, needles. It took a little effort and was incredibly tedious, but the arsenal of pixie weaponry was actually pretty simple.

They were essentially just thin and relatively long, metal spears; since they had been using sharpened bones and twigs, it was a pretty big step forward. Then I filled the clam-shell with my venom, so that they could dip their iron lances in it; even a small prick, would have been enough to kill a wood-elf.

Once I gathered up all the shark’s teeth, the lobster’s shell, and the pile of needles; then I walked over to the village, and dumped it all in the center. Some of the pixies were still feasting on the cold crustacean, but for the most part; it seemed like they were all sleeping in their huts and tents.

I explained to a very tired Angelica, that the clam contained a deadly poison; and that they had to be very careful when coating their weapons with it. With Amber only a few meters away, and her scent was everywhere; I doubted that any animal or person would attack the little blue brats, but it was better if they could defend themselves.

After that nonsense was out of the way, I was finally able to do a bit of exploring. While I was falling from the sky in the middle of the night, there simply wasn’t enough time for me to get a good view of the area surrounding the lake-shore.

The vibrant green grass was everywhere to the north of our territory; before I started wading through the waist high foliage, I wasn’t able to notice much… except a castle in the distance: at least six miles away, built into the side of a mountain.

Angelica had no idea where her old owner’s residence was, or the geography of the region; none of the pixies did. She did tell me a little about the three kingdoms, but not their locations.

I wanted to get a better view of the rather impressive looking fortress, so I kept walking directly north. Eventually, the grass started to get a lot shorter; then I saw a gigantic monster, which was almost as tall as the stronghold’s white, stone, walls.

The colossal beast looked eerily similar to a cow, with white fur and black spots; it was female, and standing over-top of a village. It took exactly three seconds for me to realize that the mountain was actually just a small hill, and that the castle’s residents were another product of Yuri’s experiments.

Surrounding the small ‘farming’ town, was a fairly large field of red lettuce; it obviously didn’t belong to the tiny creatures, though they were definitely treating it as their own. There was a normal sized, wooden cabin; about a kilometer to the east, which had cabbages, carrots, and other generic vegetables growing around it in every direction.

The tip of the highest part of the castle’s keep, was at my eye level; the six foot tall walls surrounding the entire hill, didn’t obscure my view from close range. I could hear a dozen or so, relatively low pitched horns resounding as I approached; the cow was mooing loudly, and tiny bells were ringing from the village and all throughout the city.

It was relatively huge, at least a dozen square meters; considering that the residents seemed to be about two inches tall, on average. They appeared to be humanoid, brown-furred, field mice; and they had siege weapons: ballistas, catapults, trebuchets, and even miniature cannons.

I noticed a decent amount of elf-sized bones, scattered in front of the castle walls; it was pretty impressive. Since they were so small, it would have required much less resources for them to reinforce the stone structures with iron or steel; than the ‘normal’ sized counterparts.

While I was nonchalantly investigating the craftsmanship of their city, they were firing thousands of tiny projectiles at my chest and abdomen. A dozen ravens were flying above my head, and archers were firing flaming arrows into my hair; which didn’t actually accomplish anything, except annoying me.

Their primitive black-powder wasn’t very efficient, so their cannonballs didn’t even sting a little. Actually, all the squeaking, squawking, mooing, popping, horns and bells; were far more effective in dealing damage to me, at least mentally.

My snickering probably sounded like thunder to their little ears; it was a very entertaining display. I was standing directly in front of their main gate, which was only about three feet tall and wide; it was open, and dozens of cavalry were pouring out.

Mouse-people in full, steel, plate-mail; carrying shiny metal lances and shields, while riding guinea pigs. That was the point where I sat down on the very short grass, and started laughing hysterically; it was definitely a Yuri-style development.

Then a cannonball struck my left eye, and it wasn’t quite so funny anymore. I shouted “Owww, seriously?! Cut that shit out!” in a deep and loud voice; which caused all of the knights that were charging towards me, to completely stop: A few of their mounts actually died from fear.

Some of their siege engines rattled apart; the ravens flew away, dropping a handful of their riders into my hair. Even the cow had stopped mooing, there was total silence; aside from the sound of me sighing.

The tiny sphere had bounced off my lens and didn’t do any damage, but after having my eyes pierced or gouged so many times in the fourth ring; that momentary discomfort had triggered a few of the more unpleasant memories. Ocular damage was one of my least favorite types of injuries, especially when it involved poisonous needles; demonic wasp stings to the sclera, were a lot worse than the normal kind.

At least with the pixies, I could speak with them somewhat normally; unfortunately, I couldn’t even slightly understand the squeaking noises that were emanating from those rodents. My auditory range was pretty impressive; the mice that were tangled in my hair, were close enough to my ears for me to actually hear them pretty clearly.

However, they weren’t exactly speaking in a language that I was familiar with; it reminded me of the way most of the “Beast Races” communicated, so I decided to cheat. After carefully removing the critters from my wavy locks, I had five terrified prisoners kneeling on my left palm; they were staring downward and trembling uncontrollably.

Their auras were practically nonexistent, but so was mine; since contact telepathy worked through electrical impulses rather than mana, it was still fairly easy to use on them. Our nervous systems literally became connected, and my thoughts could intermingle with theirs freely… kinda.

There was a bit more to it than that; without an interface of some sort, their weak-willed minds would have been devoured by my consciousness: turning them into something akin to soulless puppets. Basically, I just created a tiny illusory avatar of myself; which was about the same size as they were and standing there in front of the kneeling mice.

When I closed my real eyes, I was able to see out of the fake ones; otherwise, it would have been a little confusing. They were each wearing shiny chainmail covering their chests and heads; with white cloth tunics which ran down to their knees, underneath. There were no pants, but they did have steel, claw-like boots.

As I cleared my illusionary throat, they each hesitatingly gazed up toward me; I could feel confusion and desperation rushing through their minds. Their beady black eyes and reddish-brown furry faces seemed so cute, that I had almost forgotten how they were trying to light my head on fire a few minutes before then.

The silence was broken by incredibly loud horns, bells, and I could actually hear and understand one of the mouse-knights yelling “Don’t be afraid! Attack now, while the demi-elf is weakened!” from a meter or so in front of me. From my smaller perspective, they seemed incredibly far away though.

I had confirmed that my little trick did indeed work; by connecting to their nervous systems, I was able to temporarily comprehend their language, without wasting my time and effort to learn it the hard way. There were cannonballs, ballista arrows, and tiny rocks flying toward me; so I quickly used my real right hand to completely enclose the six of us in a relatively spacious and quiet room.

My left palm radiated a bright white light, and my brief interrogation began. I asked them all a simple question, one which would decide their fate. “Have any of you, ever raped or enslaved anyone before? You can’t lie to me, and even if you refuse to answer… I will still hear your response.”

None of them responded verbally, but I could feel a familiar emotion welling up inside of each of them: disgust. Then I smiled and announced “Good, none of you have broken my laws; I only need a single person to help me out, decide amongst yourselves who will stay. The rest will be released; you aren’t prisoners, and I will compensate each of you for your time.” which threw their thoughts into even more chaos.

Then the one on the far left, stood upright and nervously declared “Freeman of the Western Spire; commander of the third aerial assault unit, of the Stronghold Mountain Republic. I will stay, please allow my subordinates to leave.” in a surprisingly masculine voice; through their ears, everything sounded much deeper and louder than I would normally hear it.

The literal translation of names was pretty awkward; but it was better than calling him miscellaneous field-mouse number one, of that insignificant rodent country that I randomly stumbled upon.

I sighed and told him “You don’t have to lie about your rank… it really doesn’t make any difference to me. Although, it would be nice if you could tell those morons to stop attacking me; if I really wanted to obliterate your little castle, I would have done it already.” while my real body was standing up. The other four were trying to convince Freeman not to sacrifice himself; the middle-mouse, even tried to get me to take her instead.

As they were bickering with each-other, I opened my real eyes and took the three steps forward, that were between myself and the rampart above the gate. The siege engines had actually ran out of ammo by then; even the knights had stopped stabbing at my feet, because it was pretty obvious that they weren’t even piercing my skin.

There was still plenty of noise, those horns and bells were really irritating me; I noticed a rather large army in the town square, directly on the other side of the wall. Although, they didn’t look like they would be charging out and attacking; the heavily armored infantry seemed to have been a last defensive force.

When it seemed like there wouldn’t be any more tiny projectiles flying around, I lifted my right hand and raised my left: The rampart was around the height of my neck. I was actually a little surprised when all five of the rodents remained on my palm, but Freeman eventually convinced the others to leave him behind.

A few hours had passed since I began my exploration, so I decided to take the mouse-man back with me. At first I just asked him the basics; their average life-spans were about thirty to fifty years, which actually seemed like quite a lot. However, considering that they were genetically engineered by Yuri; it wasn’t all that surprising, that she tweaked their age limit a bit.

Their diet consisted of mostly milk from the cow, and assorted vegetables from the field which belonged to a family of dwarf-elves: another one of the pink dryad’s creations. That lead to the information I was really looking for; the locations of the three kingdoms, and how their little republic even existed.

In the northeast was Hithu, and the northwest belonged to Lum; the largest and most powerful nation Agar, controlled most of the south. However, their borders were constantly changing; they had been waging holy wars against each-other since… well, before that little mouse city-state was formed.

Each kingdom worshiped a different deity, though he didn’t know much about their religions; except that they all regarded the pyramid, lake, and the surrounding lands, as neutral territory: a ceasefire zone. Compared to the rest of that massive chunk of land, the DMZ was relatively small; yet, it still extended for a few dozen miles in every direction of the golden beaches.

Demi-elves, warbeasts, and vermin; those were the derogatory terms that the so-called purebloods, used to describe the various races that Yuri had created. Freeman only knew of a few countries like his, which existed outside the jurisdiction of the three kingdoms; though, most of them were just small villages or migratory nomads: like the pixies.

Occasionally, bandits and slavers would attack; but the Stronghold Mountain Republic, had always been able to repel the gargantuan invaders. Their weapons might not have been very effective against me, but some lightly armored wood-elves would have been slaughtered pretty quickly.

When we entered Amber’s territory our conversation was swiftly ended, since the little mouse-man fainted. Even with our senses connected, he had still reached his limit. What smelled familiar and comfortable to me, only evoked an intense desire to escape within his terrified body.

Well, I didn’t really need him to tell me anything else; so I just hummed an old melody, and continued to trek another mile or so: Her scent had wafted pretty far, carried by a rather cool breeze.

The sun was almost directly overhead; I had been absent for nearly half a day. All the pixies and even the two little birds were all sleeping in their homes, my tigress however, was missing.

We were still telepathically linked through the marks on our left hands, so I could still feel her presence nearby. In such a low mana-density atmosphere, the connection was pretty weak; it mostly just told me her location, and if she was in any danger.

After depositing Freeman next to a pile of silver and gold beads that was taller than him, a few meters outside of the village; I decided to head toward the resounding roars, explosions, and howls. A pillar of black smoke was rising in the northeast, accompanied by the scent of roasting flesh and hair; Amber’s reaction to unprovoked attack, wasn’t quite as gentle as mine.

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