When someone assaults you, it’s only natural to respond in kind. Killing a person who is a direct threat to your life, or someone you care about, that would be considered self-defense. Swatting a fly, because it annoyed you… well, that’s closer to what Amber was doing.
In the third ring she had annihilated prides, packs, and herds under my guidance, but that was a bit different. She wasn’t nearly as powerful back then, and there was no room for hesitation or mercy; all hostiles would be eliminated, and noncombatants were offered sanctuary.
It was a generally accepted rule in most of the third ring’s cultures, that strength was everything. The defeated and their families normally wouldn’t survive; so when we were conquering the tribes around Ael Tol, we were seen as benevolent spirits.
Up there however, it was a bit different; children tended to hold animosity toward the demons who killed and devoured their parents. That was the main reason why I didn’t want to pretend to be some sort of great hero, or liberator. We were monsters; harbingers of death and destruction.
On the eyelid or pinnacle of Lorthon, that giant chunk of land three miles above the hellish Forest of Corruption, I was considered a demi-elf. That was what most races with long and pointed ears, that weren’t pure wood-elves, were categorized as. They were considered deformed, grotesque, and weak.
I had seen my own reflection plenty of times, and I never thought of myself as unattractive. Although, beauty is always subjective and there had definitely been a lot of strange aspects of my appearance: third eye, horns, chitinous right arm, body and facial hair, vertical slit-like red irises, obsidian scales from my neck to my alligator-esque tail, over seven feet tall… the list was pretty long.
Warbeasts were similar in appearance and stature to most of the races in the third ring; up there, they were the epitome of physical prowess. On an isolated island, where mana was almost nonexistent; obviously, they had been considered quite powerful, which made the elves fear them.
For the most part, they had been treated as nothing more than animals; sometimes used as livestock, occasionally utilized in battle, but they were mostly just hunted. If they had banded together, they definitely would have been able to rival the three kingdoms; but since they all spoke different languages and instinctually hated each-other, their individual strength was meaningless.
It took me a while to catch up to Amber; along the way, I had to suffocate a few infernos. The corpses that I found, were mostly just charred bone-fragments. She always did have control issues, but in a place like that her usual purple flame-armor, was more like a tornado of violet hellfire.
By the time I arrived, there was only an exhausted tigress; surrounded by a hundreds of charred, smoldering, remains: It was completely silent. She was standing with her shoulders drooping, holding a blackened canine skull in her left hand; which was immediately blown away by a strong gust of wind.
The skies were filled with a cloud of smoke and ash; the residual mana was whimpering and groaning. There was even purple glass, coating the dirt beneath her feet: It was crystallized aura, created by excessive magical pressure.
I sighed, then walked up to Amber; I asked her “What happened? Even for you, isn’t this a little overkill?” She was panting loudly for a few seconds, before slumping over onto me; even if she was incredibly heavy, my muscles had gotten a lot stronger in the fourth ring.
The tired tigress softly growled “Wolves attacked… when I was… shitting. I got angry… they died.” as I started pouring a little of my mana into her body; I only had a few percent of my maximum capacity, but it was more than enough to make her feel better.
When my head started to ache and her wheezing receded, I stopped channeling power into her. She pulled away from me; then stretched her arms high into the air, while yawning loudly. It was adorable enough that I was able to ignore the throbbing agony behind my third eye, from mana-starvation.
Unfortunately, there are consequences for every action; calamity is rarely ever intentional. I nonchalantly asked her “Did you obliterate the whole pack, including the pups?” I couldn’t hear, see, or smell anything beyond that scorched clearing.
Amber looked around for a few seconds, then shrugged; she growled “I wasn’t really paying attention, but I remember hearing a lot of howling in that direction.” as she pointed to the northwest. There was a thick forest in the distance, at least a few miles away; so I sighed dramatically, and motioned for her to follow me.
Death wasn’t such a big deal, neither was killing, but suffering was. More important than any of the physical changes that occurred in the Forest of Corruption, was that I had remembered some crucial information: “The Rules of Karma.”
It wasn’t anything too complicated, just the basics; slavery and rape were obvious, but there was a little more to it than that. There wasn’t exactly a point system, and every person’s sins were judged individually; in the same way that evil was punished, souls that went out of their way to make the lives of others more pleasant, were rewarded.
The idea wasn’t particularly strange; fear of hell might make people avoid being complete assholes, but they need an incentive to actually care enough to be nice. Then there was that other law: “Everyone is responsible for their own actions, and everything that happens as a result of what they do in life.”
That fourth rule wasn’t quite as strictly enforced as the first two; all the inadvertent suffering we caused throughout our lives, would be weighed against the deliberate and involuntary happiness we had created. Basically, it would have been better if she had accidentally eradicated the whole village, than left a few people alive who would be captured and enslaved.
Well, it was something that we would have had to deal with eventually anyway; before destroying the kingdoms, we needed to make it so that they understood the consequences for their own actions. The DMZ was our territory, and any wood-elf who entered… would be made an example of.
There were several brown furred, wolf-tribe corpses along the way to the forest; it was essentially a trail of bodies, that lead directly into the woods. Some of them had been riddled with arrows, others were eviscerated by blades; their heights seemed to be about six-feet tall, on average, and they all had relatively lean muscles.
It was a generic temperate needleleaf forest; compared to even the first ring of Lorthon, it wasn’t really that impressive, or dense. The trees were fairly small, fifteen to twenty meters, and none were wider than my own body. As we trudged along, I noticed the skeletal remains of various beast races; they were kept in iron cages, which dangled from the thicker branches.
Then I started to hear it, cries, whimpering, howls, screams, roars, and growls; followed by the stench of fear, hatred, death, and sex. Amber told me “Michael, I feel so… angry, something’s strange… I don’t think I should go there.” in a deep and raspy voice; the seal on her left hand, was glowing bright purple.
I sighed and purred “You need to learn to control it, that fury you’re experiencing… it won’t ever go away. I warned you that there would be side-effects, but don’t worry; even if you burn down their whole forest, I’ll still be there with you. Now lets go, the longer we wait…” before I could finish speaking, a dozen arrows came flying out of the bushes around us. Neither of us bothered dodging, since they just bounced off of her fur and my skin.
Amber turned to my left and roared so loudly, that the only thing I could hear for a few seconds afterward, was the high-pitched ringing which typically accompanied a large shock-wave. My horns and teeth were vibrating in a way that made my skull feel like it was going to rattle apart.
When I recovered, I could hear nearly twenty voices screaming in agony: both male and female. Then a leather-armor clad wood-elf man, came crawling out of the bushes to my left; viscous crimson liquid was pouring out of his empty eye-sockets, ears, nostrils, and mouth.
I started chuckling unconsciously… I’ve always had a pretty morbid sense of humor; then a few more arrows started flying toward us from the right, and I was able to catch one of them with my left hand. It wasn’t difficult to see their positions, since they weren’t very stealthy; even if I didn’t throw it with a lot of force, I was still able to kill one of the archers: using the relatively small arrow like a dart.
Then I growled “If you deafen them like that, I won’t even be able to taunt them properly. Plus, my headache just became ten times worse… okay, now lets ignore these idiots and wipe out their base. Besides, they’re already dead… they just haven’t realized it yet.” to the angry tigress, who seemed like she was about to burn the forest down.
An interesting piece of information about elven anatomy: Their inner-ears were located mostly inside of their cranium; so when they were severely damaged, it would cause blood to pool inside of their skull, until they eventually died. Obviously, it was incredibly difficult to produce that many decibels, but not impossible; especially since Amber’s roar was more like an explosive blast, and they were all within a few meters of where the shock-wave was aimed.
She nodded while exposing her incredibly large teeth, and we both started sprinting along the path. We were following the wagon tracks, which were indented grooves in the dirt; our running speed was a little excessive, at least forty miles per hour… so it only took a few minutes before we reached the center of the forest.
Several archers had attempted to shoot at us, but nothing actually hit. There were squads of wood-elven guards every couple hundred meters; although, they were swatted out of the way with little resistance: Their leather armor didn’t dampen the force of my right fist, or Amber’s knees.
There were plenty of horns and whistles resounding throughout the woods; they knew that we were coming, not that it really made a difference. Their encampment, was more like a small town in the middle of the woods; there were all kinds of buildings: inns, stores, a marketplace, even a giant manor toward the northernmost corner of the clearing.
It was truly despicable, but their slave trade was obviously thriving; at least it was until we arrived. The forest was on the border between the DMZ and Hithu kingdom, so they weren’t even technically bandits; the town square was filled with merchants, buying and selling various demi-elves, warbeasts, and vermin… along with food stalls, jewelry, weapons, and just about anything that would normally be sold in a small city like that.
After plowing through a shield wall of heavily-armored knights, we casually walked through the streets; the two thousand or so non-combatants who were there to buy or sell people, were scrambling around and desperately trying to escape. I chuckled when I saw some of the larger warbeasts break free of their chains or ropes, then start tearing their owners apart in the confusion.
Written in Lorthon, I could easily read the names of the various shops that were lined up on the borders of the town square. With names like “Pet Supplies,” “Breaking The Beast,” “Discount Dogs,” “The Breeding Pit,” “Forbidden Pleasures,” “Vermin Exterminators,” and “Exotic Eats: Now Serving Fresh Pixie!” it wasn’t really that difficult to imagine what the inside of the stores looked like.
The surviving knights, or paladins since they seemed to know a bit of magic, created an encirclement around us; and I was able to get a better view of their kite-shields. On each of them, there was a symbol: It was a bright blue tree silhouette, with its branches and roots connecting to each-other, creating an intricate circle.
They had the same glyph engraved on their breastplates, the hilts of their cross shaped broadswords, and even on their helmets which were covering their entire faces. The runes glowed with a bright azure light, as they all chanted “We call upon the Goddess Hithu, almighty and benevolent lady of righteousness; grant us your strength, so that we may purify the unclean!” and the atmospheric mana-density actually increased by a couple thousand times.
It was like we had suddenly entered the third ring of Lorthon; I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically as nearly everyone in the town square, instantly lost consciousness. The paladins were wheezing heavily; even Amber understood the irony and grinned happily.
When my mana had reached the point where I had a significant aura; I finally stopped cackling and announced “That was actually pretty impressive! This being you bastards worship must be fairly powerful! Although, her followers seem to be as idiotic as they are evil! Amber, there’s no need to hold yourself back… we’re going to erase this whole town! No survivors, only death!” as I opened my third eye, and started releasing sparks from my horns, shoulder-blades, scaled spine, and tail.
She licked my right cheek cheerfully for a few seconds; then her normally transparent fur, turned violet, and began radiating an incredible amount of heat: even my skin was slightly singed. She quickly plowed through two rows of knights in front of me, who were raising their shields and trying to stab at her with their swords; their mithril armor glowed bright red, and I could hear their flesh sizzling; steam spewed out of their helmets, along with their feminine screams.
It was definitely hilarious, especially when one of them yelled “Focus on the demi-elf! He’s obviously the leader! If we kill him, the warbeast will lose its will to fight!” and the entire battalion of paladins swarmed me. When their swords touched my skin, scales or left arm, a powerful jolt of electricity would course through their bodies; the voltage frying their brains, eyes, hearts, circulatory and nervous systems; then their bones shattered, as their sizzling corpses fell to the ground.
Their fallen comrades had created a smoldering barricade around me, but they just kept blindly charging over the ever-increasing hills of smoking armor. Their roasting remains actually smelled pretty good: kind of like low-fat bacon, with a mana-rich syrup.
I released a fairly large explosion from my heels, and I was blown a few dozen meters into the air; it required a lot more force to lift my body than pre-fourth ring. As I landed, I used a bit of wind magic to reduce my speed, and guided myself outside of the encirclement.
There were still at least fifty paladins left, but my hunger was getting the best of me, so I grabbed the first one to charge at me with my left hand; then I removed their helmet with my right. It was a beautiful, but generic, blonde-haired, female wood-elf, with a terrified expression on her face.
I smiled at her as she muttered “Goddess Hithu, please grant your humble servant, divine protection… please Goddess, I beg of you…” but I quickly cut her off, by wrapping my right hand around her entire neck, with the bottom of my fist aimed toward the sky. While pushing down on her armor with my left palm, I quickly extended my right arm upward; tearing her head off, quite literally… but I wasn’t able to remove much of her spinal cord unfortunately.
After sighing dramatically, while getting drenched in copious amounts of thin, bright-red, blood; I murmured “Damn it, well whatever… I guess it’s not possible to do without using magic.” while ripping and bending her armor apart. Her pale skin was glistening with sweat, but I wasn’t particularly interested in the flesh; I reached into her chest with my claws, and pulled out my two favorite organs: the heart and liver.
Witnessing my act of semi-cannibalism, the other knights were hesitating to approach me; instead, they were staring at the scene to my left. There was a sea of purple flames, with several thousand roasted corpses as the fuel; Amber was tearing down the buildings, using loud explosions in the process.
In the entire town, there were only about fifty or sixty shops; most of the residential buildings seemed to be spread out behind them to the west, east, and north, beyond the stores, inns, and other larger structures. I wasn’t expecting her to actually destroy everything, because that would have taken quite a while.
Once I finished eating the raw meat, I turned toward the paladins; some of them were kneeling and crying, others were praying, and at least a handful still wanted to try to fight against me. Then a fairly tall elven-man, wearing golden tinted armor and carrying a two-handed greatsword, approached me with his helmet removed.
He furiously asked me “Just what in the goddess’ name are you monsters?!” while holding the over-sized weapon’s hilt in front of his chest. His aura was much stronger than any of the others, so it was obvious that he was special in one way or another.
I snickered, then declared “Thou shalt not rape, thou shalt not enslave; every kindness shall be rewarded, and every soul shall be held accountable for their own actions. Any being that proclaims itself a deity, shall be responsible for the crimes committed in their name. You seem to be very young and foolish, Hithu, but not even children can escape from Karma.” while glaring at the man. Obviously, I wasn’t talking to any of the paladins, since they were all going to die anyway; but their false goddess… It was going to require a bit more effort for me to find and execute her.
The greatsword wielding knight, took a few steps forward; then his blade began radiating a bright blue aura as he took up a stance. With his left shoulder toward me and his weapon aiming at the sky, but still in the same position, he announced “I am the forty-seventh champion of Hithu, Tadion Ninaelon! I shall vanquish you, in the name of my Goddess!” in a surprisingly arrogant tone, considering that while he was talking… I was slaughtering the fifty other holy warriors who were gathered behind him.
Mithril was a double-edged magically enhanced metal; it was great for powerful mages to use as heavy armor. However, if someone who didn’t have a strong enough aura wore it, it became incredibly easy for me to send my own mana into their bodies, and efficiently tear apart their internal organs.
In the fourth ring, it was challenging for me to just push my aura a meter away from my skin; compared to that, the third ring was at least a hundred times less difficult. There were actually a few occasions when I had managed to penetrate a demon’s mana, but I was never able to do significant damage to them through that method; it only worked on weak beings, that weren’t used to high-density environments.
Tadion’s sword was a flamberge design; it was long and thin, with a blade that was serrated on both sides. When it was combined with the blue radiance, the silver metal actually looked like it was made out of water; the edges seemed as if they were waves, it was definitely an interesting weapon.
The hilt was very simple, there was no handguard; given that its length was about five and a half feet, I immediately wanted it for myself. There were was a black mana-crystal embedded on the pommel, it was shaped like an orb and gave off a violet glow.
My first attack was more of a test, I tried to penetrate his thick, blue, aura; however, the mana that was surrounding him, was far too dense. That wasn’t all, I could hear a beautiful melody emanating from his body; with my third eye, it almost looked like he was coated in a suit of ethereal armor.
When that didn’t work, I manipulated the mithril swords that were laying around us; I launched all of them at him, three at a time… but he had help. Something was using earth magic to reflect everything toward me, so I just waved my left hand and sent them all into the treeline. There was a possibility that they could have been used against me when I was distracted, so I didn’t want to take the chance: Mithril could have potentially penetrated my skin, if there was enough force behind it.
That was when he finally began his assault; Tadion’s teal eyes glowed brightly, as he dashed toward me. His long blonde hair was tied back into a ponytail, which made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of doing that myself.
The blade emitted a quiet buzzing sound as its vibrating edge began to saw its way through the skin and muscle on my left forearm, that I had raised to block his overhead swing. His movements were fast, and his attack had much more strength than his tiny body could have possibly mustered.
His heavy armor should have slowed him down, but there was an outside force; his ‘goddess’ was using earth magic to assist him. Once the greatsword had reached my bone though, the deep humming was momentarily stopped; he quickly leapt away from me, and the subtle quivering returned.
It definitely hurt; the muscles, tendons, veins and skin had been sliced through relatively easily. However, my bones were much harder and denser; so even if there was some slight damage, it was already healing when he continued his assault.
I was reluctant to block or parry with my right arm, since it might have chipped my exoskeleton; which took a lot more effort to regenerate than a little blood and severed tissue. He attempted to stab at my face and neck a few times, but kept using my mangled left hand to deflect the surprisingly powerful blows.
His expression seemed extremely pained, and I could literally hear his muscles and tendons ripping apart; just holding onto that vibrating blade, was causing his body to move in ways that it wasn’t meant to. It made me wonder if he had ever actually wielded it before then; not to mention the fact that we were standing amidst a substantially hot conflagration, and it didn’t seem like he was breathing very well.
Every time the sword lodged into my forearm, he grimaced and I could hear his armor rattling loudly; it was entertaining, but I decided to end our little game prematurely. He had finally managed to impale the wavy sword into my abdomen, but it was kind of pointless; since I grabbed his entire face with my right hand, and squeezed… there was very little resistance.
When you tear someone’s face off, the fight is typically over; his brain was definitely destroyed, yet his body was still moving. The most logical solution, was to just grab his neck and sever the spinal cord completely; even without a head, the rest of him jumped backwards abruptly.
There was a decent amount of damage to my left kidney and parts of my digestive system, so I wasn’t particularly happy that our little skirmish was continuing. The ground started quaking violently and the clouds of smoke were being blown away, replaced by a fairly large and black cumulonimbus.
Rain and lightning was falling all around us, the fires were dissipating; then the knights that hadn’t been deep-fried, began rising to their feet. About fifty corpses were standing in front of me, and the mana-density in the air was increasing dramatically.
I sighed as I turned away from them; with a huge explosion, the largest and last grey-stone building in the town square was finally destroyed. A purple-flame clad tigress, was sprinting out of the wreckage; she roared loudly, and quickly returned to my side.
The atmosphere was strange, thicker than usual; my senses that worked perfectly fine in the fourth ring, were being overwhelmed. I actually had to close my third eye, because the mana was blinding me; Amber covered her ears while growling “What’s happening?!” and glaring at the strange creatures that were in front of us.
Lightning struck my horns a few times, and it felt like my aura was being crushed by the pressure that surrounded us. The ground was still rumbling for a few more seconds, before gigantic blue roots erupted from the dirt.
All of the rubble and charred corpses were sinking into the muddy soil, as the azure tentacles were whipping around. I smiled and yelled “This is pretty impressive! Extremely inefficient and pointless, but still fairly interesting!” to the confused and irritated tigress, who was standing to my left.
Then the roots began entangling the trees in the forest behind the standing corpses, it was creating a massive azure fence; with the relatively low storm-clouds, and the wall of plant-life… we were trapped, not that I was planning on escaping though. After that, the zombie-elves began transforming; starting with Tadion, they each sprouted blue vines from their armored bodies.
Amber roared “This is annoying! Let’s just kill these things and go fishing! I’m starving!” as her violet fur was turning all of the rain that touched her, into steam. We had actually seen a decent amount of treants in the fourth ring, so it wasn’t that strange for her to be bored; it also didn’t help that they typically tasted bland.
Each of the five-foot tall wood-elves, had become faceless, blue, dryads; they were about my size, with dozens of tentacles extending from their arms. Their mithril armor was still inside of their bark-like exoskeletons, protecting the delicate mana-crystals that acted like central nervous systems to plant-like magical organisms.
I turned to my angry companion and reached my healed left hand, up to her incredibly hot, fluffy right ear; she had stopped covering them, so that she could hear me purr “Just relax, come closer…” as Amber leaned down. She wrapped her arms around my back, and it felt like my skin was being seared off for the first few seconds.
Once I started nuzzling my face against hers, using both hands to massage and scratch the back of her neck, she growled deeply and the temperature dropped at a rapid pace. It was a technique that I had developed in the Forest of Corruption, a place where it was always incredibly hot: Many of the demons there were weak against the cold.
When I hummed a certain melody, while gently caressing, scratching, or petting the raging tigress; her fur would change to a bright blue color, to match her aura. Then her serene mood, would basically just cool everything around her.
Luckily, my body functioned pretty well in both freezing and scalding temperatures; as long as it wasn’t too ridiculous, my skin, hair, and scales would protect me. With her providing the sub-zero climate, it was my job to use wind magic to keep us from getting iced-over; which also started slowly transforming the thunderstorm, into a blizzard.
Weather was normally incredibly difficult to control, but anything was possible with enough mana. Since our enemy was providing the power-source for us, there was no need to worry about efficiency.
Even through the whiteout, I could see the cluster of glowing blue dryads approaching us; their movements were incredibly sluggish, but they were still functioning. They were all the same shape, but Tadion was holding that flamberge; the sword was practically embedded in his bark-covered hands.
While the others seemed like mindless beasts, whipping their tentacles around wildly; he was in that same stance, slowly approaching us. I had stopped nuzzling my face into Amber’s by that point, and was just lightly fondling her fluffy sapphire-colored tail with my left hand; then I cheerfully told her “It seems that the false-goddess wants to play with me…” before asking “Would you mind removing the other ones for me?” while gazing into her radiant violet eyes.
She purred “I’ll definitely be able to break all of mine first.” as she turned toward the numerous enemies, and revealed a sinister grin. Her normal fighting style was wild and unpredictable, but incredibly inefficient and reckless. She would jump around a lot, punching, kicking, clawing and sometimes biting her prey, all while being clad in purple flames and roaring almost non-stop: I called it “Fiery Tigress” mode.
It took a lot of practice, but with my help, Amber was able to do more than just nibble on my horns when she was in that tranquil state. She briskly walked forward, across the frozen soil and snow; Tadion ignored her, and seemed to be focusing his glowing red, crystalline, orbs on me.
The adorable icy giant calmly avoided the random and relatively slow vines, that were thrusting and whipping at her. As soon as one of them came within a meter of her body, she thrust her right palm into the dryads chest. Then she immediately swung the bottom of her left fist like a hammer, onto the head of the second closest humanoid-tree; the impacts made loud, crackling sounds, and their blue-bark was split apart.
Their internal temperature was increasing to keep the water in their bodies from freezing, so the structural integrity of their outer shells were being dramatically compromised. The force of her blows was pretty significant as well; though the majority of her attacks were wrestling techniques that she copied from me.
By grabbing their necks, limbs, or torsos, she literally ‘broke’ the dryads. Continued exposure to her hands, drained their heat until they either froze, or shattered and exploded. The lightning may have stopped when the blizzard began, but their deaths definitely sounded like thunder.
While she was playing with the others, I was gazing into the bright red crystalline eyes of my opponent. Unlike the normal tree-people, Tadion wasn’t having any trouble moving in the frigid weather; or perhaps it would have been more accurate to call that thing an avatar of Hithu, since she was the one controlling the feminine azure dryad.
It didn’t have a mouth or face, but when I opened my third eye; I could see an unfamiliar elven woman’s appearance, superimposed onto the blue canvas. She smiled at me and whispered “You’re an interesting mortal, but you are not a god; surrender unto me, along with your pet, and I shall grant you power beyond your wildest imagination.” as she swung the vibrating greatsword, so quickly that I wasn’t able to block or dodge it.
With the buzzing blade sawing through my left collarbone; I snickered for a few seconds, then replied to her demand “Such an arrogant little brat, secluded up here… in this island full of weaklings. I’ve met many of your kind before; children who live for a few thousand years, and achieve a bit of power one way or another…” as I grabbed the middle of the thin weapon with my right hand. Then I pressed my chitinous thumb against the quivering mithril and squeezed down with enough force to shatter the vibrating metal: Well, the rapid heating and cooling of the steel-like material didn’t help its structural integrity either.
I removed the part that was embedded in my shoulder, and quickly began regenerating; the mana-density in the atmosphere was dropping at a steady pace, so it was barely above the third ring’s level. She glared at me, as I told her “You aren’t very creative either; that line was so cliche, that I almost thought you were Asmodeus… wait, no way… so that’s how it is. It makes sense, but if they’re here too… who the hell has the power to place so many of us into the same reality? Well whatever, it really doesn’t matter to me either way; this is my world, and I won’t let any of those bastards fuck it up.” while picking the pieces of jagged metal out of my collarbone.
Contemplating the motivations of beings which existed outside of the universe I was living in, was completely pointless and I honestly didn’t care. Everything happens for a reason, it’s simple but reassuring; no need to delve any more deeply into the subject than that.
Hithu screamed “You dare condescend me, mortal!?” in an extremely irritating voice, which was high-pitched and distorted. Then she tossed the vibrating hilt away, and transformed her fists into screw-shaped spear-tips.
Before she could take a jab at me, I grabbed both of her wooden forearms at the same time; then jumped upward with my left foot, digging my right knee into her abdominal bark. Then I let go of her arms and wrapped both of my hands around her throat; it was just a dryad avatar, so it obviously didn’t do very much physical damage.
However, she had mistakenly connected to me telepathically, which meant that I was able to make her feel as if I were actually strangling her to death. Her drill-like hands were stabbing at my chest and actually piercing the skin, but it barely even hurt.
I gave her a sinister smile, then whispered “You have no idea… you’ve seen it, haven’t you? I don’t know what your true form is yet, but I’m certain you’ve witnessed the atrocities that your followers have been committing. When I kill you, it won’t be the end… it never ends, you will have to personally experience every shitty life that has ever been ruined by your presence. Once your soul has been completely broken, completely destroyed; only then will you be allowed to erase your existence… that is the fate that awaits you, little girl.” in a deep and physically impossible voice.
I’m not quite sure what she saw, heard, or felt… but illusory tears were dripping from her nonexistent eyes; it was essentially the worst thing that she could possibly imagine, which might not have actually seemed that bad from someone else’s perspective. It was annoying that I couldn’t just reach into her mind and finish it, so I had to settle for a bit of psychological warfare, as I slammed her blue body into the frozen ground with all of my weight on top of her.
After I released my grip around her neck, I used my right hand and repeatedly pummeled her splintered abdominal wood; until I eventually reached the golden-tinted mithril breastplate, which already had an imprint of my fist embedded into it. Even though I probably resembled an angry demon, my mind was fairly clear; all I needed to do was break the creatures main mana-crystal, so I was just using the simplest method.
By the time I finally broke through the metal and shattered the beautiful sapphire gem, the blizzard had subsided and the skies were starting to clear up. Our small talk had taken a decent amount of time, and Amber was victoriously sitting on a pile of frozen timber; she grinned at me, and growled “Were you even trying?” as her fur began to fade from indigo, into its transparent state.
The ground had continued rumbling violently, and only stopped once the final dryad was eliminated. However, that was what was worrying me; we had been three miles above the actual ground, so if the ‘earth’ beneath our feet was shaking… it definitely wasn’t a good sign.
Then I noticed that the wall of blue roots which was caging us had disappeared, along with the forest; not only was the mana-density rapidly decreasing, the atmosphere itself was becoming much thinner. I sighed dramatically as I witnessed the edges of the frozen soil, breaking away and disappearing; once I realized what was happening, I yelled “I really hope you still have some mana left, cause we’re going to need it in a few seconds!” to the relaxed tigress.
Almost immediately after I finished speaking, the ground started tilting toward Amber; it wasn’t instant, but pretty damn close; we started free-falling toward the distant landscape… again. We had been elevated at least a few kilometers, by a massive branch-less tree; though it was obviously not capable of withstanding its own weight, and had snapped in half near the middle.
I could see the entire forest below us, and noticed that a good portion of its center was completely replaced by the trunk of that unreasonably large plant. Hithu was certainly frivolous with her mana; it wasn’t surprising to me that she ran out of power so quickly, but it was still fairly impressive overall.
It wasn’t very cloudy, but the sun was already starting to set; I turned to Amber and asked “Are we going to have to do this every day?!” loud enough that she could hear me, over the wind and fire magic that we had been using to slow our descent. Our bodies were still falling at a rapid pace, even though I was manipulating the air around me to create a pseudo-parachute; while she was just creating huge violet rocket-jets beneath her hands and feet, as she desperately struggled against gravity.
Then she roared “This is a lot harder than it used to be!” furiously; I snickered at her, even though I wasn’t doing much better. If our bones and muscles weren’t so ridiculously dense, it would have been much easier to use those particular types of flight magic.
I glided over to the tumbling tigress, and latched onto her back; wrapping my arms and legs around her’s, then whispering “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this part.” into her left ear. My chest was pressing against her furry back, and I could feel her calming down; though she didn’t start freezing me, since her mana was nearly depleted by that point.
A hundred meters from the miscellaneous quarry that we were about to crash into, I spread my aura to the various rocks and minerals which were assembled down there. Then I began slowing us down, using the ground as leverage against our bones… it wasn’t exactly the most pleasant experience, but still hurt a lot less than crash landing: Although, we probably would have been fine either way.
We were a few miles northeast of the forest, inside of HIthu territory; and the first thing that we encountered, was a slave-labor camp. There were a myriad of bulky male warbeasts; most of them resembled the ox-tribe’s bulls, but they seemed to be more closely related to normal cows.
I sighed as I stood up off of Amber’s back and glanced around at the wide variety of chained cattle; there were barely even any guards, but the ones who were there had stopped whipping, and were staring at the two of us with dumbfounded expressions. After a few moments of near silence, there was a giant tree falling in the distance, the hungry tigress jumped to her feet and let out a deafening roar.
It was a primitive limestone quarry, which basically just looked like a bunch of giant stairs; though I didn’t like the idea that they were digging down into the ground, when I knew how incredibly thin it was. We had landed near the southwestern edge, on one of the middle steps; each of them was at least three meters tall, the same height as the humanoid cows.
I still had quite a bit of mana left, so I used some of it to unlock the shackles from all of the slaves that were within a few hundred meters of me. Almost immediately after that, Amber leaped onto the nearest, brown, minotaur; she slammed the front of his body onto the rocky ground, and tore out a large chunk of the left side of his neck, with her teeth.
He was able to make one loud, dying mooing sound, before she literally tore his head off: using her claws. Then I yelled “Well, what the hell are you idiots standing around and gawking at?! If you wanna live, then run or fight! You all have about ten minutes before she’s done snacking on your friend! I on the other hand, prefer elf!” as I grabbed the only person who was stupid enough to try to attack me.
It was a wood-elven man, who wasn’t even wearing armor or equipped with any kind of real weapon. His whip had the hilt of a sword, with a cross-shaped hand-guard; but the design was relatively simple, it almost looked like it was made out of four indigo vines. There was a mana crystal in the pommel and when he struck my chest with it, I could definitely feel a small electrical discharge, but it was nothing compared to my lightning.
There was also the symbol of Hithu on his white tunic, and tattooed onto his forehead; though I wasn’t particularly surprised about it, since we had fallen inside of her territory. He couldn’t even utter a scream, because I was lifting him by his throat at least a foot off of the ground.
The minotaurs were completely naked, which wasn’t particularly surprising; but their overseers weren’t wearing much clothing either. Although, that was probably more to do with their fashion and technological level; the concept of pants didn’t seem to exist from what I had seen in the town.
Basically, the men mostly wore long shirts or tunics, that hung down to their knees; along with the occasional cloak or cape. The women had simple dresses, that typically ran down to their ankles. Even the knights that I had encountered were wearing frilly armored skirts; though they did seem to wear boots that covered most of their lower-legs.
Anyway, tearing the struggling elf’s clothing off was fairly simple; then I reached into his abdomen with my armored right hand and tore out his liver. Unfortunately, he had died from shock almost instantly; so I wasn’t able to see what kind of expression he would make, as he watched me devour it.
While the two of us were enjoying our meals, the terrified slaves frantically killed their masters and freed each-other; there were at least a few hundred of the giant bulls in total, scattered around the quarry. No one was foolish enough to approach either of us, so we were able to eat in relative peace.
Hate and fear were much more useful than respect or hope; we definitely weren’t saviors or heroes, just two demons. At the end of the day, I managed to get my point across; slavery was worse than death, and if they allowed themselves to be captured… then it was only a matter of time before they encountered us.
Although, my plan wouldn’t have worked if Amber had actually killed all of the people in that slave-trading town. In fact, hundreds or thousands of people had escaped in the chaos, and she was more focused on breaking the various buildings; rather than massacring everyone, I mostly just told her that as dramatic effect. In that way, the rumors spread that “There were no survivors.” even though there were actually quite a lot of them.
Not to mention the other witnesses, that I didn’t even know about at the time. Oh well, my hungry tigress was satisfied after she enjoyed a beef buffet, and I was able to slice us up some authentic elven sashimi; then we had to walk sixty-seven miles, back to our base in “Pixieville.”