IS, V4, Chapter 5: Opportunity

Our second day in The Pinnacle of Lorthon had ended in a similar fashion to the first; with Amber and I eating copious amounts of seafood and then cuddling together on the beach, as we quickly drifted off to sleep. Kara used our old spot as her new home, and we moved a few dozen meters to the west of her, mostly for safety reasons.

We had quite a few unusual sleeping habits: heat waves and cold snaps, frequent lightning strikes, sudden gale-force winds, magical alligator attacks, unconscious roaring and singing, purple explosions, mild tremors, illusory demons, and the occasional spacial distortion or gravitational fluctuation… Okay, the last two were issues that I developed a little while later.

I was actually amazed that we didn’t accidentally kill any pixies during that first night, but I didn’t expect a similar miracle to occur again. In fact, when we woke up on that third morning, we were encased in glass; on the fourth, we were floating on a tigress-made mini-glacier, a few miles away from the shore.

A few months passed by, and we had seemed to fall into a pattern; the day or night would start with Karavailon catching us some lake-food, I would prepare it and Amber would help me cook it for the two or three of us. The tiny, blue, wasp-winged, women, mostly consumed small berries and insects that they found in the tall-grass.

Then my furry companion and I would spend a few minutes trying to kill each-other, which usually ended with my victory at the cost of a few eyes, ears, or genitals. She was still incredibly weak against the power of my right hand’s armored fingers, but after that first time, she managed to avoid exploding… though there were a few eruptions.

Our mana-control was becoming a lot better, but there were definite limits to what we could accomplish with willpower alone. Amber learned a trick where she could turn all of her crystalline fur, to an obsidian color, and it would take up similar properties to black-mithril.

She could only maintain that state until she had generated over two-hundred percent of her internal mana-capacity though; after-which she would either switch into “Fiery Tigress” mode, or the even more dangerous “Frostbite” technique. Either way, I made sure that we did our training roughly fifty miles away from the pixie village, on the northeastern-most part of the beach: At a comfortable run, without magical assistance, we were able to make the trip there in about an hour or two.

The forest with the gigantic tree-stump in the center was still mostly intact, and was flooded with several warring wolf-tribe clans; the grasslands had turned into char, ash, volcanic glass, and in some cases ice… so they weren’t our biggest fans.

Although, we did have a small group of mixed-blood doggies, whom occasionally peeped on our spars and training sessions. The five mutts, were the result of a mix-and-match breeding business, that was in the slave-trading town we had destroyed.

Most of them were only puppies, and it was easy to tell that they had been created to become pets, not warriors. In fact, many of them could barely even survive on their own, because of their naturally smaller sizes, and the fact that they were purposefully crippled.

Normal dogs and wolves didn’t exist in the ecosystem, because Yuri’s humanoid versions had hunted the original species to extinction. The elves who just wanted cute little animals to dote on, came up with the idea of amputating their hands and feet, so that they would have to crawl on the ground like their ancestors.

They were meant to be kept in confined spaces and used as colorful decorations; even their teeth were typically removed, to prevent any form of defiance against their masters. It was pretty fucked up, but the treatment of the demi-elf sex-slaves was much worse.

There had actually been an outdoor brothel; where malnourished pale-goblins, which looked similar to wood-elf children, were locked into stockades. The sign next to the men and women had read “Five stones, for ten minutes.” It was one of the first things that Amber immolated; nothing remained of that particular attraction after she had literally used a fiery roar, to blow it all away.

Anyway, when we passed through the woods on our way back to the pixie village, we found the group of frightened, helpless, and adorable pups. Each of them had a different blend of colors, some were black and white, while others were red, blue, yellow, brown, there was even a rainbow-colored female adolescent.

Amber wanted to put them out of their misery, and eat them, but I could understand their whimpering; they were begging me to help them. It was my general rule, to not be too much of an asshole: especially to relatively innocent children.

Fortunately, the mutated plant-life in the vicinity of the mile-wide tree-stump, was teeming with copious amounts of mana. Once I ingested enough vines, twigs, mushrooms, and mysterious herbs, I began healing them.

The tired tigress was kind enough to donate the blood samples, which I used to regrow the hands and feet of the wolves. Her DNA was closer to theirs than mine, so I was able to perform the spell a lot more quickly.

Since they couldn’t walk or even crawl on the newly formed paws and palms, we needed to gather-up the relatively tiny creatures, and carry them back to our base. I was able to hold fifteen of the smallest puppies in my arms, each of which were only six to ten inches long; while Amber was responsible for the five that were each slightly over a meter tall.

They stayed in the tall-grass, a few meters north of Pixietown, and developed an incredibly strong attachment to Kara: who provided them with fish every day. The twenty fluffy-furred wolf-tribe kids, seemed to have been deathly afraid of me and the giant tiger-girl.

It took them a few weeks, but the older ones eventually became strong enough to travel around the eastern beach. The five of them could find and eat small, non-humanoid, rabbits or field-mice; so they created a pack, and actually ‘claimed’ a territory a few miles to the west of our training area.

While they refused to approach or interact with us, I could hear and see them watching from a few dozen meters away. Well, our little sparring matches were usually filled with flashy purple explosions, white lightning, and more dismemberment than necessary.

We were supposed to have been practicing restraint… but holding in my exceptionally high mana-generation rate was incredibly difficult, and Amber had anger-management issues. I contemplated covering my entire body with the same black scales that protected my spine and tail, or creating an exoskeleton that was similar to my right arm; unfortunately, I didn’t have hallucinatory Yuri to assist me: Even if I did, I lacked the proper materials and environment, to perform such dangerous nature magic.

Our training sessions were much more tiring and exciting than the occasional dine-and-dash at the local battlefields. There were a few more skirmishes between Lum and Hithu, all of which seemed to take place in temporary arenas; the ground literally split apart, and the two small armies would clash in the artificial ravine.

Rather than try to wipe out both sides, we usually just abducted as many warbeasts as we could, before the ‘goddesses’ crushed their own people to death, while trying to kill us. If they didn’t have any slaves, we would just steal as much mithril as possible, and sometimes I would capture one of their commanders.

Interrogation was unnecessary, it was much easier to shove my fingers into their skulls and directly extract the information I required. It was a fairly violent form of telepathy, and they didn’t live for more than a few seconds after I was done with them… but after what I saw in their memories, I would have killed them anyway.

The most important things I learned from the three men and four women, was that the culture, religion, and politics of Hithu and Lum had been vastly divergent. Like many other elven nations that I had encountered, their society was very matriarchal; mainly because the difference between secondary sexual characteristics was typically very low: The females had slightly larger mammary glands, and the males were a little more muscular, but the main difference was only between reproductive organs.

Hithu Kingdom was ruled by a queen named Hestia, she had been in power for over four-hundred years. Her position was more like a high-priestess though, and she was essentially just a vessel for their goddess to live and speak through.

Their most devout followers, the champions, started out as paladins, and consumed a mysterious blue elixir every day; until they eventually developed the ability to communicate telepathically with their lady. Basically, it was some sort of special mana-rich potion, that would cause their bodies to slowly transform into dryads; though, most people died long before they were able to achieve a successful “Ascension.”

According to their religion, they couldn’t eat any kind of meat or other animal products; their diet consisted of: vegetables, herbs, grains, nuts, mushrooms, and other plants or fungi that grew in their fertile lands. It would supposedly ‘taint’ an elf, if they consumed food that wasn’t from Hithu soil; it wasn’t that far from the truth though, Yuri had created all kinds of strange creatures in the DMZ.

There was also a stigma on sex in general, having extramarital relations was a pretty heavy crime; the punishment from breaking that law, was either castration or spaying. However, ‘mating’ with a warbeast or demi-elf was typically a death sentence for both parties, even though it was usually a master raping their slave.

Prostitution was obviously outlawed as well, which was one of the only things I agreed on in their culture. Being a slut or having many partners was a person’s own choice, though a dangerous one considering all the ridiculous curses and other types of STDs in that world, but allowing people to sell themselves like that… could only lead to a mountain of other problems down the line; it was better to just remove it from an early stage of cultural development.

Their level of technology was what I would consider ‘medieval’ or lower. The closest thing to a siege engine that they had, were a myriad of colossal treants: They were typically quadrupedal, but there were humanoid versions as well.

For the most part, they overly relied on their abundant mithril; which for the most part, naturally existed in its silver form, but near the capital was a rare golden-mithril vein. Obviously the generals and captains that I had interrogated, didn’t know anything about blacksmithing or mining, so there was little for me to gain by probing their minds for that information.

The various mana-crystals were created by alchemists, and programmed by mages; according to what they understood about the subject, pixies were the main ingredient to the higher grade magical gems. Apparently, the lower quality ones were harvested from a forest near the northeastern edge of the kingdom; the trees there were literally made out of the quartz-like material.

One of the reasons I went through the trouble of freeing so many of their warbeast slaves, was because of the crystals on their shock-collars; they could be crushed into a fine powder, mixed with water, and stored in vials that I created from the golden sands. It wasn’t quite as fast acting as my fruit juice potions from the third ring used to be, but it was still pretty potent once our stomachs digested the crystals.

The majority of their population was enlisted in some part of their military, and both sides seemed to fear the southern kingdom of Agar. Even though from what I could gather, neither of the northern nations had actually fought against them in over a thousand years. There weren’t really that many elven farmers in Hithu, because they had a huge quantity of “Cattle” or cow-tribe. They had been domesticated after hundreds of generations of slavery. Their females had a social status closer to that of peasants, while the bulls were used as miners, beasts of burden, and warriors.

Essentially, that shitty town that Amber and I destroyed, had been an almost lawless zone. Where wealthy merchants, nobles, and other generally evil wood-elves would go to sin. Once I had the locations of the other three similar trading villages that were on the border of ‘my’ territory, to the north and east, we quickly razed them all.

In some ways Lum was a lot less disgusting, because they hated demi-elves and warbeasts so much, that their typical policy was to simply eradicate them all. Unfortunately, their soldiers had no qualms about raping the pale-goblins, half-elves, and deer-tribe. Although it was frowned upon, and considered no different than bestiality.

Both kingdoms had horses… Well, rainbow colored unicorns that were closer to the size of ponies. They asexually reproduced by laying eggs twice a year. It was obviously another one of Yuri’s experiments.

Considering that it was a hundred and fifty miles between the capital of either country and their borders, it would have taken a normal elf at least a week to travel on foot. But with a genetically modified super-steed, it was possible to make it there in a single day. There were more unicorns than riders, so most of the larger battles took place in the northern divide: a stretch of barren wasteland, between The Goblin Hills and The Edge of The World.

Lum made up for their lack of mithril, warbeasts, and mana-crystals, with an abundance of gold, silver, copper, and other relatively valuable metals. Though their power came from their ability to create aluminum bronze, carbon steel, and other alloys. If they had been in a world without magic, their technologically advanced nation would have easily crushed Hithu.

However, even with siege engines like catapults, trebuchets, ballistas, scorpios, and battering rams, they could only barely match their enemies in power. They did have a decent assortment of healers and mages, who were literally called “Priests”, “Bishops”, “Cardinals”, and the highest rank being a “Pope”.

Well, there were quite a few other ranks in-between the four, but the point was that their religion’s hierarchy was based on how much favor the individual had with their Goddess. Lum never directly spoke to anyone, but she did grant them power depending on their devotion to her. Which created a class system, where those who didn’t receive her favor were branded as heretics. Then they had an excuse to torture, rape, and eventually burn the non-believers to death at the stake.

Anyone who could use something other than fire magic, was considered a witch or warlock, and hunted. Once captured, the pagan would be sacrificed in the capital, Arlos, on a giant ziggurat-shaped altar; an archbishop I had managed to capture, actually performed the ritual a few times.

The man or woman would be chained to a golden slab, and when a hundred-thousand elves were gathered below, the skies would darken with storm clouds. On the rectangular piece of highly conductive metal, each corner had a silver lightning rod, which their hands and feet were bound to.

As far as I could tell, the elaborate electrical execution served no purpose, other than a flashy light-show for the fanatical Lumeans… Yep, that was seriously what they called themselves. They didn’t actually have a king or queen, just the pope Sar-Lum.

Similar to how Hithu’s followers transformed their bodies, the higher the rank in the Lum clergy a person became, the less elven they appeared. The final form was essentially a three meter tall, green dryad, with no gender, face, or other identifiable features: aside from the fact that they were a giant tree-person.

The most significant thing I learned from those seven minds, was the name of the elevated island: Salvation. Another interesting piece of information I obtained, was that neither kingdom understood the concept of music; since elves were constantly listening to auras their whole lives, singing or playing instruments probably seemed pointless to them.

Anyway, I usually refrain from telepathically devouring people’s minds, because it was incredibly dangerous. If their willpower and understanding of illusion magic was higher than mine, they would have been able to retaliate against me. Although, the main reason was just that I didn’t want to subject myself to that.

Seeing, hearing, feeling, experiencing their disgusting memories… I don’t usually get angry, but I don’t like being helpless. Watching through the eyes of an elven man, as he tortures or rapes a defenseless child-like pale-goblin, being powerless to intervene; my rage was far more terrifying than anything that Amber could ever attempt to muster.

When we were destroying the slave-trading towns on the eastern and southern borders of Hithu, I started reverting back to the worst version of myself. Normally I can ignore the screams, the whispers, and the voices in the back of my mind, but everyone has a limit.

Power might not corrupt, but hatred definitely does, and I was seething with it. In two months, we had killed approximately fifty-thousand wood-elves altogether; of course, that wasn’t counting what the warbeasts we freed did, or what the two goddesses inadvertently did to their own followers.

The death-toll was actually pretty small, since there were millions of criminals throughout the three kingdoms that I needed to deal with. It was going to take a lot longer than I had initially anticipated, and I nearly succumbed to my bad habits from past lives.

For Iris it was always about lust, not just for sex, but pretty much everything. She had a pretty bad temper, especially when it came to anything regarding the two laws.

However, the memories that I had sealed into myself were by far the most dangerous, because “He” was there. When Helel was Lucy, I was an angelic being named Abaddon, and he was a dick… not literally.

His policy was a little more extreme than my current philosophy, though he did get results. While Amber took her naps, using my body as a pillow, he would whisper “You can end this all now, just go over to that pyramid and kill Terra. If she dies, this whole planet will fall into chaos, once everything is destroyed, we can finally rest.” which wouldn’t have been nearly as easy as he made it sound.

Well, to be fair, his reasoning was that “If people don’t live, then they can’t sin, and they’ll never have to experience hell.” but even if I somehow annihilated every universe I came across, there would have still been an infinite number of others that people could play around in.

Abaddon cared far too much about others… on the other hand, Ares was the complete opposite. He was my failed attempt at finding happiness through warfare; he usually dies pretty young, but he was considered a God a few times as well.

I sealed his memories inside of Beatrix, since her true nature was leaning towards that direction anyway. With her emotionless temperament, a bloodthirsty psychopath was just what she needed to give her the motivation to stay alive.

Even though I wasn’t going to do anything as ridiculous as blowing up the planet, I did seriously contemplate creating a pathogen. A deadly virus that specifically targeted wood-elves; if I had Yuri’s help, it would have been possible to create one that was only dangerous to certain ethnicities.

People from Hithu typically had blue hair and eyes, their skin was a little darker than their neighbors, and they had slightly larger noses. Lumeans were a bit taller, more muscular on average, with significantly shorter ears, and their hair and eye colors were closer to green, than yellow.

There were more than enough genetic markers to tell the difference between the two wood-elf clans. I still didn’t know much of anything about Agar, but judging by the trend, I could guess that they were unique in one way or another.

Aside from the obvious dangers involved with creating a super-virus or curse, I wasn’t particularly interested in committing genocide. Innocent people were going to suffer and die regardless of what I did, but even if it would have been easier to indiscriminately exterminate everyone in those three kingdoms… the simplest path isn’t always the most rewarding.

I snickered as Amber purred in my left ear, and used my horn to scratch her neck; she was laying on top of me, rubbing her soft but incredibly ductile fur against the entire front of my body. The golden sand was cushioning my back, so her ridiculous weight barely even fazed me.

All around us were broken and bent, swords, shields, helmets, breastplates, pauldrons, spears, staves, battle-axes, along with other assorted weapons and armors. It was the middle of the day, and we were taking a peaceful rest in our base, that was only a few dozen meters to the east of Pixietown; our nighttime sleeping spots were usually random, so I needed a place to store all the junk that we had gathered in our relatively busy month.

Most of it was either silver or golden colored mithril, but there was at least a few bronze tower-shields. It was something that I had been putting off for a while, but if I didn’t deal with it, no one would have: I needed to establish trade between The Stronghold Mountain Republic, and the tiny blue wasp-winged elves.

Aside from Kara and the twenty puppies, Amber and I liberated a total of thirty-seven other warbeasts from Hithu’s skirmishes with Lum: five bears, each from different clans, a cougar-woman who was incredibly attractive for her age, nine bulls, twelve mostly-humanoid fox-tribe men and women, four blackwolf bitches… literally, and six alligator-people. Well, we actually freed closer to a hundred, but only the ones I mentioned accepted my job offers; the others went back to their tribes, killed themselves, or decided to wander off into oblivion.

There weren’t that many people altogether, but since many of their bodies were fairly large, they needed a decent amount of space to set up their village. I gently pried the napping tigress off of my body, and stood up, facing the west.

A chilling wind blew through the air, though it wasn’t cold enough for me to feel uncomfortable, not everyone had my insulating skin and ridiculously high body temperature to protect them. Many of the warbeasts with thick fur were perfectly fine in the near freezing weather, but the lizards, pixies, and foxes weren’t so lucky. I predicted as much, and instructed them all to begin constructing more reliable shelters, less than a week after my arrival.

What was once a bunch of tiny huts and tents, transformed into a small lake-side metropolis; in my spare time, I spent a decent amount of effort creating the miniature skyscrapers for the little brats: some of which were actually taller than I was. There were thin, mithril support beams, but the majority of the golden structures, were created out of sand, clay, and glass. The seven towers were formed using earth and water manipulation, plus a bit of fire, so they didn’t take that long to build.

The nice thing about them being so tiny and light, was that it required a lot less time, effort, and materials, to create relatively massive structures for them. If I had tried building a twenty or thirty story building that Amber or I could move around in, the whole thing would have had to have been made out of steel or mithril; even iron-wood would crack and bend under our weight.

Little pink hippos were wading through the shallow waters, and they growled at me as I walked past. I peeked inside some of the relatively large glass windows, which were also used as sliding doors, and saw quite a few interesting scenes.

Each floor was a square meter, with ceilings that were at least two feet high; for the six-inch tall pixies, it was enough room for them to flutter around a bit. The towers only had about three and a half apartments each; fortunately, the little critters typically formed large and close-knit harems.

Rather than dying from some sort of genetic quirk, the males were actually just extremely fragile; the constant mating was literally killing them from exhaustion. Until I had arrived, their main food source was pretty limited, so even the girls had been suffering from extreme malnourishment.

Once they started getting enough protein, their stamina increased exponentially; with the addition of having a safe and enclosed environment, the little blue brats were basically just having sex all day. Even the two seraphs were spending an awful lot of time in their penthouse, at the top of The Puriel Tower; Amber made a small six inch tall statue of herself out of clay, by hand, and placed it on the roof of the three-meter tall building: It wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, but definitely better than anything that I could have made without magic.

Pixies were small, fragile, and their potential as warriors was practically nonexistent, but they did have a latent talent that I was casually helping Hanael cultivate. I didn’t enjoy dealing directly with the noisy blue pests, but my mother was tolerable; though she still didn’t seem to recall anything about me.

Whenever I had the chance, I would spend a few minutes or hours teaching her a few songs. It was a similar concept to reciting a chant to cast a spell. As her brain was memorizing the lyrics and notes, her aura would be remembering how to perform a certain action; later on, she could use the song as a trigger to send her mana into a patient’s body, and forcefully regenerate a simple wound.

A creature’s mana-capacity was dependant more so on the quality and efficiency of the crystals throughout their bodies, than the quantity. Even if a giant like Morneth could potentially have a much higher total amount, a smaller organism like a pixie, required a lot less output to maintain a much denser and potent aura. Although, everything depended on the environment, nutrition, training, genetic disposition, and talent.

The key feature that a tiny little healer had over a colossus, was that they were much more difficult to hit, or even notice. As far as battle potential was concerned, that was their greatest advantage over a ‘normal-sized’ mage.

I sighed as I witnessed the two lovebirds in the central tower’s penthouse, embracing each-other on a bed made out of sand. Once the weather became chilly, the lively nocturnal village turned into a town filled with oversexed shut-ins; it made me wonder why I even bothered hiring Hanael to be my representative, when I ended up having to do her job anyway.

A mile or so down the beach, was the edge of Kara’s settlement; it didn’t have walls, but there were a few beefy bear-men and bulls patrolling the borders. When Amber and I raided the elven slave-traders, Angelica and a group of her warbeast scavengers would come in afterwards and salvage what they could; our fighting style was pretty brutal, so most of the gear was completely trashed: It was still mostly made of of mithril though.

When I walked past Steve and Kyle, a pair of identical brown cow-man twins, they grimaced and looked away from me. They had relatively small golden greatswords dangling from their waists, and had shiny steel chainmail covering most of their bodies; I snickered at their response to my presence, and I heard one of them mutter “Fucking bastard…” in a deep and garbled voice.

Their older brother was that miscellaneous bull that Amber killed and ate a few months prior; they actually came after me for revenge a few days later, but obviously failed. I didn’t hold it against them, and even offered to hire them, but they tried to attack me a few more times before ultimately giving up; I gave them four golden-mithril flamberges, as reparations and their first paycheck.

Of course, they tested their power on my body almost immediately after accepting them. After I lost a decent amount of flesh and blood, I made them stop before they broke the damn things.

If they had actually tried to attack Amber, she would have simply had steak for lunch and dinner, which was why they vented their anger towards me. Regardless of their attitude problems, they were pretty damn good at their jobs: which was mostly to keep the other warbeasts from killing each-other.

I smiled as I watched the reptilian children splashing around in the warm water, a few dozen meters from the beach; their thick, scaly, yellow hides, were covered in scars, and the oldest one was even missing his tail.

In the western slave-trading town, near the border of Agar, we had found a handful of alligator-tribe kids. They were only a few years old, but each of them was nearly two meters tall, and incredibly muscular.

There was little discernible differences between genders, aside from the pitch of their practically infra-sound voices. They didn’t speak Lorthon, or any beast-language that I could understand, but a bit of telepathy allowed me to form a decent connection with them.

As I walked along the tiny waves, they all stared at me with what I assumed was respect, in their snake-like silver eyes. Then I turned toward the huge beach-house, which was just a rather large log-cabin, and saw three meter tall bear-girl smiling wryly at me.

Karavailon’s breasts and abdomen had swollen significantly since we first met, but that wasn’t particularly surprising. She was carrying three cubs inside of her, so even if she was still in the early stages of pregnancy, it was natural for her size to increase dramatically.

Her house was one of ten similar structures, that were built along the shoreline; each residence was significantly different in size and design, since they were constructed by different people and some of them weren’t even finished. The tall-grass behind the beach, had been removed; wooden huts, shacks, cabins, and several thick brown leather tents, were spread out over nearly a kilometer. It was just a small village, but a month prior, it didn’t even exist; so I was pretty impressed with their progress.

Kara glared at me with both her brown and golden eyes, then told me “You really don’t have to check on my condition every other day, it’s annoying. Besides, Kyle and Steven keep bitching every time you come by ‘Why do you let that monster touch you?’ ‘If you really love us, you’ll stop seeing Michael.’ Not to mention that damn cougar, she keeps asking me to convince you to mate with her!

“The foxes are the worst though, half of the bastards think you’re their god, the other half worship Puriel, and both sides are fucking crazy. How the hell did I end up as the damn chieftain of this shitty village anyway?! Gah! Well, hurry up and rub my belly or whatever the hell you normally do, I wanna catch some fish before the sun sets.” while making an extremely irritated expression and waving her arms around a lot.

Okay, maybe the twins hated me out of jealousy rather than revenge, but it was silly either way. My relationship with Kara was never anything more than friendship, doctor-patient, and employer-employee; she wasn’t really my type anyway: far too weak for my tastes.

The fox-tribe issue wasn’t that surprising. They were somewhere between demi-elves and warbeasts; having humanoid faces, with large triangular ears and bushy tails, but very little fur on their relatively small bodies: so they needed to wear clothing, which was usually made from leather or fur. Their average height was only about a hundred and seventy centimeters tall.

I placed my left hand against the Kara’s furry abdomen, and snickered at her reaction to my telepathic connection; it was almost like she was addicted to that feeling, yet she kept telling me to stop visiting her.

After a few seconds, I told the euphoric bear-girl “Your cubs seem completely healthy, but all kinds of problems can occur during pregnancy; if I knew more about your race’s anatomy, I wouldn’t have to be so careful. Also, you shouldn’t push yourself to go fishing every day, just relax for another month or two, and then you’ll have three little brats to deal with… aside from your boyfriends.” Even if I ‘read’ through a few of Yuri’s tentacle books, it didn’t mean that I memorized every single piece of information that was forcefully inserted into my brain.

Kara sighed as I removed my palm from her navel, and sardonically asked “What the hell am I supposed to do then? Just lay around my house all day and stare at the walls? Normally, around this time of year, our clan would start gathering up enough food for the winter; speaking of which, if the village keeps growing at this rate… we’re going to need a lot more fishermen.” while frowning.

I smirked at her rhetorical question, and replied “Yeah, yeah, just don’t push yourself too hard. If worst comes to worst, the seal I placed on your uterus should prevent a miscarriage… just be careful, okay? Anyway, I need to get out of her before, shit, too late.” as I heard a loud, familiar, high-pitched growl, emanating from Kara’s slanted, wooden roof.

When I looked up, I had to quickly leap backwards a few yards, to avoid the most annoying person in the entire village, Tasha. She landed feet first on the golden sand, only a few inches in front of the pregnant, brown-bear.

The silver-furred, two-meter tall, extremely lean muscled, cougar-woman, had a stern expression on her scarred feline face. There was a depressed look in her relatively large, dark-blue eyes, as she purred “Stay still…” and slowly walked towards me.

Tasha was never actually a slave; she was part of a nomadic clan, that wandered around the northern hills. Normally, they would hunt deer, elk, moose, and sometimes even poach farm-animals from the pale-goblins.

When the females reached a certain age, they would leave the group, and find a suitable mate. However, that wasn’t why she was stalking me; she was already way too old to have any more children, but that didn’t mean her sex-drive or reproductive instincts had ceased to function.

I yelled “No, bad kitty! There are plenty of males around here who would be happy to satisfy a beautiful woman like yourself, so go play with them!” as I evaded her pounce, by side-stepping to the left.

She made a loud “Rawl!” sound, as she narrowly avoided landing in the ankle-deep water. Then Tasha yelled “Confusing! You say I attractive, but don’t mate!” in a voice that was at least an octave higher than mine.

As she lunged at me, with both of her clawed hands outstretched in front of her, I sighed and used my left forearm to block her attack. Then she attempted to sink her fairly long canines into my skin, which was reminiscent of a small cat, biting into a rubber chew-toy.

Even though she was relatively tall, her entire body weight was less than two-hundred pounds; so it was pretty easy to wave my left arm, and toss her a few meters away from me. When she got up off the sand and hissed at me, I calmly told her “You’re cute, but not really my type, sorry. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to survive my idea of mating.” while smirking.

Tasha was still hunched over in some sort of strange fighting stance, and shouted “Don’t understand!” as she scratched at my face and neck with her claws. For many beast races that communicate through scents, they typically have the ability to control their own pheromones; I didn’t, and thus a pretty irritating problem arose.

My mouth was saying no, but my body was screaming “Have sex with me!” Well, it was mostly Amber’s fault; there was a huge difference between blue-balls, and castration.

She did attempt to satisfy me a few times, but that only ended in tragedy. Cat tongues were not designed for use on genitals, especially when the barbs were meant to tear the meat off of demon bones… though that was a pretty good analogy of what happened.

I didn’t exactly have high hopes for that particular experiment anyway. Amber was more interested in satisfying her appetite, than me, and she enjoyed my taste a little too much: That wasn’t a euphemism.

Her palms were surprisingly soft, but gentleness wasn’t exactly in her nature. Fortunately, when she accidentally dismembered me, it required a lot less mana and effort to reattach, rather than regrow, penises number: seventeen, twenty-one, twenty-nine, and thirty-three.

There was also a temperature control issue which often occurred. She was dexterous enough to sculpt small clay figurines, or carve wood sculptures with her claws; yet, when she was aroused, what little restraint she possessed, was completely absent.

It was called foreplay, because it was supposed to be a precursor to sex; since I kept losing my reproductive organs, and she was always satisfied after a few seconds of my less-than-gentle massaging technique, we were still virgins. Although, I use that term very loosely, due to the fact that I definitely had experience from more lives that I can even remember.

The mating rituals of cougar-tribe were pretty similar to tiger-tribe’s; the female attacks the man, and he dominates her… or dies in the process. My refusal to fight against Tasha was an insult to her honor, or some such nonsense.

I sighed dramatically as she continued to attack, until I finally decided to end her infatuation with me. When she was starting to get tired out, I grabbed the back of her neck with my right hand, and ‘gently’ slammed her face into the sand, while grabbing her tail with my left.

Kara snickered, and the commotion managed to gather a pretty big crowd. There were large claw and teeth marks across the cougar’s back, scars that tainted her otherwise pristine coat; I reached into her mind, and felt flashes of when she was in a similar position.

Then her thoughts became blank as she felt a small jolt of electricity run through her body, and then a surge of pleasure that was beyond anything she had ever experienced before. She lost consciousness, because I literally electrocuted her spine; just enough so that she would ‘remember’ that I fulfilled her silly desire.

After that, I flipped her over onto her back, so that she wouldn’t suffocate, and made sure that I didn’t cause any serious damage. Her snout was bleeding a little bit, but nothing significant was wrong with the flat-chested woman, with well-toned abdominal muscles: covered by some thin silver fur.

She really was beautiful, at least by my standards, but she was lacking in too many areas for me to be interested in a relationship with her; Tasha wasn’t looking for a boyfriend, husband or partner anyway, just a few seconds of passion.

I smiled when I saw the satisfied expression on her face, then turned to Kara and said “She should wake up in a few minutes, so I need to get going. Hopefully she decides to stick around, if not, then… oh well.” as I stood up.

Eager to move onto the next tedious bit of business for the day, I briskly left the beach. Kyle and Steve snarled at me as I passed them, while the dark-skinned and pink-haired fox-tribe cultists were whispering some creepy gibberish; even though I had told them several times that I definitely wasn’t a deity of any kind, they just assumed that I was testing their faith… so I gave up trying to convince them: As long as they didn’t break my laws, they were free to believe whatever they wanted.

A few of the other brown-skinned minotaurs glared at me as well; while I overheard some of the blackwolf-tribe women gossiping “Aww, I thought you said they were mating.” and “Is she dead?” or something like that.

The village was turning out pretty nicely, but the residents had fairly limited skillsets. Fox-tribe were the only race among them that actually knew how to build houses or forage for herbs, berries, and nuts; everyone else would either fish in the relatively dangerous lake, hunt in the northwestern forest, help with construction, join Angelica’s army and guard the town, or just laze around like Tasha.

A rudimentary bartering system existed, and people payed each-other with different types of food. It was very similar to Ael Tol when I was getting it started, but there was a pretty big difference between the two: resources.

In Beast Haven, powerful and gigantic magical-beasts were everywhere, mana was prevalent, and there were enough outside enemies to avoid a sense of complacency. Clans, prides, and sometimes even roaming demons, would threaten the borders of our territory, and everyone always had something to do; Karaville had never been attacked, and the most dangerous wildlife were basically just fire-breathing hippos and sharks.

The only form of entertainment that the villagers had, was interpersonal relationships with each-other. Aside from a certain bear-girl and two bulls, most of the other residents were relatively normal; which meant that there was very little interracial mating, and aside from sex… there wasn’t much else that people could do for fun.

Fortunately though, everyone did speak or understand Lorthon to a certain extent, so the language barrier from the third ring’s races didn’t exist in Salvation. Many warbeasts preferred to stay among their own kind, or solitude, but the little settlement was filled with people who chose to either ‘work’ for me, or simply didn’t know what else to do with their lives: It was a common occurrence for ex-slaves to have difficulty adjusting to their new-found freedom.

Anyway, I stopped by my base and picked up a golden-mithril staff, which was bent into a ‘U’ shape. There was a fractured crystalline orb on one end, that was being gripped by what looked like a bird’s foot. I had taken it from a rather powerful Hithu mage; when the mana-gem broke from my aura, I decided to use it as a pole-arm instead.

After collecting the nearly useless twenty-pound lump of metal, I began the seven-mile trek through the tall-grass. Freeman hadn’t contacted me since he left, carrying a tiny leather sack, filled with three golden beads: each of them weighing a whole ounce.

He didn’t even return for the rest of the pile, so I wasn’t sure if he had made it back home alright. Well, I also considered the possibility that he was too afraid, or that he wasn’t willing to travel seven miles for a few pounds of gold and silver.

When I arrived at the clearing for the second time, I noticed that the fields were still filled with fresh vegetables. The cow which had dwarfed the relatively huge pygmy mouse-tribe village, was nowhere to be seen.

It was fall, and the air temperature was almost cold enough to freeze water; the vibrant plant-life that spread out for more than a mile, to the east and north of The Stronghold Mountain Republic’s walls, was definitely an unexpected sight. The same as the first time, horns and bells started resounding the moment I stepped onto the grass-less soil, that was covered in weathered bone-fragments.

However, I had quickly forgotten my original objective once I saw the extremely abnormally colored and shaped, but relatively familiar, fruits, herbs and vegetables. There were delicious-looking patches of gigantic garlic, rainbow peppers, black and white checkered watermelons, grapevines that squirmed around like green worms, and other Yuri-styled crops.

A few months prior, there were only cabbages, carrots, onions, potatoes, and other relatively normal plants. I was elated and incredibly nostalgic, while wandering through the field and examining the various oddities; there was even a fenced in area, filled with sheep that had black and white stripes on their wool: each one was at least two meters tall, and incredibly puffy.

It was still the middle of the day, so a handful of pale-goblin farmers were spread-out around the field, harvesting. I easily walked over the five-foot tall fence, and entered the enclosure; then I heard a high-pitched scream, as the balls of fluff started shrieking and running away from me.

After the stampede, I noticed a small demi-elven child, and immediately smirked at their peculiar appearance. I couldn’t tell its gender from first glance, but I couldn’t help saying “neat,” out-loud.

The interesting little creature was a chimera, though nothing quite as dramatic as the assortment of centaurs Yuri created in the second ring. It was wearing a long and dirty grey dress, down to his or her feet; which covered its legs and arms, but the face and hands were clearly visible.

Its left side was reminiscent of a silver-eyed dark-dwarf with wavy white hair; while the right reminded me of a wood-elf, who had straight reddish-blonde locks and a slightly larger, bright-blue iris. She was sitting down on the filthy ground, trembling in fear while staring at me, and having a pretty severe panic attack.

Even though she was managing to keep from screaming, her aura was definitely making a lot of noise. I snickered as I opened my golden vertical eye, and confirmed my suspicions; she wasn’t just a chimera, she was a conjoined twin… Two bodies that were fused together before birth, but with separate consciousnesses.

I quickly closed my third eye, as a pale-goblin man and a dark-dwarven woman, wearing brown peasant-like clothing, rushed over to the little girl. Then I noticed a small group of meter-tall demi-elves, carrying pitchforks, meat cleavers, scythes, or sickles, were gathering around them. I grinned at the terrified mob of twenty-something people, and casually said “Hi.” while raising my chitinous right hand.

After a few seconds of silence, aside from the screaming sheep in the background, I asked “Do you kids speak Lorthon?” as I tilted my head slightly to the left.

The slightly muscular obsidian-skinned woman stepped forward, pushing her way through the tightly packed and trembling farmers. She had four large claw-scars diagonally across her face, and was wearing some rusted iron chainmail, while wielding a small gladius in her right hand; her clothing under the vaguely reflective metal, was a brown and white dress, plus some thick leather boots and gloves.

Even though she wore a stern and confidant expression, her voice was shaky as she asked “What do you want from us, monster?” I noticed a few of the men and women give her an angry glare, because it was almost as if she were taunting me.

I started laughing, since it seemed like the brat actually wanted to fight me. Then I sighed, and replied “Do you own this farm?” while pointing at the droopy-eared dark-dwarf.

She cautiously told me “My husband and I do…” but her eyes widened and she stopped speaking when a small iron-tipped arrow, bounced off of my left temple. Most of the farmers were shocked, and quite a few of them gasped dramatically, while staring at myself or the pale-goblin man who fired the crossbow bolt.

Without even turning my head towards the assailant, I smiled and asked the frightened woman “How much is golden-mithril worth to you guys? I have the regular kind too. Hell, I’ve even collected a decent amount of those tiny little beads that those Hithu and Lum bastards are always carrying around. What I’m asking is, what can I buy with this thing?”

Then I held out my left hand, which was carrying the broken staff, and I quickly used my right to bend it back into a somewhat straightened state. A girl from the crowd threw a pebble at my forehead, and one of the miscellaneous farmers yelled “Leave us alone, warbeast!” in an angry, masculine, voice.

Growing weary from the unprovoked verbal and physical attacks, I coldly told the unwanted extras “Shouldn’t you kids be playing over there? That was rhetorical, leave or I will literally tear your livers out and eat them… The hell are you waiting for? Fuck off!” I might have been a little upset that someone threw a manure covered rock at my face; they were lucky that I wasn’t really in the mood for elf.

When they just stood there, with resolute expressions on their terrified faces, I sighed and had to waste a bit of mana. After pointing the side of the staff which possessed a cracked, blue, crystal at the group, I created a small gust of wind; the gale was aimed at everyone who I deemed unimportant.

It wasn’t enough to cause any injuries or blow them away, but it definitely made them lose their composure. A seven-foot tall monstrous nudist, who couldn’t be harmed by arrows, and could use magic… it was enough for them to run away screaming out of the fairly large sheep pen.

All that remained after a few minutes, was the little girl, the hairless pale-goblin man who was trying to protect her, and the incredibly brave dark-dwarven woman. I smiled at the three of them, who were tightly grouped together, and said “It still works pretty well, as long as you don’t channel too much mana through the orb. Or you could just melt it down and make some really fancy farming tools out of it.”

The scar-faced girl, along with the other two, seemed to be stunned; then she dropped her sword into the dirt and muttered “Heretic… no, what are you?” in a quiet, shaky voice. Then the chimera child began bawling loudly as she fell to her knees again, and the short, bald, man with long but drooping elven ears, knelt down next to the kid and tried to calm it down.

I sighed, and asked “A demon, monster, aberration, nudist, what the hell does it matter? How about one of each? I mean, I admit that this staff is a bit shit… but the materials are definitely worth at least enough to buy some damn fruits and vegetables. Actually, even just a couple handfuls of seeds would be fine, I assume you guys do use some sort of currency, tell me what it is and I’ll go get some.” in an irritated tone.

That farm was actually pretty big; while gazing around to my left and right, as I waited for the confused woman, I noticed just how huge it really was. The puffy sheep had distracted me before, but once they were on the other side of the fenced in area, I was able to get a better look at the surroundings.

A hundred and fifty meters to the south were at least four or five wooden hovels, enough to house the twenty or so people who worked there. In the southeast, next to a few barns and a large shed, there was a small stream running from north to south, and an archaic watermill on the eastern side of it.

A kilometer or two beyond that, I could clearly see a small forest, with a walled village or town in front of it. In the north, there was a gigantic cornfield, the maize itself was at least several times bigger than what I would consider normal.

The northeast had a rainbow unicorn stable; I noticed a few pale-goblins saddling some of them, and beginning to ride pretty damn quickly towards that settlement. In the north and south east, it was all vegetables, fruits, herbs, etcetera… The Stronghold Mountain Republic was located a kilometer in that direction.

Near the southern barns, I could hear cawing and mooing, so I assumed there were chickens and cows of some kind. Basically, the farm was way bigger than I had first thought; I knew that they must have been capable of producing far more food than one little village could possibly consume, especially if they were able to grow crops all year long.

When the crying subsided, I walked closer to the dumbfounded and terrified woman, then squatted down so that she wasn’t at eye-level with my genitals: Even the minotaurs wore deer-hide kilts to cover themselves. Once the two of us were less than a meter apart, I held out my arm and handed her the relatively heavy metal rod, which she unconsciously accepted; though the weight of the six-foot long staff, seemed to have surprised her.

Then I smiled and asked her “Do you guys have a wagon I can borrow? I kinda wanted to buy a bit of everything.” to which she just pointed to my left, at a fairly large four-wheeled wooden vehicle. Some rainbow-colored, horned ponies were connected to the front of it, and a few dozen giant ears of corn were stacked on the cart.

Before I left, I casually mentioned “Ah, I forgot to introduce myself, my name’s Michael, The Spirit of… anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ll be sure to bring more money, and a few friends to help me carry stuff.”

I removed most of the corn, and then guided the two ponies around the vegetable field. The wagon was meant to have a driver, but since I wasn’t a sixty-pound pale-goblin, I was way over the weight limit.

It was a pretty shoddily built cart, though it was big enough to carry at least half a ton of equally distributed plants: It was five feet wide, ten feet long, and made out of wooden planks. Once I collected a wide variety of strange crops, I unharnessed the unicorns, and dragged the rickety vehicle back through seven miles of thick tall-grass; the wheels almost fell off a few times, but I was able to use some earth magic to hold the metal parts together, while continuing to pull it at a relatively brisk pace.

There were actually a few small, and leafless, beech trees scattered around; however, they were spread so thin, they didn’t impede my short journey from the farm, to the warbeast village. Upon arrival, and with the relenting of my telekinetic assistance, the wagon promptly broke down.

By that time, the weather had begun to deteriorate; the huge difference in temperature between the warm lake and the freezing winds that came from all around it, created an icy tempest along the beach and for a few miles in every direction around it. It hailed pretty fiercely, but luckily the residents of that relatively small settlement had managed to finish constructing enough homes to fit everyone.

Well, the alligator-tribe brats just went deeper into the lake, since it was still nice and warm out there. An interesting side-effect of the storm, was that the ambient mana-density in the atmosphere had increased dramatically; thus I was able to generate enough power, to adequately protect my strangely colored produce.

I roared for Amber, and once she arrived, the two of us carried the wheel-less wagon into the mildly churning tides. The wooden planks were sufficiently buoyant to carry the load of assorted, chilled, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

While wading in the waist-deep water, the two of us enjoyed an interesting buffet. The inside of the checkered watermelon looked and tasted like thick molasses, mixed with marshmallow; essentially, it was concentrated sugar, and it was far too sweet for either of our pallets to properly enjoy.

However, just because it was a little overbearing in its natural state, didn’t mean I was oblivious to the colossal potential it had. There was also the fact that, there were plenty of races that thrived on extremely high levels of sucrose: especially pixies.

The corn was delicious, but ultimately just tasted slightly sweet, with that rather generic flavor. Of course, there were an exorbitant amount of ways to use that particular grain; especially in starch, syrup, alcohol, oil, and a myriad of extravagant ways to simply turn it into food.

Long after I had plucked them out of the dirt, the damn grapevines were still wiggling around. They were some sort of strange, worm-plant hybrid; while the two-foot long tentacle-like creatures were squirming, the inch-wide red orbs were pulsating.

When I removed one of the grapes, thick blue blood oozed out of the wound, and the little bastard started releasing a high-pitched scream; it wasn’t designed to make elves go deaf, but to make their long, pointy ears resonate and cause a sort of hypnosis. Obviously, it didn’t work on me, though it did seem a bit dangerous for a harvest-able crop.

Once I tasted the salty sauce within that special sphere, I knew why they would go through so much trouble growing those critters. It was a very nostalgic flavor, reminiscent of fermented soybeans, brine, and a slight hint of sweetness.

Amber quickly spit hers out, and used the lake water to remove the viscous liquid from her barbed tongue. Our senses were heightened to such a level that, even if eating poison or rotten meat usually wouldn’t have harmed us, it was still immensely unpleasant.

While it might have been a rather significant weakness to be overly sensitive, the benefits outweighed the risks. We were both willing to endure excruciating pain and discomfort, if it meant that we retained our abilities to feel, hear, see, smell, and taste.

My personal favorite discovery from the pale-goblin farm, was a tiny rainbow-colored pepper. Each one was less than a centimeter long, but they were deceptively spicy… or more specifically, our resistance to that type of heat was extraordinarily low.

By the time I bit into the first Yuri-Chili, it was midnight, the storm had subsided, and Amber had no way to prepare herself for the vicious assault that her adorable pink nose was subjected to. The small amount of capsaicin that was released from that demonic weapon, was enough to burn her nostrils so badly that she actually started crying: it was hilarious.

On the other hand, it felt like I was swallowing molten mithril. That was not an exaggeration, I had literally experienced that several times in the fourth ring; there were creatures that had shells made out of enchanted metals, and trying to drink them seemed like a good idea at the time.

Regardless of how resilient my body was against heat, there was a definite limit. Amber couldn’t survive her own flames if she didn’t have her fur and skin to protect her.

However, regardless of how awful my tongue and mouth felt, I still enjoyed the spiciness. The fiery tigress ended up enjoying the peppers as well; we were masochists, and the Yuri-Chilis did taste pretty damn good when mixed with some shark sashimi.

Many of the other items on my grocery list, such as the giant cloves of garlic, were relatively straightforward; we did taste most of them raw, just to satisfy our curiosity, but it was all meant to be cooked. With what little we had left, Amber and I prepared a late-night buffet; the pixies left their towers, and danced around in the steam from our giant mithril cauldron.

Even Angelica and Hanael came out to enjoy the delicious meal; though it was basically just a stew, filled with a few hundred pounds of assorted fruits and vegetables, combined with some fish that we managed to catch. The little blue elves, and the two seraphs, barely ate any of it; fortunately, we managed to attract a certain starving cougar, and a handful of freezing, oddly-colored doggies.

The random ingredients created a rather unique flavor and aroma; it wasn’t terrible, but I learned my lesson. Also, three of the pixies got food poisoning, and the rainbow-furred wolf-girl had an allergic reaction; there were no casualties, and it was a pretty peaceful night overall.

Amber and I had stopped interrupting the small skirmishes along the border of the DMZ for less than a week. I assumed that they were going to slow down a bit, and rest for the winter… I was wrong.

After we slept for eight or ten hours, we were both woken up by a deep and violent rumbling. All around us, geysers filled with scalding hot water, steam, and dangerous levels of mana, began erupting from the tall-grass.

We were at least a few miles away from the pixie and warbeast villages, but with my third eye, I could see giant pillars of blue and green aura in every direction. Winter never came, but Hithu did… by that, I mean she sent her armies into the demilitarized zone.

In response to her breaking the rules, Lum did the same; their little skirmishes before, were nothing compared to what they had been capable of. Even if the levels of mana were similar to the second ring of Lorthon, it still wasn’t high enough for Amber and I to feel comfortable.

Although the towers I built had fallen over, they were undamaged, and none of the pixies seemed to have been injured. That was one of the nice things about being small, the relatively huge buildings, were each under ten feet tall; it took less than a second for them to reach the sand, and they couldn’t build up enough momentum for the mithril-reinforced clay, to break apart.

My biggest concern was Kara and the warbeasts; I could hear the screaming and yelling from a few kilometers away. I roared to Amber “Take the northern side, I’ll take the south! Tell the wounded to gather on the beach!” as we were sprinting towards the mostly destroyed settlement.

None of the geysers erupted inside of the village, but most of the log cabins, and huts simply weren’t made to survive a series of such massive tremors. It felt like I was running along the back of a colossal demonic beast, that was covered in sand.

Fortunately, the brown-bear had two huge minotaurs to protect her, when the house collapsed on them. Steve had a broken left arm, but the three of them had already dug themselves out of the wooden rubble.

I rushed over to the house behind her’s, and used water manipulation on the moist beams, to carefully and swiftly remove the rubble. Ki-Jan and his sister Ki-Tan, were two cute fox-eared and tailed, brown-skinned, curly pink-haired, teenagers; they were technically warbeasts, but genetically, they were much closer to wood-elves.

They were part of my over-zealous fan-club, though it was probably because I was the one who freed them. On the battlefield, they were used as expendable assassins; during a skirmish, Hithu’s side would send in sneaky fox-tribe kids, pretending to be Lum warriors, and they would kill the enemy commanders.

Well, I found them immediately after they had completed their mission, and were already covered in arrows, burned, and severely beaten with something similar to a bladed flail. If their elven blood wasn’t so strong, it would have been impossible to heal them back then.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t particularly attached to them, but I still would have felt a little bad if they had died. The little fox girl’s leg had a mithril dagger stabbed into it, while Ki-Jan was suffocating from broken ribs and a punctured lung.

They were lethal injuries if left untreated, but once I pulled the knife out, and regenerated the severed artery; then healed and inflated the boy’s lung, I was able to quickly move-on to my next patients within fifteen seconds. Ironically, the huts and tents that had been constructed with minimal effort, were also the safest; since their roofs and walls simply didn’t weigh enough to do any damage.

There were at least a handful of people like Ki-Tan, who were using sharp objects to cut-up food, carve wood, or simply just had them laying around their homes. During the quake, people fell and stabbed themselves by accident; Tasha was the opposite, she had been sleeping on the roof of the largest building in the whole village, which was called “The Church of Puriel” and was at least five meters tall.

The whole place was on fire, because of a weird ritual that they had been performing, and the cougar-woman was severely burned by the time I had found her. Many of the Amber-ist fox-tribe men and women were in a similar condition, plus a bit of smoke inhalation, but I was able to heal them pretty easily.

However, Tasha wasn’t quite so lucky; her beautiful silver fur was charred, and even though she didn’t die, her lower-spine was snapped by a tiger-shaped mithril altar that she landed on. With over seventy percent of her skin seared off, and unable to be quickly fixed with regeneration magic, I had to hope that she could stay alive on her own until I was finished helping the others.

Less than fifteen minutes after our arrival, Amber, Kyle, a handful of beefy bear-guys, and a few of my fanatical foxy followers, were able to evacuate everyone to the beach. We had made it within seconds of a colossal geyser erupting from the center of the village.

By that time, Hanael and her group of irritating healing novices, were able to arrive and start using simple spells on the people who just had cuts, scrapes and bruises. Tensions were pretty high, but half the village was part of Angelica’s army, so it wasn’t like they were going to start burning witches, or killing each-other because of the weird situation.

The ambient temperature was similar to the tropical jungles around Ael Tol, so I didn’t have to worry about everyone freezing to death. Unfortunately, that didn’t outweigh the fact that in a few minutes, a town that I spent a considerable amount of time and energy helping build, was completely destroyed.

I was furious, which made Amber angry, and that made everyone else terrified, so I calmed myself down and got back to work. Killing is easy and simple, healing required a bit more skill.

Even if the adorable tigress didn’t understand how to use spells, her natural affinity was still incredibly high; the basis of all magic was the will to achieve a certain effect, and then the belief that you had the power to fulfill that desire. If the person had enough mana, they could do anything.

Just being within Amber’s considerably large aura, was like being within a healing field for anyone that she didn’t want to kill. It was completely unfocused and immensely inefficient compared to what I was doing, but at least she was being helpful: unlike the alligator brats, who didn’t even wake up until the calamity was over.

Within an hour, all of the pixies, the wolf-tribe puppies, and the warbeast villagers, were all gathered a few dozen meters to the east of what had been Kara’s house. They were looking to me for answers, but my response was rather lackluster “Hithu and Lum are assholes. Blame them, because they’re the ones responsible for this bullshit: It isn’t a racial slur Steve, so stop freaking out.”

I was able to use nature or blood magic to fix the more severe wounds, and no one died… at least not any of the people who were within my reach. The geysers stopped spraying water eventually, and there were just huge sinkholes everywhere; from those pits, a thick and scalding hot miasma arose, and I could see auras that closely resembled a mixture between the two false-goddesses.

After using such showy catastrophe-class magic, there was plenty of their mana left over; in fact, it permeated throughout the atmosphere, and showed no signs of diminishing. It wasn’t very difficult to guess at their purpose, especially since I knew that Hithu implemented Treants for large-scale battles; while Lum had to supply her followers with power, for them to keep believing in her.

Beauty is relative… but even I recognized that my magical skin-grafting skills were sub-par. Well, the burned foxes only needed a bit of time, and their scarring was minimal; Tasha wasn’t quite so fortunate.

If I had a bunch of cougar-tribe donors, I could have fixed her with relative ease. Using Amber’s would have received a better result, but it would have taken a lot more time and effort; so I was forced to use my own skin as the medium.

Tasha’s face was mostly intact, since she instinctively protected it with her arms, while the rest of her body was scorched. Basically, I had to have a certain tigress use a vibrating mithril greatsword as a scalpel, and shave off the parts of my back that weren’t protected by scales.

Then I ripped that into pieces, and applied them to certain segments of the cougar’s exposed and charred muscle. Once they were strategically arranged, I forced them to grow, and the result was a smooth-skinned, cat-headed girl: My first attempt had a penis, so I had to remove it and try again in that area.

An unintended consequence of my injury, was that the black scales protecting my spine had spread over most of my back. They weren’t quite as thick as the originals, but they were definitely made out of a similar material; though it was much more flexible, and similar in flexibility to a shark’s dermal denticles.

It took nearly the entire day, from morning till it started to get dark, for me to finish fixing everyone. There was a serious problem though… mana-poisoning; it wasn’t to the point where people were instantaneously mutating, but they were definitely getting sick.

Fortunately, half of them were protected by my seal, and since most of them had been on a diet of magical fish, only a few had serious symptoms. The blackwolf girls were suffering from a kind of asthma, struggling to breath in the dense atmosphere; while the pixies and seraphs seemed to be invigorated, and actually became intoxicated from the overwhelming power that was enveloping them.

Even though there were no geysers along the beach, or in the lake, the thick clouds of teal-colored gas seemed to be attracted towards the blinking pyramid in the distance; the atmosphere didn’t bother Amber or I, but prolonged exposure wasn’t safe for the rest of them. I had sent Angelica on an aerial reconnaissance mission earlier in the day, and when night fell, I finally received the news I had been hoping for.

As I was glancing down into the hole that used to be Karaville, the brightly glowing muscle-girl landed on my left shoulder and yelled “My liege! I have returned!” in an irritatingly loud voice, directly into my ear.

It seemed like she was purposefully trying to deafen me, but I just sighed and muttered “You could whisper, and I would still be able to hear you… anyway, don’t call me that. How was the farm and mouse-city?” while smiling wryly.

As I began walking back to the rather large group of people, that had gathered near an impressive collection of broken mithril weapons and armor, the muscular raven murmured “They were intact when last I saw them, but it has been nearly an hour since then. The land closest to the lake has been affected the most, but there seemed to have been small fissures throughout the entire demilitarized zone.”

I snickered as I arrived at the gathering of anxious, injured, angry, and terrified warbeasts and pixies, then shouted at them “Anyone who’s sleeping, wake up! It’s time to move! Those who can’t walk without assistance, don’t be stubborn, ask for help! If you don’t want to come with us, that’s your choice, though it’s a really shitty one! Let’s go!”

It took two minotaurs or bears each, to carry the seven pixie-towers; Amber was carrying a gigantic clump of metal on her back, that I had to use earth magic to hold together: and also lighten the load a bit. The entire village of tiny blue girls and boys, plus two significantly larger birds, were riding on the pygmy hippos.

The alligators felt a kinship towards me… mostly because of my tail, so they waddled behind me like gigantic, scaly, ducklings; some of them were holding crippled fox-tribe in their bulky arms. The oldest and biggest one, who was nearly as tall as me, carried Tasha; she was conscious, but her lower-body was still suffering from paralysis.

As far as migrations go, seven miles wasn’t really that far; the problem was that everyone, including myself, was exhausted even before we had started our trek. It was the middle of the night, and I had to carefully guide everyone through the tall-grass; falling into one of those pits would have been dangerous, even for Amber and I: They had seemed to go straight down through the island, then it was a three mile drop into a lake of mysterious black liquid.

A few miles before we arrived, Amber dropped the giant ball of mithril and roared “My food!” as she frantically sprinted off towards the farm at a ridiculous speed. There were pillars of smoke rising in the distance, and I could hear tiny bells, horns, loud screams, growls, and an overall chaotic combination of noises.

I chased after the desperate tigress, and the two of us managed to make it in time… kinda. When we got there, the first thing I noticed was a large flaming boulder, resting on top of what used to be a rather impressive mouse-made grey castle.

The walls were still intact, but outside of them, a horde of warbeasts were fighting and killing each-other. They were mostly bears, wolves, foxes, and cougars; each of which, were divided into their own groups based on fur-color or body shape: There were plenty of other races as well, but I can’t remember them all.

Then on the far western side, were several battalions of Lum soldiers; they had a large shield-wall of spearmen, wearing their heavy bronze armor, forcing the poorly-equipped but relatively dangerous giants, into a huge clump. I ran up to the gates of the mostly destroyed city, and then leapt up onto the top of the pitch-covered, immolated boulder; once I suffocated the fire with a bit of wind-manipulation, I had a much better view of the situation.

It might have seemed a bit callous, but I was far more concerned about the crops, than anything else. I knew from the very beginning, that my interference in the war between the three kingdoms, was going to cause a great deal of suffering to those who were trapped in the middle: though I didn’t expect it to be quite so literally.

The south was covered in thick clouds of miasmic, and in some places poisonous, gas; everyone who used to live near the lake, was forced to the north. However, Hithu sent armies into the DMZ from the east, and the western regions were overrun with huge battalions of Lum mages, warriors, and being led by their priests.

Even though it was pretty dark, I could clearly see fierce battles being waged between the two sides. Colossal blue treants were being immolated by thousands of giant flaming arrows; there was even a ten meter tall, dog-shaped, azure tree monster, tearing apart the former demi-elf walled village in the eastern distance.

As I was looking around, I estimated that there must have been at least a million people altogether: three-hundred thousand warbeasts, and the rest were wood-elves. Most of the farm’s crops were crushed, or on fire, while the buildings were demolished by the giant rocks that were being thrown around by the humanoid treants.

Angelica landed on my left shoulder, and calmly asked “What are your orders? I believe we should either return to the beach, or simply find a place farther east or west. Even if you tell me to send my troops into this shitstorm, I won’t.” in a loud voice.

I snickered, and replied “Tell everyone to stay where they are, be vigilant, and kill anything that tries to attack you. This mess is probably gonna take a while to clean up…” as I raised my right hand, deflecting a rather large, chunk of fiery stone. Startled by the loud, explosive sound, the tiny woman quickly flew back towards the south; I sighed dramatically, as I looked around at the various battlefields.

Then I glanced at the rampaging, purple-furred tigress, who was clad in similarly violet flames; she was running through the area that used to be a vegetable field, and tearing apart or immolating anyone that she could see. I roared “When life gives you lemons, be thankful and enjoy the delicious fruit! When someone burns down your fucking lemon-tree, eat them instead!” It was an old tiger-tribe proverb that Amber had taught me, and seemed to fit the situation pretty well.

We were both pretty furious at the massive waste of food, but with every opportunity lost, a new one will usually appear. The foolishness of Hithu and Lum, forced nearly the entire warbeast population of the northern DMZ, within my reach.

It was impossible to get through to the raging tigress verbally, but I yelled into her mind “Amber! Stop playing around with those little doggies, and go kill that giant one! Remember who our real enemies are!” which she immediately reacted to.

She suddenly started charging through and overtop of the massive horde of chaotically fighting warbeasts, and headed towards Hithu’s forces. They had a beefy meat-shield of bull and bear-tribe slaves, plus a six-meter wide river, keeping the fighting away from their main forces.

Cavalry riding rainbow-striped unicorns, were clashing with each-other in the northern distance, but for the most part, it was only infantry in the east. The numbers were pretty ridiculous, but completely meanless in the grand scheme of things; only the champions, dryads, and possibly the more powerful priests, could actually do any damage to either of us.

Unfortunately, the warbeasts were being mowed down by ballistas, arrows, fireballs, boulders, and all while fighting amongst themselves. To be completely honest, I could have simply let the battle continue, or rampaged around, massacring everyone indiscriminately; however, what little was left of the farm, would have been completely destroyed in the process.

Within the former Stronghold Mountain Republic’s crumbling walls, there were at more than a couple hundred-thousand pygmy mouse-tribe who were still alive: not that I actually counted them at the time. Aside from them, there had been at least a fifty-thousand warbeast children, getting caught in the crossfire. Hithu’s forces were focusing on capturing as many of them as possible, to be used as slave-soldiers later; while Lum were simply slaughtering them, along with their parents.

With a deep breath, and fairly large amount of wind magic, I roared in a thunderous voice. The sound that was created, had been loud enough to carry for miles, but not bad enough to deafen or kill the mice that were a few meters below me.

Then I announced in a similarly furious tone “Listen up, you furry bastards!” as my skin began radiating a massive amount of blindingly white light. Once it seemed like the majority of the warbeasts were gazing up at me, I shouted at them “The fuck are you killing each-other for?! Do you want me to obliterate you, along with those damn elven assholes?!” as I pointed my right hand toward the wall of Lum’s heavy infantry.

They were wearing their normal, non-conductive aluminum-bronze armor, which didn’t cover the skin on parts of their arms, hands, faces, and legs. An interesting fact about magical lightning, was that unless a person was completely protected by something like black-mithril… they wouldn’t have been able to stop me from guiding the electricity, directly into their bodies.

The golden ankh shined brightly, as a similarly colored stream of incredibly loud, electrostatic discharge, was channeled from my right hand’s index and middle fingertips. In a motion that seemed like I was pointing from the tall-grass on the left, for a kilometer to the right, hundreds of short bursts were fired in less than a second.

I quickly took a swig from the leather flask that I was holding in my left hand, and tried not to gag as the jagged crystal chunks flowed down my throat. It felt like I was trying to swallow broken glass, but replenishing my mana was worth it; though I did mutter “I really miss the Ael Tol…” as I fantasized about drinking my special fruit-juice concoctions.

Within that momentary flash of yellow light, two-thousand of Lum’s front-line fighters were deep-fried. Then I reached out with my aura, grabbed the volley of ten-thousand arrows that were flying through the air, and forced them down into the backs of their heavy-infantry, using a bit of earth-manipulation: It was their own fault for making them entirely out of aluminum. Under my vicious magical assault, lots of people died pretty damn quickly.

About that time, I heard a colossal explosion, and the eastern sky was illuminated by flashes of purple light. The dog-shaped treant was on fire, and most of it had been completely destroyed; I noticed that at Hithu was actually pulling back, and struggling to retreat from Amber’s rampage.

They were still fighting fiercely with Lum’s main forces in the northern distance, but I could definitely hear and see them attempting to flee from being massacred by the fiery tigress. I snickered for a few seconds, before turning towards the stunned masses of warbeasts; who seemed to be looking up at me with familiar looks of awe and terror.

Then I yelled “If you want to kill each-other, do it after the elves are gone!” in an angry tone, which somehow managed to get my point across. Obviously, there were still plenty of them who didn’t listen to me, and were still fighting out of vengeance, or stupidity.

Fortunately, with the openings that Amber and I had created, it was possible for the majority of the warbeast hordes, to escape to the east and west. All ten of the five-meter tall, rock-throwing, humanoid treants on the other side of the river, were burning like giant candles; while I continued to guzzle my painful mana-potion, and fire off long-ranged, widespread, lightning attacks at Lum’s spearmen and heavy swordsmen.

Even with just their bare hands, or primitive spears and knives, made from animal bones and wood, the extreme difference in physical stature was overwhelming; the bears, wolves, cougars, and even the fox-tribe who were similar in size to humans, had been able to break through the ranks of elven soldiers on both fronts. Lum had fire mages, archers and healers, but they didn’t stand a chance once the front lines had fallen to my relatively overpowered magic.

I continued to return all of their arrows, spells, even the boulders and ballista bolts, making them easy targets for the warbeasts. Amber was simply rampaging through Hithu’s ranks, slaughtering everyone who came close to her.

It took a few hours, but eventually, ninety-nine percent of the furry people had escaped. The only ones left were a few thousand injured, crippled, or family members of those who couldn’t move, for whatever reason.

Shortly after that, both Hithu and Lum’s main forces, sounded their retreats; they pulled back beyond my view, but I could see smoke rising beyond the horizons. That day was just the beginning; at least fifty-thousand elves died on each side, along with a few hundred thousand pygmy mouse-tribe, and twenty-five thousand warbeasts.

I didn’t exactly count the corpses personally, but I was able to estimate the death-toll by glancing over the battlefields; by that time, the sun was starting to rise, and my mana was completely exhausted… along with my body. After I walked over to Amber, who was sleeping on a pile of roasted elves across the river, I laid down next to her and quickly lost consciousness.

There were probably a few hundred people who were dying, that I could have possibly saved; however, even if I had more of that mana-potion left, it wouldn’t have been able to keep me awake any longer. It would have been so amazing if I could have simply rested with my adorable tigress… well, the smoldering mithril and flesh didn’t make the most comfortable bed; unfortunately, my fate has always been plagued by insomnia.

Also, there were hundreds of thousands of extraordinarily noisy, and colorful, giant peacocks roaming around what used to be a farm; not to mention the large quantity of warbeasts that were screaming in pain, physically and telepathically. I took a deep breathe of smokey, mana-filled, completely disgusting, fresh-ish air; then I sighed dramatically as I walked back across the mostly destroyed, stone bridge, which crumbled under my weight.

After swimming across the bloody water, filled with tiny yellow sharks, and giant silver leeches, I reached down and grabbed the severed arm of a bear-tribe slave. Once I picked a few of the quartz crystals off of the shock-bracelet, and inserted them directly into my mouth; I pretended like they were simply sugar cubes, and began chewing them with my nearly unbreakable teeth: though my gums weren’t quite as resilient, and it did hurt quite a bit.

As I glanced around at the battlefield, I yelled “Seriously, shut the hell up! If you have the energy to whine, moan, and scream, then walk or crawl your asses over here! I’ll heal you, but it won’t be free… the price will be helping me clean up this damn mess! Well, hurry up, I don’t have all day!” while sitting down on a pile of extra-crispy mithril shields, which could just barely hold my weight.

I groaned the moment I saw the thousands of hopeful, but severely injured, warbeasts from hundreds of different clans and dozens of races, struggling to make their way over to me. My first patient was a horribly burned, black-furred, bear-man; his right arm was missing at the shoulder, and I happened to be coincidentally snacking on a matching limb.

He looked at me with fear, disdain, a bit of hatred, and an ounce of expectancy; with a relatively small steel battle-axe in his left hand, he asked me “Can you really fix this?” and quietly chuckled. There were five small wooden-spears impaled through his abdomen, and if his flesh hadn’t been cauterized, he would have been long dead.

After taking another bite of the crunchy and savory tricep meat, I tossed the arm aside and stood up; I smirked at the three-meter tall black-bear, and replied “Sure, hope you’re a lefty though, cause I expect you to help me clean this shit up. Hold still, this is gonna hurt… a lot.”

Once I removed the spears, regenerated the perforated arteries, muscles, and skin, he seemed slightly grateful. Then he walked across the barely functioning bridge and attempted to kill Amber; she literally punched a hole through his chest, without even waking up. I sighed at the wasted effort and moved onto the eviscerated fox-girl, that was crying while holding the majority of her intestines in her hands.

It was a really long day, but I had been given the chance to burn my image into the minds of hundreds of thousands of people. My message was pretty clear, “Stop fighting amongst yourselves, or I’ll kill you myself.” When dealing with annoying children, fear is much more useful than hope or charisma.

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