The Northern Mountain Range was about twenty-five hundred miles from East to West and three hundred miles from South to North at the thickest parts. So basically, we needed to travel a hundred and fifty miles to reach the peak of the largest mountain in the whole chain. If it was directly North of us, but it wasn’t. More to the Northwest, and around two hundred miles.
The biggest issue wasn’t the distance, because Amber and I could easily fly that far in thirty minutes. The fiery tigress could shoot up out of the atmosphere if she had enough Mana, since her rocket-like flying technique relied on ‘creating’ the gas that was being superheated at the soles of her feet. However, it was also extremely inefficient. If she just used the hydrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, she would be able to save a lot of power, but she didn’t even understand how ‘real’ elements worked.
I on the other hand, had a myriad of methods to keep myself flying in the air for a long time. Simple Earth Manipulation could keep my body from being weighed down, while telekinetically shaping some huge wings out of the air itself, would allow me to ride the currents at a moderate pace. In order to keep up with Amber, I needed to also create my own rocket-like propulsion, but my boots were designed to make that extremely easy..
“Ugh…” After only a few minutes, I let out a long sigh and landed on another large plateau. There was a dragon there. Specifically, a twenty meter tall Earth Dragon, that had thick white fur over its black scales. Its bright blue eyes glowed for a moment, before two large beams of light shot out towards Amber.
“Death Beam!” The tigress roared out and tried to deflect the beams of light with her own laser eyes. Obviously it didn’t work, because there was no way she could be faster than the speed of light. Regardless though, the giant dragon wasn’t very accurate, while those purple lasers barely did anything to the stone wall behind the massive hairy lizard.
“Both of you calm the fuck down!” I shouted telepathically, to make sure both of them understood and heard me. Then I asked the growling ‘beast’, “Do you know where exactly the Dragon King lives? I’m Michael… The one he was shouting for a while ago.”
“Me Kah El~!” The dragon roared in my direction, while charging up his eye-beams once again. Then he growled, “Prove your worth! Or die!”
Yeah, just because dragons and wyverns generally had the learning capacity of a human, it didn’t mean they were smart. Humans and Elves make horrible suicidal decisions all the time. I dropped my duffel bag on the ground and grabbed the revolver on my left hip, raised it towards the dragon’s face and then pulled the trigger twice. It was a double-action pistol, so the trigger turned the cylinder and cocked the gun and I only needed one hand… Though I also could have used telekinesis to cock a single-action revolver anyway.
The first bullet hit the left eye, and the second smashed into the right. Of course, since the eyes were at least a meter in diameter, the 25 millimeter bullets didn’t do much damage on the outside. They poked tiny holes in the slit pupils of those glowing blue eyes. But they were made out of black mithril, so the stupid laser eye spell was cancelled and if the dumbass didn’t get those pieces removed quickly, he would go blind sooner or later. That wasn’t my problem though.
As the alligator shaped furry dragon was screaming in agony, I picked up my bag and told Amber: “Come on, let’s keep going. Don’t stop every time you see something that looks tasty!”
She grumbled and groaned, but still followed me off the edge of the plateau. We swooped down into the valley below, before soaring up above the pine trees that covered the side of the next mountain. The amazing thing was that even near the peak of that mountain, there were crystalline plants everywhere. Probably high-level magical creatures, able to thrive in the frigid climate.
There were some dark clouds up ahead. We weren’t quite high enough to crash into them, but that also wasn’t necessarily a good thing. The wind, snow and lightning would definitely be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. This wasn’t just some ordinary storm in a level-zero Mana-Zone.
However, as we got closer and I was going to go above it… Yep, Amber either unintentionally or purposefully, dove down into the pink-ish lightning arcs below the cloud. Maybe she thought that she could ‘absorb’ the power or something?
“Damn it Amber! What the fuck is wrong with you?! Shit…” I swooped down and grabbed her unconscious and crispy body. Fortunately my armor was highly insulated, or I might have ended up in a worse condition than the crazy tigress. After all, her fur was usually pretty good at protecting her from electrical attacks when we sparred.
Unfortunately, I lost my bag of guns. The ammo was definitely destroyed and the weapons themselves would be useless without bullets, so I wasn’t too worried about hostile forces obtaining or researching them.
There was a cave in the valley below, hiding out in that dingy place and weathering the storm, reminded me of when we first met. The difference was that Amber wasn’t suffering from horrible burns all over her body back then, and fortunately, there weren’t any hordes of Magical Beasts bothering us. Even if there were, I could have slaughtered them effortlessly. Either way, it allowed me to focus entirely on healing my ‘wife’. Maybe mate would be the better term?
“Why does it seem like the stronger she gets, the weaker her survival instincts become?” I muttered to myself, while looking over at the swaying trees and the violent waves of the river outside the cave mouth.
“Amber, what’s gotten into you lately?” I sighed, running my claw-like right hand across her charred left cheek. The stronger you get, the harder it is to get hurt… But it also gets a lot harder to heal wounds. Fortunately, none of her vital organs were damaged, so her life wasn’t in any danger. It was just a matter of time until she would heal naturally. My regeneration magic could only speed up the process, while the only medicine she needed was food from decently powerful magical beasts.
She gazed up at me with those glowing purple eyes, purring “I thought… I was powerful enough. Why is that lightning so strong?”
“Ugh, Amber, that has to do with volts, amps and ohms… The moral of the story is that not all arcs of electricity are the same, haha… Seriously though, you have to keep in mind that atmospheric mana density greatly influences all three factors.”
She blinked a few times and asked, “What language is that?”
“Just basic Lorthon, but the words are new, since the study of electricity literally only just started a year or so ago. The point is that you can’t just charge into a volcano, because you can withstand the heat. There are other factors involved. Storms are the same situation… Just don’t do anything crazy like that again, okay?”
The first thing I did after finding that cave, was to take my armor off. Amber’s gear was much easier to remove, since the design was aimed toward mobility and flexibility, rather than sheer defensive potential. Even so, the equipment would have still gotten in the way of my healing magic.
I could see from the burn-marks on her fur, that she was mainly struck by three bolts of lightning. One on the left side of her face, which caused the most severe injuries. The electricity went right past the helmet, through her head and out the back of her cape. Another injury was her right hand, which wasn’t too bad, since she had gauntlets on. Still, they weren’t made to deflect electricity, since that was one of her main techniques. Then she was hit on the tail, which was protected by armor, but since she was falling at the time… Well, it went all the way up her spine and out the left side of her face.
Most of her body was fine. Even the burnt fur wasn’t so bad, since that would just grow back on its own eventually. The biggest issue was the nerve damage. For the time being, she couldn’t walk or move around on her own. She also couldn’t ‘feel’ much of anything, so she wasn’t in any pain. I focused on healing the injuries that affected her breathing first, while the heart was still beating away perfectly fine.
“Michael…” She purred softly, “I’m sorry I’m so weak. I should have just… Stayed behind with my cubs. Raised them like a good mother…”
I snickered, shaking my head and grumbling: “There’s a difference between stupidity and frailty. Besides, sometimes being a good mother is knowing when to back off and do what you gotta do to take care of yourself. Also, there’s a ninety-percent chance that we need to do something that will determine the fate of the whole damn continent. If you stayed back there and waited for the world to end, I wouldn’t consider that ‘being a good mother’.”
“You’re wrong.” Amber glared at me and growled, “I didn’t go with you for any other reason than… I wanted to be by your side. The cubs, I can’t love them like you do. Maybe I’m broken, from the way I was raised… I don’t care. I can’t care for them as a mother. In the Pride, women like me would be banished or killed, before we had the chance to consume our own litter.”
“Okay, now you’re just being over dramatic.” I sighed, “We’re telepathically connected Amber… I know what you’re thinking, and what you’re feeling. If you really wanted to eat our babies, I would know… And I wouldn’t let you near them in the first place. I’m not judging you though, I’ve been a cat before. Like a literal house cat. There was a time when I would have eaten my own children without a second thought, the moment I noticed something wrong with them. But I’m not a fucking tabby cat right now, and neither are you.”
“What is a house cat?” The injured tigress purred, then sniffed the air and glared at the darkness behind me. She licked her lips and growled softly, “Michael… I’m hungry. And I haven’t eaten… ‘Elf’ in a long time.”
Without even turning around, I could already see through her eyes. There were two large Fire Elf men, with a giant crimson skinned woman in between them. The two men looked like warriors, wearing thick steel plate armor and wielding claymores. While that woman was basically wearing a brown leather skirt, with silver nipple rings, connected by a chain, that linked together with her nose and belly button rings… Yeah, forget about the aesthetic bullshit for a moment and think about how dangerous something like that would be. Even if you aren’t fighting someone, there was a chance that the chain would get caught on something and cause some serious damage.
She had a huge black staff in her right hand, while had a large crimson crystal sphere on the top. That orb glowed brightly for a moment, then a ball of flame appeared in her left hand as she shouted: “Goddess cast out these invaders! Grah!”
That last bit was her screaming in agony, as I turned around and reached out my right hand. As I clenched my fist, the fireball exploded and obliterated most of her hand. Then I walked forward, smiling at the two little entrees that were offering themselves up to me. Unfortunately, they didn’t smell very tasty.
I allowed the two armored idiots to hit me with their giant swords, once. Both of the male Fire Elves were about seven feet tall, so only a foot shorter than I was. Still, there was a huge difference in material quality between regular steel and my fancy flesh.
Some sparks flew off when the one on my right tried to slice at my left carapace-covered shoulder. I simply reached out with my right hand open. The claws on my fingers had easily penetrated the rounded steel breastplate and reached into the man’s chest cavity. I was very gentle, as I grasped his heart in my palm, before pulling my arm back and allowing his body to flop to the ground.
“Hey Amber, look what I got!” I tossed the still throbbing organ over to the incapacitated tigress, who opened her jaws wide and easily caught the heart in her mouth. After chomping down and swallowing, I could feel that her body was already starting to recover… Through the telepathic link, obviously.
“Brother, no! Agh! Die, Monster!” The other guy screamed at me and charged forward, stabbing the tip of his sword into my lower back. The very tip of the blade managed to pierce in between two of my scales, while was really annoying. But I just swung my tail to the left a bit, putting a huge dent in the right side of his chest armor.
Then I sighed and turned towards the man, whose orange irises were glowing brightly and flickering like flames. As I walked closer and ignored the woman who was screaming in agony behind him, I reached out my bloody right hand and ripped his helmet off. Since it incorporated his horns as well, they were snapped off the sides of his head in that same motion.
“Agh~!” He roared in pain and almost lost consciousness, but I grabbed his long black hair with my left hand and lifted him off the ground in front of me. He didn’t have any facial hair, similar to a lot of Wood Elves and Red Goblins. In fact, his face was extremely feminine… Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I would be the same way if I didn’t have facial hair, but shaving becomes extremely difficult once you reach a certain level of strength. The alternative is just ripping the hair out of your flesh with brute force, but I’m not ‘that’ masochistic.
Anyway, after I expended a tiny bit of mana in order to keep the man from dying from internal bleeding, I asked: “Who are you people? I’ve only heard third-hand knowledge so far. Supposedly you’re a bunch of ritualistic rapists and cannibals? If you don’t answer my question, I have much more efficient methods of interrogation.”
Mana-wise, telepathic communication was pretty cheap and efficient. Even tearing the information from someone’s unwilling mind, though dangerous, wouldn’t require much strength. It did that a lot of mental effort though, and I was too lazy to deal with the psychic death throes of that random guy who might not even know anything important.
“Repel the invaders~!” Instead of answering me, he just let out a loud bellow and tried to punch me in the face with his left hand. I sighed, reaching back towards my pile of gear and telekinetically pulling ‘The Staff of Eternal Suffering’ into my right hand. Yeah, I know, it’s not a particularly cool weapon name, but it matched my title regardless.
As that idiot’s metal gauntlet knuckles smacked into my right cheek, I casually smacked his body flying across the ‘room’ with my plain-looking black stick. Then the pointy silver spike on the end began glowing white, as arcs of electricity flew off in all directions. In case you forgot, the tip of my staff was one of Luna’s fancy magic wands that I umm, ‘borrowed’ in order to create a much more powerful weapon.
“Invaders! Repel the invaders!”
“Burn the heretics!”
“Slay them for the Violet Goddess!”
I pointed the tip of my staff towards the depths of the cave, as dozens of annoying voices were echoing from the distance. With my regular cat-like eyes, I could actually see everything pretty clearly, but only what was within ten meters. However, once I opened up my third eye… Everything became clear.
The cave expanded the deeper it went, but eventually stopped when there was a flat area about a hundred meters across. At the back of that ‘plain’, it got much narrower, until a giant crimson gateway blocked my sight. It was big enough for someone like Maeleth to fit through, but that’s only if it was opened all the way. It was just barely cracked a bit, and dozens of armored foot soldiers were charging out in a long line. There were also a couple female mages and archers, with skinnier figures than the men.
“Fuck…” I wasn’t worried about the fight, but was simply reacting to the term ‘Violet Goddess’ that I heard someone shout. There were plenty of purple Deities out there, but only one of them went by the name ‘Violet’: Chaotica, the Goddess of Disorder.
Regardless, I didn’t let my irritation influence my casting speed. Within moments, a massive stream of lighting erupted from the tip of my staff. That wasn’t a euphemism by the way, it’s just that whenever you’re talking about wands, rods and magical staves, it always sounds sexual.
“Shields!” A high-pitched voice screamed, and the front-line soldiers started pulling up giant kite shields. A faint crimson glow radiated from the sides, forming a massive barrier that blocked off the whole cavern.
Unfortunately for them, their actions weren’t faster than lightning. Well, that, and the fact that the part of the lightning you ‘see’ is actually just the return stroke, their barrier shattered the moment it was erected…
“You should never underestimate electricity.” I snickered as those sixty Fire Elves were falling to the ground, screaming in agony or just lying there lifelessly. Smoke or steam was radiating from most of them, but there was one, very large woman who was still standing.
She glared at me, then screamed “Seal the gateway!”
Then that massive door moved slowly and eventually locked in place, preventing me from infiltrating their underground base. I sighed and shook my head, while arcs of electricity spread from my horns.
“Yeah… I wasn’t even going to try to go in there before, but now you’ve made me curious.”
“In the name of the Violet Goddess, I, Diana Cytherea, Guardian of the Fifth Sanctuary shall slay you! Even if it costs me my life!”
That resolute woman was about the same height as me, with green hair gelled up in a massive spiky mohawk. There were violet tattoos all over her almost naked body. The clothing she wore was similar to the other Fire Elf mages and archers, but she had a long crimson halberd, instead of a staff or bow.
Judging by the amount of mana radiating from her body, she was a Level-4 ‘creature’. Similar in strength to those Demonic Beasts from the Fourth Ring of Lorthon. Of course, there’s a big difference in strength between mindless idiots and a trained warrior.
“This is really fucking cliche, but how about this? I’ll give you a chance to surrender. If you fight me, all of your buddies are going to die in the process of you losing. On the other hand, if you give up, I’ll let your friends retreat back into that ominous door over there and I promise I won’t follow after them, regardless of what information I find rattling around in your head.”
I knew there was little to no chance that she would ‘acquiesce’, but I had to at least give them a chance at survival, right?
She stamped the bottom of her staff on the stone floor, shouting: “The Violet Goddess commands that we never surrender!” Before I could say anything, she continued: “She did say that we can switch allegiances though….” Then she knelt down and vowed, “So I, Diana Cytherea, forsake the Fifth Sanctuary and follow you now… Great Nudist Demigod! ”
“Okay then…” I murmured to myself, because I honestly didn’t expect things to be so easy. Of course, I had to correct the woman: “I’m not a Demigod or a nudist for that matter. Sure, I do spend a lot of my time naked, but it’s not as if I never wear clothes. You guys just caught us at a bad time. Anyway, that’s beside the point, can you tell me about your people? The Fire Elves… You worship the Violet Goddess, but do you know who she is or what she looks like?”
The woman stood up and bowed politely, before taking a deep breath and starting to speak…
“My people, the Fire Clan, have lived in these mountains for eons. We worship her Holiness, the Great Divine Dragon, Violetta Von Slaughterfiend the Sixth. Also known as Armageddon, Destroyer of Worlds. Legends imply that the Violet Goddess is actually a physical entity, instead of just a spiritual one, though nobody really knows. Nearly two decades ago, the Seven Sanctuaries that lead into the heart of our Violet Theocracy were assaulted by the Scaly Heathens… These red-scaled lizard bastards that also worship the Violet Goddess, but through disgusting ritual feasts instead of the proper and civilized method of sacrificing virgins to the Tendrils of Lust every few years.”
“Alright, stop.” I lifted my left hand and sighed, “If you want me to trust that you aren’t just trying to trick me, let me access your mind. It will only take a moment to confirm your ‘change of allegiance’…”
As I approached her, she got down on one knee and faced downwards, solemnly saying: “As you command, Master.”
It was hard for me to keep from sighing once again, because I knew what I would find. I smiled wryly at the kneeling woman, my left palm only touched her forehead for a moment, but it was enough for me to see through all her secrets, hopes, dreams and… Crimes.
“You truly are willing to join me.” I snickered as she gazed up at me expectantly, then blood started pouring from her mouth. The staff in my right hand, was impaling her through the chest. As she glared at me and tried to speak, I whispered: “Death is only the beginning. Maybe we’ll see each other again, in another life.”
In her mind, I saw fifty years of slavery, torture, rape, and everything I hate. She suffered so much, yet that was only the beginning of her story. That girl, Diana, was three-hundred years old. In that time, she enslaved thousands of people. Not the vicious Redscale warriors, but just random villages of their kind. Along with Snow Elves, Frost Nymphs and plenty of other Races. She was undoubtedly a monster by my standards, yet her beliefs were so pure. She thought she was doing them a kindness half the time. Saving them from the struggle of surviving on their own… From the need to make their own choices and live their lives freely.
She grew up in an environment that most would consider Hell, but she survived and thrived. I almost respected her for that.. Almost. Unfortunately, people like her are the most dangerous of all.
“Amber, looks like you’re feeling better already.” I snickered as I saw the fiery tigress glowing bright-purple, standing to my left. She didn’t respond and just grabbed the dying ‘Diana’ by the throat, lifting her up off the ground. Violet flames literally swirled around her arms, causing the woman to cringe a bit, but she didn’t cry out. My attack had paralyzed her body and crippled her ability to cast spells, so there was no chance she could retaliate in any way. All that awaited her was being slow-cooked, alive, before being ripped apart and eaten by the two of us.
What? I was hungry too. Besides, it wasn’t the first time I ate Elf meat. I have to admit though, Fire Elves really live up to their name as far as taste goes. Their blood has a spiciness to it, like hellroot mixed with demonic horseradish and raw garlic. Especially a Level-Four lifeform like Diana…
Once we had our fill, I executed the ones unlucky enough to survive my original attack. Then Amber and I gathered in front of that massive door. It was time to see the Fifth Sanctuary with my own eyes. And decide its fate.
“Raaaah~! Oopen~!” Amber was roaring, punching and shoving, but the giant metal door didn’t budge. The stones on the ground melted or exploded, yet that gateway only had a few dents in it.
I already tried to open it several times through basic Earth Manipulation, brute force, even attempted to use Water and Wind Manipulation but well… It was magically protected. Really powerful shit, not to mention that it was made out of a material similar to black mithril, so any spells cast on it were significantly weakened, aside from the ones keeping the doors closed. Plus it was most likely barred from the other side. Although I wanted to drill through the walls of the cave, it turned out that under that rocky outer layer, was something akin to those tunnels connecting the underground cities in Lorthon Forest.
However, while I was thinking about just leaving, I received a message from Slutty Mike. Rather than a message, it was a full-blown holographic manifestation of his consciousness, projected from my mind. I have no idea why he looked like a purple octopus though?
“Hey Michael, so here’s the thing. I didn’t actually find any Snow Elves over here… But I did run into a bunch of really cute harpy girls, along with some beautiful golden-scaled lizard-girl refugees from some underground ‘Sanctuaries’. Either way, I’m bringing them back to base now. Just thought I’d let you know. Oh, and in case you were curious, my holographic robo-dicks are working perfectly! I figured out a way to basically grow them as long as I want, and in any shape too… I can also increase the sensitivity and-”
Before he could finish rambling on, I rubbed the left side of my helmet with my gauntlet, creating a horrible screeching noise by accident. Still, it allowed me to actually say something: “Okay Mike, I really don’t care about your newfound penis powers. I found the entrance to a Fire Elf ‘Sanctuary’. I’m wondering if you can help me open it?”
He cackled, before raising a tentacle and suggesting: “How ‘bout I just call the sexy unicorn over here instead? Silvia probably ain’t busy with anything anyway. Me? I need to go finish an orgy, haha~, bye~!”
A moment later, I could hear hoofbeats coming from the entrance of the cavern. Then there was a loud *Neigh~!*, followed by a soft, telepathic feminine voice: “You require my assistance?”
The scary thing is that I couldn’t tell she was there, until after Silvia made her presence known. She pranced up next to the two of us, and Amber finally stopped punching the doors. I sighed, asking: “Can you open the gate for us?”
“This mechanism is relatively simple. It is likely operated manually, with a button or lever, yet the internal Mana Barrier Lock is quite complex. Although it may require a few minutes, I can fulfill your request. However, I do have a question… What will you do, once you have passed through these gates? Similar to the ‘HIthu’ and ‘Lum’ theocracies, the culture of these Fire Elves is incompatible with the one you forced upon the many races within your ever expanding dominion. Will you exterminate anyone who dares to have different views?”
Instead of simply opening unlocking the door, Silvia had to ask me philosophical bullshit. I smirked, as I stared into her cold and glowing grey irises. Then I answered truthfully, “I’ve learned the hard way, time and time again…
“You can’t fight Karma. If everything works properly, Karma should be the last Greater Reality remaining. The last Titan left alive. And when all these worlds are finally somewhere within the universes inside of ‘Her’, all the souls will be there too. It’s fucking hilarious, but horrible shit will still happen in there. Most people probably won’t even notice the difference, most Gods and other overpowered beings will be the same. Unable to understand why they’re being punished, or if they’re being rewarded at all. I’m not an idiot. I know that massacring millions or even billions in order to create some half-assed utopia, won’t actually have much of an effect on my Soul at this point. I’m just too… Old.
“But I still try. I will never stop doing whatever I can, in order to purge slavery from this and every world I come across. It’s going to be a long fight. Maybe an endless one. But I honestly don’t give a damn. When you open that gate, and I see… When I ‘feel’ the suffering, echoing throughout my mind. I won’t snap. I won’t… Haah~, I won’t mindlessly massacre everyone and everything. I’m not that weak. Amber and I, we’re strong enough to deal with whatever we face in there. And hopefully, unlike what happened up in ‘Salvation’, we won’t deal so much damage to the structural integrity of the city that it’ll just fall into the abyss or collapse in on us.”
I took a few deep breaths after that unnecessary speech, and then Silvia said: “Intriguing… Regardless, the gateway has been unlocked. I shall observe and record this conquest or disaster, but I will not participate beyond disabling security systems and unlocking doors.”
Once she finished speaking, Amber roared: “Where’d that horse go?!” Because the unicorn seemingly vanished into thin air. Of course, I couldn’t be certain what she did, but my guess was that she was still lurking around somewhere. Maybe creating auditory and visual illusions. All I knew was that there was no way she could have directly altered my senses through telepathy. I definitely would have noticed that.
As Amber and I pushed open the giant gates, bright neon pink and red lights were flashing towards us from the ceiling. Meanwhile, a team of at least a thousand heavily armored knights were crammed in the seemingly endless silver tunnel.
“Michael! Look!” The excited tigress pointed up at the ceiling and roared, “Jellies!”
The ceiling was filled with one of her favorite snacks: Slimes. They’re actually pretty tasty and really sugary once you roast them properly. It’s one of the only meals she could cook with her flames.
“Okay Amber, we can come back for them later. For now, let’s just clear this hallway.” I let out a sigh and unsheathed my sword, it was time for another massacre.