Chapter 34:

Shaman

Mad God


"Shaman, Shaman!" rushed in one of the guards, looking agitated, almost toppling over as he pushed in the door.

"What? Did someone eat something again that they shouldn't? What's the ruckus for?!" The old chimpanzee snorted, not even turning towards him, still leaning over his scribbles, searching for who knows what.

"Niji is back!"

"Who cares."

"With humans!"

"Oh?" He raised his head, thinking, then turning back, looking up and down at the slightly trembling chimp. "Good. This is perfect!" Shaman laughed and went out, pushing away the poor kid, who stumbled backward, not knowing what would happen.

At the entrance, or precisely under the giant trees serving as their homes, stood Niji and behind him, ready for any possible trouble, the others. Those who stayed at home were still young, weak, and inexperienced. They were holding their wooden weapons, standing guard against Niji, not knowing what would happen and why he returned with humans instead of the tribe's leader and warriors.

"Finally, you're back. Took you long enough!" came the voice of Shaman, who dropped down from the trees, hanging onto a long vine before landing. Even though he had a hunchback, he still towered over 2,5 meters tall when standing up.

"Shaman." Niji nodded, a bit surprised that he came down, welcoming them.

"You, too, can call me that!" He looked over at him, speaking to Ren and the others as his eyes fixated on Anya. "You are the leader?"

"No." She answered, shaking her head, pushing Ren forward, who curiously scanned the giant ape up and down.

"The kid?" Shaman blinked his eyes, scratching his head. "Or are you a dwarf?"

"Dwarf? No, I'm just unique, compact, if you will! Anyway, are there dwarfs?" Ren asked, excited.

"Yeah, up in the north! They are descendants of sentient crystals, I assume. The stories say they are made from metal. Dunno, never met with one, only heard about them because they are holed up under the ground trying to reach the core of the world or something." While mining his own nostril, Shaman explained while finding another kind of… crystal. "Who cares? Let's talk about important things! I need new tools; I made a list already. I planned on sending Niji to get them for me."

"You wanted me to go to the humans' land? Should I just stroll in and act like nothing, browsing their markets?" Niji snorted, being frustrated already with the old chimp.

"What, you just came back with humans in tow. It must be easy, then! Anyway, here!" He pushed the rough paper stack with crude drawings and names scribbled on it about what he needed. Ren flipped through them, sometimes turning the pages upside down to recognize what was on them.

"No problem. We already made a deal with Niji! We will get them and transport them here." Ren passed it over to Leinor, who stashed it in his bag.

"Great! I guess the others are dead, yes?" His question made the rest of the apes behind him, up on the trees, freeze up immediately.

"Yup. All of them." Ren nodded. "None survived, only Niji."

"Thought so. I can roughly guess what will happen by seeing you here and not your army. I don't care! Do what you will. Just get my tools for me!" Shaman scoffed.

"Ahaha, sure thing! Can you show me what you are working on? Let's exchange some ideas, hm?

"Sure! Follow me!" Shaman laughed as he quickly climbed the tree, and Ren flashed by, quickly following him without reservation.

"There she goes!" Anya sighed.

"She was impatient since we were closing in on the village." Leinor smiled, now looking at the rest of the apes. "They are afraid."

"Sure they are!" Niji nodded. "Usually, when the previous alpha is dead, the new leader of the tribe kills all the children as they are mostly the previous boss's kids. Then mates with all the women and sires a lot of new little monkeys!"

"Brutal." Isha grimaced. "And… What about you? Should we turn our backs until you finish?" She asked with profound scorn in her voice.

"Nope. I couldn't care less about it. Bloodline means nothing to me." Niji said in a voice so everyone could hear, and the females were the ones who relaxed first, hearing his words, holding firmly the really young to their furry chests. "I'm here to reform the tribe, building it anew from the ground up. So there will be new rules! I need your help to secure the village for the time being. Other than that, just take it as we are your hosts, and you are the guests."

"Rest assured. Ren trusts you. We will do so too." Leinor said with a calm voice.

"Master ordered us to do so, so I'm fine with it. She is usually right on point on how to deal with things." Poli grinned while Zern only nodded.

"Yeah, I remember once some idiots barged into a place by her lead and were spanked badly by someone way stronger." Isha giggled as she elbowed Zern playfully.

"Yeah, I remember too." Leinor looked back with a smirk, shutting her up, then she just stuck her tongue out at him.

"Okay, kids." Anya giggled. "Stop it! Especially you, Isha, you are double their age yet always act like my daughter. Grow up a little!"

"Ugh… don't bring that up! I look only 16 anyway!"

"More like 26." Poli stifled a laugh, receiving a kick to his butt. "Okay, okay, 16 it is!"

"Isha, take Zern and Poli, then go around the village, map out its layout, then make a note of points of entry." Leinor asked, "Lady Anya, can you keep an eye on the other monkeys?"

"Sure." She nodded, and soon the ground dried up under her feet, and three water clones appeared next to her, scaring the monkeys who were still on high alert.

"I'll accompany Niji." Leinor finished.

"I feel you still don't trust me even after what you said just now." Niji smiled.

"I just like to be double sure. I can't place Ren in danger."

Niji didn't respond, only looking into his eyes before climbing up to collect everyone so he could explain the situation to them. Meanwhile, Ren was already discussing deeply with Shaman in his shabby laboratory.

"Interesting, so you say I have one similar thing inside my brain?" Shaman asked, holding up the small core towards the light shining through the shabby shack's window frame.

"Yup. Everyone had the same type of core inside of their brains."

"Now I want to open up some of the idiots' skulls."

"Will you?" Ren chuckled.

"If they again take a shit inside my cauldron that I left outside to dry, I fucking will!" He grumbled, pocketing the core.

"Hey, who said I'll give it to you?"

"Here. You can have this." He threw the book at her as payment.

"What's this?" Ren opened it curiously as the pages started to fall out. "Oh? Is this a diary of some kind?"

"Yes. It was the last human Empress' personal diary, from the day she was crowned until the last week of her life."

"Woah, sounds precious!" Ren started to flip through. "Tsk... I can't read this…."

"Hah, of course not. You are not speaking their language! Find some interpreter or something who will translate it for you."

"Can't you?"

"Too much time." Shaman waved his hand.

"So you DO speak their old language, huh?"

"Sly. But I won't do it, too much hassle, I forgot many words already, I'm not interested. I've got work to do!"

"Okay, okay, got it." Ren rolled her eyes. "I'll give this to Feynor; he should be able to read it. Anyway, show me what you are working on!"

"I thought you would never ask!" The ape laughed, inviting her closer and showing her a big bowl filled with stinky, slimy fluid that was bubbling all over.

"What's this? Did they take a shit in this too?"

"Very funny. No! This is made from different fruits of treants and demons' internal organs."

"Sounds nasty. The treants… are those the-”

"Yup, sentient trees. Don't ask if you know." Shaman scoffed at her.

"So, what is it for?"

"Treants or ents as some call them, rule the inner part of the forest, the deep parts, the old parts. They are independent and don't like interacting with us at all."

"Oh, are they that territorial?" Ren asked, curious.

"Very much so. If a demon walks into their territory, it gets caught by the trees, and they turn it into a thrall. From then on, it tends to the trees until its lifeforce is consumed."

"Then how did you get fruits from them?"

"I have my methods… and by some sacrifice. For science." Shaman said with a stern look.

"Sure…"

"Look. This is a sapling from a treant. Their seed can survive hundreds of years or even more without being buried until it finds a spot where it can grow… and I found they usually grow inside the thralls at first. They use their lifeforce and energy to supplement their rapid growth."

As he dropped the seed into the bowl, it quickly started to grow, and soon a tiny tree appeared, like a mini bonsai. It didn't take long for it to greedily slurp up the bowl's contents, but soon its branches swelled up before bursting into flames, and the whole tree exploded.

"Damn…" Ren said, sticking her head out as she immediately hid behind the old monkey for cover, only he was showered with the black sludge splashing all around them.

"Still… something is missing…! A component that regulates energy consumption." Shaman continued without a flinch, checking the remains in the bowl

"The Demon Core."

"Exactly! Now I need to devise a new experiment. With this information, I could guess why they grow on thralls! They use their cores as a regulator to not consume more energy than they can handle while growing. At least, that is my first theory!"

"And your goal is…?"

"Reverse engineer it. Turn it against them! Or come up with something that hurts them! They are dangerous and refuse to cooperate and consume us, using us as fertilizer!" He huffed and puffed, clearly agitated as something else was behind his sudden rage.

"This sounds personal," Ren murmured, looking up and down at him.

"It is." He answered coldly, "What would you do if they ate up all of your family and you could do nothing, just stand there and watch as they rotted away while being alive the whole time?"

"Burn down the whole forest." She answered without a thought, "Then turn over the land and cover it with salt."

"I want to do that. So very much, you couldn't believe it! So it IS personal. Don't help if you don't want to, but don't stand in my way, or I will kill you too!"

"Woah, easy there, oldie! It's your vendetta. You do you; I'm only here to make sure the monkeys are on our side." Ren raised her hands.

"Help me with the research, and they will be. I can even help you absorb the nearby tribes too."

"Now we are talking!" Ren grinned, putting on a sweet smile afterward. "What tribes are nearby?"

"Four major ones. The gorillas, orangutans, another chimpanzee tribe, and the baboons."

"Huh. Which one should we start with?"

"The other chimps. They would be easy to absorb; they are a smaller tribe with a young alpha at their lead. Honestly, they are cousins of ours and were chased off two generations ago or so. It would take some talking to convince them, but doable. After that… it depends. The orangutans are calm and even a bit lazy. They are the smallest ones but don't underestimate them, they may be small, but you need to come up with some inciting benefits to make them join us. The gorillas are also pretty calm, but they are a close-knit group. They won't take kindly to intruding on their territory or family."

"I can work with those who lean more towards the peaceful side. Let me guess, the baboons are problematic."

"They are. They are only good for being a meatshield in a battle or sending them into enemy territory to cause chaos. They are easy to anger, stupid, and the one thing they love more than fighting is fucking. Maybe do the two at the same time. I hate those jackasses! But it's your problem to solve. I'll just point you in the direction."

"You said you would help me absorb them." Ren countered quickly, but Shaman just grinned.

"I didn't say how much help you would get."

"I think we will get along well…" Ren sighed, holding her temple, smiling. "Okay, let me think it through and get me more details of the tribes! After everything is in order, we can go and visit your cousins. Let us get over the easy part first."

"Agree. If you want, I can take you to them tomorrow!"

"Sure." Ren nodded, then walked out of the house, looking down as on the ground, a few other really young chimps were standing around Isha, all looking either at her breasts or her buttocks. "Tsk… no wonder they say we are related species…." Ren murmured with a weird smile on her face.