Chapter 35:

Curse (1)

Mad God

"This is incredible!" Feynor murmured again as he held the diary, reading it through who knows how many times.

"I'm glad you like it, eldest brother!" Leinor sighed, walking next to him and grabbing his shoulders before he walked into a tree. "But please, concentrate on the road, okay? You can read it any time when we get back."

"You don't understand; this helps us to understand the old kingdom, how it was governed, and the daily life of the ruling family!"

"What is so great about that?" Niji looked back, who was now leading them toward the other tribe of chimpanzees.

"Everything! There is a paragraph that describes her dilemma on a new taxation system, and by just her ideas, we could redo our taxation laws, benefiting the whole country!"

"Tax?" Niji grimaced at the weird words.

"Don't listen to him." Ren said, "He is to become Emperor. His mind is full of boring stuff."

"I never knew humans talk this way of their rulers. When I was growing up, they growled before theirs!" Niji shook his head.

"I'm privileged." Ren giggled, "I'm marrying into the royal family; Feynor is my older brother by family ties, so I can be informal!"

"You are weird. All of you." Niji murmured while suddenly stopping, raising his hand, and the others ceased chatting. Soon other tall chimps showed up on the trees before them.

"What is one of you doing on our turf… especially with humans in tow? If Bonecrusher learns about this, you will die a painful death!" one of them said, coming down, standing about 10 meters away before them, leaning on a thick, wooden rod, around 3 meters long.

"Bonecrusher?" Ren raised her eyebrows, holding back her laugh, unlike Isha, who found it even more funny. "Was that the previous leader we killed?"

"Oh? So, he is dead?" The newcomer chimpanzee asked, looking surprised.

"Yes, and all of the others too." Niji nodded.

"And now you are a human pet yet again, are you not? Oh, how we came full circle!" The other chimp laughed mockingly.

"Olup-" Niji tried to remain civil.

"If you came for protection, forget it. Now I'm considering absorbing you all! You must be weak, and I think humans won't risk it for our kind, ahaha…." He licked his lips, scanning over the others.

"He is not here for protection." Ren walked up, standing next to Niji, still smiling, "We are here to make you join us."

"Join? You? Did the pipsqueak really say that?" Olup laughed, turning back towards the others, grinning, and soon the forest was filled with loud monkey screeching.

"This guy…" Ren murmured, grinding her teeth while Leinor came up and pressed his hands on her shoulder.

Soon Ren felt as his energies flooded her body, taking a revolution, going back to him, then back again, just like they did it against Boursat, only now it was seamless, quick, and with minimal backlash on their bodies.

"You know me best…." Ren whispered, gently stroking Leinor's fingers on her shoulders while closing her eyes.

"Kick him in the balls. That will shut him up." Leinor whispered to her.

"Ahaha… this is why I love you~" She nodded, and when she opened her eyes, she blasted out with a thunderous roar, surprising everyone.

The most surprised was Olup, who raised his stick, but Ren's kick quickly shattered it to a million pieces, making him stumble backward from the shock. Purple-colored electricity danced in the air around him, and after the sudden strike, he wanted to find his footing, but Ren was way quicker, striking him in the nether regions. Soon every other, still laughing monkey shut their mouth in an instant, shuddering as a resounding crack echoed through the air. Olup just laid on the ground, eyes rolling back into his skull, foaming from the mouth, twitching.

"As we said." Ren stepped on his limp body with her tiny feet, looking up at the other apes. "We came to make you join us. Of course, you could refuse! We understand if you are hesitant, but know that… the second time will be when you come to US and ask US to let YOU join US! The terms may be harsher than what we can offer now. Also… please, think before speaking! I'm not the best when it comes to temper." She laughed innocently, in a cute voice, playing with her silvery hair. "Let's go!" She said as she turned around while Niji just looked at her trying to read what she was up to. "You have a few days to decide!" Ren waved her hand.

"Don't worry; they will come to us." Shaman appeared as soon as they were a few hundred meters away from the other tribe.

"So you did follow us," Anya said, looking at him with slanted eyes and watching the old chimpanzee appear.

"I was curious at how you would deal with them. I like her approach." He smiled, pointing at Ren. "Also… I invited an old friend."

Soon another ape walked out from the trees, towering over 3 meters tall, full of muscles, wearing a white coat of fur, and his eyes were naturally blood-red colored. The giant gorilla's aura was overpowering, and Anya's pupils immediately shrank to a pinhole while stepping forward as the others also got ready to fight.

"Relax! His name is Kang, the old chief of the Whitestripes." Shaman laughed as the gorilla slowly held back his dominating presence.

"You look pretty strong." Ren stepped forward. "The feeling you gave me was stronger than my father's aura!"

"You afraid, human the little?" He asked, with a deep, heavily accented voice, as if someone was not used to speaking their language.

"Not really. You lacked malice when you appeared!" She tilted her head to the right while answering.

"Small one interest. You right, old chimp, need more, but... Not convince."

"He is saying you still need to prove yourself to them." Shaman translated.

"I guess you already have something for us?" Anya said, coming up to her daughter's side.

"Yes human. My tribe sick. Women birth dead, no young. Male make babies, no babies born live. We want cure. Want help."

"I checked them out a few times; the whole thing started around… 40-50 years ago." Shaman explained, "At first, it was occasional, nothing strange. But it got worse; younglings fell ill then died, bleeding out while sleeping, and by now, the women's only bore stillborns..."

"Is it contagious?" Leinor furrowed his brows.

"Seems not, as the old chief looks fine," Feynor commented.

"The adults have zero symptoms. Nothing is wrong with them; they are healthy." Shaman explained further, "Their vitality is there; they CAN make babies. Anytime."

"Youngs only. Children sick. They die soon. Lost grandkid. Lot. Help, and we join." Kang said, his voice hiding his helpless attitude.

"We need to check it out, fast," Ren said with a serious look on his face, looking up at the giant gorilla, which now reflected a sad and tired expression in his eyes, clearly numb to burying his offspring. "Anything you find out before this?" Shaman asked as they started to follow Kang.

"Some useless things only. It's not an illness."

"It's not?" almost all of them asked simultaneously.

"Curse." Kang continued, "Shaman says curse is."

"I don't believe in curses," Ren murmured.

"You will." Shaman smiled with a strange expression. "They live in an old city, a holy city back then, a spiritual home of many, following the… what was it called…."

"Twin Path of Life," Feynor added.

"What's that?" Poli asked curiously while Ren put on an even more severe look, clearly thinking about something.

"It was written in the diary of the last Empress. It was their main religion when this was still a human empire. Their names…" Feynor started to flip through the book.

"Alfina and Oynega," Ren said in a cold voice.

"Ah, yes… yes, here it is. Have you read it?"

"I… only recognized some words, that's all." She sighed, rubbing her temples. "Continue, please. What did it say in the diary?"

"Let me check. Ah, yes, here it is. There are a dozen pages of rambling about some holy days and celebrations… It says it was an ancient religion, only going strong and becoming the true belief in their Kingdom's last centuries or so. The true gods, Alfina and Oynega, govern life and death. The twins represent giving birth, bringing new life to the land, and dying, removing the old to give place to the new. The woman, Alfina, gives birth to human souls while the man Oynega embraces those who come to the end of their lives."

"They are both girls. Kind of. Were. Whatever!" Ren snorted. "They are hermaphrodites; it's just one of them acts more feminine the other likes to dress as a man."

"Really?" Isha laughed. "Damn, the freaks!"

"Huh… I have not read that part yet!" Feynor flipped through the pages, but Ren just continued.

"They were born joined but separated later when they rose to godhood. Still, they are closely linked with their minds and also in an incestuous relationship. So yeah, kind of a freak show with human standards but nothing major if you check the gods' mythology through the history books. They have a different outlook on things like morality or what is good and bad, especially considering their powers are dependent on it."

"You always liked to read…." Anya giggled, stroking her head with a reminiscing smile. "I remember you asked us to hoard all of the history books we could find… now I see why, you little rascal, ahaha!"

"Yeah, I… picked up some things." She smiled wryly. "Anyway, what does this have to do with our big, white, muscly friend and his tribe?"

"As I said, it's a curse. Something happened deep underground. It was fine through the centuries, but an earthquake occurred around… 60 years ago. Something under the ruins has awoken, and now his presence curses them."

"Why not just leave?" Leinor asked directly to Kang.

"We no. Some left. Still bear dead. No healthy. No change. Desperate."

"So it is a curse, and we must stop the source before lifting it." Shaman said resolutely, "And in the meantime, collect some resources that are only found there, of course."

"Yeah… of course." Isha rolled her eyes, knowing why the Shaman was so eager to help, but Kang didn't mind it as long as they did help.

"Curse… huh?" Ren murmured, "Let me see those ruins first… I got curious all of a sudden…." She said, taking a deep breath and speeding up, prompting the others, especially Kang, to pick up speed and reach the gorilla's village quicker.