Chapter 62:

Lingering Feelings

Mad God


It was early evening when Poli was standing on the wall with Kang and Shaman, taking on the role of sentinels against possible attacks in the night.

"Do you think the rest of your friends will arrive now or only tomorrow?" Shaman asked, getting ready to light up his pipe.

"Probably tomorrow. They won't travel through the forest at night. When did the scorpions come before?"

"During daytime. But that doesn't exclude the possibility of a nighttime raid."

"How many were there?"

"A dozen or so. At least the ones who showed themselves. I don't expect more, but if there were an army of them, they would have already overrun us. Their main reason when they showed up was that we are under human influence, and they are here to liberate us."

"We guessed this would happen sooner or later."

"No worry. We deal with bugs." Kang said confidently, standing beside him like a giant tower, crossing his arms, "Savior city stand. Stong."

"Kang here is especially fired up; one of his females gave birth recently. It was a miracle because she was pregnant before they moved… The little one came out dead, but he was a fighter. After nursing him a little, finally, breath escaped his mouth. It took all night, but we could save him! Still weak and sick, he will live with the help of medicines." Shaman explained.

"Congratulations." Poli smiled while Kang just nodded, cracking his knuckles.

"I kill enemy. Come any."

"Relax; if we can resolve this without bloodshed, that would be the best. I'll represent my Sect and the human side."

"Speaking about that Sect thing. Is it true what is written in the letter?" Shaman tilted his head, curious.

"Hundred percent. Are you thinking of coming with us?"

"Yes. I can do better experiments there and finally achieve a breakthrough in my research against those bastards! No way I'm missing this!"

"What happens with the medicine?" He asked, looking at him and then at Kang.

"Don't worry, Pongo will take my place; she is as good as me if she is not high."

"She always," Kang mumbled softly.

"If it's something important, she will not fail you. I may not like her, but it's because even when she is high, she can point out all of my mistakes in concocting." He held his head, rubbing it with a frustrated expression.

"It's coooool, It's coooool, you are better now Eduuu~" came her voice, as she wobbled there with a joint between her lips, still puffing thick clouds through her nose.

"Speaking of the devil… what are you doing here?" Shaman snorted. "Shouldn't you have your daily nighttime trip with the others?"

"That's why I came; we saw iiiiit~."

"Saw what?" Poli asked a bit nervously.

"Scorpions… die. They are afraid. Weak. Runnnnnning."

"What does that mean?" Poli blinked his eyes, not expecting this kind of answer.

"We strong beat bugs." Kang snorted.

"No. They are chaaaaased. They come to provoke youuuuu and make youuuuu ask for help."

"Wait… you say they knew we would ask for help and humans would arrive here?" Shaman bit on the end of his pipe.

"Yeeeeees."

"So they lured humans here; what for?" He murmured, thinking to himself.

"So theeeeey can escape." Pongo took another puff. "The enemy haaaaaaates humans moreeeee."

"So the thing chases them instead of continuing the pursuit. It would attack us because this Village is human-related. Then I just leave or hide, and the problem is averted." Poli chuckled.

“You thiiiiink like a humaaaaaan.” Pongo shook his head, and Shaman nodded too.

"A human scent can linger; you are already here; even if you leave, many demons could smell you for weeks."

"Are we that stinky?" Poli sniffed himself.

"Idiot, I'm speaking about the natural scent!" Shaman rolled his eyes. "So it's already late. They probably already left, and whatever chases them is coming this way. Did you see what kind of demon it was?"

"Nooooo." Pongo shook her head. "But strooooong. Only one. It's viciooooous and hungryyyyy. An execuuuuutioner. We only felt it was his eeeeeagerness to killlllll. He is the punishmeeeeent for the failuuuuuure."

"Shit… if any of you trip something useful again, please tell me immediately!" Poli sighed, looking at the sky, which slowly darkened as the sun went down.


..Days earlier...
…..

"How are you feeling?" The Queen's question echoed out softly as she was caressing with her voice Emi's ears, who was kneeling before the entrance of the cave where Rumira lives.

"I have completely recovered, thanks to your care, Lady Rumira." She answered with a lowered head.

"Good to hear. I am sorry, but you need to do a task for me again, leaving the Village." Her Queen whispered.

"It is my duty."

"I had a guest visiting a few weeks earlier; he tried to persuade me into an alliance and was disappointed by my refusal." She chuckled a little.

"It was the tiger clan… was it not?"

"Yes. They had already united most of the east and encroached on the north, bringing the tribes under their rule and wanting to expand even further. Now they are at odds with the wolves, with their claws stretching into the northern territories. He wanted us dragged into their conflict."

"To pincer the wolves from two sides," Emi said.

"Yes. It sounds good on paper, but I won't subject my people to war. If they want to do so, they can fight it out. Anyway, they are feeling uneasy."

"Why?"

"The wolves are becoming increasingly aggressive, and it seems there will be an all-out war between them. They failed in the south, and now the southern territory bordering the humans is starting to change. You told me yourself the few tribes that can be taken seriously there may unite as one and form an alliance with humans. Most interesting, I did not expect that."

"The failure in the south… My Queen, you knew they were doing something there?" Emi asked, surprised.

"I had a guess. When I sent you and others on patrols, I did so, so I could get a clear picture and the clues you brought back, and now your new report confirmed my speculations. The tigers previously struck a deal with the dwarfs in the mountains for resources, brought them to the south, and tried to establish a foothold there. But they failed before anything even started."

"I… don't really get it, Lady Rumira."

"The southern part of the forest is filled with our kind, chased down from the north centuries ago. The weaker, less advanced tribes refused to bow their heads when we and the others expanded our influence. They fled south as in between our two territories, there are the Ents. The perfect border defense. We need to circle around every time. Why do you think they always had conflicts with humans? They outbreed what their habitat can support! This happens when they are still governed strongly by the animalistic urges we all carry. Breed, eat and sleep. They can't control it as we do… So? Where can they go? Only down south, towards the humans. These tribes have already died out or been kept in line by us."

"Did the tigers want to conquer them?"

"My intuition tells me the answer is yes. They are fractured; it's easy to go and conquer them one by one. The first they dominated were those poor scorpions. Made them fodder, using the resources to build a bridge into the human territories. If you push out the fodder through those new routes onto the humans, it is a breeze to conquer those who stay behind and have fewer bodies to throw at you. Only they failed. Big time." She laughed with a cheerful voice.

"The humans pushed back harder and acted quick and now have a footing in the forest."

"Yes… and even made a move to try uniting them. Plus, form an alliance with them and not just conquer the land? Never thought I would see the day. Now the tigers lost their footing AND the resources! Their king was not happy. Sent one of his generals down to the south to wreak havoc. He wants to break up everything before they have time to form a strong entity."

“Is he strong?” Emi gulped.

"Yes. He was the leader of the mongoose tribes before being conquered. He is a vicious predator. If you meet with him, be careful. If not, you could die."

"I see; thank you for teaching me, Lady Rumira." She bowed her head.

"That's natural. I want you to succeed in life, my dear Emi. I am going to send you back to the south; I want you to be my voice and, as they called you… my emissary. Don't be afraid of the consequences. First, help them repel the threat; I support you in any action you deem correct; if he dies, he dies. Second, bring one or two humans back with you after everything is settled. I want to meet with them."

"Per...personally?" She snapped her head, watching the opening of the cave.

"No, they probably wouldn't stand a chance withstanding my natural aura. Even if you have trouble controlling yourself."

"I-I am sorry!" She bowed her head deeply once again.

"Ahaha, relax… It's not your fault." came a sad, long sigh. "But I can meet with the ones you bring back. Just like this. I want to hear some important answers from them directly."

"I will do as you order, My Queen."

"I'm sorry, my dear child… you just got back home, yet I already sent you out."

"It is my duty." She smiled, repeating the same line as before.

After disappearing from the cave's entrance, leaving her lingering scent behind and quietly sighing Rumira, her soft murmurs echoed inside.

"Times are changing… Soon we need to choose a path before us. Will we stay free, or will we become others' tools? Are we even worthy of the name humans call us…? Aren't we becoming more like them every time we evolve?"

Her questions remained unanswered and could only linger around, nobody hearing her, nobody answering her.


….
…..

The sun was yet to rise as Zern and Reignar were already on their way, led by Rem and two other fairies. Orsi, at first, was sleepy and tired, but as soon as she saw the fairies, her eyes popped open, asking so many questions that even Rem felt overwhelmed.

"We should've left her at the Pass," Zern commented again, as it was not the first time he brought it up.

"Rem, can you bring Orsi to the Village? We will be right behind you." Reignar asked suddenly.

"Mm? Yeah, sure! We can!" Rem smiled happily, loving the company of a new friend.

"Aren't you happy?" Reignar laughed, stroking Orsi's head while the little girl blinked her eyes curiously. Why her Young Master said this "You can fly before me! Lucky you!"

"Really?!" Orsi yelped out, excited already.

"Yup!" He said while lifting her up and the fairies grabbed her, easily lifting her petite body.

At first, Orsi screamed loudly, but a second later, laughter followed while, with the lead of Rem, they flew off toward Thunder Valley. Up in the sky, above the tall trees, Orsi couldn't control herself and just shouted happily, followed by the fairies ringing laughs, watching the beautiful sky as the sun rose above the horizon, seeing such a beautiful image that she would never forget.

"Listen…" Reignar stopped and turned towards Zern, his face devoid of warmth, looking into Zern's eyes with a cold light. "If you are only good for yapping, just shut your mouth."

"What?" He furrowed his brow as he felt Reignar's aura rising. "I tell you this repeatedly because you are putting her in danger daily."

"Stop it," Reignar said calmly, yet the air around him got dangerous, and Zern was sure he would attack him any moment now. "Who do you think you are?"

"I-"

"Why do you feel the need to lecture me every hour? Are you my wife? Are you my dad? Are you anybody to me?" He asked rapidly, tilting his head, devoid of any kindness. "Nobody can tell me how to raise her. Not my Father, my Sister-in-law, the Sect Head… and especially not YOU. So Shut. The. Fuck. Up." He breathed out slowly, the air around him crackling with different energies.

"You are going too far!" Zern snorted while his hands turned metallic.

"No. You." He retorted as the air started to billow around him, and orange embers sparked from his hands while the earth under him began to crack. "You may be at the ninth level, above me by three... But I can make you realize what true talent is. You may look down on me, take me as a pervert, a good-for-nothing, a clown, or whatever! But don't try to tell me how to live my life or raise my little girl! She is my responsibility and not yours."

"You're irresponsible. Putting a helpless mortal into danger because you overestimate yourself." Zern rebuked, fully activating his powers, ready to fight at any moment.

"Maybe. But you don't know her, and you don't know me. You were not there and did not hear what she said to me when I went to pick her up from the palace; how could you understand her? You are projecting your ideas onto others; come down from your high horse!" Reignar said unblinkingly.

"..." Zern held back his first thoughts, not wanting to escalate the trouble further. "What did she say?"

"Please, don't throw me away." He whispered softly, "You are unaware of her feelings and her thoughts, yet you try to tell me, tell her, what is right or wrong? Who are you to make those decisions? God? So from now here on, keep your thoughts at that… thoughts. Don't let it spill out from your mouth, or I'll beat you down and there." He said while retreating his aura and moving on, hurrying after the fairies.

Zern stood there, mulling over his words a little, retracting his powers before continuing on, too, with Reignar's words still echoing in his mind.


….
…..

"I can't believe it!" Poli sighed, holding a cup with steaming, hot tea inside, yawning as the morning sun rose above the trees.

"Honestly, I am glad nothing happened in the night. It's harder to fight in the dark." he rubbed his eyes at Olup, who switched over to Shaman in the middle of the night duty. "Maybe the junkies saw wrongly."

"They not." Kang shook his head. "I feel… unease. Something lurks."

"I also feel something is close by, but I can't put my finger on it."

"Kyaaaaah~" came a sudden cry, and it almost made Poli drop the cup.

As they looked at the source, two fairies flew down from the sky, bringing a laughing and screaming Orsi who, when landed, clapped happily, almost breaking out into dancing while the fairies, accompanied by Rem, just giggled, flying rounds around her.

"Damn, they scared me…." Poli murmured, clicking his tongue while Olup just nodded, letting out the stuck breath from his lungs.

"Is she with you? Another small monster?" Olup gulped, a bit cautious and afraid.

"No, she is harmless; she is just a kid, unlike my Master." He smirked in response.

"Thank the gods, I couldn't take it if another one pops up… then I would question if we are the demons or you!" He patted his chest, making Poli laugh loudly.

Not an hour later, Zern and Reignar arrived, but Poli immediately felt the air between them was a bit colder than before.

"Did something happen?" Poli came up to them, raising his brow.

"We had a talk." Zern answered, "Nothing that would sabotage the mission."

"I see." He sighed, looking at them while Reignar went to Orsi.

It was the first time for both of them to be here and meet demons who were not hostile. Being brought by the fairies, Orsi was still ecstatic, running from house to house, flower to flower, checking out everything, not showing any fear towards the just now waking-up demon folks. Some grown-up gorillas lifted her up, holding her close, immediately pampering her as the motherly instincts kicked in all of them, wanting to surround and protect the little energy bomb.

"What's the situation?" Zern asked, turning away from the little commotion.

"Nothing good," Poli said, shaking his head while he described everything to them.

"I see… I could scout the perimeter, and my earth affinity could come in handy as the scorpions could move underground. I can find them if they are still here."

"That's a good idea; take some chimps with you but don't go too far! If you find them, come back immediately! Here, take this." he passed on a communication jade. "This is still the inefficient one, what the Empire uses! It crumbles after one use; if you meet danger, use it and tell me, and I'll hurry over! We still need time to craft the new ones for which Sect Head provided the schematics. They will have multiple uses."

"Understood, Elder." Zern nodded, but Poli just patted his shoulder.

"We are disciples under the same Master. Don't call me that." he smiled as Zern went to gather some volunteers while Poli stayed to be ready any time if the enemy struck at their home. The uneasy feeling was still lingering inside him, even when he watched the happily laughing Orsi, followed by a smiling Reignar as if he were her shadow.