Chapter 159:

Heading Towards The Wolves’ Den

Mad God


The forest was hiding behind a heavy fog, and it was exceptionally hard to navigate. Even those who lived here all their lives would find themselves lost. It was easy to lose your sense of direction between the hundreds of same-looking trees and under the heavy, soup-like fog. Everything looked the same in the eye, on a rocky hill, where tall pine trees rooted themselves deep, breaking up the hard rocks. There, in the caves under them, everything looked abandoned by life as eerie silence ruled the area.

In such a hidden cave, inside the darkness, six young men were sitting and lying against the cold wall. Their bodies were covered with thick gray and brown fur, shielding them against the cold weather. Four of them were clearly sleeping, recovering their energies, while two were awake, sitting there motionlessly. They were silent while the big, furry, and pointy ears on their heads constantly trembled and moved, listening to every minute of the noise coming in from the outside world.

They were wolves, more precisely, scouts for their army. This group was posted in the outskirts, tasked with scanning the area and relaying any information of possible tiger forces approaching them. They had been assigned to this job for years by now. They were young adults, pups, who barely left their homes' safety. But it was no time to lament about their own fate. Some had way worse outcomes, as a lot of dens went up in flames since the war began. Whole groups of wolves, villages, and small tribes were exterminated by the advancing tiger forces.

When it all began, some gave up their freedoms and bowed to the incoming forces. They were expecting that they would be spared, but instead, they became slaves to them. Even worse, their capable fighters were conscripted, and their families were held hostage. While the men were used against their own kind on the frontlines, the weak and young were shipped off to who knows where. Throughout the years since this war was started, the wolves' territories slowly shrank farther and farther back.

Up here, the only passageway between the east and the west was through a canyon that was a few hundred meters wide. It was as if a clear route was sliced through the rugged mountain range of the Wall of the World. At first, the Ice Wolf tribe lorded over the place. They were masters of the snow and the cold. They were a brutal tribe of wolves, not flinching against any opposition. This attitude served their species well as a whole, yet in the end, they still lost the ownership of the passage and were forced to retreat.

Since then, the Tiger King's forces flooded their part of the forest, pushing them further and further westward. By now, the previously numerous Ice Wolf tribe's numbers had reduced to only around 50, and this included those who were combat-worthy. One such Ice Wolf was Kago, now sitting in this cave, watching the ground with his cold, light-blue eyes. His white, furry ear twitched every time an insect or bird moved outside or above them. He never got to see the homeland he was born in, as everyone from his family died not long after he was born. Only his elder sister lived, escaping and saving his life.

In other circumstances, he would still be considered just a kid, but he had to grow up quickly. The strength he showed was something the wolves greatly treasured. He was serving as a scout now as the group was formed especially for him to let him gain experience leading others. That is why he was assigned under Vex, an experienced gray wolf, captain of the scouting forces. Vex was the only other wolf who was also awake inside the cave. His number one priority was not even scouting but protecting Kago, letting him mature as quickly as possible. Every living tribe member with his kind of potential was treasured greatly.

While sitting there, Kago's ear suddenly twitched aggressively as he lifted up his head. Vex was already sniffing the air, and as soon as they moved, the rest of the squad quickly woke up. They opened their eyes, but they said nothing, just waiting for orders from their superiors.

"I never smelled something like this," Kago whispered.

"I did," Vex replied. "One is a human; the other is a fox."

"Not cats, then?" One of the other young scouts asked.

"No." Vex shook his head. "Still, we need to be careful! Get ready! We are going to circle around them and check their strengths before deciding what to do."

"Yes." Everyone replied, and soon, the cave was left empty. They scattered in every direction to surround their 'prey' and check out the new scent the wind just brought towards them.

For most demons, getting lost in this thick, damned fog would be dangerous, even deadly. For the wolves, thanks to their strong sense of smell, they could never lose their ways, even under these harsh circumstances. It only took a few minutes for them to find the camp where Emi and Poli were staying. They just stopped, waiting for the fog to clear, and Poli struggled to build a campfire.

"Are you really just going to sit there and watch me make a clown out of myself with this?" He sighed.

"Uhum~" Emi giggled, watching him fail to spark a fire. "You look cute when you fail~"

"It is pretty hard to do this with only one hand, you know!" He mumbled as he looked at her sideways, squatting beside the fireplace.

"I know~"

"Sadist."

"Ahaha, okay, okay~ Poor little Poli needs his student's help~" She stuck her tongue out before snapping her fingers as a spark flew out. It quickly ignited the kindling, and soon, an orange-colored, warm fire danced before them.

"Yeah, yeah, both of us know you were never really my disciple, only in name!" Poli replied, warming his hand as Emi also walked closer, squatting beside him. Her fluffy fox tail wrapped itself around Poli's waist as she spoke in a playful voice.

"Don't be angry… Master~”

"And now you are back to teasing! I can't win against you, can I?"

"You already did, or I wouldn't be with you." She whispered, leaning against his shoulder, continuing with voice transmissions. "We are surrounded."

"Mmm. I felt it. They are wolves, no?"

"Yes. Their smell gave them away. One of them failed to position itself completely against the wind."

"What should we do?" Poli asked, still wearing the same relaxed expression as they communicated without the wolves knowing about it.

"It is best not to fight. If they do attack us, just make defensive moves and try not to hurt them."

"I'll try." Poli chuckled.

While they were talking, the wolves did the same, laying low, watching them from the shrubs and from between the trees.

"Should we capture them?" Kago asked, not taking his eyes off of the duo.

"I can't get a feel for their strength," Vex replied. "Also… I don't think a fox would be here to aid the tigers…"

"But they also wouldn't be here with a human. Just look at them; why would a demon be mating with a human? It's pure nonsense." Kago argued. "We are demons; they are humans. Maybe she is his slave! I heard that humans are worse than the tigers."

"Heard from where?" Vex asked, looking at his young face, which was cold as ice. "From the tales of old? From a rootling?" He chuckled, but no answer came from Kago. "Not everyone is an enemy. I won't argue that humans can be evil, and we must be guarded against them! But what does that say about our brethren who fight with the tigers?"

"They are nothing more than traitors, slaves of the worst kind! A rootling at least has the excuse of its mind infested by an ent. They should've fought to the last instead of surrendering, and now they pay the price for their weakness!" Kago answered with an aggressive tone.

"I know you are filled with anger, pup," Vex said calmly. "But keep it for the fight against the cats! Don't let it govern your judgment and cloud your thinking! Anger, hate, and the craving for vengeance are best when they are focused. Use it, but don't let it use you."

Kago had no reply to his leader's words. He had been following Vex for multiple years now and looked at him like a mentor and father figure. He was someone who he looked up to, and he tried to follow his teachings… but there were times when he failed to do so. His deep-seated anger and the blood in his veins, when it reached boiling point, just took over his mind and pushed Kago into a rage. Turning him into a berserker. In that state, he was attacking anyone he deemed an enemy, nuisance, or hindrance inside his mind. Be it friend or foe.

"Stay here for now; I'll go forward. If they are enemies, we fight! But if they are too strong, I'll hold them off, and you'll go back to the pack and warn them!" Vex said, and before Kago could protest, he walked forward, showing himself to Emi and Poli.

"Seems like they don't want trouble," Poli whispered, feeling Vex coming from behind without masking his presence.

"That is a good omen." Emi nodded, drawing back her fox tail, standing up, and turning towards Vex. Poli did the same, but his smiling eyes watched the trees. He was watching the ones who were hiding inside the fog, clearly showing he knew there were more of them than just Vex.

"My name is Vex, captain of the 3rd scouting division." He said as he stopped a few meters away from them.

Looking at him, Poli found it funny as, in stature, he deeply resembled Shadow. Only with a differently colored fur and looking at least twice as old, if not thrice. The difference was that his aura was completely hidden from prying eyes, while Shadow liked to flaunt it. Yet if he was asked about it, he would deny it vehemently. Vex noticed his eyes immediately, especially after Poli smiled, making him subconsciously gather his powers, anticipating an attack.

"Stop it." Emi elbowed him, noticing the change in Vex's aura and Kago's movement. He immediately gave an order as soon as he picked up on the change around Vex, and he was coming forward and surrounding them with the rest, ready to jump on Poli if required.

"Oh. Sorry." Poli chuckled, looking around, checking out every wolf. He was surprised to see such a young boy as Kago being part of the military. In his eyes, Kago was only around 10 or 11 years old at most. He could be even younger, yet his blue eyes were ready to fight to the death at any time. "You just resemble a colleague of mine." He turned his head back towards Vex. "He is also a wolf, only with a completely black coat of fur."

"Slave to the humans…" Kago whispered, but Emi clearly heard it, looking at him with calm, almost pitying eyes. Her simple glance further enraged the young ice wolf, whose face turned more cold by the minute. Everyone who was familiar with Kago knew that the colder he was on the outside, the hotter his blood boiled inside of him.

"He is still young," Vex added.

"No offense taken." Poli smiled. "Shadow was once a slave when he was still a beast, but now he is a strong, independent member of a, well… a pretty big and powerful pack~," He said jokingly.

"And may I ask why a member of that pack is here with a female fox?" Vex asked, tilting his head.

"Because we have come to deliver a message to your leaders," Emi said, taking out a strand of white fur. The aura emanating from it made almost all of them take a step backward. Some of the wolves even turned back to their demonic form, failing to maintain their human appearances.

"What is that…" Kago growled, fighting against his own subconsciousness and body. He wanted to back up, but he managed to stand his ground in the end.

"Hair from the White Fox…" Vex whispered with enlarged eyes, recognizing the pressure emanating from it. It belonged to the Queen of the fox tribe. Even if he never met with her, the aura coming from it was unmistakable.

"Please," Emi said, putting it away. "Take us to your leader. We have an important message."

"And not just from Lady Rumira," Poli added. "But from my Master too."

"From a human?" Vex raised his eyebrow, signaling with his ears and tail for Kago to stay silent. He was hoping the kid was still rational enough to follow his orders.

"Not just any human." Poli grinned. "But the one who unified the Southern Wilderness and that not long ago exterminated the invading forces of the Tiger King."

"The South has unified? And was it invaded? When?" Vex raised his voice as this was something he never heard about.

"You are out of the loop," Emi said, trying not to sound too prideful. "My Queen has been working with humans for years now. We have a strong alliance with the southern demonic tribes. They all came under the control of Thunder Valley." She explained it briefly, but everything was foreign and new to Vex. He still thought that down south, there was nothing more than many loose, small tribes and a lot of wild beasts.

"Sellout…" Kago growled, but Emi let it go. She did not want to fight with a kid who was supposed to be still cared for and not sent into battle.

"Ehehe…" Poli chuckled, watching Kago with one eye. "I'd like to see you call her that, face to face."

"Enough," Emi said, raising her tail, and Vex did the same at the same time.

"We won't turn away a potential hand that is willing to help us," Vex said after a little thinking. "Follow us back to the tribe, and our leaders will decide about what will happen next."

"Vex!" Kago protested. "We can't just show them the way to our den! What if they betray us in the end?!"

"You have spoken more than enough without my permission nonetheless!" He barked at him, pushing him back with just his eyes alone. "Hold yourself back, soldier! The pack comes before anything else! Never forget the teachings of our ancestors!"

"Y-yes." He said, lowering his head, showing obedience while Vex looked back at Emi and Poli.

"This way." He said with a polite tone, starting to lead them deeper inside the forest. They were cutting through the fog as if it were not even there. The rest followed suit, taking up a circle around them with Kago at the back.

"Damn, I'm fabulous!" Poli sent a voice message to Emi after ten minutes of traveling. "I have such nice buttocks~"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Emi looked at him with a confused expression. "You do, but still… what are you on about?"

"Is my ass on fire?"

"Huh?" She blinked her eyes with even more confusion. "Did you eat some mushrooms again?"

"The kid! I feel his eyes burning a new hole into my bottom!" Poli explained, rolling his eyes and making Emi finally understand. The realization quickly drew a grin on her face.

"Maybe you should try it out! I heard that Reignar loved experimenting when he was young."

"Oh, and now you are not jealous?! Huh! Figures!" Poli snapped back at her very quickly.

"Ahaha, two boys… dueling… It sounds… interesting! Poetic! Even how do humans say it? Chivalrous!"

"I think you borrowed the wrong book when reading up on it! And I don't use my sword like that, okay? I prefer putting it back to its sheath instead of clashing against another with it!"

"Relax~ I was just joking~" Emi replied with a charming voice, caressing Poli's ears. It was as if she was whispering into them with her hot breath while drawing her fingers along his chest. It was almost making Poli slip as they were running forward.

"Your powers are getting greater and greater…" Poli murmured, almost completely charmed by her voice.

"It's super effective because it's you we are talking about~" She giggled like a playful succubus as they were surrounded by wolves. Their apparent flirting was making Kago twitch his eyelids as he just couldn't understand how they could stay so calm and collected… not to mention having the mind to start flirting with each other through voice transmissions in a situation like this.