Chapter 163:

Meeting of Four (2)

Mad God

"What's the meaning of this?" Chono asked, standing up, ready to fight while Luto's hands were already half-transformed. Harimau just grinned, watching his reaction while sitting down and scanning the rest with his golden eyes.

"Relax," Rumira said. "We are here to conduct a meeting. Not to fight."

"Speak only for yourself, woman!" Tiger King said, licking his lips and looking down at Ren. "I may gulp down this little pipsqueak with one bite!"

"Hey." Ren tilted her head back so she could look into Ariana's eyes. "Why is it that they bully me because of my height? Is it a new trend I was not told about?"

"Well… you are short, Master." She chuckled, keeping her composure even though everyone here outclassed her in terms of strength.

"Geez… now even you are doing it!" Ren rolled her eyes. "6 out of 10, you are improving." She then just turned her head towards the Tiger King with uninterested eyes. "Try me."

"Your bravado means nothing! You are weak. You said you are going to kill me. I'd like to see that happening!" Harimau laughed with confidence, not holding back his words at all, while the two soldiers of his just smiled, standing behind him. They were watching Ren as an already dead person, not worth considering as trouble.

"Please! Don't start a fight already!" Rumira sighed, drawing attention to herself as she mediated between the two. Chono was already stifled, trying not to show it to the best of his abilities.

The appearance of the Tiger King sent his thoughts into complete disarray. At first, he thought that it was a trap, but he soon realized that if it was a trap, he would be dead by now. Or even worse, in shackles. After calming down from the initial shock, hearing the two immediately fighting with words and how casual and calm the human seemed to be, he managed to strengthen his belief that they were really here to unite against Harimau.

The question was, what kind of union would it be? He fought against Harimau a lot. Not just since the war but also back in the past. He knew what kind of potential he had, even before the tiger took on the title 'King.' When they lost the Ice Wolves' home and, with it, the passage through the mountain range, he once again stood face to face with him. The roles were reserved at that moment. It was he who was taught a harsh lesson and beaten down by Harimau. He was left scarred, and Harimau's laugh reverberated in Chono's ears ever since then, almost every night;

"Go home, old man, and wait for me to come for you! Then we can reminisce about the old days all you want! Your time is over! I won't give you a second chance, so go and enjoy your remaining days in peace."

Chono knew that he was right. He felt his powers and the ease with which he handled him in battle. If they would fight for real, Harimau would decimate him. Even if there were two of him, he would still be defeated by Harimau's hands.

"This meeting is for one purpose only." Rumira said, "To stop this war from claiming more unnecessary lives."

"Easy." The Tiger King answered. "Surrender, and we can move on to the next step!"

"And call you… King?" Chono asked, looking into his golden eyes.

"Exactly." He said, returning his gaze.

"You also know it would be impossible to unify the forest with force. There are too many tribes and too many differences between species. It would collapse into war sooner or later." Rumira countered.

"I will manage it just fine. With force, if necessary." Harimau shook his head as he leaned on the table. "I heard it works in the south."

"Not with force," Uhure spoke up, standing behind Ren. "The different tribes there maintain their independence in governing their own people. Their leaders work in union and define the steps that the south is taking day by day."

"And who are you? To be allowed to speak in this meeting?" Harimau asked, and his voice would've hurt Uhure's body if its strength hadn't been blocked by Ren's aura. "Speaking of unnecessary people, what is a traitor doing here? Are you presenting her as a bargaining chip to me, human? Selling her back so I agree to some terms?" He grinned, glancing at Tylvana.

"..." Tylvana said nothing, but suddenly, her stomach dropped, and she could easily see it as a possibility. Yet before Ren would have answered, Uhure calmly continued, not avoiding eye contact.

"She is here to show you that the harder you close your paws, the more and more demons will squeeze out from between your claws." She said unafraid. Meanwhile, Ren was holding out her cup so Ariana could fill it with coffee, nodding at her words and her display of courage.

"This is a meeting between leaders. A lowly beast should not speak to our King like that!" One of the guards flared up, openly attacking Uhure. He sent a fist towards her, but the owl's leader quickly transformed, flying high up into the air. With one flap of her wings, her feathers flew out like arrows, hitting the tiger's armored arms. Her attacks were unable to penetrate the scaled armor, bouncing off of it with loud, scraping noises. Uhure remained high up in the air, her claws glinting in golden color, ready to swoop down at the tiger.

Tylvana was equally fast in reaction as she had already aimed a sharp claw strike toward the aggressive tiger, but her attack was also blocked by the second warrior. He was holding onto Tylvana's arm as he quickly moved in and flipped her over his shoulders. Even though Tylvana wore heavy plate armor, she elegantly landed on her feet, aiming a roundhouse kick as a response. The tiger warrior was able to raise his hands and block the heavy, armor-covered leg. Their impact let out a loud bang when it finally landed on his body.

"Come back," Ren said calmly. She just watched Harimau while Ariana was refilling her Master's cup with an unbothered face. Even though, on the surface, Ariana was not bothering with the commotion, under the table, her shadow was already extended outwards, ready to attack at a moment's notice. Even if it would be only good for distraction and nothing else. When Uhure landed, turning back into her human form, and Tylvana also distanced herself, the two tigers just grinned, provoking them. They also stood back behind Harimau, who acted as if this was completely normal.

"So you suggest that we form a council where we decide what happens in the forest?" Harimau asked, waving away the dust that was kicked up by their short exchange of moves. "Nonsense!"

"I think it is a good idea," Chono added quickly.

"Of course, you think that!" The Tiger King snorted loudly. "Where is the old Chono? The one that was lecturing others on how to rule over dozens of tribes? Solely because they can't govern themselves correctly but only bicker all the time?"

"It would spare the most lives," Rumira argued. "It would prevent more wars from breaking out and unify us so we can start anew! We could start to cooperate, help each other, and finally, stand as one."

"Exactly. As one. One forest under ONE KING. The only way to ensure we have a goal!" Harimau harrumphed, looking at them with strong conviction inside his eyes. "Talking leads nowhere! We are not humans! We can't act like them! You know that, too! I can see it in you all! We have always been and always will be a species that are born to be led by the strong! It is in our blood! You know it the best, don't you?" He said with an aura that brimmed with power and righteous confidence. He was sure that he was doing the correct thing. After looking at the other two demonic leaders, he continued. "This weak nonsense you are believing in comes from a human no less… not a big surprise." He tilted his head, turning his eyes towards Ren with a condescending look.

"Species this, species that. Mine has lived eons more compared to yours, big boy." Ren answered, unperturbed. "Long ago, we grew out of our tribalistic ways. I expect the same from you. My Thunder Valley is a great example of one of your possible futures! Of course, it is true that your actions show another possible road that you could walk down on." She explained, blowing the rising steam from her cup and taking a sip. "One leads to cooperation, letting everybody have a chance to find their own ways to success. The other leads to dominance through strength. The latter only gives one option for everyone to be somebody; Gain strength at all costs, or you are nothing. Both have their pros and cons; I can agree with that… but you are blinded by your own strength. Do you think you are at the pinnacle of evolution already? To be able to force your own way onto EVERYONE ELSE?"

"I am on the road to becoming the first God of our species! The first Demonic God, you human meat bag!" He spat at her while his two soldiers listened to him with zealous eyes. "My way is the only way," Harimau said without a flinch as he crossed his arms. "Strength is might, and might is right. It is that simple. We can't let hundreds of voices decide one thing. No, that won't work. We need one leader who lays out the way, and the rest follows him. Only a strong individual can make that happen, not a group of weak, cowardly idea peddlers."

It was evident that he strongly believed in what he was saying and was convinced that he was the one who was right for the position. It became clear to the others that he wouldn't compromise. He may have only come here to remind everybody this attempt was a failure from the start and that they should just bow to him.

"I'm not stupid nor naive. I had a good teacher." The Tiger King said, looking at Chono with a sarcastic light in his eyes. "Even if I nod to your suggestion, you three could easily stand against me. If a decision comes up that I do not agree with, you three can push it through nonetheless. That is not going to happen! Only Over. My. Dead. Body." He said, strongly articulating every word of his.

"If you agree, we can promise that we are going to act accordingly and won't suffocate you with unreasonable requests." Rumira tried for the last time, "I can promise you that."

"Hah!" Harimau laughed. "Then we are always going to stand at an impasse! Two against two! That is why I say we are not going anywhere with talks! Useless! Also,… a human amongst us…? I don't like the idea of them telling us what to do!"

"So I take it that you are not interested. At all." Ren said calmly, putting her cup down. Her eyes only showed a thin line. Then, her lips slowly curved into a surprisingly happy smile.

"None whatsoever!" Harimau said, crossing his arms.

"Awesome! Then you can leave now." She clapped with a laugh.

"Who do you think you are?!" His guard flared up, stepping next to Ren. He was looking down on her, literally. "Do you think you can just order our King around like that?!"

"Who am I?" Ren looked up at him, standing up on the chair, but as she did, she still did not reach the same height as the tiger. Tilting her head, she just chuckled as she quickly stepped onto the table so their eyes would be at the same level. "You are going on about strength this, strength that! My ears are bleeding because of your testosterone-filled mumblings! Yet you barely qualify as an intelligent beast, you Dumb. Fuck." She answered, rubbing the insides of her ear with her pinky finger.

"You are only empty talks, like every other human. I feel nothing from you!" The warrior smelled her, scoffing with a grin. "You are nothing before a true demon. The humans here were felled by our species when we were just awoken! Be glad that we did not exterminate you all back then!"

"Can't argue with stupid." Ren rolled her eyes before looking into the tigers'. "Kneel." She said as her pupils shrunk down to the size of a needle's tip. They were glowing in a strong, purple light the next moment.

Before the warrior could react, his brain was invaded by a foreign feeling, a power that compelled him to act as ordered. After blinking his eyes once, he was down on his knees, looking up at Ren.

"I am the one who is going to kill you." She said while smiling, reaching down, grabbing onto his head. Before she could do anything, Harimau grabbed onto her wrist.

"You think that I'll allow you to humiliate one of my own?" He asked, only looking at her with one eye. He was not even fully turning his head towards Ren, facing Rumira for the most part.

"You have no other choice." Ren smiled as her figure just disintegrated into nothing but strands of lightning.

What happened next was faster than even Rumira or Harimau could react to. They could only hear the thundering noise reverberating in the air as Ren appeared behind the kneeling tiger warrior, grabbing onto his head with her two hands.

"You respect strength, huh?" Her voice traveled into everyone's ears the next instant. "Then better start respecting me now!" She grinned with a wild expression as he just twisted off the warrior's head.

It was a brutal and bloody scene as she not only tore off his head but pulled out his spine along with it. From her fingers, electricity danced all around the decapitated body part and used the now bloody, gory spine as a sword. Next, she stabbed it through the chest of the second warrior, right through his heart. It all happened in under a second, and by the time her words registered in everyone's mind, she had already killed the two guards of Harimau.

"Now…" She tilted her head with a happy smile, watching the Tiger King standing up. He was turning towards her, yet for Ren, everything was happening in slow motion. "Are you respecting my strength yet?"