Chapter 170:

Dwarfs

Mad God


It was early morning when Kago walked out from behind the waterfall. He looked out of it and he was completely dazed. He was looking forward without focusing his eyes, and his steps wobbled a little.

"Are you okay?" Vex appeared before him, gently putting his hands on Kago's shoulder, drawing the young wolf back to reality.

"Huh? Ah? Yes?" He blinked his eyes, looking at Vex with confusion at first, and was only able to form proper thoughts after almost a whole minute had passed.

"You should be checked out when we get back. You look… ill." Vex said, worried.

"Ah, n-no… I'm… fine." Kago answered again, with not much conviction behind his words. He was looking back at the waterfall, then, just scratching the back of his head, spoke up. "I just… slept… in a weird position? That's it."

"What about the Captain? Is she okay? Is she up? We should move as soon as possible." Vex said, wanting him to get back to true safety as soon as possible.

"She? Yes, she is… fine?"

"Is that a question?" Vex raised his eyebrows, now even more concerned as Kago acted nothing like he usually did, and he was worrying him greatly.

"I mean… she was fine. She should be. She said it was okay; she could take it. She really did. I was even surprised about it, I did not know it went that deep, and humans turn out to be… like… like really, really flexible, not to mention the tricks she did, and I did not know it could go there too, also, nobody told me it gets stuck in the end, for hours even, also who knew that much would come out, it was not my fault at all, but she was not angry, even though it went everywhere at first, I mean-" He suddenly rambled on and on and on, his eyes not focusing at all, confusing Vex. Kago never spoke so much, without a pause and without taking a breath… but… Then the older wolf suddenly flicked his forehead, stopping Kago in his still ongoing rambling.

"Stop!" He said as he looked into his eyes, sniffing the air a little around him. He was holding Kago by his shoulders as he realized what happened. “Ah… you…” He twitched his mouth and nose, realizing the mix of odors he was smelling, coming off of him.

"I did nothing!" He threw his arms high up in the air, panicking. "It was her doing!"

"..."

"I swear!" He shouted again, his ears going all flat, trying to find a way out of this situation.

"Go back."

"Huh?" Kago blinked his eyes rapidly while Vex just tried to hold back his laugh, with very, very little success.

"Go back, wake her up, and wash up! I'll hold off the rest of the boys a little, then we can travel back to our territory so everyone can rest… geez, you scared me for a moment there!" Vex said as he finally burst out laughing, slapping the back of Kago so hard he almost fell forward.


….
…..

"What are they?" Ariana asked, watching Ren, who was studying the strange tubes that 01 had brought back to her. Her master had already disassembled one of them completely. She was piling up stacks of papers beside it, writing down her thoughts and ideas to be sent back to the sect.

"Weapons. Really potent and properly unique ones at that! With a completely ingenious usage of CC! I am amazed at how they built it! The way they came up with the design and the build quality… It is marvelous! They are better than anything my father or I can whip up right now."

"Really?!" Ariana exclaimed, looking at the tubes with a new light in her eyes.

"Yep. I'm not so focused on artifact creation. I am good at it, but whoever made this is a master! This is just perfection to a tee! I could not replicate this." She leaned back on her chair with a smile. "I'm not even sure how they did it. It has no formations etched into it… it has a completely new way of infusing CC into the material of the weapon and its ammunition… Tsk… I… I am stumped. This is a genius-level invention. I want to meet the one who came up with it!" She chuckled, smacking her lips.

"Interrogating the captured tigers, they could only tell us that it comes from the north and it is called a Boom Tube. It comes from people they call dwarfs. They are a group of people living deep underground, under the Wall of the World."

"Mmm…" Ren nodded, rocking back and forth with her chair. "I wonder if the tigers got their hands on anything else or only this. I already spoke with the wolves to be careful and thin their lines when dealing with them! If one such shot hits them, it would be devastating. Same with the South! I don't know if that Sengge guy got the same supplies or not. This… can change things."

"How strong are they?" Ariana asked as she leaned to the table, picking up her Master's scribbles and going through some of them.

"You could survive it if you were hit by one. Or even two. More, if you are already at Harmony. But a barrage of this would kill you if you are not good with defensive spells or strengthening your body. Someone who is more attuned to supporting roles would be dead from even one explosion! No matter if he or she is at Harmony or not."

“Then a regular army… with only body refinement warriors…” She murmured with enlarged eyes.

"No chance. Give 50 of these kinds of weapons to a battalion, and they would decimate the opposition without casualties. Of course, war is not that simple, but you get the idea. With this, Zelig's propaganda speech of Aerthus wanting to gobble up the Kingdom would become a reality." Ren said as she stood up finally, stretching, walking to the window, opening it. She was letting the morning sun's warmth inside, basking in it for a short moment. "I'll send them back to Master. Maybe my father and the others can reverse-engineer it. Ophy would be elated to put her hands on it." She murmured at the end.

"Who is that?" Ariana asked with a curious voice.

"Ophilia, one of the Immortals. The one who made it possible to teleport the Sect's buildings here from the other side of the world."

"Master, you are already calling an Immortal by nicknames?" Ariana giggled, shaking her head, walking up to her.

"Relax, she wouldn't mind it," Ren said with a smile as she leaned against the windowsill.

"Are you sure? Who knows what an Immortal thinks!"

"Ahaha, I'm sure, trust me! I'm only afraid that if she sees me, she will try to pamper me and dress me up in weird clothes."

"Eh? W-why?" Ariana blinked her eyes, a bit confused as to why she was saying that.

"Isn't it obvious? Look at me; I'm small, pretty like a doll, lovable and humble nonetheless! Who wouldn't want to pamper me?!" She grinned. "I am perfection materialized!"

"Eh…" Her disciple just twitched her mouth, unable to respond to her Master. In the end, she could do nothing but let out a long sigh, shaking her head.


….
…..

In the south, at an old fort, now reinforced and populated by a hundred demon soldiers, Sengge called for his most trusted people from his own tribe for a meeting.

"The Tiger King has just contacted me," Sengge explained, watching the faces of his people. "We were ordered to hold this place at all costs and not lose it! He also sends us… a backup."

"Backup? Does he know something?" One of his captains asked worriedly.

"No, I don't think so. It is because of what happened with Baagh. He lost, not just a battle… That would not be something that the King would rage over this heavily… but he lost two new weapons to the enemy." He shook his head with a smile. "The King was fuming! A few similar moves, and he is going to blow his top!"

"Just because of two weapons?" The rest looked at each other, unable to fathom why they should even worry about something trivial.

"Yes. Weapons from the dwarfs. You all know how hard it is to trade with those greedy bastards! Also, they can't be trusted. The fact that they ask for, using their words, 'living specimens' in exchange for their inventions shows that they are rotten to the core." He grimaced, clearly against Harimau's decision to comply with their demands. "Do any of us really know how many tribes or lives have been traded over for their… stuff? Only the King was present when making the deals… where do you think most of the captured wolves went? To the dwarfs. Who says that in the future, we won't be captured and traded away for some abomination's gizmos?"

"I agree." A lioness nodded. "Those wretched things still have human blood flowing through their veins, even if they… tampered with it. Don't forget, this was their place before we rose up! They must still harbor great hate towards any of us, no matter if we are lions, tigers, or wolves. We can't let down our guards, and we can't trade with them using our own people!"

"That is why the 'King' must go!" Sengge said again. "We are going to receive their so-called secret weapons in the following weeks. Probably with a mole attached to it."

"Don't they live down south?" A younger lion asked, drawing a soft groan out of Sengge, rolling his eyes.

"I always forget that you refuse to read up on old, human books… it is… a saying. Okay? Haahhh… what I meant is, they are going to appoint a trusted tiger to operate it! Which is perfect." He chuckled. "Let them set it up, operate it to their liking, and if they are somehow captured or killed, how unfortunate!"

"Wouldn't that further enrage the King?" The lioness asked.

"So what? I am just following orders! If the envoy attached to these stupid weapons insists on being the one who decides how to use them, I'll let him do what he wants! I am a loyal general, am I not?" He opened his arms, drawing laughs out from his people.

While Sengge was holding his meeting, far away, up in the north, amongst the snowy mountain peaks, Shona, the cheetah general, was shivering in the cold. He was waiting for the supposed contact from the dwarfs so they could deliver the second batch of promised merchandise. It was a strangely specific point that he needed to travel to. He had been waiting here for days by now, and there was nothing here, just snow, more snow, and ice. With snow on top of it, making him fall multiple times.

"Damned cold…" He said, breathing out white air, cursing the bad luck of his to be sent on this mission. He could only see white, white, and more white because of the snowy, barren land burning his sensitive eyes. The only thing that sometimes broke up the scenery was the gray stones of the endless mountain ranges poking out from under it. He wanted to curse once again when everything started to shake around him. "Avalanche?!"

He was right as from above, snow started to roll downwards with a frightening roar. Before he could be buried alive, a blue shield appeared around the area where he was standing, deflecting the snow like an umbrella, stunning the cheetah demon. When everything calmed down, and the snow had been 'shaken off' from the mountain's side, he could make out the hard stones of the Wall of the World. It had blue words etched into it that he could not recognize at all. Slowly, the stones trembled and moved, revealing a wide passageway lit up with warmly glowing amber stones embedded inside the walls.

"You are the one named Shona?" A male voice came from the tunnel as two figures slowly approached him.

"Y-yes." He answered quickly, shivering after seeing their bodies. They resembled humans, yet they were not.

The one who spoke up was around 1.60 meters tall. At first, he looked like a middle-aged, bald, malnourished human male with a deathly pale or even grayish skin and white eyes. Yet under his loose, brown robe, the hand that stretched out, which was holding a glowing, bluish scepter, was unnaturally long. Not to mention, he had an extra pair of hands that were moving independently before his chest.

Behind him rolled forward slowly, a creepy contraption with six wheels. It was fully made out of bronze. At the front, it had a statue and it looked like a human's torso, but it also had multiple arms, and the rest of the cart was his lower body. The strangest thing was the hands-on it moved by themselves. They were holding onto the walls, pulling the machine forward. Where the eyes should be were two black holes with yellowish stones, lighting up the hallway like a true demon from hell. The creepy bronze cart was filled with one enormous metallic tube, almost 8 meters wide and just as long. It seemed like an enlarged version of the previous weapons they received but enlarged in size.

"This is the promised item." The man in the front said and his voice carried a metallic undertone to it. "If you want more, we need to renegotiate the price."

"I will relay the message," Shona answered, greatly creeped out by the aura of the dwarfs. He was unable to keep his eyes on them for a long time, resulting in him always moving them somewhere else, just wanting to get away as soon as possible.

"Give it to him." The dwarf said, turning his head backward 180 degrees like an owl, and the bronze statue also mimicked him.

It swirled backward at the base of his torso, grabbing onto the tube with his four long arms and lifting it up high in the passageway. Next, his head snapped back forward, and a light shone out from his 'eyes.' After a little pause, it just hurled the tube out from the cave like a javelin, letting it land in the thick snow outside.

"Goodbye." The dwarf said, already turning around to leave when Shona spoke up.

"Wait! Where is the ammunition? And how am I supposed to bring this back by myself?! This is not fair! You all said it would be carried for me!"

"And it was." The metallic voice resonated from the tunnel while the mountain started to shake and close up before him. "We carried it here, no? Also, the contract was written about a weapon. There it is. We did not agree on anything else." He laughed in a voice that sounded like grinding two rusty rods against each other. The mountainside slowly closed up, leaving behind a freezing, stumped and depressed Shona and a heavy lump of metal laying in the thick snow behind him.