Chapter 171:

House of Ein

Mad God


It was weeks after the fight with Baagh when the wolves' advancement finally stopped and hit a wall. They arrived at many well-fortified points, and they failed to break through. Everything ground to a painful halt after that. Neither could they break through, beaten back by the tigers any time they tried, nor could their opposition launch a proper counterattack. Not that they didn't try it, only that it was stopped by the efforts of either 01 and the rest of Ren's group or by Poli and Emi. What really annoyed Baagh and made him make a mistake after mistake was Eisen's new squad. Every time there was an attempt to attack the wolf's lines, they appeared from nowhere, right at their backline, razing their camps, supplies, or whatever they could get their hands on. Sometimes, they just torched everything to the ground before they disappeared. It seemed that Eisen's old experience as a bandit leader came through and even nurtured her own demonic mirror images from the young wolves, especially from Kago, who by now even took up a lot of phrases from her, for the dismay of Vex.

Even though they were stuck and made no progress in the upcoming weeks, everything looked much, much brighter than ever before for the wolves. For Ren, this was a preferable outcome as she was working at a secluded place on the 'new' formation. She was setting it up to trap, injure, or even kill the Tiger King, and she was coming up with modifications as she worked on it.

"This should do it…" She murmured, stepping a little back from a buried plate decorated with a complex diagram. Even if it were left lying there, nobody would suspect anything as the 8 other similar items were laid out in a 1 km wide circle. She was just about to recheck everything when a voice transmission token shattered inside her pocket, transmitting an urgent message from Ariana.

"Master, you should hurry here! We… we…got defeated!" Ariana's panicked voice echoed inside her mind.

Ren did not take her words lightly. As soon as she felt the jade shattering, she knew it was trouble and was already flying at her maximum speed towards Ariana. Her disciple was staying with Tylvana at the frontmost base, facing Sengge's army. Her words of 'being defeated' rang out strangely as it was agreed upon to wait with any battles until Ren finished setting up everything on her side. While Ren was hurrying to her disciple, Sengge stood at the wall of the old fort, looking forward with enlarged eyes, crossing his arms before his chest. He was watching the scene unfold on the battlefield with his mouth slightly agape.

"Damned dwarfs…" He murmured with a tinge of fear in his voice.

Before him, in the distance, everything was on fire, burning in a bluish and a sickly looking, green-colored light. Not just the opposing side encroached in the flames, but most of their own people, too. An hour before everything, the tigers provoked a small battle, ignoring his orders to stay put. Sengge turned his head back, trying to look through the thick trees as he knew where this all originated from.

Days ago, a group of tigers arrived, ordering their own people to get ready. They were going to break through and decimate the treacherous General Tylvana. Of course, the already pent-up army of their brethren was ready to fight, easily marching out almost 60 of their own people. They managed to provoke a conflict on Tylvana's side. When Sengge went forward and asked why they were the ones who were shouting orders when he was in charge, even they could not help but tremble at the aura of the lion general. Yet everything was already set into motion, and it was too late to stop. They led him away and showed him the weapon, which had been set up a few kilometers away. It was a giant, shiny tube of metal. It was weird and unassuming; Sengge even dismissed it as some kind of toy of the Tiger King that was going to do nothing.

"How wrong I was…" He whispered, unable to calm down.

When he arrived back, the battle was already underway, and an earth-shaking sound resounded from far away. A little later, above the battlefield, a flash blinded everybody who looked at it directly. Then everything burst into flames. Terrifying looking, blue and green colored fire rained from the sky. It was burning wildly, mixed in with a slimy substance, sticking to everything and everyone it landed on. Next came the chaos, screams, and total collapse of the battlefield on both sides.

The rest of the army was ordered by a newly arrived tiger to march and kill the retreating opposition. Murder all living beings before them while he was watching the horrific destruction unfold. At that moment, Sengge stepped up and shouted in a deep voice at everyone to stay put and ignore the newly arrived tiger's order. His words were simple; "As far as I know, the General here is still ME and not YOU." A lot of warriors sighed with relief because nobody wanted to march into the hellish landscape. When Ren arrived, seeing the still burning flames and the already melting corpses, her look turned cold. Violet lightning flashed everywhere in the sky a few seconds later.

"Someone strong has arrived," Sengge said as he looked at the churning clouds, only seeing Ren as a small dot in the distance. Yet his instincts already told him to be careful of her.

The clear sky quickly darkened, and the wind picked up speed. After only a minute, heavy rain started to pour down from the sky, yet it was ineffective. The flames only sizzled and let out sick-looking smoke and mist before they continued to burn just as intensely as before.

"Master!" Ariana arrived next to her, flying by herself. Only a week ago, Ren no longer suppressed her cultivation, and she took her own tribulation with such ease that it surprised even her Master. Her body easily consumed the incoming lightning strikes, and when finished, Ariana felt completely reborn, confident, and powerful. All those happy feelings were completely shattered by today's events.

"How's the rest?" Ren asked, looking down, sensing that by now, nobody was alive inside the fire.

"Injured. Heavily. I helped whoever I could, but the fire sticks to their bodies like glue! I could scrape it down from them, but it came off only with their flesh still attached! My tentacles helped me avoid using my hands, but… their bodies are… it's horrible, Master!"

"..." Ren's pupils quickly turned into small pins, watching the fort with balled-up fists.

"Tylvana is alive but unconscious," Ariana continued. "Her snake friend Zazuba… didn't survive, and Letty is also badly disfigured by the flames. We lost almost 30 warriors, and we have the same amount who were injured… even Kang's armor got eaten through! He is mostly okay; he helped me rescue a lot of the others. But this is bad, Master! Really bad!" Ariana said, gasping for air, looking at the fire. She was watching the melting bodies of fairies, chimps, owls, tigers, and also a dozen other, already unrecognizable demons. It burned with such ferocity that even the bones started to turn into ash. Ren heard their demonic cores simply shatter inside the intense heat.

"Go back, help them retreat! You are the best at easing the pain of others. Keep as many alive as possible! I am going to send a request back to the Sect and ask for Shaman to come with Rem or, if they can, send Uncle Dermitos here…" She took a deep breath, and Ariana just nodded, flying away hurriedly. "Another weapon?" Ren asked quietly, closing her eyes while purple lightning flashed above her. Her senses spread far away, locating the strange tube that was still smoking and glowing in an orange color. The tigers around it were trying to cool it down. They stood beside a second, boulder-like ball, ready to load it in after it was ready to fire again. It became apparent that they were willing to shoot for a second time, burying their own people with their enemy, not even minding the probability of losing Sengge in the process.

Ren flashed, flying forward right over the fort, and Sengge just watched her leave, not even flinching or trying to stop her. The others, standing beside their General, were nervous, confused, and afraid. Not just his own people but, by now, even those tigers who were assigned under him. Seeing their own brethren die such a cruel death, realizing it could have been them, lit up a strong flame of doubt inside their souls. It was burning just as intensely as the battlefield before them.

Ren arrived above the small group of tigers with a blinding flash. They managed to look up, shocked at the fact that Sengge was letting someone come for them this easily. They had no chance to even speak or make a noise because as soon as Ren descended before the dwarven weapon and her feet touched the ground, lightning struck from the sky, right on the top of the head of the tigers. It blew their bodies into pieces, leaving only their small, weak, demonic cores floating in the air, covered by Ren's lightning.

"This thing is a monster…" She said, touching the tube, turning her eyes to the round ball, ready to be loaded, dripping from blood and chunks of tigers. Her brows quickly furrowed as she walked next to it, crouching down, wiping off the red and pinkish gibs. "Wait…" She blinked her eyes with surprise as there were decorative etchings all over it. She recognized one crest in the middle of it. "The House of Ein?" She whispered as she traced her fingers along, reading the old text embedded into it. It was written in the old language of the fallen Kingdom. "Death to the unnatural, the unclean, the wicked. Let the holy fire cleanse the world of the abominations and let the Sacrifice of Catharine be not in vain." She read it aloud. Ren tried to arrange her thoughts, but it was hard, and she needed to take a breath before scooping up the weapon and its ammunition, leaving hurriedly to bring it away.


….
…..

Far away, deep underground, in a well-lit chamber, a dozen people in gray, simple clothing were sitting around a round table. They were clearly humans, yet their features would be strange to anyone who met with one of them. Their heads were a bit elongated, their eyes wider than usual, and mostly white or gray. Their hairs were colored like ash and sparse. No matter if they were male or female, their figures were almost indistinguishable and underdeveloped. Their skin was deathly pale and dry, without any traces of body hair. Their limbs were thin and long, ending in bony fingers. Their whole appearance looked like how a malnourished child would look, as the tallest amongst them was only 150 centimeters tall at most.

"XW-3 sent back the reports." One of them said, judging by her voice, a female. From the middle of the table, a projection was showing the still image of the same tube and its detailed description. It was the same weapon that Ren was carrying away right at that moment.

"It had a chance to shoot only once before the data stopped flowing in. But the recordings are showcasing a promising advancement in our mixture inside its ammunition."

"Then we are going to approve the construction of XW-4; we need to reduce its size to fit it on the golems." Another replied, and now it was a male-sounding voice. "It is not viable to carry such a cumbersome thing around, not even for them. It would be a logistical nightmare to transfer them from point A to point B."

"Agreed." More of them echoed their agreements simultaneously. "If the size is reduced, we can increase the concentration of Catherin's Wrath in the ammunition. That would keep its destructive powers at the same level."

"Mmm, it is a viable option. We are going to keep that on the table." The first female voice agreed. "Still, we need more demonic cores and souls to fuel our golems."

"That is not a problem." Another member of their group chuckled. "They are going to come back asking for more anyway. We just need to raise the price." He looked around his colleagues. "Who knows! Maybe we can cleanse the surface world of those unnatural abominations without lifting a finger!"

"I wish." The rest laughed before the first voice spoke up once again. "Let us get back to work! We need more data! Don't let our ancestors down! We will reclaim our home, no matter how long it takes. Sooner or later, the forest will burn, and the screams of those demons in our holy fire are going to appease our ancestors' souls!"