"Lord Rames, wake up! Get ahold of yourself!"
Isha shook the man violently.
The Prince, he was looking at the four reps surrounding the comatose chief with an empty gaze devoid of emotion.
He chuckled darkly. "Ha...haha...What a weak man. Does he think the Vile Lord's torments are of only that level? He is lucky it was only his body that was played with."
So it's been a full hour since my experiments began. Using my buddy Rames as a test subject I learned I was, in fact, a healer bro. It appears my gentle taps have some way of delivering my abundant life energy onto the taget. This rids them of current wounds and tears open, then heals, past wounds.
This process takes a toll on the person's body, however. Rather, instead of toll it's more like it does not restore stamina. So you end up exhausted if the healing is done repeatedly. You simply don't have the energy to go on.
Continuous beatings and healings will result in a state where you are not wounded but your body is incapable of lifting it's own head.
Also, it seems, you have a "memory" that comes with it. Meaning that despite not being hurt in truth you will still remember the pain and soon the lightest of taps will cause you to recall the feelings of all previously induced pain altogether.
The surrounding Aeil warriors did try to intervene at some point but they backed off once a few of their comrades were captured and became subjects themselves.
Yesmina? She only forced a smile and quietly led away the worried Aeil, saying, "Well he's just having a bit of fun. They aren't even hurt, see?"
She earned some brownie points for that, not that I'd tell her.
" And don't fucking come back!" A barrel was thrown. Rames woke up in a crazed frenzy several hours later, just in time to see us off.
He had a spear in hand was wild-eyed, ready to send the giant weapon soaring after us. Given his strength I'm sure he could've totally destroyed the ship, or at least mess it up enough that we'd have to delay our trip.
But he was held back by several of his own tribesmen who were yelling something like, "You fool, you'll just make him mad!"
"He'll break us all!"
"There'll be no escape!"
Which was really just so rude.
"What Water God?! Isn't he just a Demon Lord?"
I just wanted to do some goddamn experiments, is that so bad? Look at them, they're obviously a lot stronger than they were before! Isn't that my blessing to them? Their reward for enduring through a little pain? Ungrateful little shits.
To build one must first destroy. To temper steel one must take a hammer and beat it down! Is that not what I did for them? My efforts are being so unappreciated...
Oh well. I am a kind and forgiving God, yeah?
"Lord Kandor..." Isha whispered from twenty feet away.
"Yes, I know."
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"The Little Goddess, I've faith in her."
"She's a pure soul. With this young God's twisted heart, if they were to meet, I'm afraid--"
"Only a God can deal with another God, Isha."
"Yes, deal.That's what worries me. What price will she have to pay? Were they equals it may be different, but it's obvious this boy is far older and more powerful than our Little Goddess. Who knows how long he's been prowling the world? His boyish appearance is a lie if I ever seen one. No sound mind would be capable of such...such disturbing tortures."
Kandor was quiet. "We do what we must. As will she." He said gravely, after what seemed a lifetime.
"...He'll eat her alive..."
These guys. Do they want me to heal them?
It took us another full day to reach the city of Ko. The winds were on our side, allowing the so-called Uraks to move at peak speed.
The first thing one notices were the walls. They were probably as tall as the one from China. Though I'd never been I had seen pictures and videos so I could say they were fairly large. And this one was similar.
The main difference was that this was made from some kind of glass or crystal. So thick you couldn't see the inside, but shining brightly in the raging sun. Heck I was surprised they people inside weren't cooked.
"It's hard to properly see when you get too close from the outside so only blind creatures like the Uraks can safely travel towards. It's dangerous to wander with your eyes closed in the desert which is why they're trained to bring us inside. The merchants who wish to enter have to go to a station not far from here and rent their own Uraks to guide them just like this. " Yesmina explained, handing out some blindfolds. "Wear these."
I put one on but I didn't find it all that blindingly bright. It was, but not to the degree I couldn't handle it. Maybe the Aeil were more sensitive. Still, do as the Romans do.
"Who built it?" Baz questioned enthusiastically.
"None of our time is likely to remember. We Aeil weren't in the habit of keeping records in the past, passing most information through word of mouth. It's only in the last few centuries this changed. This was here long before that. However it's not fully enclosed. And in fact it's shape resembles that of a claw."
"There's a story behind that, I'm guessing."
"Of course." She laughed, as beautiful as any chime. "The Wise Ones say it came from the Dragon God Okeanos and is a piece of his claw that broke off during his battle with the Divines thousands of years ago."
There's that word again. Okeanos. Mother mentioned it, I'm certain. I remember clearly now. She said something about being part of the Okeanos Family. Dragon Royalty, eh.
Still no scales but it's got to mean something since I keep hearing it pop up.
"What's that about then? " I questioned "I've never heard of something like that in any legends."
"That's because the Gods hid it from most of the world. You may find the tale in dusty libraries of various temples but apart from that it's secret knowledge that very few aside from the Aeil know about. We don't mingle much with the outside world, at least we didn't before the last couple decades, so it never spread. I'm not sure how many outsiders know we have the information either. I think the Temple of the Divines wouldn't like us much if they were aware of our knowledge in that area."
Minnie tilted her head, as she always did when confused. "Why keep it a secret, all that stuff?"
"It speaks about a pretty embarrassing scandal involving the Divines, that's why."
"A scandal, you say. Do tell." I Insisted.
"Oh It's nothing complicated, really. Just that the Dragon God accidentally seduced all the Angels and Goddesses of the Heavenly realm."
Baz gasp. "Woah! That sounds just like the Young Master! They must be kindred spirits."
I wacked the little boy firmly on the head. Which healed but left the pain.
Vera, despite the opportunity to make a dig at me just like Baz did unintentionally, was quiet.
" A bit worse though. He caused a few Godly break-ups which didn't earn him any favor, you see. It's funny since he wasn't originally a Divine, he was created later on by the Mother Goddess in a challenge between the Gods to see who could create the most perfect lifeform. That became the beginning of our world and all it's creatures. After his creation and her victory in the challenge she took him as a mate and they copulated to birth the Dragon race. Of course things got muddy when the other females of the Heavenly realm also took a liking to him. He was stationed between the Heaven realm and the Mortal realm as a governor of sorts. In time many Angels and Goddesses would sneak over and entice him. Being a product of a Goddess reigning over Love and War he naturally would not deny advances. Once rumor spread the male Gods ganged up and ambushed him, then after a full hundred years of fighting--which many claim caused the First Cataclysm--they were able to banish him to the Mortal plane and, in spite, masked his presence from the Goddesses which he'd charmed. They apparently went pretty crazy over him. Like, literally crazy. Caused the Second Cataclym looking for him, is how the story goes. "
Went crazy...sounds like my Godly Right. I couldn't even imagine the horror of being pursued by a few hundred OP yanderes.
Don't get me wrong, I loves me some yanderes. But if we're talking Mirai Nikki yanderes then that's a whole different story.
Must've drove the dude insane.
He was basically a newborn babe, how could he say no? Taking advantage of him like that...what bitchy Goddesses.
" You know it's even said his blood which fell during the battle is what created the World Trees. Having fallen onto the many different realms within the Mortal Plane, all connected through his blood, creating gateways between dimensions...Ah, that reminds me, have you heard of the Dryads before? Tree spirits? In many of our oldest stories they say the most powerful of Dryads were created at the same time as the Great Trees and could travel anywhere in the world where plantlife exists. Amazing, right? Think about being able to go wherever you want whenever you want..."
She trailed off in a dreamy sigh.
Ah, tree nymphs. Now there's a topic I can get interested in.
Sadly we hadn't time to go into detail, like where I could find one. I could only say, "Well I'm glad I ain't that guy. Sounds like he's had a pretty shitty run of it."
Seriously. Made up due to a challenge, minding his own business and then just suddenly chased around by a bunch of horny Divine. And to top it off he's cast out of home by some jealous assholes who couldn't keep their ladies satisfied. Stuck in the Mortal Plane which I'm sure is way worse than being in what was basically Heaven. Having nothing else to do but twiddle his thumbs.
Actually who knows what happened to him? Like they probably couldn't just leave him alone as powerful as he was. Probably nerfed him. Sealed him away somewhere. Man that would suck such massive balls.
"Then what's the Aeil have to do with all this? Must be some reason they know those tales."
"Okeanos is a God of Life. Life is represented by water, and the Aeil love water. Obviously we'd worship him. Not only is he a lifebringer, he's also a great warrior. We're even descendants of his Chosen. No way we wouldn't know his story. Plus he went out as a warrior should, through battle. And his battle, what other could be as awe-inspiring?"
I guess it is pretty cool. Brings to mind a Madara vs the Kage kinda scene. Now THAT was an epic fight. Dude had all the hype and didn't disappoint.
Plus if all that was true then he's one of my ancestors. Or at least that's what Mother believes. Me, still not gonna buy into this dragon stuff until I see a scale.
And I'm hoping, if it does happen, I'd be a western Dragon with tree-trunk arms and legs. Not some overgrown snake.
Then, and only then, will I accept this Dragon stuff1
Anything else and I'm ignoring it.
Oh. And if I can transform my clothes better disappear into the ether for later use instead of tearing apart because no way am I going around naked just because I Dragon'd out. Assuming I can transform, and that I am in fact a Dragon.
Since this is a fantasy world and I now accept that Damien is a damn fucking complicated character then I also have to admit the possibility he's not entirely human. More specifically that he might be a Dragon. Which could explain my love of hunting. And large, yet picky, appetite.
Even Dolly's obsession with shinies would now make sense.
I bet that'd even explain how people react to us. I mean I know we're good-lookin' and all but sometimes it just seems so exaggerated.
While I was lost in thought we entered a great gap in the crystal wall. A "crack." in the claw, nearly tearing it in two.
"Huh. Strange." I clenched my hand.
"What?" Yesmina gave a glance.
"You know, that hum. Feels weird."
"I don't feel anything." Her voice took a slightly concerned undertone. " Sure you aren't imagining it? People coming here for the first time can have a surreal experience. Maybe that's why you feel like that."
"Maybe." I placated. Doubted it. My skin tingled. It was like a small electric current began coursing through my whole body as soon as we got between the gap. My arm hair stood on end too. Don't think that's an illusion.
Crap. I'm not gonna explode here am I? I thought I had that mostly under control. Well, not control. But able to predict the next one if nothing else. I wasn't due till another two days. Is that Artifact of Kane's not doing it's job anymore?
"Will you look at that." Cass broke in. His words brought me back to the present. I returned my attention to what was up ahead.
The City of Ko...
It was alright. Anyone remember Ba Sing Se? It was like that. Tons of buildings all smooshed together in an orderly chaos.
You could smell the roasting meat wafting from the nearby stalls, hear merchants haggle with their customer over the price of some "rare" merchandise. See children running back and forth, laughing all the while in a way that made you wanna smack them for being so annoying.
It wasn't only Aeil either but a variety of races. May have mentioned before but there are a lot of races. I can't even pronounce them all, neither do I care to know them all, but imagine Defiance and you have an idea of what I'm looking at.
The most defining feature I could see at first glance were the aqueducts. They surrounded the city's sky and cast long shadows.
There seemed to be four main aqueducts that all came from the same place, a elegant palace in the center of the city. Each major aqueduct connected there and gradually split into smaller aqueducts the further they got. It was safe to assume they're what gave the city it's life because I was oddly sure there were no bodies of water in the area.
It wasn't just a building, it was the city's heart.
The palace itself looked akin to a Grecian temple with it's tall pillars, red tiled roof and enclosed walls. This temple structure held numerous smaller, though no less grand, buildings around it.
I knew it likely that within those temple walls would be this "Little Goddess." Her place of worship. Of power.
"Let's not waste any time and get this over w--huh?" I found myself alone. The ship had stopped and my posse was nowhere to be seen.
"Of course, little Miss, my products have always been 100% effective in the past. Just ask my last customers. One drop and he'll be incapable of keeping his hands off, I guarantee it."
Yesmina was looking to buy something potentially dangerous.
"Eh? Where's that necklace? It was here a second ago..."
Dolly was letting her inner klepto run wild."A puma with amethyst eyes...Reminds me of Day."
"How'd you do that?!" Baz was staring at a snake charmer like he were a magician.
She was idly looking at a multi-tailed leather whip from some stall. It reminded me of my previous suspicion and I made a mental note to not indulge the kid's weird fetish in the future.
"We just barely arrived and they're already dicking around."
Cass followed my down the ship while the sailors(?) were busy docking it and taking the Uraks to their stables.
"They're kids, what do you expect?"
"True. I don't think Dolly's ever been to a city like this either. She must be giddy to explore."
"I can understand the feeling. I don't think any of us has been to a place like this."
I couldn't really answer that. How can you compare towering skyscrapers to squat buildings like these? The crystal walls were a novelty but I wasn't very impressed by those alone.
I've never been here but that didn't mean I was as awestruck as they were.
"Should we round them up?" He jerked a chin in their direction.
"Let them have their fun. Besides, Vee and Baz are more than enough to keep Dolly safe."
The two weren't weak. Baz, unlike how I assumed when he was a babe, became surprisingly skilled after a couple years of training. Vera was also somehow adept with needles. I once saw her paralyze a full-grown man with them.
"Wait, where's Minnie and Evie?"
Cass pointed. "They're busy converting."
I followed his finger and saw Minnie smiling benignly at a couple. "Have you heard of our Lord and Savior Damien?" While Evie handed them a pamphlet.
They did this several more times. With the Holy Sword hovering menacingly over their heads none of the people they approached were able to refuse.
"I didn't see anything." I looked away. "Let's just go. Come along, little Prince."
Evie had the Holy Sword, Dolly had Vee and Baz, Yesmina was an Aeil. No need to worry about them for now.
As for Alex, he was the only one besides Cass who stayed.
"Yessir." He saluted. I didn't teach him that but it was a nice touch.
And we were off.
The right to see the Little Goddess was freely given to all. However not many wished to disrupt her from her duties and so apart from her weekly parade through the city few saw her face-to-face.
All we had to do was walk in.
There were no guards and the inner room of the temple was brightly lit. It was also cool, almost cold.
Atop a plush cushion wearing a marvelously ornate robe of gold and silver designs was a teenage girl. A girl...with blue hair.
"Oh wow!" Her face was full of surprise. "Damien Claybrook! What's someone like you doing here?"
I was still wearing my helm, wasn't I?
"Uh, you know me?"
"What do you mean? Of course I do. My sister talks about you all the time you know?"
Who the flip is her sister?!