Chapter 51: Fun with Friends
The White Phoenix glared up at the pair of us as Azatharine pinned her to the ground.
“Azatharine… why?” the White Phoenix asked.
“My reasons are now beyond you.” Azatharine said calmly.
I licked my lips as I opened my maw. I closed my jaws around her throat and with a sickening crunch her body went limp.
“Phew… spicy…” I said as I felt the burns in my mouth heal shut.
The Phoenix’s body turned to ash and revealed a large flaming white egg.
Now then time for the fun part. I opened my mouth and began to drain the Ether from the egg. There was a lot in here, not nearly as much as the Eternal Mother could give but it was still the second most I have ever devoured.
As I picked up the egg with both hands I couldn’t help but feel my stomach growl. That fight with Azatharine left me quite hungry. I guess having two of your hands sheared off is quite expensive to regenerate.
Now then… let’s see what tricks I will get from a White Fire Phoenix…
I greedily shoved the large egg into my mouth, shell and all before biting down. I felt the shell giveaway and that sweet nectar poured out. Then I felt the heat…
“Haurt… haurt…hot…” I gasped as I flapped my arms in front of my mouth and tried to ignore the burning sensation in my mouth. I guess I should have expected the yoke of a White Fire Egg to be scalding hot. I drained a bit more of the ether from the yoke and the temperature went down a little more…
Ok that’s a lot better…
Ah my tongue…
Then I as I swallowed I heard that voice in my head again
Achieved [Ignis Fenix Genome] Level: 3 / 5
[Solari Ether Feathers] Acquired
Feathers [Material Strength] improved
Feathers [Aerodynamics] improved
Feathers can now be [Ignited] with [Ether Fire] to cause [Greater Ether Burn] to surrounding enemies
[Solar Blades] acquired
[Solar Blades] have improved [Void: Enchant]
[Void Ignition: Enchant] acquired
Enchantment now has greater [Resistance Penetration] and causes [Void Cursed Wounds]
[Solar Nova] acquired
[Greater Ether Decoy] acquired
Void cursed wounds?
Yo mystery voice, elaborate!
[Void Enchant] conveys [Resistance Penetration]
[Void Ignition: Enchant] improves [Resistance Penetration]
[Void Cursed Wounds] convey the following effects
[Anti-Life III] reduces the effectiveness of healing and regeneration on afflicted target by 30%, [Anti-LIfe III] can be cleansed and resisted
[Void Cauterise] reduces the effectiveness of healing and regeneration in inflicted wound by 50%, [Void Cauterise] can be cleansed and resisted
[Void Corrosion] corrodes [Resistance] at the wounds site, [Void Cauterise] can be cleansed and regenerated
Note: [Void Ignition Enchant] disables the use of [Pathogens] and [Venoms]. If such tactics are desired, it is recommended that [Void Enchant] be used instead.
Noice, now I have a more reliable anti heal option. Now I don’t have to genocide an entire village or town to get a [Pathogen]!
My best guess is that the [Solar Blade] is that move that Azatharine used to magically strengthen her wings to parry my strikes.
Also from what I can tell, the [Solar Nova] was that explosion trick that Azatharine used. Nice, so if I get jumped I can just blow up whoever is close to me.
Then I heard the voice again…
Core Evolution Achieved Stage: 7
[Memory Assimilation] improved
[Greater Memory Assimilation] now available
[Greater Regeneration] improved
[Tenacity of the Undying] now available
[Tenacity of the Undying] improves [Regeneration Speed] and [Anti Heal Resistance]
[Hunger of the Undying] now available
Attacks with [Kaiser Blades] now drain [Ether] from the target
[Greater Bone Spines] improved
[Kaiser Spines] now available
Oh… I guess the voice wasn’t done… I guess I cut him off.
Wait a minute… Why did I get a Core Evolution already? Isn't this too soon?
The next stage was just 4% away. The current remaining Ether required for the next stage is 62%.
Ah, so the Eternal Mother’s gifts were enough to bring me close to the next stage and this Phoenix just gave the remaining 4%. But I gotta say these Phoenixes are pretty good. It gave me like 40% of a Core Evolution…
Wait no, these Phoenixes are ancient and I need two more for the next Core Evolution?
God this body is high maintenance… or is everything else just trash? Probably a bit of both…
But honestly, I think I’ve depleted most of the stuff I can get from this region. The only remaining things of interest are the Phoenixes but for now they are much more useful as subordinates. I’ve actually outgrown this region in terms of power thanks to the Eternal Mother. For now my priority in terms of self improvement will be to collect the various Essence codes from the different species. In terms of power they offer me little unless they are exceptional individuals within the species, like these White Fire Phoenixes.
I may have to start to consider unconventional methods of power gain…
The Eternal Mother was nearly killed because of a spell cast with a shit ton of Ether Crystals…
The dwarves have a lot of Ether Crystals…
I can eat Ether Crystals…
Ok but if I mess this up, news of me will get out will spread and now technically I’m attached to Averlon.
Hmmm… I need to wrap up this war with Tralis asap. Gotta get my hands on more prisoners, then I could grow my army and spread my territory. Once I annex the dwarves I can gain access to their Ether Crystal stores. My hive could use them too, more power to fuel its growth…
Speaking of my hive… I sense one of my queens nearby.
Nafas… she’s here, most likely nabbing some trolls for their biomass and Ether…
Maybe I’ll check in on her, might as well since I’m nearby…
As I flew towards her I eventually saw her in the middle of a rather large troll village, my hive was currently fighting the trolls. This village was quite large as compared to the other’s I have seen.
I could see the Trolls panicking as my Hive emerged from the ground around them. I looked over to see what looked to be a softer patch of ground giving way under a troll mother who was running with a child in her arms. I could hear her screams and the child’s cries amongst the snarling and howls from the Hive soldiers that were no doubt waiting for them at the bottom of the pit.
I looked at a particular group that the Hive seemed to be having a little trouble with. It was a ring of about eight warriors, one of them looked to be the chief judging his fancy hat. They were protecting a small group of women and children.
What was that saying? Beware the cornered dog? Something like that?
Well no sense wasting precious resources since I’m here, then again when one my hive dies the rest just drag them back to the nest and reuses some of the material and ether. It’s not a perfect conversion but from what I can tell it at least recovers about 70-80% of the materials. So my Hive is highly resistant to attrition as long as they can take ground and recover the dead later. If they manage to kill the enemy often they actually profit from the fight.
Still waste not…
I landed next to Nafas followed by Azatharine. I looked over at the trolls and saw them blanche pale at the sight of me and a White Fire Phoenix.
Bad day huh?
“My King…” Nafas said with a bow.
“Rise, collecting more materials?” I asked nonchalantly as I turned my gaze to the group of shivering trolls.
“Yes my king, you must be Azatharine. Welcome to the Hive.” Nafas greeted and Azatharine responded with a small nod.
“Now then you are having trouble with these guys?” I asked.
“No my king, I am just trying to minimize losses. They are in a defensive position which is proving problematic since we are restricted to melee and they are standing on granite. This outcrop is primarily made of hard stone, it is difficult for us to tunnel through.” Nafas said.
“Restricted to melee huh… I guess I could make some ranged soldiers, which should prove useful.” I replied thoughtfully.
“That would be much appreciated, my king.” Nafas said with another bow.
“Alright since I’m here.” I said as I turned to face the trolls and shot a barrage of poisoned spikes at the trolls.
It hit all the warriors and they stiffened for a moment before falling to the ground bodies twitching from the disease ravaging their bodies. I watched as their organs failed one by one and soon they were dead leaving behind the terrified women and children.
“Thank you my king, that has saved us some time…” Nafas said.
“You're welcome. The rest should be easy.” I replied as I started to hear screaming as the Hive pounced on the group, claws slashing and fangs tearing.
“Yes it is.” Nafas said with another bow.
So now I just need to grab the rest of the weaker phoenixes and get that flower for Cecilia. She did win the whole bloodless coup bet afterall…
Wait a minute… hang on… Legiana is talking to Beatrice… oh this is too good… should I? I probably shouldn’t… but it would be funny…
Cecilia calmly moved her piece across the board before turning back to her work. There were so many things to plan, the arrangement for the delegates for instance. Food and drink, lodgings… schemes…
“Your turn…” Cecilia heard Legiana say as she turned her head to see her calmly sitting there.
She was working too even if she looked like she was just sitting there. Cecilia knows the members of her dear friend’s Hive were receiving constant instruction from Legiana on what to do. They were remarkably good workers, working until they were tired and then going to rest. Once they were done resting, they ate and went right back to work. Rinse and repeat day after day, with a work ethic like that, Cecilia could do a lot of things…
“Legiana, what do you think of creating a little adventurer training area?” Cecilia said as she moved her piece.
“Hmm? What do you have in mind?” Legiana asked.
“Well the adventurers are out of a job with you and the hive keeping the monsters in line. I think we need a new role for them.” Cecilia replied as she moved another piece.
“Perhaps a new military force?” Legiana suggested as she moved another piece.
“Yes, I’m thinking we could make them a force that can fight alongside the soldiers of the Hive, like specialist soldiers that are trained to fight with monsters as allies instead of keeping the two groups separated.” Cecilia suggested as she paused on what piece to move. This is kinda bad… she was slowly getting cornered on the board…
“Yes… that could work. It would go a long way to earn the acceptance of the people with Men and Beast fighting side by side.” Legiana replied as she gestured to the board.
“Hmm… there then…” Cecilia said as she moved a piece.
“So what is it about this training area?” Legiana said as she instantly moved her piece.
“The adventurers are trained for a job that is no longer needed. But their knowledge and skills can be repurposed. I want to create a training area to help with this transition. We need to give them a place in our kingdom or they will travel to other nations. There they may take up arms against us.” Cecilia said as she moved another piece.
“Some will regardless, Volnil says some of the Adventurers are not willing to work with us. Some have already left, they are mostly the lower ranks. The higher ranks of gold and above have mostly decided to stay and see how the situation develops.” Legiana said as she took one of Cecilia’s pieces while cornering another.
“With age comes wisdom I suppose, it is good that wisdom has prevailed with the more powerful adventurers. When you are young it is easier to accept simple truths, like all monsters are threats. The older and more veteran adventurers will know the benefit of having the beasts on their side…” Cecilia said as she began retreating on the board… things are not looking good here…
“Yes, they see the merit of your vision…” Legiana said as she advanced on the board.
“Of our vision, this would not be possible without my dear friend.” Cecilia replied as she paused on the board.
“I’m checked in three moves aren’t I?” Cecilia said with a small smile.
“You are…” Legiana replied with a small chuckle.
“Good game.” Cecilia said as she laid down her king.
“There goes my fourth win in a row…” Cecilia said with a small sigh.
“That’s nine for me, eight to you. You are getting better.” Legiana said as she magiced the pieces back into the starting positions.
“Well I don’t have much practice with worthy opponents. I must say, this is very fun. I always did like a challenge. Although my dear friend is uncannily good at this, he beat me right after I taught him the rules.” Cecilia mused.
“He can read your physiology much better than me afterall. He told me you coil your right pinky finger when you start to scheme.” Legiana said with a chuckle.
“Huh then that is something I must correct.” Cecilia said as she waved her hand and magically reversed the board.
“Victor’s privilege, you first.” Cecilia said with a gesture of her hand.
“One more for me to win.” Legiana said with a smirk as he made her first move.
“Yes to first to ten, but the fight is not over until the last king falls…” Cecilia as she cast her gaze to the list of sovereigns that would be arriving in Averlon in a few days time.
Cecilia smirked as she looked at two of the names on the list, Princess Maria Averlin and Prince Silas Tralis.
It was a clever little ruse if Cecilia does say so herself. Maria was her cousin, they had played together when they were children. In truth Cecilia wanted to save her from the clutches of that vile man. Cecilia herself despised laying with men she much more preferred the fairer sex. She was repulsed by the idea of having the vile white gunk inside her or on her or even in her immediate vicinity for that matter. She dreads the day she would have to sire an heir. Sticky, foul smelling, staining the sheets… vile all around.
So for her cousin to be used as a toy was in her opinion a vile insult to her house. Maria was her blood and some bandit prince has no right to even look at her the wrong way, she would execute men for less. But reality is often disappointing so she had to come up with a plan.
Thus she sent an invite to Maria under the guise of family ties but she didn’t invite the Prince of Tralis. Cecilia knew about the alliance between Averlin and Tralis, thus this invite could be seen as vaguely insulting. Afterall you do not invite the dog without the master. All of this was just a provocation. Cecilia wanted Tralis to turn it’s gaze south, she wanted them to start the war. A war of self defense is afterall a lot easier to justify to heaven, she needed to make her friend look like this reclusive beast that is more content to mind his own business.
If she could secure the territory of both Ancient Elysia and Western Voleria, she and her dear friend can scour the lands to seek materials to strengthen him. Both Elysian and Volerian vaults should give some much needed boosts. In addition she can look to pass the Volerian strait to Eastern Voleria and further east to the Mugumman Jungle which was teeming with strange and exotic monsters.
Or she could look west to the successor kingdoms of the Zariman Emprie… no the successor Empires as they like to call themselves as they cling to old glories.
Hahaha… an empire without an empire, now that’s a joke…
At least the old Draconian Vaults buried in the sand will be alot easier to find with her dear friend’s hive…
Only problem with looking west was that she would then share a border with the Ostayans and the Vampire Courts. She didn’t want to deal with them just yet…
Then again a border with Mugumma will bring its own sets of problems, especially if she wants to exploit the rare and precious resources on the edges of that great jungle. Which she will obviously…
Those resources were so valuable that Western Voleria almost became independent all those millenia ago.
Funny how wealth can make one abandon their own kin…
When the west fell, the east watched…
Short sighted fools, the east fell soon after the west…
“So you wish for the adventurers to train with us?” Legiana asked.
“Yes, our funding for the adventurers guild can be repurposed to fund this endeavour. I am also thinking of merging this new organisation with the Beastiarians. I feel they would synergise well.” Cecilia replied.
“Hmm yes… we struggle to understand your needs. We find you all a little… temperamental, no offense.” Legiana said calmly.
“None take, but yes we can be. A human perspective would be useful in such collaboration. Especially the perspective of those as well educated as the beastiarians.” Cecilia replied.
“On that I must agree…” Legiana said as she moved the first piece.
Then Cecilia heard a knock on the door.
“Come in.” Cecilia said and the door opened to reveal Beatrice standing there awkwardly.
“Erm is the Great Beast of the Elysian Woods in?” Beatrice asked tentatively.
“My king is on another task. He will return in a few days.” Legiana replied.
“Oh… am I interrupting something?” Beatrice asked as she looked at Cecilia.
“No, not at all. I am just here because I enjoy the company. The royal study is a little cramped… and empty.” Cecilia said.
In truth she has gotten so used to living with her friend that doing work alone in the study is disconcerting. This large place reminds her of that ancient structure in the Elysian woods. She had half a mind to install a bath in here to mimic that place. She was growing quite attached to her friend and it looks like he is quite attached too considering he told Legiana to ensure her safety and keep her company…
“Ah I see… I was going to ask him about some things with regards to the feather.” Beatrice asked.
“Hmm… how is that going Miss Beatrice?” Legiana asked as she tilted her head slightly trying to mimic human mannerisms.
“Having some trouble, I’ve been at it for two days straight but with no luck.” Beatrice said with a sigh as she walked deeper into the room followed by Aaron.
“Your dedication is appreciated Miss Beatrice, but please watch your health. Perhaps you and your assistant could go for a meal out in the city? Get some fresh air and all that.” Cecilia said helpfully as she looked at that poor Aaron boy. It was obvious he liked Miss Beatrice, so maybe this would help a little. Guess that constitutes her good deed for the day…
“Oh… ok… what do you want to eat Aaron?” Beatrice asked.
Aaron for his part seemed taken aback by the speed in which she accepted.
“Erm I know this place they make a good steak…” Aaron replied as he tore into his memories trying to find the perfect place.
THIS WAS HIS CHANCE!
“Someplace with good wine and music would be good too. Here, enjoy yourselves.” Cecilia said as she took out about a dozen gold coins and handed it to Beatrice.
“In thanks for your diligence.” Cecilia said with a small smile as Beatrice took the coins with a bow.
“Hmmm?” Legiana muttered as she looked up at the ceiling for a moment.
“What’s wrong Legiana?” Cecilia asked.
“No, my king has a recommendation…” Legiana replied.
“For a place to eat?” Cecilia asked in surprise.
“Yes… I don’t really understand the recommendation but he says to go to a diner called…” Legiana began.
The Just Friends Diner…
“I don’t understand…” Legiana said quizzically.
“Huh? There’s a place like that?” Beatrice asked as well in confusion.
Cecilia for her part had to bite back her laugh and resist the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose. As for poor little Aaron he looked like he was on the verge of tears, most probably tears of frustration Cecilia noted, judging by his expression.
Legiana on the other hand could only listen in confusion as her master laughed hysterically into the hive mind.
So worth it…