The beastmen we of course outraged by Shiori threatening one of their own. The bearman chief Bjorn let out a loud growl and stood up, ready to intervene. The celestials were shocked and about to protest as well. Even the leopardman chieftain showed some surprise on his previously stoic face. Before anyone could take any action though, an oppressive presence flooded over them pressing them down.
“SIT DOWN!” Neleh roared in a voice reminiscent of a dragon. She was drawing heavily on the power of Malassa to bring about the aura of a dragon mixed in with her own presence. She even let out a low rumble, similar to a dragon growling.
The fear of dragons as the most powerful beings of the planet was deep-rooted, and everyone present reacted instinctually. They all sat back down, and went quiet. Everyone besides the demon representatives looked at Neleh in shock. The demons on the other hand looked almost eager. This reinforced the thought Neleh had about them being here to fight her. When she showed more power, she also became more worthy to fight
“What do you think you’re…?” Bjorn started to question Neleh, braver than the others.
“SILENCE!” Neleh growled again. “Shiori bring him.” She continued in a normal voice and waved towards the large table.
As Shiori brought the lionman to the table and slammed his chest and face against the large table, Neleh reached out and tore off the cloth covering the lionman’s shoulder. A weird red symbol covered the shoulder, looking like an eerie tattoo. “Keep your eyes on this. This is one of the symbols of the outside party trying to influence us, and throw us into turmoil.”
The gathered people were not yet convinced, but they were now listening. Tattoos were not weird for beastmen, but this one looked just wrong. They could feel the symbol radiating weird power, as the lionman struggled against Shiori’s hold. Unfortunately for him, he was not in a position to really utilize that power, and Shiori was much stronger than him. It was the power of that dormant symbol that Neleh had sensed earlier.
Neleh grabbed the head of the lionman, looked into his eyes and growled again in the dragon-like voice. She was trying to make the beastman react instinctively and not giving him the chance to think. “Call for you master wretch! Let us see if the coward will help his servant.”
The other beastmen drew breath, thinking that she was calling their protector god Sinir a coward, but their mistake was rectified as the lionman raised his voice, half in fear half in rage. “Save your servant Blood God! Help me bring death to these heretics! Blood for the Blood God, skulls for the skull throne!”
If the lionman had been thinking clearly, he would’ve known not to reveal his affiliation, as Neleh would have trouble doing anything if he just kept quiet. But he was too afraid. He was also a devout believer in the blood cults infesting the beastman continent. Elves had the pleasure cults corrupting the bored and easily tempted, while the beastmen had the blood cults for the warriors that were willing to give up their integrity for power to vanquish their enemies, and the warriors that liked battle a little too much. This yell drew the eyes and ears of everyone present. Especially the humans and beastmen were aware of the blood cults. The demons and celestials had something of their own on these lines as well, as their cults promised to reveal hidden secrets and sources of magical power unknown to others.
Neleh looked at Bjorn. “I’m guessing Blood God isn’t the new official title for Sinir? I’m also guessing that worshipping anything called the Blood God is considered heresy and a crime punishable by death?”
The bearman chieftain could only nod numbly. He was aware of the cults among beastmen, but had not taken them too seriously, and simply thought of it as one of the fads that came and went. He had not even considered that one of his close followers could have been turned in such a fashion. This alone turned the threat a lot more serious in his mind.
It was time for Neleh’s second demonstration. She had formed the plan in her mind right after sensing the presence of the symbol. The symbols brought many benefits to their wearers, but they came with downsides as well. One of the downsides was the ability to be sensed by someone who knew what to look for. The lost-deities didn’t like their marks being hidden generally. They wanted the bearers of their marks to show them with pride. Or at least they used to while they were still normal deities, and some things don’t change.
She signaled Shiori to release the lionman, and immediately used air magic to lift him off the ground. Then for the first time since being re-born, she used her powers as a destroyer. With a wave of her hand the lionman turn to black dust, with the dust floating away in a small gust of wind that she added for dramatic effect. Using such a minor burst of her powers could be covered by drawing on the blessings of the gods, although the consumption of power was bigger than she had thought. No life-force was used this time.
The action brought gasps from everyone that had any knowledge of magic, as none of them were able to tell what happened, or could sense any mana or Ki being used. If she could do this without them sensing anything, didn’t that mean she could do it to others? And if they could not sense it, could their defenses stop it?
Neleh used her power as a destroyer for two reasons. Firstly, she wanted to make the gathered people awed of her power, while not revealing too much of it. That would set the stage for the rest of the negotiations, and would give her words some gravitas. Scaring them was the first part, but while fear was a weapon, it was useful if you could back that fear up with power. The kind of unknown power she just displayed. Secondly, the marks given by lost-deities could be unpredictable if their bearers were killed. There might not be any effect, but they might also do something weird ranging from exploding, to cursing those present. Now the mark was destroyed along with its bearer.
“Well, it seems that the negotiations have soured for today, so I suggest we adjourn for the day and continue tomorrow with a clear head.” Neleh said calmly. She wanted to give the others some time to absorb and discuss what they had seen.
“Agreed.” Anauel, the nominal leader of this meeting said. She too wanted to think on what had happened, but she could already see the possible benefits of the situation. Neleh and the elves were driving for peace, along with the celestials. Now that Neleh had displayed her power, the others might be more willing to listen.
Meanwhile, Khali was having a hard time dealing with her new aunts. The problem was that they saw her as a baby and treated her as such. She might have the form of a baby, but she was getting bored out of her skull due to the aunts doing nothing but baby-talk and peekaboo to her. If they at least talked to her properly, then it would be a bit more tolerable. She was also unable to do anything beyond eat and poop, so she couldn’t really do anything by herself, except imagine various ways to torture her new aunts that inflicted this suffering to her.
“Who’s a good little girl? You are! Give aunty Selene a smile!” The middle sister tried enticing a reaction out of her, using a ridiculous voice.
‘No! Go away!’ Khali thought futilely.
Selene tried tickling her, in an attempt to get a smile, but failed miserably as she only gave the woman a stink-eye. “Is the baby alright? She seems angry for some reason.” Selene asked Delia, who was also in the room.
“She’s fine. She was smiling like the sun when Neleh brought her over. Maybe you’re just not funny.” Delia said coming over.
“I’m funny! Babies love me!” Selene said a little hurt.
Delia summarily ignored her younger sister’s complaints. “How about aunty Delia? Do you have a smile in store for your best aunty?“ Delia tried making funny faces to incite a smile.
‘No. You at least talk properly, but still no. You still tried cheap tricks.’ Khali thought, getting slight amusement from their futile attempts.
They heard the door of the room close, and Khali saw Elsaria walk in. ‘Oh please save me from these two jokers!’ Khali thought reaching her tiny hands towards her only safe haven. Elsaria was the only one of the three that hadn’t made a huge deal out of Khali. She simply liked holding the baby, giving her a hug and keeping her close. That kept the other two from doing anything too ridiculous. Khali also didn’t mind the free access to Elsaria’s breasts while the woman held her.
“Are two of them bothering you again?” Elsaria said getting a smile out of Khali.
“Aww no fair! Why does she only like you?” Selene complained, making a cute little stomp with her foot.
“Mmh, she can probably recognize my inherent superiority as an aunt.” Elsaria said smugly.
‘Oh-oh. This one is getting pulled in by the competitive spirit as well.’ Khali thought worried.
“Oh, that reminds me. Did Neleh say where she got the baby? Knowing her, it seems unlikely that she actually got pregnant herself.” Delia suddenly asked. Neleh had brought the baby over and told them to look after her, not really explaining any of the details beyond claiming the baby as their new niece.
Selene sighed. “Not a word of explanation. I agree though, it seems unlikely that she would get involved with a man. She’s even less interested in men than you or me, and she’s certainly not the type to get forced or coerced. I think she’d rather burn down half a continent.”
“I guess baby sister Elsaria is our only hope. I haven’t seen or heard you get involved with anyone yet. Shiori is madly in love with Neleh, so there’s no hope on that front.” Delia replied, pursing her lips in thought.
“Don’t project your hopes on me!” Elsaria protested a little agitated. She was a more late bloomer than her sisters. “Besides, what rush do I have when I’m a lock in for the position of favorite aunt? Am I right Sinestra?” She asked Khali.
Sinestra was the name she had decided to use while in this world. Neleh had convinced her that the name Khali Khalidor sounded a bit foolish, even if she wasn’t interested in the possible dangers of someone recognizing her real name. Sinestra was the name of a particularly powerful opponent she had fought in her old life, so she considered it a way of honoring that opponent.
“She does look a lot like Neleh did as a child, though. Considering that Neleh has the Blessing of Aphrodite that seems a little much for a coincidence.” Delia mused thoughtfully.
“She reminds me of someone else too, but I just can’t seem to make the connection in my mind.” Selene the priestess had trouble associating Khali with Elune, even though the Goddess’ image was burnt into her mind, doubly so because it was so identical with her sister’s.
“Oh, Oh, I just had a great idea! I bet she would look really cute in some of those clothes I’m sure we all have stashed aside just in case any of us actually do get pregnant. Please tell me I’m not the only one that has made or bought clothes in the hopes of someday getting a niece.” Delia suddenly yelled cheerily, tapering guiltily off towards the end.
The two others looked at each other and burst out laughing. “I guess you caught us. I think that’s a magnificent idea!” Selene said.
‘Oh no, this sounds really bad.’ Khali thought getting worried.
The three of them suddenly ran off to get some clothes, and started dressing her up like a doll in several different dresses. Their squeals of kept getting louder, as the clothes kept getting more and more intricate and ridiculous. They started off normal enough, but soon transitioned into things like full sized teddy-bear costumes and flashy clothes that almost looked like baby sized evening gowns. The sisters seemed to be making this into a competition too, trying to compete to find the most outrageous dress.
‘Please no! Stop this torture!’ Khali thought futilely.
“You know, she seems to look the best in white and gold that contrast well with her dark hair. Also the fancier the better. She would look nice in something the celestials use. We’re lacking something to give it that little something extra.” Selene mused.
‘No! Fuck the celestials! Don’t compare me to those pigeons, and don’t you dare to dress me in something like that.’ Khali started cursing in her mind.
The worst blow came from the direction she least expected. Elsaria had been holding back a little so far, and had let the two others go wild. She did have this weird smug smile on her face the whole time, but Khali had thought she was still happy about being the favorite aunt.
“Well, I do have a little something that I got from Neleh. Apparently she had made it herself, and I think it would look great on little Sinestra.” Elsaria said, her smile widening. She had been holding back for this.
‘No! No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Don’t do this to me my safe haven! You’ll lose your position as my favorite aunty!’ Khali thought panic stricken. If Neleh was involved, then it had to be bad, since she knew exactly how to rile Khali up.
Elsaria brought out a white and gold dress-robe that had cute little fluffy celestial wings sown on the back. “Think how cute she’ll look as a tiny celestial!” Elsaria said almost giddy.
‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Fuck you and your family Neleh! I’m going to make sure you die a slow and painful death!’ Khali screamed in her mind.
“What is it?” Shiori asked, noticing Neleh give a small shiver.
“Just an intense amount of bloodthirst. Apparently someone liked my surprise a lot.” Neleh laughed with a wide grin. They were walking back towards the negotiation chambers.
“Someone among the representatives of the other races? They dare to show such killing intent after the demonstration yesterday?” Shiori asked a little shocked.
“Not in this case. This is someone much more deadly if given the chance. No need to worry for now, she won’t be a threat for a long while, and she’ll forget by the time she will be.” Neleh replied giving a small chuckle.
“If you say so?” Shiori said half a questioning, half confused statement.
“Well then, I think it’s about time for us to go in and stop a war.” Neleh said while continuing her way towards the negotiation chambers.