[Lion Beastman - Lvl. 7]
[Lion Beastman - Lvl. 7]
[Lion Beastman - Lvl. 9]
I stared at the three Beastmen standing before me. They were covered in a thick layer of golden fur, wearing brown tunics that were ragged and stained with blood. One of them— the highest-leveled boy— had a semblance of an orange mane growing around his neck. The other two didn’t have it, but I could tell one of them was a male and the other was female.
They gaped at me as I clapped hands together.
“You don’t know how long I’ve been searching for someone in this dumb place! But no. All there are are stupid monsters here! And they’re so dumb! Look at it!”
I glanced back at the dead [Savage Critter] behind me. It was barely above Level 80. Honestly, not too difficult of a fight for me. But since I’d been killing so many monsters— well, killing it gave me another level.
Class [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus] Level Up!
[Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 55] -> [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 56]
Gained 2 Secondary Skill Points!
I had been scouring this odd mountain range for a whole day! And I didn’t find any weird rocks or any people. Not until now, at least.
The first of the [Lion Beastman]— the one I’d saved— walked up to me and bowed his head again.
“I-I… am grateful that we could be of help to you. And for saving us, I must truly thank you.”
His voice came out in a soft growl. But it wasn’t an aggressive growl. He just had a guttural way of speaking. His two companions quickly bowed with him as my eyes darted over to the side. I spotted something— something odd poking out of the ground.
The boy continued.
“Is there anything we could do to—”
He started, but I ran off to inspect the object to the side. I peered at it and tapped a clawed finger on its side. [Identification] told me that it was an old piece of rock. I deflated as the boy hesitated.
“Hrr… is something wrong?”
I sighed as I walked back to the three children. They looked between themselves, puzzled.
“It’s just not what I’m looking for.”
“Anyway, what’re your names? I’m Salvos!”
“O-oh, I’m Mountaintooth.”
“My name is S-Sharpbraid.”
They all spoke in scared voices as I nodded, fixing their names to their faces. I wasn’t even transformed, and they were afraid of me. That was good!
Mountaintooth shifted slightly as I beamed happily to myself.
“I-I… elder Salvos, I—”
My gaze snapped sharply at him.
“Who’re you calling an elder?”
“Wha— I didn’t mean it like that!”
He yelped and backed up. I crossed my arms as he tried to explain.
“I was trying to be polite, eld— I mean, hrr… I…”
He trailed off. Amberarm quickly stepped in front of him, taking over.
“I must apologize if he offended you. But he means no disrespect— I don’t know what it’s like in your culture, but our culture teaches us to refer to those much older and wiser than us as an ‘elder’.”
I furrowed my brows.
“Well, where I’m from, you just refer to me by my name if you want to be respectful. Putting anything else before or after it is disrespectful!”
I wagged my fingers at them, and the three children nodded quickly.
I crossed my arms as they shuffled, averting their gazes.
“Even so, you can’t refer to me as an elder in your culture.”
Sharpbraid blinked. I looked at them.
“Well, how old are you guys?”
“Five years old.”
Mountaintooth spoke softly. Amberarm nodded.
“I’m the same age as him.
“And I’m seven. Almost an adult.”
Sharpbraid puffed his chest up. I gestured at them.
“See? You can’t call me an elder because I’m your age! I’m six!”
Or at least, I thought I was. I was probably around that age range. Still, not much older than them.
Mountaintooth’s jaw dropped.
“What? No way!”
Amberarm and Sharpbraid gawked behind him. I raised my chin, looking down at the three children. I was so much better than them— literally ten times better than them. Why couldn’t all six year olds be as good as me? Sucks to be them.
“Exactly. I’m pretty awesome!”
They exchanged glances as I basked in my greatness. Then Sharpbraid elbowed the other two. He leaned over and began whispering to them. Amberarm and Mountaintooth looked unconvinced, but Sharpbraid reassured them and turned back to me.
I cocked my head. The oldest of the three scratched the back of his mane and approached me.
“We, hrr, were thinking that since you were so high-leveled and strong— would you be able to help us avenge our tribe?”
“Avenge your tribe?”
My eyes narrowed, and he explained.
“You see, we come from the Swift Hill Warriors— a tribe that used to live a few dozen miles just outside of this mountain range. However, a few weeks ago, rumors of a terrible monster reached our tribe. One that has been terrorizing the other tribes in the Beastmen Plains. As our tribe is full of fighters, we thought we could deal with whatever monster this was without a problem. Unfortunately, last week… it showed up and slaughtered our entire tribe.”
Amberarm lowered her gaze.
“We were the only survivors. The eldest of our tribe— Mountainfang, Mountaintooth’s father— faced the beast himself. And even he was not strong enough to defeat it.”
Mountaintooth turned away as she mentioned his dad. I grew bored as Sharpbraid tried to finish.
“That’s right. If we don’t stop this monster, it’ll destroy— where are you going?”
The oldest [Lion Beastman] paused as I wandered to the side, inspecting a piece of pebble from the ground.
I glanced up at him.
“Oh, nothing. I’m searching for something, and I can’t find it.”
“What are you searching for?”
Amberarm asked. I waved a hand dismissively.
“A Cursed Boulder or something like that. I was told I could find it around here.”
I tossed the pebble aside, and she stared at me.
“But that’s… not a boulder.”
I cocked a brow at Amberarm. She hesitated.
“Why are you inspecting a pebble if you’re looking for a boulder? Shouldn’t you be checking… bigger rocks instead of smaller rocks?”
“Because that’s what makes it cursed. You can’t be sure the curse doesn’t turn the boulder into a pebble.”
I shook my head.
“Children, always so foolish.”
I walked back towards Sharpbraid.
“Anyway, what were you saying?”
He scratched his cheek.
“R-right. I was asking if you could help us slay this beast terrorizing the plains.”
“Huh. Is it very strong?”
I frowned. He clenched a fist.
“Very strong. Stronger than anything I’ve ever seen.”
I spoke happily. Their shoulders sagged. Mountaintooth gritted his teeth.
“I knew we shouldn’t have… Sharpbraid you idiot…”
“Anyway, if that’s it, I’m gonna go now!”
I waved at the three children and was about to teleport off. But before I did, Mountaintooth leapt forward.
He raised his hand towards me. I spun around.
“Maybe we can help you.”
I perked up.
“You know where I can find the Cursed Boulder?
“N-no. We are young, so we may not know what it is you’re looking for. But the elders of the other tribes may know— we’re headed to the Furious Whispers Tribe. If you protect us, we may be able to guide you to them, and they could lead you to the Cursed Boulder.”
He closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath.
“I-I know that it’s just a possibility. That it may not even help you. However, the possibility is still there. If this is something that’s infamous in either the plains or the Bladed Mountains, then surely the elders of the other tribes would be able to aid you. So, please, help us.”
His companions looked at him, then at me. They eyed me hopefully— pleadingly. Mountaintooth himself didn’t even meet my gaze, instead choosing to bite his lower lip and wait for a response, bracing himself for a rejection. I grinned.
“Makes sense to me. Come on, let’s go!”
I grabbed the three children and leapt into the air. They squeaked as I looked around.
“So, where is this tribe?”
They led the way. They showed me the way out of the Bladed Mountains— the place where I’d been— to the Beastmen Plains. And, well, it seemed no different from any other flatlands to me. The grass was green and the mounds rose and fell like crashing waves.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just fly over it. Instead, I made a mad dash through the grasslands until I eventually saw the tents jutting out in the distance.
It wasn’t a tall city like either Unarith or Viechester. Tarps were strapped up next to each other like houses. They comprised of many different colors— red, magenta, azure, gold— and they filled a small valley with life. I narrowed my eyes as I saw the various Beastmen strolling throughout the fringes of this tribe.
They weren’t all the same, like I expected them to be. There was an eclectic of Species of Beastmen. [Tiger Beastman], [Wolf Beastman], [Bear Beastman]— many more. They all looked like their respective animals, except they were all bipedal and more proportioned to have stubbier arms and less of their animal-like characteristics.
They saw my approach with the three [Lion Beastman] cubs, and they were quickly stricken by panic. Before they could raise whatever alarm they had— some kind of weird horn— Mountaintooth shouted out.
“Wait, elders of the Furious Whispers Tribe! We come from the Swift Hill Warriors!”
At the mention of his tribe, they immediately dropped their guard. Dozens of Beastmen rushed towards us in a worry as I let go of him. They huddled over the boy, speaking quickly in different kinds of voices.
“We saw smoke over the horizon, youngling. What happened to your tribe?”
A [Wolf Beastman] barked. Mountaintooth closed his eyes.
“It was… destroyed.”
He gnawed his teeth together, and Amberarm struggled out of my arms. She bowed deeply.
“We need to speak to your eldest.”
A retinue of [Wolf Beastmen] guards led us through the… tribe. I really didn’t know what else to call it. It didn’t have any buildings, only tents. Some were larger than others, but they were all smaller than any old two story building in a city. As we waded our way through this sea of tents, I heard voices— whisperings— coming from the Beastmen looking at me.
“Who is that?”
“Why is she accompanying those younglings from the Swift Hill Warriors?”
“What is that thing?”
I paused. I glared at the one who called me a thing. He shrank back as I shook an angry fist.
“I am not a thing— I am Salvos, and I am a Demon!”
I expected to hear gasps. See shocked faces. Either that of fear or of anger like I often received from Humans or Kobolds. Either that, or see looks of admiration like from Elves. Maybe even just curiosity, like from Cyclopes.
However, what I got surprised me. Because they just looked confused.
“A Demon? What is that?”
“Wait, I think I’ve heard about it before in a story once. It’s a thing that eats Human babies, right?”
“No, I’ve spoken to a Human before, and they said that Demons actually live among them and drink their blood—”
I stared at the gossiping faces. The tunic-wearing Beastmen had absolutely no idea what a Demon was. They didn’t mention anything about summoning, or anything about the Netherworld. They were utterly clueless.
I looked over at the three [Lion Beastmen] with me.
“Hey, Mountaintooth, Amberarm, Sharpbraid. Have any of you heard about Demons before?”
They shook their heads.
“This is my first time hearing about a Demon.”
That was an odd feeling. I didn’t know what I thought of it. For now, I just accompanied them to the largest tent in the tribe. The one that stood at the very center.
...it was still barely larger than a building— at least in terms of width. In height, it wasn’t that tall either. Certainly not the size of an arena for fighting.
When I arrived there, an [Ape Beastmen] greeted us at the door. He had white hair that covered all parts of his body except for his face and his hands and his legs. He walked with a slight hunch, greeting us with a high-pitched voice.
“Welcome, younglings of the Swift Hill Warriors. I am Tuktox, the eldest of the Furious Whispers tribe. I have heard the news. Come, don't be afraid. We shall ensure you are safe here. And as for your savior—”
He turned towards me with a toothy smile.
“Let us get you comfortable. We have food to offer you.”
“No thanks, I—”
I paused when I saw the platter they set out for me. There were plates, bowls, baskets, all filled with… a wide array of bugs. Ants, flies, mosquitos, locusts— all the most delicious things in the world. My mouth watered.
“Nevermind. Thank you so much!”
I immediately dug in as the three [Lion Beastman] children were led to a table lain on the ground. They all kneeled down and began to talk, discussing amongst themselves.
“Your tribe was not alone in its destruction, younglings. This destroyer has been methodical and ruthless, leaving dozens of smaller tribes in ashes. Yours was the first major tribe it wiped out.”
A [Wolf Beastmen] grunted.
“We didn’t know it had gotten this far. We heard about it when it washed ashore— it is not the first of its kind— but if we knew it would get here as quickly as it did, we’d have helped your tribe. For our failure, we apologize.”
I grabbed another of the fried bugs and munched on it as they had their conversation in the background.
“It will continue its rampage. Let us gather the other major tribes— a moot to find the greatest warriors. We cannot remain idle any longer. We have to stop it. We have to stop the Cursed Boulder.”
I blinked and dropped my food.