Sanguine Paradise Chapter 121 | SP
Casting glances at the large and imposing cliff face that cradled the mountain pass we were traversing, I wondered just what exactly it was that lay waiting for us at the end.
Three days had gone by since meeting the two odd greenskin chiefs and we've almost reached the destination that we had set off for.
It was after having met the two surprisingly cordial greenskin women, I became very intrigued by these clans of theirs and the lowlands that this region of the wastelands was called.
In the short encounter we had, I learned very much about civilized greenskins and the surrounding area. I would've loved to learn more and indulge in my curiosity but I didn't want to entertain these two women any further while being so heavily on the back foot. Although their power combined wasn't anything for me to worry about, it was the ridiculous number of warriors they had at their beck and call.
The thousands upon thousands of orcs were simply too many for my tribe to handle. I myself didn't face any danger in the face of even their entire clans as I had the advantage of simply being able to fly away, while they also didn't have a single warrior that could match me in power, so of course, they wouldn't be able to restrain or kill me. But it was the hundreds of devoted followers at my back that would certainly be utterly slaughtered if they were to go against these two clans.
However, to my pleasure, it was obvious that these two chiefs sought no enmity, instead, wanting to sow the seeds of amity. It was clear as day that they were both ambitious women, and I respected them for it. Like me, I strived for goals higher than myself, so I could relate to them. As such, I wanted to keep connections with the two women.
But before we began going any further than that, I had to make a foothold for the tribe. If I didn't, then I wouldn't be able to secure our place in this unforgiving but beautiful world.
I hadn't revealed myself to the two great orcs seeing as my identity as someone stronger than them both would mean a bigger advantage for me if it stayed hidden. If I just waltzed into their territory with my power on full display, I was worried that it might arouse wariness and unease in the chiefs, causing them to make a bad decision that would mean attempting to snuff out the potential threat that was me.
But mostly, it was because wanted to train my aura manipulation as it had been clearly lacking compared to my strength. That mere orc, Merilyn, that had come from the monster city Ebongrave had seen right through my hidden aura. A damned weak orc!
As such, I wished to learn how to not only suppress my aura but also make it seem like I wasn't just some strong individual holding my aura back compared to actually seeming like a weak opponent to then get the jump on them. And to my delight, my training was paying dividends.
Although it was a bit offending to be considered a slave, I honestly couldn't have expected anything else when these are literally greenskin lands, and I was one among few non-greenskin in a tribe of greenskins. Even Mia herself sleeping in the back of one of the remaining still functioning caravans since she didn't want the attention which was understandable from how this chief was literally eyeing me like a snack.
So instead of presenting myself, I used Darkan and Bob as my proxy. While it definitely wasn't as optimal as asking the important questions myself, I could use my power of the sanguine blood in their veins to indicate simple things like yes or no by simply tugging on their connections to me.
In the end, we declined their offer of some hospitality, but we did get the information I wanted from my original intentions of approaching their clans. What I tried to pry out of them was general information about how to conduct ourselves in these lands and where we could possibly set up our tribe.
From that, we had been directed and told of many suitable uninhabited places in the lowlands. It was unfortunate that all the good and safe lands had already been taken by the large swathes of warchiefs and the clans under them.
And these supposed warchiefs were the sovereigns of these lands, with each chief of a clan being under one, and there were even higher greenskins overlords beyond the mighty warchiefs. This was not out of rule but necessity, because without a warchief patron, you wouldn't have any protection from being conquered and assimilated by other much stronger and powerful clans.
Although I definitely didn't like the idea of being under the sway of another powerful being, I had to keep an eye on things so I didn't accidentally attract the ire of one. From what I could understand, these warchiefs were definitely beings of power greater than my own, not to mention those above even them.
This what led me to why we're currently walking through the mountain pass. Out of all the locations listed, none seemed really suitable for what I wanted and that my tribe needed to grow. However, there was one slight off-hand mention of a place that really caught my attention.
Ruela called the place a restricted area, one amongst many in the lowlands. After further deliberation, I figured out that while they were called 'restricted' areas, it didn't mean that you weren't allowed to go there.
It was places where the warchief of this region had determined that the danger was too high, even for their own powerful selves. And while I definitely didn't want to go to a place where monsters even stronger than myself wouldn't dare go, it was when I learned about the reason why it was a restricted area, I saw a great opportunity.
Apparently, the location had been a newly discovered haven of untouched lands, filled to the brim with resources galore. That conversely also meant that it was highly contested by various forces. But as the location generally lay within the influence of the warchief that Frenn and Ruela were under, the other warchiefs of the lowlands wouldn't go to war for it.
However, there was one opportunistic greenskin that wanted to do exactly so with his fledgling clan. Under no warchief himself, he could do so without incurring the wrath of the other warchiefs.
But how did a single unaffiliated greenskin with only a few thousand abled warriors expect to contend with a bonafide warchief?
You see, the greenskin was a mage monster. A pyromancer, and a damn strong one at that.
The great orc mage contending against the warchief would've been able to lay waste to her forces with his powerful magics, simply making the resources and lives they'd have to expend to forcibly take the haven would be so costly that it was in no way worth it. Not in the slightest.
Instead, they came to a compromise. Under greenskin and system sanctioned law, they had a duel to decide whom the rights of the haven go to. But after having fought the warchief to a standstill, the duel and ended as a draw. Which meant that the great orc mage won the rights.
With the warchief being the challenger, she had to win. And as the duel ended in a draw, the winning went by default to the challenged. Since then, after having pulled back her forces, no word or activity had been reported from the opportunistic mage and his newly-budding tribe. They had gone completely silent, and nobody had a clue to what they were doing in the paradise that they had won for themselves.
But why did I even consider going there when an overwhelmingly powerful foe supposedly was there?
It was quite simple.
I'm literally a mage's worst nightmare.
If I was daunting to warriors and resistant to physical damage, I was damn near immune to magic. Well, at least to magic on my own level. From what I heard, I should be expecting a peak-leveled great orc mage; so a damned 4th-tiered mage monster who knows his stuff. About as strong as the suckers could get.
He should be even stronger than the Mistress, and by quite a bit.
However, I was no longer my weak self. I needed the challenge to grow as my growth had practically slowed to a crawl nowadays, and this was the perfect opportunity to not only acquire one but also a perfect haven for my newly budding tribe while I was at it. Being the perfect counter to the mage, I strongly believed that I could match him even though I was inferior in every other aspect. Plus, I had certain aces up my sleeves besides just my innate powers to handle this mage.
As we reached the end of the mountain pass, I signaled all my followers behind me to stop. I had taken to the far vanguard for this journey to make sure if we stumbled into any enemies, I would be the first to face them and take the brunt of it. Not only was I sure in my capability to stay alive, but I also had the strongest scouting and sensing abilities than any of my followers. So if anyone was to discover a threat first, then it would undoubtedly be me.
However, during our three-day trek, we hadn't seen any greenskins, only wild beasts. It was first when we spotted and reached the mountain range that stretched into the distance that we finally discovered some evidence of them. Tracks and worn roads could be seen with the occasional landmark but no greenskins. But that was to be expected seeing as this tribe literally had enemies on all sides.
Making sure that no enemies were nearby, I called Mia, Bob, and Darkan over.
"Stay here, I will take to the air and see what I can." - Me
"B-but Master what if you-" - Darkan
He was about to protest but I cut him off.
"Don't worry, it will be best for us all if I get a hand of things before we suddenly stumble unprepared into them." - Me
"Besides, I need to take care of this mage before you guys get anywhere near him. Can't really fight him when one good blast of his magic will send most of my tribe to their ancestors." - Me
Seeing the reluctant nod he gave me, I sighed. While I appreciated his concern, I didn't know what exactly it was I had done to earn this hobgoblin's worship and worry. Although I somewhat understood how the status of power signified in the minds of greenskins, I wasn't entirely sure why all my followers were so whole-heartedly devoted to me after the very brief time I've led them.
It was something I had to make a mental note of and ask Mia later; maybe she had a coherent answer for all of this.
Giving Mia a kiss on her cheek, and causing her to blush because of my brazen show of affection in front of all the whole tribe, I conjured my wings of shadow. It was only with a few powerful flaps of the coalesced shadows that I shot into the sky.
As I crested the tall cliff faces obstructing my view, I was met was a sight to truly behold; yet again proving this world's uncanny ability to continuously astonish my eyes with its natural wonders.
A gargantuan, untamed, and flourishing basin was what entered my eyes. Cradled by an all-encompassing mountain range with snowcapped peaks that climbed into the heavens and broke the clouds, the basin was a natural wonder on its own.
With wild and untamed woods that bordered on being a jungle, I noticed how the trees were actually of gargantuan make. Reaching at least a few dozen meters to whole hundreds of meters into the air, some of those huge trees created canopies that stretched for literally dozens of miles. With alien vegetation and the cries of monstrous beasts roaming the jungle, it created a sense of untouched primal origin, resonating not only with my unquenchable desire for adventure but also a deeper truth with the path I walked.
Bordering the jungle, and occupying more than half the entire basin that was even bigger than the huge expanse of Maldrak, a massive body of water could be seen. However, it wasn't the size nor the beauty of the azure-blue waters that caught the eyes, instead, it was the massive island dead in the middle of it.
It was almost big enough to rival the untamed jungle. But unlike the dense vegetation of the jungle, the island was a lot more sparsely populated by trees and plants, instead, having many different rock formations and landmarks smattered across its expansive surface.
My mind was already churning with all the possibilities of the place, but I was suddenly pulled out of my thoughts when I noticed a minuscule oddity in the landscape of the basin. From this distance, it would've been impossible for normal human eyes to spot, but with my senses, I could barely make out something at the foot of the body of water.
There it was - a sign of greenskins.
Although I was unable to discern any greenskins from this distance, what I could see from where the jungle borders the water, was a small swathe of land that had been cleared of trees and vegetation. On the shore, was what appeared to be buildings were abound, and the structure that had originally caught my eye was the large unfinished bridge that barely managed to extent from the shoreline outwards to the island.
I was unable to see properly from this distance, so I flew towards the settlement. However, as I closed ever closer in on the cleared swathe of land, I realized one startling fact.
Letting my presence expand in every direction, I dove down to land directly in the settlement. With my wings dissipating into moats of shadows, I inspected the surroundings with a wary gaze.
All the structures were in various states of disrepair and destruction without a single shred of life to be seen. The settlement was totally barren.
But the most unsettling thing about it all was the fact that while there were no bodies or limbs, blood tainted the earth crimson. Everything displayed clear signs of battle and death, but it had been surprisingly enough mostly cleaned up with clear finesse. And although the signs of demise indicated of it all having happened at least a few months ago, I doubted that it was mere beasts that did this...
Caught up with trying to figure out what the hell had happened here, I barely noticed the sudden large shadow that imposingly covered me from behind.
Snapping around with eyes wide at the fact someone had been able to sneak up on me even though I had my senses on full guard, I readied myself for either a desperate fight - or a desperate escape...
But what met my gaze as I spun on my heels had my blood run dead cold.
What - the - actual - fuck...
Are those furry bear ears?