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Fighting God Chapter 29: Test
There it is…the Demon Forests. It looks as magnificent as it had all those years ago. Hopefully, nothing much as changed.” Skaal exclaimed as he admired the view and indulged in reminiscence.
However, the scenery did not correspond with how Skaal described it to be. The forests were tall and dark…not a single light could penetrate through. The trees were bunched close together but luckily Aldred and Julia were able to squeeze through the cracks.
“Have you told your family we were coming?” Julia asked. During their travels together, Julia had became more familiar with Skaal as well as his abilities to fight and telepathically communicate.
“Yes. They were a bit surprised but that was expected since I mentioned to them that Aldred was my Brother and you were a friend. Hopefully they will see past your race and accept you guys. However, I doubt that they would do it so simply. Be careful, there may be a test or something similar.”
“Hmm…oh, there’s my cousin. She’s come to pick us up.”
Aldred and Julia peered into the darkness. Julia was just about to say that they don’t see anything when something caught their eyes…two glowing balls of light floated around like will-o’-wisps. On closer look, the two balls of light were two eyeballs of a giant Toxic Razortail. Julia quickly hid behind Aldred as he instinctively brought out his right arm.
“Relax guys.” Skaal said as he walked forward to greet the other Toxic Razortail. “She’s harmless. Sherul! Have you come to guide us to the den?”
“Yes. When mother said you were bringing a brother and a friend, she was surprised…but who knew they were human?” The Toxic Razortail called Sherul replied as she peered towards Aldred and Julia. “And children at that.”
“You didn’t tell them we were human?” Aldred muttered towards Skaal who embarrassingly scratched his head.
“Oops…couldn’t really bring myself to say it…. But I’m sure they’ll understand.” Skaal answered. Then, he looked towards Sherul and asked. “They are my Brother and my friend, hopefully there’s no problem.”
“Hmph! I’ve already notified Mother and Father of this situation. We’ll see what they have to say.” Sherul snorted. She paused for a moment as if receiving a telepathic reply from her parents. After a while, she turned around. “Mother and Father said they need to see these humans for themselves. Come.”
Sherul speedily departed. Skaal told Aldred and Julia to climb onto his back as the paths were quite dangerous for the inexperienced. After the two children climbed on and positioned themselves so that they won’t fall, Skaal rushed after Sherul. When Sherul looked back and saw the two children on Skaal’s back, she shook her head in dismay. To think Skaal, one of the more prideful and stoic Toxic Razortails, would let two humans ride him…this…has the world come to an end? No, Skaal could be considered as an eccentric even when he was young. This…could just be another result of it.
Minutes later, they arrived in front of a cave. There were a number of Toxic Razortails peering curiously at Aldred and Julia. All of a sudden, from the entrance of the cave, an elderly couple emerged. They were…human?…no, they were Toxic Razortails but they have reached Human Form. These must be the Mother and Father of Sherul.
“What is this Skaal? Did you become a pet to these humans?” The elderly woman scoffed.
“No…it’s just they are not familiar with the paths….” Skaal tried to explain as Aldred and Julia quickly scampered off of Skaal’s back. Aldred cupped his hands and bowed towards the elderly couple.
“This one is known as Aldred Blackehearth. This one greets Aunt and Uncle.” Aldred replied in the Language of the Beasts. Initially he wanted to say ‘Uncle and Aunt’ but since it seemed that the elderly woman made all the decisions, this family must follow a matriarchy rule.
The elderly man as well as the other Toxic Razortails were surprised when they heard relatively fluent Beast Tongue from the young human. The Matriarch was surprised also and her cold expression softened a bit, “What Aunt and Uncle?! I haven’t accepted you yet. Skaal, what are you guys standing out here for? Come in.”
Skaal nodded towards Aldred and Julia. Though the Matriarch did not express it, she had shown some approval towards Aldred…though not so with Julia, however, she did not explicitly forbid Julia from coming in either. The trio entered the den along with the elderly man and Sherul followed by a group of curious Toxic Razortails.
Sherul approached Aldred with some interest, “It seems you know some of our ancestral tongue. I can see why Skaal took an interest in you. Hmph! That still doesn’t mean we have.”
However, even though Sherul said that, she couldn’t stop the curious gazes of the other Toxic Razortails…in particular, the younger ones. The young Toxic Razortails kept asking questions to Aldred and Julia, however, Julia could not understand the words because they were spoken in the Language of the Beasts. Apparently, young demonic beasts are taught the Language of the Beasts before learn the human language. After a good amount of time had passed while they continued walking deeper into the den, they arrived at a large room. The room was fairly empty. On one side of the room…the furthest side from the entrance, a few tables and seats made from stone and wood were placed. The room was a bit stuffy and dry, but nevertheless warm even though it was near winter.
“Where are we?” Aldred asked.
“This is the Main Hall, where all matters are discussed. That includes your situation.” The Matriarch answered as she sat on a seat. Her husband sat by her side and started fanning her.
“So, what will become of us?”
“Given that you are Brother of Skaal and that girl is a friend who was approved by Skaal, we will not drive you away…that is, without giving you a chance to prove yourself.”
“How should we prove ourselves to you?”
“If you truly want to stay here, you must complete a task. The two of you must kill a demonic beast…a demonic beast of a rival clan.”
“Aunt…don’t tell me…you want my Brother to kill one of them?!” Skaal gasped in surprise and worry.
“Skaal, you cannot interfere. This is my final decision.”
“Skaal, don’t worry. We’ll be okay. Respected Matriarch, who do you want us to kill?” Aldred replied as he held up a hand to calm the protesting brother of his.
“Haha, I like your attitude. We, the Toxic Razortails, are one of the four major families ruling this part of the Demon Forests. The other families are the Fiery Boarheads, the Deathblooms, and the Sharpfangs. The Fiery Boarheads and the Sharpfangs are our enemies, while we have a temporary and fragile truce with the Deathblooms. Sherul, explain to these young ones what these three families look like.”
Sherul stepped forward and responded, “The Fiery Boarhead is a humanoid with a boar’s head. These demonic beasts are called ‘fiery’ due to their affinity to Fire. You may or may not know but our poison is weak against fire. The Deathblooms are butterfly-type demonic beasts with powerful Plant-type abilities. They have blood red wings with black markings. The only reason we have a truce with the Deathblooms is because of our common enemy – the Sharpfangs. The Sharpfangs are mouse-type demonic beasts who prey on us Toxic Razortails and our allies the Deathblooms. They look like mice except for their extremely tough and extremely sharp front teeth. They are our most hated enemies. The Sharpfangs have Earth-type affinity as well, so our Earth-type skills do no harm to them. The only reason we were able to keep them at bay was all due to Mother’s lethal poison.”
“So…let me guess…you want us to kill a Sharpfang?”
“Yes.” The Matriarch nodded. “You have till tomorrow’s sunset. Sherul, show them the general direciton.”
“Yes, mother.” Sherul bowed.