Our journey northward took us through a number of Purgatory Shadowcat territories of which some belonged to those who took part in the succession war. However, upon recognizing us, they didn’t try to trouble us but instead treated us warmly, going so far as to offer us barbecued Ashen Fur Mice while enquiring about a certain cat couple…
The moment I said “Anmi is going to kick the bucket”, they all chuckled devilishly with their unique feline “Nyahaha” before then expressing their good wishes while gushing about how fortunate Anmi was to marry a princess. Deep down however, they were laughing at the poor guy(cat), that much was certain by looking at their eyes.
For the most part, our journey went rather smoothly and quickly thanks to our fair bit of strength. In roughly one month alone, we traversed through over a dozen Purgatory Shadowcat territories and formally entered Warhorse lands.
Having left that terraformed region, the first thing that struck me was how drastic the change in environment was. Gone were the teeming plant life and scampering animals, instead we found ourselves surrounded once more by the characteristic lava lakes and blackened soil of Purgatory.
That wasn’t to say that there weren’t volcanoes in the Shadowcats’ territory, rather they were simply sealed so as to prevent any potential eruption that could wreck havoc on the lands.
Speaking of horses, my first impression of those beasts was that they were very fast, and that they ate grass.However, unlike the Shadowcat’s lush territories, the Warhorses’ lands were just filled with solidified magma. Without any grass to speak of, what exactly did those horses feed on?
If I had to hazard a guess, it would probably be meat and souls. Being a fiendish creature themself, they possessed the ability to feed on souls, just like most fiendish creatures. Upon entering their territory for the first time, we so happened to stumble upon one of their hunting expeditions.
Over a hundred Warhorses were in the midst of surrounding and attacking three gigantic monsters made entirely out of dark red molten rock. The biggest of the three had to be at least ten meters or so, the smallest, eight or so at the very least. Gazing at them, I found that their bodies were actually composed of irregular black rock with red sections that glowed. From time to time, these flowing red sections would shimmer as if they blood vessels.
Seeing that, I was reminded of those breathing lights I used to have on my PC mouse…it really did look like that, huh.
The rock monsters were humanoid in shape, but in terms of body proportions alone, they were more dwarven in stature than human. With burly limbs, they kind of looked like winter melons to me. As for their facial features, they were mostly a blur to me, with the rough shape of a pair of eyes and nose being the only visible parts. Their eye sockets were sunken in and within those pits, I managed to make out a pair of deep red crystalline objects that seemed to be in a burning state.
Compared to those giants, the horses were noticeably smaller. An adult Purgatory Warhorse was at least two meters tall when standing and for the stronger ones, they could even grow to three meters tall.
In terms of appearance, the Warhorses were basically horses. Their fur was pitch black except for the tip of their tails which had a tuft of red fur. Their eyes were of a blood red hue and their teeth resembled that of a wolf’s, the kind that seemed on edge no less. Mostly, I could tell that their bodies were extremely well-built and brimming with power. Whenever they galloped, flames would roar to life around them, giving one the impression of speeding fireballs when seen from far.
Our unexpected arrival naturally caught their attention but upon discovering that we had no intention of approaching, they chose to continue with their hunt and merely ignored us.
A while later, we came to a stop on a relatively tall hill where we were afforded a decent view of the ongoing battle. There, mostly out of curiosity, I pointed at the two species battling it out several hundred meters away and said: “Those black horses are the Purgatory Warhorses, I assume, what about those rock monsters? Are they Earth Elementals?”
“Those monsters are known as Demon Fire Igneous Giants, a subspecies of the Giant clan. However, there’s also another theory that their bodies were actually formed of Igneous Rock Elements and had turned into the monsters you see before you now because of the Fire Elements in Purgatory.”
From the way Sinmosa had such information on hand, my guess was that she had interactions with these giants in the past. “Igneous Rock Element is one of the evolved form of the basic Earth Element. For the most part however, Igneous Giants resembled the Demon Fire Igneous Giants.”
“There sure are a ton of creatures in Purgatory…” Truly, this was an eye-opener for me and proved that my inherited memories wasn’t all-knowing either. For example, this Demon Fire Igneous Giant she spoke of wasn’t in my memories at all so I had no information about them. Well, whether or not they were actually giants or just elementals, that I didn’t know, but there was one thing I knew for sure, and that was that they were strong. Still, the two races were clearly as different from each other as horses and cows so what was up with those Igneous Giants?
“I bet you’re wondering right now which race they actually belong to. In truth, this question has been debated for a very long time because the Demon Fire Igneous Giants possess both the traits of giants and elementals. The defining feature of an elemental is that they are comprised of pure elements and require nourishment in the form of elements to survive. The Demon Fire Igneous Giants satisfy such a criteria but they also possess something similar to blood flowing through them. That, is something only creatures of the flesh can possess.”
Noticing my confusion, Sinmosa continued explaining, going the extra mile of being as detailed as possible: “I’m sure you’ve already seen those that blood vessel-like sections on them that periodically gives out light. That’s their circulatory system and that’s also the reason why the Purgatory Warhorses are hunting them.”
Entranced by the topic, I pursued this avenue even further: “So you’re saying the blood that runs through them is precious?”
“That’s right. For most creatures in Purgatory, the blood of a Demon Fire Igneous Giant is a rare treasure that not only enhances one’s Fire Element, but also enhances one’s body as well.” Having said that, she couldn’t help but throw an envious look at the herd of Warhorses before saying: “It’s precisely because of this blood that the Demon Fire Igneous Giants aren’t pure elementals.”
“I bet that blood would come in very handy for Cinderel.” Just from her description of that ingredient alone, I could tell that it was extremely suited for Cinderel. After all, that poor puppy was born prematurely and wasn’t even going to survive in the first place had it not been for that Fire Elemental Core I fed her at birth. However, it was precisely because of that reason that she ended up being born with a rather special constitution that required her to maintain a certain level of energy, or fall into a critical condition.
Truth be told, the reason why Sinmosa and Sasani were still willing to follow me now was probably not due to some sense of gratitude at all, but rather it was due to their daughter. Given their current status in the clan, there was clearly no way Cinderel would get the nourishment she needed…In that case, why not just try their luck in the ruins of the Sable Radiance Palace? For all she knew, she might just get lucky and find some kind of treasure.
While there was no doubting that our combat strength was rather…pathetic…that had nothing at all to do with luck, mhm.
“Too bad, there’s just too many of them…” She left her words hanging there but just from that brief snippet alone, I could glean a lot. She had clearly thought about trying to snatch the blood from the Demon Fire Igneous Giants but thankfully, her rational side stepped in and showed her the vast difference in strength between our parties.
At times, knowing when to give up was a victory in of itself; at the very least, we wouldn’t end up dead for some inane reason…
“Oh right, is it really all right for us to stand here and watch them hunt?” Given that we were at least two hundred meters away from the battlefield, interfering in their battle was basically impossible so they shouldn’t mind our presence, right?
“Us Hellhounds do not have a great relationship with them, but it’s not bad either; standing here should be fine. As long as we do not interrupt them, they shouldn’t try to trouble us.”
“In that case, time for the popcorn then.” At times, watching someone duke it out was fun too and with that in mind, there was no way I would miss out on this valuable opportunity.
Sinmosa paused for a second before asking. Clearly she wasn’t familiar with the term popcorn or the point of eating it.
“It just means to spectate.”
“Got it.” Still confused, she, however, chose not to pursue this topic any further.
The attacks of the Purgatory Warhorses could only be described as being both frenzied and violent. In their galloping state, a single full speed ram was more than enough to stun a Demon Fire Igneous Giant, causing bits of rock to fall off it in the process. Having done some damage, each Warhorse would swiftly back away from any potential counterattack. However, given its massive girth and size, its defenses were extremely formidable as well though that came at a price –its speed.
Upon receiving that fiery shock, the giant immediately tried to strike back but unfortunately for it, its clumsy swings were destined to miss their marks. Just as one Warhorse backed away, another promptly charged in a blaze of fire to take its place. This time, its powerful strike took a sizable chunk out of the giant’s right arm.
Rocks pitter pattering in the background, there was now a noticeable hole in the giant’s arm.
Just like that, over a hundred Warhorses took turns ramming the giant, each taking care never to face off against it directly. Instead, they merely galloped around and waited for their turn to attack before swiftly backing away right after.
“Mama, that stoneman is so clumsy, it can’t even hit those horsies.” As Mo Na sat atop her usual seat on my shoulders, she would hug me tightly while throwing out the random comment or two.
“It’s not the giants who are clumsy, it’s the Warhorses who are too quick. Honestly, those giants are extremely dangerous and powerful. When at the same Star-level, those Warhorses wouldn’t dare to try and take its hit.”