Those three Demonic Fire Igneous Giants were not only subdued but the moment Shade uttered the word, “Consume…”, the three giants immediately flailed about frantically as if they were trying to claw their way out of their nightmare. Unfortunately for them, it clearly wasn’t going to work on this fabricated nightmare.
Such a sorry sight continued for a while before finally, after ten seconds or so, the struggling stopped with the Four-stars giants being the first couple to quietly become still and then limp like they had fallen into an eternal slumber. They weren’t dead however, at least that was what I felt from the flow of energy inside their bodies.
“Are those two big monsters dead?” As Mo Na tightly hugged Cinderel, she poked her head out from behind me out of curiosity, and asked while peering at the still giant bodies. “How strange, they aren’t moving anymore.”
“They aren’t dead, at least not physically.” Sinmosa answered. “ Judging whether or not these giants are dead is actually really simple. Under normal circumstances, their lava-like blood will emit a red glow and as the fluid passes through its body, its glow dims and brightens with time. If the giant is truly dead, the blood flow will cease completely.”
‘I think I’m starting to understand what that “Consume…” means, rather than consuming dreams, it would probably be more accurate to call it soul consumption, or some kind of psychic restraint ability. That’s why those giants became vegetables…at least that’s it should be.’
While I was mulling over that ability, the Five-stars collapsed as well, joining the fate of his two companions. With clearly no shred of psychic resistance to speak of, these giants never stood a chance against the dream attacks of the Nightmare Steed.
“Warwraith, have our kin come over and collect the spoils, it’s time for us to return.” Never once sparing us a glance, Shade placidly gave the command to pack up, seemingly not at all interested in our origins.
“Yes, Grand Elder.” Answered Warwraith, not intending to pay us any attention at all.
‘Well, that works out for us as well, not like we want any sort of relation to that monster of a Grand Elder. You go your way and I’ll go mine, neither of us will have anything to do with each other from now on, mhm, sounds great.’ Unfortunately, when were things ever so simple…what had to come will come in the end.
“Hnngh…ugh…” No.3 and Big 4 took turns grunting in pain behind me. Because they were still in a semi-conscious state, I wasn’t able to ask them about their condition. Based on what I saw of their bodies however, I doubt it was anything good, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in a critical condition right now.
‘This won’t do…I need to find some kind of nourishment for them else…d*mn…I don’t think meat or souls would help in this situation either…what should I do…’
“Mama, what should we do…No.3 and Big 4…they…” Hearing them grunt like that, Mo Na was beside herself with worry as she tugged on my arm.
‘What to do…how do I know what to do…nourishment…even if I place some souls in front of them now, I doubt they can absorb it in their current state…but if they don’t eat, they can’t recover…it’s just a deadlock at this point…’
“The blood of those giants could save them.” Just as I panicking over what to do, Sinmosa chimed in with a solution, albeit hesitantly. “The blood of those giants can be considered a miraculous panacea, even without ingesting it, it can allow them to evolve…however…”
‘However huh…well, I think I know what’s coming next even without her saying. A rare treasure like that…would those Warhorses even share them with us.’
Interests. At the end of the day, it was all about interests. The rarer the treasure, the less likely it was that a person would share it. The logic was sound but I knew that I had to give it a shot anyway.
I had Sinmosa and Sasani, who had just returned not too long ago, stay behind to look after No.3 and Big 4, along with Cinderel and Mo Na. As for me, I gingerly approached the Grand Elder Shade and started with a full 90 degrees bow before tabling my request under his withering gaze: “Your Excellency, Grand Elder Shade, if I may be so bold as to make this request, may I have some of the Demonic Fire Igneous Giant’s blood? Even a few drops is fine.”
“Mongrel how dare you! Who do you think you are to make demands of the Grand Elder!?” Before the horse in question could even answer, Warwraith immediately berated us: “Those three giants were personally defeated by our Grand Elder. How have you contributed at all? By what right do you make this request of us?”
At the side, the Nightmare Steed stood silently watching this scene unfold.
I had admit, right now, those flapping horse lips of Warwraith truly irked me. But there was no way I could show my true feeling especially given our clearly inferior position. As the saying went, “Weak countries have no foreign diplomacy to speak of.” The weak were never afforded the right to make requests of the strong, whether it was back on Earth or in this world. Still, for him to say that we never contributed was…just going overboard…
“We definitely contributed, it was us who delayed those three giants, if it wasn’t for us, your rescue operation wouldn’t have proceeded so smoothly in the first place.” As I said that, I did my best to keep my tone even and restrained. “Without us, you would have to be the decoys.”
“Hmph, were you guys even willing to be decoys?” Warwraith threw us a scornful laugh before giving us an equally disdainful look. “Had it not been for me forcing you all, you guys wouldn’t have helped at all and ran instead.”
“That’s right, we didn’t plan on facing those giants, they are just too strong for us. If I had a choice, I would have never chosen to be fodder for you at all. But it was because of you that my devils ended up severely injured, and on the verge of dying. I just hope that you can give me a little giant blood so that I can help them recover, is that too much to ask?!”
“Of course it is.” His annoying horse lips continued flapping: “The spoils belong to us, as for that so-called contribution of yours, you’ve already received it, don’t be too greedy.”
“Received it…when did we receive it?”
“Not killing you all is the reward you’ve received.”
‘Blast it all, what do you expect me to say in front of such shamelessness? That thick skin of yours is even thicker than the hides of those giants.’
Even though Warwraith said that he wasn’t going to share the spoils with us, the one who truly had the final say here was Shade, the Grand Elder. With that in mind, I turned towards the Nightmare Steed: “Your Excellency, we’re in desperate need of the giant’s blood, even a few drops is fine, as long as I can save my subordinates…please just give us some, once I become stronger, I swear I will repay this favor.”
“Repay? Favor?” The Nightmare Steed coldly gave me an appraising look before saying: “With your current level of strength, you have no right to speak of repayment.”
“…I’m talking about the future…”
“Then we can talk about that in the future…whether or not you can live till that long is still an unknown, besides…” The Nightmare Steed paused for a second before narrowing his eyes in disgust, as if he was looking at some kind of insect: “Why should I care whether or not your subordinates are injured?”
Warwraith then interjected to hammer in the final nail in the coffin: “That’s right, we can’t just hand out our spoils to any old random dog or cat who come knocking on our door, am I right?”
‘These two scumbags, each more selfish than the other…how I wish I can just turn around and leave right now but No.3 and Big 4’s injuries can’t wait any longer…if I don’t get help for them soon, I don’t think they can even make it past the day…but those two clearly aren’t going to give us the blood, even if I kneel down and beg them, I doubt they will relent.”
I turned around to gaze at my two injured subordinates before deciding to give it another shot: “What do I have to do to make you give me some blood? I can just…”
“Nothing.” Warwraith flatly cut me off.
“But I will repay you…”
“You’re annoying.” In the face of my insistence, the Nightmare Steed’s cold gaze finally erupted forth in a brilliant display of bright red as he glared at me. “Dream…” He coldly declared.
Dream…by the time I heard that word, my next instinct was to close my eyes and sleep…it was too late. Just staring into those ruby-like eyes of his, it felt like my consciousness was being sucked into them. My vision began to blur after which everything turned black, except for those two blood red eyes staring at me, like a pair of ghostly fires in the dark.
‘Is this the dream realm created by that Nightmare Steed? Is my body lying on the floor like those three giants right now…am I going to die? I guess that’s only to be expected…since I angered those who shouldn’t be angered…blast it…I don’t want to die yet…there’s still so many things I want to do, I still want to return to the human world and see Nicole…I still have to find Yi Yi and get my body back…I still want to see Roscar…and also Numila and the others…also…’
There was no sense of time in this place so I had no way of telling how much time had passed in the outside world. Perhaps it had only been a second or perhaps it had already been an entire day, or even more.
“Fear…” The voice of that Nightmare Steed echoed sonorously in the void. While my surroundings were still as black as the abyss, it felt like there was a certain something extra thrown inside now.
It almost seemed like I could hear footsteps…no…there really were footsteps. A person’s silhouette slowly became cleared right before my very eyes. It was familiar…just like…Nicole…
‘It’s Nicole…even with all this darkness, there’s no way I will ever forget that face!’ I excitedly yelled in my head, even forgetting the fact that I was trapped in some illusory world created by that Nightmare Steed…