As the saying went, ‘a leopard never changes its spots’; some fundamental things were just too hard to change. Just like how a dog likes to lick strange matters, like how cats loved fish, or like how otakus had to love lolis, all of these were laws written into nature itself, facts, unchanging…
In short, expecting me to abandon this silly streak of mine wasn’t going to be easy.
Still, at least from Nozala’s words, I was able to tell that he wasn’t going to try and trouble us any further. Honestly though, it didn’t matter even if he did. Even if we couldn’t beat them, we could at least escape; our mobility was leagues above theirs after all.
(TL: I’m assuming Nozala’s gender to be male.)
Thanks to Nozala’s show of trust, that heavy mood that pervaded this scene just moments ago lessened considerably. Yet, it was the return of Sasani that ultimately expunged all the tension between us.
His return could only be described as timely, and more importantly, he came back with a bunch of unknown matter in his mouth that looked like flames. Although I had never seen such a thing before, I knew right away that it had to be the legendary Flamegrass everyone had been talking about, the same one which was good for pregnant moms. It had to be said however, that this plant was only effective on creatures of the fire element, at the very least they had to have some form of fire resistance or else…it wouldn’t even be usable, probably.
Having just returned, Sasani was immediately shocked by the giant horde of salamanders facing him. He had clearly left this place with just one giant salamander and yet after a short excursion to find some Flamegrass, that number multiplied by several hundredfold… Initially, the shocked Sasani was doubtful whether or not he had even returned to the right place so he merely galloped about on the outskirts. Most likely he was trying to determine the situation first or perhaps he was worried that something had happened to us, so he didn’t want to alert the salamanders to his presence.
Thankfully, it was Sinmosa who discovered his presence first and called out to him, at that point, he came trotting back to us with Flamegrass in mouth.
It was then that I discovered that Flamegrass was actually a plant life that had no corporeal form and was completely formed of flames. While it was definitely made of pure of flames, one could still see the capillaries you would expect from a plant, running through them. That was probably the reason why this strange matter was called Flamegrass.
“Flamegrass…” The moment Nozala saw the Flamegrass in Sasani’s mouth, his expression immediately changed. He desperately wanted the grass but in the end he chose to keep quiet. After all, we just had a bit of unpleasantness between us not too long; whether or not we would even hand over the Flamegrass was still an uncertainty to him.
“Sasani, give him the Flamegrass.” Upon hearing that, Sasani turned to look at Sinmosa first who nodded back at him, he then handed over the Flamegrass.
“Thank you…thank you…” He continuously thanked us before running off with the grass and placing it by the mouth of that Six-stars salamander.
Perhaps it was because she sensed the Flamegrass near her or perhaps Nozala had used some method to awaken her, either way her once-closed eyes slowly opened up and the pupils within swivelled about to take a look at the situation.
“I don’t remember calling for you all…” Her voice was very weak, seemingly on the verge of being snuffed out like a candle.
“It was that devil over there who called us.” Nozala threw us a grateful look before continuing on: “I’ve already learnt about the situation from that devil. I know you mean well and do not wish to implicate us, but this time you were…”
Nozala probably wanted to say that she was wrong then but because of their vast level differences, he couldn’t bring himself to say such an accusatory word.
“Perhaps…” By now, no matter how dense she was, she should be able to discern the back and forth that happened before. Thus, she didn’t blame Nozala for his rudeness but merely exhaled on the Flamegrass, causing it to sway a little in the wind: “You are the one who brought this Flamegrass here?”
“No…it was the Devil who gave it to us…”
“Is that so…looks like I was really wrong then…”
She gave me an apologetic look while I simply smiled back at her. ‘I bet I am glowing with white light right now…’
She inexplicably nodded at me and upon doing so, gulped down the Flamegrass in one go, and then closed her eyes once more, as if sensing the flow of energies given to her by the Flamegrass.
It was at that point that the salamanders finally broke through into the underground lava streams, causing an eruption of lava to spew forth from the ground and fill up a miniature lake 10 meters wide. Naturally, this was only the beginning. The salamanders continued digging as before, hoping to dig a hole large enough for the pregnant salamander to soak in as soon as possible.
It was then that the horde of Demon FIre Worms finally arrived. An almost endless wave of worms crawled towards us ,layer by layer, until there were only 50 meters separating them from the pregnant salamander. There, they started the process of splitting themselves off with one half crawling up to the side of the salamander while the other half proceeded to return. At that very moment, all she had to do was open her mouth and an entire feast would come jumping into it.
Soon, the pregnant salamander was able to slowly open her eyes, most likely a result of the Flamegrass’s nourishment. She opened her mouth wide open and the first wave of split-off Demon Fire Worms leaped into her mouth…*gulp*, the worms went down her throat while she kept her mouth wide open for the next batch of worms to jump in…
No matter how many times I saw this, I couldn’t help but be amazed by this spectacle. The world was a truly a vast place, filled with all sorts of oddities I could never have imagined or understood. The way they leaped into danger like that probably didn’t make much sense to others, but for them, this was their existence.
While the worms continued replenishing her energy, the other salamanders continued digging the lake. Soon, the massive salamander was covered in lava within their artificial lake.
The seconds ticked by and soon I had even forgotten about them entirely. All I knew was that other than us observers, everyone else had their hands full with work. It felt like we had suddenly turned into freeloaders, even though all that work they were carrying out right now was basically done by us before…
Childbirth was something I had never witnessed before. Whether it was Mo Ci’s or Sinmosa’s, I absent for either of them.This time was different however, I was witness to the entire process, not just the hatching.
By now, the salamander was completely covered in lava and the other salamanders soon stopped digging as well, once the lake reached twenty meters wide. One by one, the salamanders crawled onto the shore and quietly waited with bated breaths for the moment of truth. As for those Demon Fire Worms, they were no longer there…because she ate them all.
No one spoke a word throughout this tense period. The pregnant salamander kept quiet as well while she soaked in the newly dug up lava lake, motionless as if she was hibernating.
No one moved an inch and even our breathing was kept to an absolute minimum as the seconds ticked deafeningly by in our heads. Finally, the time that seemed to had frozen up till that point, moved.
The lava surface started bubbling all of a sudden, as if something was about to come bursting out of the lava lake. Pieces of igneous rock started to float to the top because of this violent movement…
‘Is she going to give birth?’
That was the first thought that occured to me. I stretched out my neck to have a peek, just in time to catch a glimpse of several unknown objects that looked just like frog eggs floating up to the surface. These so-called frog eggs were rather small, each coming in at only the size of an adult’s fist. They weren’t, however, as simple as their floating exterior would suggest. Under the crimson, viscous surface was layer after layer of said unknown object. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire section of that lake was filled with it, from bottom to top.
These strange objects were most likely the eggs she had just laid. Other than a layer of white wrapping around them, the only other color I saw was a tinge of red within. Discounting the color, they looked exactly like frog eggs.
The pregnancy was a success and the salamanders all cheered in response. Because of all the nourishment she received from the Demon Fire Worms, a miscarriage was avoided entirely. In short, the mother was safe…
Having just gone through such a harrowing experience, the salamander was naturally worn out. She wanted to have a closer look at her babies but unfortunately for her, the demon known as sleep got the better of her, causing her to close her eyes and fall unconscious.
Soon after she fell asleep, those newly laid eggs slowly turned a blackish red. During that entire process, I could clearly tell that they were absorbing the rocks and magma around them and slowly turning red and black as a result. At the same time, their gelatinous exterior started to harden and turn into the same rocky material that they absorbed not too long ago…
That’s right, those eggs were all turning into stone, the really hard kind too…
The entire lava lake was soon filled with red and black rocks that if stepped on, would most likely feel exactly like solid ground…
At the very least however, it was all over…I heaved a deep sigh of relief. This was the first time I had truly witnessed a life being born and I had to admit, I was rather excited. Even now, my heart was still beating furiously in my heart. ‘How should I say this, it feels like I had just accomplished something! From today onwards, I’m a man who had delivered a baby! Wooooo.’
Upon confirming her safety, Nozala slowly, and calmly walked up to me: “I’m extremely grateful for this, if it wasn’t for your help, I’m afraid our race might have ended up paying an exorbitant price…”
The fact that I wasn’t just ‘the Devil’ anymore, showed how much his attitude had changed.
“There’s no need for all that, since she’s all right, we should be going as well.” I was rather happy right now, given how successful all this was. Not only was I part of this entire process, I played a crucial role as well. ‘I don’t know why but I am just so happy and fulfilled right now.’
“Leave? Right now? What’s the rush?” Upon hearing me say that we were about to leave, a shocked Nozala asked as such: “Where are you all heading to? If it’s not too inconvenient, I would love for you all to stay a while so that we may show our gratitude.”
“It’s fine, I rather leave sooner. As for our destination, we are heading towards the royal capital of the former kingdom of Sable Radiance. I’ve heard that all we have to do is head north.”