Chapter 943: Entry

After more than three months at sea, the Kali Familia ship was fast approaching its destination but, unlike previous journeys, things weren’t going as smoothly as anticipated. Usually, the ice buildup around the peninsula surrounding Telskyura wouldn’t start to settle in until early January, meaning they should have had a two week period to enter into the country. Now, however, Vahn stood on the bow with Kali sitting on the ship’s railing, looking out over several kilometers of ice and snow.

Because his senses were even more developed than Kalli’s, Vahn had been observing the flow of mana in the atmosphere for a while now, breaking through the silence by noting, “There is an abnormal amount of Ice Elemental energy that is mixed with a few other chaotic mana flows. I imagine a large winter storm swept through the area since there is a warm airflow retreating inland in the upper atmosphere…” With his domain able to stretch upwards of 3.7km, Vahn could sense changes high in the sky without any real difficulty. As for Kali, she just kept dangling her legs at the side while small plumes of condensation would build up every time she exhaled…

Even though the temperature was around -3 degrees Celsius, Kali, and the rest of the crew aboard, hadn’t put on a single extra layer of clothing. They had even gone fishing, diving into the freezing cold water below and swimming into the dark depths to catch prey. Though they weren’t really ‘immune’ to the cold, their high resistance and general tolerance allowed them to resist the temperatures without any major difficulty. He noticed that they did, however, move around a lot more than normal while the appetite of even the tiny Myahi had more than doubled. As for Vahn, his tolerance bordered on genuine immunity so he stood casually near Kali in nothing but black shorts and a necklace formed of sharp teeth and shells that the crew had made for him. There was even a bit of ‘steam’ rising from his body, the product of his naturally high internal temperature, courtesy of the [Heart of the Eternal Flame]…

After thinking for a very short moment, Kali leaned back against the air and allowed her body to fall naturally. Vahn moved his hand to catch her, causing Kali to smile mischievously as she reclined against his warm palm and asked, “Can you clear the way for us? I don’t really want to moor the ship out at sea and leave it at the mercy of mother nature. We can always build a new one, but that would be annoying…” This wasn’t the first time the ship had been in this same situation so Kali hadn’t really been bothered that much. In previous instances, the crew would just make sleds and begin transferring the cargo over the ice, abandoning the ship outright. If the ice hadn’t built up too much, they would send people ahead to break up the ice so the ship could pass through, albeit slowly…

Vahn tried helping Kali sit properly but she kept reclining back against his hand ‘defiantly’, causing him to eventually give up. His ‘instincts’ wouldn’t allow him to let her fall towards the ground so he became a makeshift recliner for her as he answered, “Yeah, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. How much longer until we reach Telskyura…?” Though he could already see land in the distance, Vahn wasn’t able to discern the existence of a port or fishing village. In fact, he mostly saw jagged outcrops of porous reddish-black stone, indicating the area was rich in agate stone and iron deposits…

Kali, after trying and failing to ‘roll’ off of Vahn’s palm, eventually replied, saying, “Other than a few symbolic buildings and structures, the Amazonesses don’t build for the sake of convenience. There are no large ports or docks where you’ll be able to moor the ship. We’ll sail to the side of the cliffs and then scale the rockface before pulling the ship up through sheer manual labor. It might seem inconvenient, but Amazonesses aren’t weak and frail like other races…” Though she didn’t say it outright, Kali internally remarked that it also kept them from being invaded by both monsters and other surface dwellers who would try to approach their country through the sea.

Though he wasn’t really surprised by Kali’s words, Vahn couldn’t help feeling a little impressed that the Amazonesses were so dedicated to their way of life. He knew this perception of his would change ‘very’ quickly once they entered the country proper, but it was still interesting to see how a culture treated life itself as a challenge. They made no major attempts to escape the trials of mother nature, nor did they create infrastructure for the sole purpose of making their lives easier. Since even their youth were likely able to dive into the sea to catch food before ascending the steep surrounding cliffs, he could understand why there had never been a need to create a port…it was simply unnecessary since their own bodies allowed them to succeed unaided…

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After picking Kali up by her armpits and setting her onto the deck, Vahn made his way to the bowsprit with her staring daggers into his back. This brought a small smile to his face since he knew Kali ‘hated’ when he treated her like a child. Though he would probably pay the price later, it had become very normal for both of them to try and annoy the other. She took advantage of his nature and teased him incessantly while he would say or do things that he knew annoyed her. Kali never really took such things to heart though so, shortly after Vahn began shaping his domain, she simply returned to her seat to observe, much like the rest of her crew.

There were several methods Vahn could use to clear away the ice but he decided to use the most direct one after inspecting the seabed and the subsurface rock structures. He slowly shaped a path with his domain before holding out his hand, transforming into his Zhuque form in the process. Since he had already constrained his domain into a specific shape, the fire elemental energy and the incredible heat from his body only affected the area he had designated. As a result, there was a large steam explosion and a thunderous shockwave, but it wasn’t enough to cause any real harm to the ship and its crew.

Since it was now very difficult to see, with a large and dense mist spreading through the area, Vahn adjusted the airflow through his domain after resuming his default appearance. From behind, he could hear Tiona bragging to Bache about the feat while some of the other crew members were sneaking heated glances at him. Ever since Kali’s ‘proclamation’, they had been a lot more restrained and significantly less bold than the first two months of the journey. She would often join them for meals and, though they had adapted to her presence, it was very obvious that Kali was staking a claim and wouldn’t allow anyone to oppose her. Unless they were willing to ‘literally’ fight for the right, there was no chance they would be allowed to approach Vahn under normal circumstances…

With a large path, easily big enough for the ship to pass through, cleared out of the ice, Khodiva gave the orders to unfurl half of a single sail before she began to skillfully navigate through the channel Vahn had created. It was a little over three times the width of the ship itself, making navigation very difficult, but Khodiva managed to pull it off without a hitch. Her spatial awareness and depth perception were incredible, leading Vahn to believe there was more to her Innate than even she was aware. Though he had remained on the bowsprit to clear out any obstacles, further assistance had been completely unnecessary as Khodiva barely even scraped the surrounding ice on the sharper turns…

Even before the ship reached the steep sea cliffs, Vahn, and some of the higher Level people on the ship, took notice of several figures located high atop the cliff face. There were around twenty Amazonesses that had gathered together after the large steam explosion. They were wearing the characteristically revealing clothes of most Amazonesses but Vahn noticed that many wore even more revealing outfits than normal. There were even a few rather bold amongst their group who didn’t even bother wearing tops, letting their breasts hang out against the cold and biting wind without a care in the world.

Though he had already sensed her approach, Vahn let Kali sneak up on him and explain, “They aren’t from the warrior tribe, just a group of fisherman. You can tell by the markings on their bodies and the spears that they have bound up in the slings on their backs…” Within Telskyura, there were three different primary groups of people based on a variety of factors from birth. Those further inland were usually the hunter/gatherers, the weakest of the Amazonesses that specialized in procuring food from the natural wilds and offering it as a tribute to the warrior clan. As for the group closest to the shore, they naturally became the fishing tribe, focused on hunting the sea’s bounty and monitoring the seas for large monsters and merchant vessels…

By the time the ship had reached the cliff face, the group of Amazonesses from the fishing clan had already started lowering down ropes. These weren’t meant for the crew members of the vessel, but the ship itself. They quickly began tying the ropes to various anchor points on the ship’s foundational framework. Once everything was tied properly, using more than a hundred different ropes, the crew followed Khodiva’s orders and began to scale the cliff ‘very’ quickly. Like almost everything, they treated it as a competition and raced to be the first to the top, all while Kali sat on her elevated pedestal and watched in amusement. Though she could easily scale the cliff on her own, the ‘pride’ of the Amazonesses and their reverence toward her made it difficult for Kali to take proactive action.

Vahn also remained onboard, for many of the same reasons as Kali herself, though his own intentions were very different. As the Amazonesses began to pull the ship up, Vahn used his telekinesis to prevent it from scraping against the cliff face. He didn’t really do anything to make their job of pulling any easier, as they seemed very motivated to haul the ship up on their own, but it was still helpful. As for Kali, she chose this moment when they were alone to remind, “If you’re not going to wear a disguise, you’ll end up making even more trouble for yourself in the future~.” Previously, they had discussed having Vahn change form into an Amazoness since Kali was aware of his ability to change shape, race, and even gender.

Hearing Kali’s reminder, Vahn cast a glance toward her and said, “I won’t be able to hide my identity if I want to deal with this matter in a forthright manner. Even if it causes problems, I’ll just deal with them as they come…” There was a lot more he could say about the situation, but Vahn knew that Kali didn’t really care about platitudes at all. Just saying things simply was enough to earn a rather crooked smile from her. Whenever he said anything in a roundabout manner, she would often frown or even outwardly berate him for ‘unnecessarily complicating’ things. Though he did enjoy teasing her a bit, it wasn’t as if he were proactively trying to anger her without any reason…

It only took a few minutes for the group of around fifty Amazonesses to haul the forty-ton ship more than 60m up the side of the cliff before Vahn and Kali had to disembark. They would have to maneuver the ship at a rather steep angle to get it over the cliff’s ledge and it wasn’t ideal for any loose items and passengers to remain onboard.

Vahn’s appearance had caused a slight stir amongst the group of Amazonesses from the fishing tribe but they didn’t idle or make any outward remarks. Though the leader of the group was on the lower end of Level 3, there was a distinct difference in the status of someone from the fishing tribe and the warrior tribe. Even Myahi was treated with a bit of deference as being strong while young was something worthy of respect and reverence. It meant the Amazoness in question had a great deal of potential, especially if she was allowed to operate with the crew of the Kali Familia…

Once the Brig Sloop was safely over the ledge, the Amazonesses coordinated with each other to pull it further inland before simply leaving it there. It would be recovered later by a much larger group of Amazonesses who would carry it all the way to Telskyura itself, more than 80km away. They would disassemble parts of the ship before carrying the larger hull with more than a hundred people, making the entire journey in a single trip without rest. It was a rather ridiculous way of dealing with things but the Amazonesses themselves simply saw it as a challenge that could earn them a few choice pieces of meat and some other minor benefits during meal times…

After the ship was situated, the group of Amazonesses from the fishing tribe gave respectful bows to Kali before making their way back to the cliff once again. They didn’t stop to ask any questions whatsoever as it was the right of the strong to question the weak, not the other way around. Even if they ‘knew’ Vahn wasn’t supposed to be there, the fact that Kali, Bache, and Khodiva were present made it ‘wrong’ for them to ask questions. This was a place where strength and power were authority themselves, with only a few local laws and traditions that acted as the framework for their culture.

The members of the Kali Familia didn’t even express their gratitude towards the members from the fishing tribe, allowing them to depart without paying any mind to them at all. For them, it was perfectly natural that you ‘should’ help out if you see a situation where you can be of assistance. It was unlikely they would see the same fisherman again, at least in a short period of time, so there was no need to go out of their way to express gratitude and other unnecessary things. Instead, the only thing to take away from the situation was individual pride and a sense of accomplishment for having been a member of the fishing tribe that had been able to provide service to the Kali Familia…

Vahn found the interaction between groups of Amazonesses rather strange, at least until Bache mentioned, “If Argana had been here, things wouldn’t have ended well for any idle group. It isn’t uncommon for the strong to punish the weak if the latter group simply stood at the side and watched. In our society, it is expected that everyone does their best to improve so idleness is one of the cardinal sins you could commit…” Tione, who was standing next to Tiona nearby, nodded her head and added, “This place is super stuffy and annoying if you just want to relax but it is also true that things get done very quickly…”

The only people in the Amazoness society that had the ‘right’ to be lazy were those who were already considered to be among the strongest. Though nobody would complain if the strong helped out, it wasn’t uncommon for those that were weaker to try and complete the task before someone stronger stepped in. Just like how the previous group took pride in helping out the Kali Familia, it was the pride of the younger generation to take on greater responsibilities. It was a sign that they were trying to overcome the previous generation, leading to an interesting situation where the strong generally helped out just to save face and show they weren’t going to be surpassed easily…

In preparation for the journey to Telskyura, the Kali Familia had arranged a large palanquin using the same elevated platform that Kali had sat on throughout most of the sea voyage. The oars they had were fastened together with large golden pins that now went through slots beneath Kali’s seat. When the setup was finished, there were four handles adorned with gold sticking out while Kali sat atop her cushioned platform with a bored expression. Just as her Familia finished their arrangements, however, she looked towards Tiona and Tione, asking, “Will the two of you help to carry my palanquin…?”

This was usually a great honor for most Amazonesses but, in this particular situation, it would have been demeaning for Tiona and Tione to agree. As Kali herself had expected, Tiona just began to laugh sheepishly while Tione crossed her arms and said, “Even if you’re a goddess, your status is not above our own anymore, Kali…” With these words leaving Tione’s lips, the entire Kali Familia seemed to tense up as they immediately shifted into combat-ready stances. Even this wouldn’t be enough, however, as Tione alone would be able to defeat most members while Tiona would easily deal with Bache and Khodiva. This showed that Tione’s claim had some veracity to it as, unless Kali lowered herself to take action, essentially putting the two on the same level as her, there was no chance for victory…

Kali gave a small snort before waving her hand dismissively and saying, “You all need to get a lot stronger in the future so I don’t lose face like this…haaaa…” Toward the end of her words, Kali laid on her side and somewhat slovenly scratched around her navel before saying, “Bache, I’ll leave it to you to select appropriate palanquin bearers…” This time, Kali’s words trailed once again as she looked towards Vahn and added, “You should ride with me if you want to make a statement. If you walk within the formation, some might mistake you as a ‘trophy’…” Though the law prevented men from entering Telskyura, that didn’t mean there weren’t any near the outskirts. These men were usually slaves or tools that were intended to breed new Amazonesses, though they usually only bolstered the numbers of the hunting and gathering tribes…

Since it wasn’t the first time they had seen Vahn sit with Kali, her Familia didn’t have an adverse reaction to the fact that they would now be carrying two people. Instead, nearly the entire crew volunteered to carry the palanquin, crowding around Bache and ‘demanding’ to be given the right. As a result, an impromptu competition was arranged, quickly turning into a brawl where the Amazonesses outright started to beat each other rather brutally. Even Myahi, barely 2/3rds the size of other Amazonesses, actively tried to participate. She was one of the first eliminated, however, earning a solid and painful kick to the face that sent her rolling several meters across the ground before she lost consciousness…

Vahn watched this ‘competition’ play out with a rather grim expression, especially when Myahi was kicked away unceremoniously. He noticed that none of the Kali Familia seemed to care that one of their members just kicked a ‘child’ in the face while the offending Amazoness simply continued to fight without a single break in her tempo. They were exceptionally brutal to each other, to the point that some would end up with broken bones after exposing a momentary gap in their defense. As for why he hadn’t put a stop to the fight, it was due to the fact that Kali had whispered into his ear as he sat down, saying, “You should see it for yourself, the true nature of Amazonesses. No matter what happens, don’t interfere until the fight is over unless you’re willing to take responsibility…”

If Vahn stepped in and interrupted the fight, he would become the mutual target of every participant. Though he would easily win, it was the same as placing himself directly above the entire crew. If he were an Amazoness, that wouldn’t be a big issue, but Vahn was irrefutably a male. He would have to deal with the group of Amazonesses being in a perpetual state of ‘heat’ whenever he was around. Stepping in to help Myahi would have even been worse, as she would likely spend several years after the fact trying to increase her strength in her pursuit for him, much like Tione had towards Finn…

Vahn knew that Kali had wanted him to experience the ‘culture’ of the Amazonesses before he entered Telskyura directly. This was only a small taste of what he would experience after entering into the country proper, especially since he would be entering the territory of the warrior tribe. There, month-old Amazonesses were actually pitted against groups of baby monsters that had been captured from the nearby swamps and jungles. Though it was rare, as even month-old Amazonesses began showing combat instincts and violent tendencies, there was a chance that these infants would lose their lives in such fights. Without even having the concept of object permanence or muttering their first words, Amazonesses of the warrior tribe would have already fought a monster to the death in order to survive…

(A/N: A lot of this is actual canon, with some aspect of Amazoness culture being ‘a lot’ worse than making newborns fight to the death. Also, as a reminder, I’ve officially started work, meaning there will only be around 1 chapter per day. I’ll try to make them longer than normal in order to compensate, averaging around 3500-4000 words instead of a 2500 average.)

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Kali, flailing like a disobedient child~’,’Heave, ho, heave, ho~!’,’A very brutal culture…’)

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