The Devil's Evolution Catalog Chapter 148: Visitation Part 3
Our first visit to the harpies’ nest was to save Harlow. Back then, we made a complete mess of Numila’s home and ended up in a fierce battle with her. The whole matter ended haphazardly only after the interference of Mo En and because Numila wasn’t able to capture us. Before we left, I did bring up the matter of breaking out of this prison but she didn’t agree to it at that time.
This time, we were here for that exact same reason again.
While Habona’s overwhelming victory over these bird demons might lead one to believe that the harpies were nothing but a race of small fries unworthy of recruitment, their combat strength wasn’t actually that bad.
There were a number of reasons why Habona was able to stomp on them so easily, chief of which was that she was a four-star. If you add in the fact that she was a demonic werewolf, one of the premier combat races of Hell that was known throughout the worlds, their defeat wasn’t that unreasonable. Not only that, her mother had taught her, what was in my mind an overpowered skill, the Inverse Cut which put her at the peak of four-stars.
It was kind of like a bunch of nobodies ganging up on some Xiantian Martial artist. No matter how many nobodies you threw at him, that expert would naturally triumph over all of them. Even if he wasn’t able to, he could simply fly away with his Flying Techniques and there was nothing they could do about it.
Against opponents at the same strength level as them, the harpies normally put up a much better fight seeing as they had the natural born advantage of flight. Against land-bound creatures, they had the advantage of the first strike and greater initiative while their victims could only defend helplessly.
All that was under the assumption that they weren’t armed. If I crafted a bunch of javelins for them, wouldn’t they turn into some sort of invincible aerial army?
It’s worth mentioning that pilots would always receive a better treatment than the boots on the ground. Don’t believe me? Just ask how much a pilot makes in a month and how much a truck driver makes in a month.
If I had an army of harpy javelineers, our chances of breaking through the exit would definitely be much higher.
Habona brandished her claws menacingly, promptly scaring away a harpy who tried to sneak in an attack. Having received a thorough thrashing, these bird women knew not to mess with this hulking warmachine and merely floated quietly in mid-air. Thus, we ended up in a tense stalemate with both sides staring at each other but not attacking.
A few moments later, a fiery red silhouette swooped in from the sky with a horde of harpies behind her.
Numila had come, her crimson feathers blazed as she descended from the sky surrounded by scorching heat like a phoenix of legends. Her face was just as perfect as I had remembered it; of all the women I had met so far, hers was definitely one of the most beautiful ones, though Ferti’nier’s was still a smidge prettier than her…
“It’s you guys...the lust demon and the werewolf.” She landed on the ground by herself and stood before us, face noticeably sullen: “Why have you all come? I don’t remember capturing any of your people this time.”
“Hey, it’s not like we caused any severe injuries and they were the ones who attacked us first.” I shrugged my shoulders before continuing with my explanation: “We told them that we were here to talk to you but they attacked us anyway…”
After hearing our explanation, she heaved a sigh of relief and placed her hands on her hips as she said: “Since it’s all misunderstanding, I’ll leave that matter aside for now. Now, did you have something to discuss with me?”
“Mhm. Yes, I do. I wish to discuss that matter I previously proposed.”
She furrowed her brows. “That matter...do you mean assaulting the prison exit?”
Looks like she remembered what we discussed. I nodded my head: “That’s right, Mo En, the werewolves and the medusas have all joined my army. If we add in your clan, the four most powerful clans in the prison will all be accounted for. With our combined might, breaking through the exit shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Sigh...now’s really an inopportune moment for such discussion...I’ve encountered some problems recently…” She abruptly trailed off as she paused to consider her wording.
“What kind of problem?”
“That’s all for now.” She promptly ended our conversation once more, clearly not intending to continue discussing this matter. “There’s something I must handle right now so I can’t give you an answer for now. If you still wish to discuss this matter, we can do so after I’ve settled this problem.”
Something serious must’ve happened from the looks of it. Even her usual arrogance was nowhere to be seen. Last I remembered, she wasn’t so civilized.
Seeing as she might be one of our important comrades in the future and also the best choice for our air force leader, I immediately stepped up and made an offer.
“About that, if there’s anything we can help you with, please tell me, I’ll do my best to help you.”
Her eyes wavered, seemingly deep in thought as she mulled over my offer. Yet, just as I decided to strike the final nail in the coffin…
“This is strictly a clan matter, your assistance isn’t needed.” She flatly rejected my offer after which she turned around and prepared to leave.
However, just as she was about to take off, a gray harpy descended from the sky and landed three meters away from us. Unlike Numila, this harpy’s body was mostly that of an eagle’s with only her face being human. Disgusting...however, I suppressed my protesting sense of beauty and patiently stared at the harpy.
“Please help us…” As she said that, her claws tilted to the side and her wings flapped open before resting on the ground in what looked like a harpy’s version of a kowtow.
“Don’t beg these outsiders for help!” Numila was visibly angered by her kin kowtowing to me. “Get up right this instant!”
“But Clan Leader...what other choice do we have...with the other two clans attacking us…”
“No buts!” Numilia’s shout immediately silenced the dissenting harpy who immediately reeled back from her furious leader. Looking at her quivering eyes, Numilia couldn’t help but sigh as she realized that her yelling had unfairly frightened the girl. “This is an internal clan matter after all, bringing in these outsiders isn’t right.”
“I...understand.” The gray harpy lowered her head before retreating obediently to the side.
“There are two other clans attacking you?”
“This is a dispute between harpies, it has nothing to do with you.”
“Since it has nothing to do with us, there shouldn’t be an issue with just telling us about it.”
Seeing her waver slightly, I immediately moved in for the kill: “Just tell us, I really want to know.”
“From time to time, an evolved harpy like me would appear within the clan. Harpies like me are known as harpy witches and are born with the ability to control a certain element. Depending on which element we can control, we are given different clan names. For example, I possess the power to control flames so I’m of the [Blaze] clan.”
“Other than flames, a harpy witch can also be born with the power to control two other elements, namely [Icicles of the Skyfrost] and [Windstorm of the Raging Winds].” She continued to explain some basic details of the harpy clans before moving on to the main issue. “Recently, because of some disputes over resources, there’s been some friction between us and the two other clans. While they were always weaker than me in a one on one fight, I’m no match against the both of them combined…”
Harpies were an all-female race who reproduced through the same methods as the medusas: forcefully mating males from other intelligent races. Which reminded me, if one only looked at their faces, they could be considered a race full of beautiful ladies. However, no matter what you do, do not look down...for your own sake, do not look down!
Since they weren’t able to bewitch the other races with their looks, violence was the only option left to them. Thus, the harpies were also known as a race of female bandits. Not only did they steal your possessions, they stole your men as well…
Normally such conflict was rare in the outside world given the abundance of resources there, but this was the Prison of the Dead, and the Prison of the Dead was a sealed environment. Resources were scarce here, even feeding oneself was a problem that had to be solved via the exchange arrays.
The medusas needed men and so did the harpies. Furthermore, there was no way either race would let their males leave due to reproductive reasons. In light of that, the question then became, since males had such a sought after position in the prison, where could I find the immigration papers?
Oh...I mean, there was clearly a shortage of men especially since both races only gave birth to females. (Author: Harpies can give birth to male offspring but it is customary to consume the male babies.)
There weren’t that many living creatures in the Prison of the Dead to begin with. With all the fighting and killing plus the disproportionate birth ratios, both races were put in an awkward position thanks to this shortage.
Long story short, to the harpies, males were a prized commodity valued over food.
A lack of resources would inadvertently lead to conflict and conflict would breed war. Since time immemorial, harpies were a race that relied on their fists to negotiate; this was so for every clan member, from young to old, without any exception.
Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that not too long ago, the harpy witches of Skyfrost and Windstorm came knocking on Numila’s doorstep separately in search of resources. Naturally, they were both given a good thrashing before they were sent on their way.
Having learnt their lesson, the two of them finally decided to team up on Numila and suppress her with their numbers. In a one on one fight, she naturally had the advantage, in a two on one fight however...
It was precisely because of this reason that her clan had lost a significant portion of their territories, and their patrols end up having to be on constant high alert for any invasion. Even a simple rattle of bones was enough to ruffle their feathers.
“So you’re saying that you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and that you are besieged on all fronts?”
“While I don’t know what this hard place you speak of is, besieged on all fronts is pretty accurate.” She answered in a hurry as she prepared to leave for combat. “Now that you know the reason why, you should leave first. Once all this is over, I’ll send a messenger to inform you.”
“Once all this is over? Can you actually win against those two?”
“...that’s my own business.” She paused for a second, before continuing in a firm voice: “Besides, rules are rules. Internal conflicts within the clan have to be resolved without any reinforcements from outsiders.”
“Just because we can’t be your reinforcements doesn’t mean we can’t help you through other means.” I reached for the straight blade on my waist and handed it over to her.
“I got this from the human world, you can use it for now.”
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Kaung Thant Win Naing, and Antoine Thompson!!