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207 Sibling Rivalry

 The Long-Ears' tribe had settled in an elevate area full of reefs and faced the sea, with every house having an ocean view even if it wasn't exactly warm even in spring.

But that was nothing good, because the vertical cliff that kept them over twenty-meters above the sea would not ensure their safety.

Tsunamis and other natural disasters notwithstanding, the proximity meant any sea monster that could leave water for brief periods could attack them. After all, they could climb the reef cliff or simply leap over those twenty odd meters-it was no problem for most sea monsters with their massive bodies or their suction cups.

Any smart tribal chief would never set up camp here, but it was not as if the Long-Ears' chief was a fool: he only decided to settle the tribe here because they had no choice.

After all, every other place in the Vierlin Plains were either occupied by other nonhuman tribes or claimed as hunting grounds. The Long-Ears only had themselves to blame for being the weakest tribe-not because they had few young and strong individuals, but because they were physically weak and clearly didn't have any unique ability, and therefore couldn't compete against other nonhumans.

As such, their kind was naturally denied any place to live, ending up having to choose a place as isolated as it was dangerous.

"Chief, we can't go on like this! Three of us are dead in just a month!" A middle-aged Rabbitman with long gray ears complained unhappily. "The children wouldn't have anything to eat even if we try to bear more and make up for numbers! If this continues, our tribe would be extinct in a few years!"

"Worry not, Rangka. This is only temporary-I shall find a way so that our tribe would live in comfort. You must believe in me!"

The other Rabbitman-the tribal chief of the Long-Ears-resembled Rangka in appearance, but he was older and skinny. He was no longer as tall as a typical Rabbitman, and he was grasping a long, worn and yellowed staff with his hand that was grown full of calluses.

It is a symbol of the Rabbitfolk's tribal chief, and legend has it that it was forged out of the first magical plant that the first Rabbitfolk tribal chief had grown: the Yamallante Hollow Bamboo.

One should mention here that despite the grandness of that name, it actually was nothing special aside from a simple sign of identity.

At the moment, there was unconcealed weariness on the tribal chief's face who clearly had not slept well for a long time. Even so, there was despair in his gaze when he spoke ever so determinedly. "Just hold on a little longer..."

Rangka watched the chief, hesitating to speak but eventually gritting his teeth to voice out what was in his heart. "Brother, us aside, the other tribesmen are never going to accept that if this continues!"

"Are we really not going to show fealty to the Grayclaw tribe? Even if we are weak and couldn't fight, we remain one of the three oldest nonhuman races-if we submit, they would act in our best interest even if it's in the name of our forebears! Even if we couldn't return to our old lands, settling down on some fertile soil would still be better than this hell!"

"Rangka, I will let this go once because I understand your concern for the tribe. But never mention a word about swearing fealty anymore." The Rabbitfolk chief-Rangka elder brother warned severely. "The Grayclaw tribe is no longer what they once were! We definitely must never join their ilk, let alone bend the knee before them! Even if our tribe might not die just to avoid slavery, we at least mustn't submit to those who had given up on the glory of their ancestors!"

"Glory of their forebears? Brother, are you saying that-"

Rangka was looking at his brother's pensive gaze and became bewildered as if he had immediately understood, but before Rangka could say another word, a deep and sinister voice spoke just behind them.

"To hell with the ancestors' glory! Swordtail was right-you Long-Ears are not going to keep your act together even after we chased you off to this place!"

The two Rabbitmen completely didn't notice them approaching.

As they turned in pale shock, two figures had appeared less than three hundred meters from the Long-Ears' settlement.

One of them was no different from the werewolves described in knight novels, although he had a tuft of red mane that extended from over his head down to his tail.

Rangka knew who that was: Nedlan the Bloodclaw, famous even amongst the wolf-folk for his cunning and ruthlessness!

And he must have been the one who had spoken out just now.

The other nonhuman stood almost three meters tall, but though his tiger-like head clearly showed no emotion, his cool gaze alone left the long-ears feeling severe pressure and terror. Anyone looking closely could also notice his two massive fangs could no longer be kept within his jaw and jutted out like a dagger from his lower jaw, adding to his fearsome presence.

Rangka had never encountered another nonhuman like him, but in the instant that he saw that Tigermen, he remembered the word about an ancient Sabertooth Tiger Warrior appearing amongst the Tigermen who dwelled over the Vierlin Plains.

"This is the hunting grounds of us Long-Ears!" The chief of the Long-Ears tribe stood up despite his pale face and the pressure that the two interlopers were exuding, asking directly. "What are you doing here?"

"Hmph, this one's feisty! But that's about it..." Nedlan the Bloodclaw said, licking his sharp claws before turning to his companion beside him, his eyes full of wariness. "Who's going first? You or me?"

"You first. I've no interest in bullying the weak." The Tigerman Warrior said calmly.

Nedlan laughed shrilly at that and lunged at the Rabbitfolk chief. "As King Swordtail ordered, I'm taking your life! Blame yourself for being an eyesore even though you're so weak!"

Nedlan's claws were as sharp as knives-having a crimson glow, they resembled splashing blood whenever he slashed with those claws. That was how he earned the name of Bloodclaw.

Even so, the seemingly frail Rabbitfolk chief suddenly brandished his long bamboo, moving agilely and unusually movements to keep the Wolfman at bay despite having far less strength. In fact, Nedlan's face and body was already struck and bruised by the bamboo several times, inflicting burning pain and yet Nedlan never actually reached a sleeve!

The Rabbitfolk chief was surprisingly powerful. Nedlan was bamboozled by his bamboo-ish appearance!

"Damn it-!" Just as Nedland became frenzied and was about to fight to the death, he was sent flying into the distance by the Tigerman with a single punch.

"Just stop it. You're not winning against this one."

The Tigerman Warrior appeared to have his interest piqued even as he turned to the Rabbitfolk chief. "Not bad. Why not serve under me? I could appeal for Mister Swordtail's grace and show mercy on your tribe."

"Apologies, but I must refuse." The Rabbitfolk chief said with no hesitation.

"Well, that's a shame."

Already in an attacking stance, the Tigerman Warrior punched out at the Rabbitfolk chief the instant he finished speaking.


Unlike Nedlan's flurry of swift attacks, the Tigerman struck his opponent where it was vulnerable without playing around.

It was even more frightening that his swelling muscles filled every move he had with great power and peerless burst of strength-even if it did not flow well without any sort of 'chain' or 'press', each blow was as rapid as it was dynamic!

The Rabbitfolk chief escaped the Tigerman Warrior a few times, only to still end up cornered and forced to parry with everything he had. Eventually, he too was punched into the air, but that blow broke more than a fifth of all his bones unlike Nedlan's case.

His death was sealed in the absence of shamans and medicinal herbs.

"Brother!" Rangka exclaimed in sorrow even he held on to the chief who kept vomiting blood. "Are you alright?!"

"Use martial arts... bring smiles to the tribe..." The Rabbitfolk chief used his last bit of strength to hand Rangka his staff, and eventually stopped breathing in his arms.

"So, what are your plans?" The Tigerman asked Rangka quietly despite the Long-Ear's warped look on his face. "Are you going to keep that promise and inherit his will, or swear fealty to me?"

Rangka stayed silent for a long time while holding the ritual staff, but eventually started to laugh dismally.

"Well there's only one choice isn't there?!" He rose and snapped the staff in two over his knee. "I shall swear fealty to you!"

"Hahaha!" The Tigerman guffawed. "You Rabbitfolk are quite interesting! I've changed my mind now-I won't purge your kind, then!!!"

Meanwhile, Rangka bowed like a loyal subject awaiting a reward, waiting for what the Tigerman would say then.

"From this day forth, you shall be the new chief of the Rabbitfolk!" The Tigerman said, generously bestowing Rangka the title of chief.

But just as the drama was almost over, a voice suddenly spoke out from the crossroads leading to the Dark Tidal Coast.

"Swordtail's lackey, I'm guessing? Your ilk really loves using sibling rivalry for plot. Is that due to Swordtail's poor tastes?"

"What?!" The Tigerman turned in the direction of that voice, his pupils dilating right then.

Zonyan Grayclaw-the rightful heir of the Grayclaw tribe's former chief who was supposed to be dead was slowly approaching them.

"I was about to rest here with the Long-Ears and prepare for what we plan to do next, but it seems that you get to be the first tribute. Here begins the first of many battles that we, believers of the God of Games shall now wage in the Western Continent."