update - no answer to engine oil consumption yet
quick update - my power steering pressure line hose was leaking and I just fixed it a week ago. This leak might have existed during the time I was trying to find out why I was losing engine oil. So a lot of symptoms could have been a mixture of both, or even just the leak of power steering fluid.
When I was down there working on power steering hose, I noticed the aliminum block (is that the CVT/transfer case?) has some yellow colored oil. This must not be the power steering fluid which is pink. CVT fluid is still full. So it is either transfer case oil (I'd be screwed in that scenario), or engine oil leaking from that side (oil pump, or what?).
I plan to replace transfer case oil soon and hope the old oil level is still descent.
Is the transfer case oil in yellow color? And similar in thickness compared to fresh engine oil?