Chapter 159 – Communication
Orthlyss streaked across the forest like a spirit, with Mephisto tailing her from a distance. They advanced past the trees for several minutes before Orthlyss frowned. She glanced to a certain direction. The deeper she went into the Dark Forest, the stronger she felt a familiar scent.
“Strange.” She mumbled to herself.
“What is it?” Brendel asked.
“The scent of blood. It’s getting strong enough that it’s not getting dispelled by the wind. I wonder if there are creatures nearby.”
“The scent of blood? Let’s take a look?”
“This isn’t the time to be nosy, boy.”
Brendel did not expect Orthlyss to be so unfamiliar with the Dark Forest. The monsters in the Dark Forest were sustained by Mana and did not require food. While they would occasionally attack other living creatures, it would not be a number where it would fill the air.
[The source of blood is most likely from adventurers. It’s possible that there’s some kind of unknown danger nearby that are not wolves. Strange. King Gatel traveled in the Wilderness in the past, so the Wind Elves should logically do the same. Or does this mean that the Dark Forest in the current era has some kind of biological change, and therefore Orthlyss doesn’t know? But it’s best to investigate now so there won’t be any nasty surprises later on.]
“Ser Orthlyss, it’s best that we take a look.”
Orthlyss suddenly paused upon listening to Brendel’s words and she narrowed her eyes, before moving out again like a shot arrow, not caring about her pursuer. The sudden change in Orthlyss’s direction made Mephisto crease his brows and he raised his vigilance.
The scent of blood became stronger and stronger, as she passed through three ancient gargantuan pine tree with their surfaces covered with thick green moss.
It did not take long for her to suddenly stop dead in her tracks.
There was a small clearing that opened up and expanded in front of Orthlyss. However, the contents of the clearing were nauseating to look at. The original grassland seemed like it was filled with a jam of congealed blood, with broken limbs and bloody organs strewn everywhere. Two hundred humanoid corpses piled on top of each other with a thin layer of crimson snow.
Both Orthlyss and Brendel gasped.
[Even though I’m used this massacres, it’s been several centuries since I’ve seen a bloodbath like this.]
Orthlyss could not help but choke a little. The stench of blood rust in the air was thick enough to make one throw up.
“These are men from the Holy Cathedral of Fire. It looks like everyone is dead.” Brendel recognized them with a glance. Under the Priest Soldiers were two Bishops.
[Unthinkable. A single battle with at least two dead Bishops.]
The ranks in the Holy Cathedral of Fire were distributed into three levels. The various kingdoms had their own Cardinals, forming a total of eleven bodies and were the authority holders of the Flame Council, the highest echelon in the Holy Cathedral of Fire.
Then there were Major Archbishops in charge of the various regions, followed by Archbishops in charge of local territory. They belonged to different systems and were the core power of the Holy Cathedral of Fire. In order to become one, they had to have an unshakeable faith in the Flames of Gold that the Holy Cathedral of Fire believed in, as well as becoming a Gold-ranker who awakened their Element Power.
A Bishop must at least have a Gold-ranked status as well, and they also had a much higher position than the knights of the same rank. Because their numbers were not many, losing even one would be considered as a huge loss.
Each Bishop was protected by at least three Gold-ranked knights when they were sent out on a mission, which meant there were at least eight Gold-rankers lying dead right on the ground.
[Just what monster did this bunch meet? A strong group like this ending up in such a horrendous ending. Puzzling. It’s so weird that the earlier Priest Soldiers seemed like they died peacefully, but these men were torn up violently. If this monster boss is one and the same— It’s just too powerful.]
Brendel frowned deeply, lost in his thoughts, but Orthlyss heard movements behind her and turned around, discovering the Sword Saint of Ashes crushing the dry twigs beneath his feet with every footstep. He walked out from the forest’s mist slowly with hesitation. He thought his opponent was leading him into a trap by suddenly stopping, but it was a gruesome sight that he walked into.
“What is this?” He frowned and asked.
“It seems they are attacked by some kind of powerful monster.”
“Hmph. The lapdogs of Kirrlutz. It’s a deserving end for them.” Mephisto replied without the slightest hint of feeling sorry for them. His tone was polite to Brendel, though his actions were not; he pointed his greatsword at him: “Very well, you have succeeded in ‘luring’ me away from your men, it’s time for you to come with me.”
Orthlyss raised her eyebrow. The man in front of him was unbelievably stubborn. She wanted to take out the brooch that Brendel mentioned, but the latter suddenly warned her urgently.
“Ser Orthlyss, something is coming over from the west very quickly!”
She frowned in confusion as she did not sense anything, and she slowed down time and asked:
“How do you know?”
“My Wind Spirit Spiders are disappearing at an astonishing rate. It’s coming!” Brendel was panicking a little as he thought it might be the monster boss. “W-wait, there’s something from the east as well!”
Orthlyss became a little tense as well.
“You’re saying there are two monsters?”
“I don’t know, but we need to leave here quickly regardless of what they are.”
“But running away now will definitely cause that man to act aggressively. I have no confidence in running away since you are too weak, and I can’t use the Cerulean Bolt a second time temporarily.”
One side of Brendel’s lips raised up, and he opened his mouth slightly with an indignant head tilt.
[This is the first time someone actually calls me weak. I’m a Gold-ranker at the age of twenty. That’s already an astonishing feat. What else are you expecting to get?]
But there was nothing good that would come from arguing with the Heroic Spirit who was several hundred years old, or perhaps even a thousand years old. It was also true that he was weak in her eyes too. He rubbed his forehead and said:
“Let’s switch back. I’ll explain to him.”
Orthlyss did not object and immediately drew her consciousness back into the ring. Brendel took back his body. He looked like he blanked out for an instant in Mephisto’s eyes before he woke up.
“Ser Mephisto, something is coming over, and it is likely the creature that killed all these men,” Brendel said as he brought out the silver brooch from the princess, “I have pr—” (TL: proof that I’m not a Kirrlutz citizen.)
Mephisto looked curiously at Brendel’s actions curiously, but he suddenly glared to his left as the youth spoke to him. The bushes in that direction suddenly parted and two people came out from it.
“The Sword of Ashes, Mephisto!” A voice cried out in surprise.
“Veronica!” Mephisto quickly identified one of the newcomers. Both of them took a step back and raised their swords at each other.
“My lord!” Scarlett called out to him.
Brendel stumbled a little. His hand was still up in mid-air as he cried out inwardly in agony.
[T-this old bitch from the damned empire. Why must you appear at the worst timing! Why won’t this damned misunderstanding ever clear up?!]
But he quickly saw it as an opportunity amidst the risks. It looked like Veronica was here for him, but Mephisto got all her attention, and two of them seemed like they were about to fight each other and forgot that there were two other people around.
[Right, any distraction on a duel of their caliber is life-threatening. It’s time to slip away as soon as possible. The Wind Spirit Spiders are still being killed off in the west.]
He took in a light breath and discreetly gestured to Scarlett in a hurry who was standing next to Veronica, afraid the monster boss would just charge out from the trees. He did not care whether Veronica and Mephisto fought to the death. It was not going to be a simple one-level-reduction-upon-death if he ended up having the boss’s attention.
Scarlett also realized that Veronica’s attention was no longer on her. In fact, she wanted to run to Brendel the first time she saw him, but she was afraid that he would rebuke her for bringing Veronica over.
It seemed like the youth did not care and she quickly became relieved.
They carefully walked away from their captors and joined up with each other. Scarlett looked at her lord with slight relief, but he suddenly clasped an pulled her hand: “Hurry up and follow me.”
“Heeeek!” There was a small squeak.
“Nothing.” Scarlett lowered her head and answered calmly.
She could feel a warm current transmitting to her hand and flowed all the way to her face, even though it was snowing. Her cheeks felt like they were on fire.
Brendel nodded subconsciously as he glanced at the west, Veronica and Mephisto, and his surroundings, before running away in the direction he picked. Scarlett was dragged along and held her breath as she stared at her lord that she admired.
Her mind was blank.
She was pulled along like a doll, unable to recognize where she was running to, but she felt the youth would stop holding her hand if she made a sound. Her heart was racing to the point where she felt it was difficult to breathe.
Brendel sensed that Scarlett was acting strangely, but his worry suppressed his curiosity.
[We need to go to the White Cliffs of Divinity as soon as possible. I passed my Fire Seed to Amandina, Scarlett and I can only last in this snow as Gold-rankers for a few hours before our strength gets affected.]
“Watch out behind you, something’s attacking you!” Orthlyss suddenly cried in his mind.
Brendel sobered up and heard a screaming roar cutting through the air.