Chapter 245: The Devil Forest’s Gift, Beset from Both Sides
“Teacher Rui, what kind of person is Plague Bishop Ancenoli?” Ayrin asked out of curiosity as he followed Rui through the Southam Demon Forest at a high speed. [1. Ancenoli was already used so I will keep it, changed from Angelo in previous chapter.]
“He is the son of a medicinal master. He had an ordinary human bloodline, but during one of his lower level missions, he suddenly came across Vangeli’s Codex of Plagues from the Era of the War with Dragons. Vangeli was one of the peak arcane masters during her time and was nicknamed the Queen of Plagues. Her Codex of Plague, also known as the Emperor Pestilence Lizard’s Devil Box, is made from the demon crystal of a giant lizard with a mutated bloodline. Not only does it have the same strength amplification effect as an artifact created from a dragon or demonic crystal, but some of the bloodline remaining within the codex can be stimulated using a specific arcane energy, creating an extremely infectious and fatal plague.”
Whilst carefully observing their surroundings for any movements, Rui whispered extremely quietly to Ayrin, “It is said that Ancenoli betrayed his beliefs as an arcane master and became one of the Evil Dragon’s bishops because he can only display the strongest strength of the Codex of Plague with the Evil Dragon Bloodline. His true strength is likely to be no higher than Liszt. Before falling, he served in the Shadowfiend Corps. Thus, although he hasn’t been around the Fallen Shadow Valley in prior years, he is still more familiar with the Southam Demon Forest than most arcane teams.”
“To know this land better than most, that is indeed a great advantage,” Ayrin couldn’t help but comment following Rui’s explanation as he too glanced at his surroundings.
The Southam Demon Forest was simply too untouched, making it a savage and dangerous place.
Compared to the Southam Demon Forest, the forests around Cororin and St. Lauren were simply pretty flower gardens.
The trees they were passing by right now were much taller and wider than the so called giant trees of Holy Dawn Academy’s Forest of Giant Trees. The vast majority of trees here were also covered with layers of thick mosses and sprawling vines, which hung between trees like tightropes as various mushrooms, and even other trees, grew atop the branches and trunks. Compared to the spotless, spaced trees of the Forest of Giant Trees, it was a completely different world.
If the conditions were similar to Holy Dawn Academy’s Forest of Giant Trees, then moving at such a fast speed through the trees wouldn’t be an issue for most students which had passed through the first couple of training sessions of Holy Dawn Academy. But here, where everything was covered from top to bottom by various vegetation, it was not so easy as the vegetation narrowed the gaps between branches and obstructed vision. Traveling within the Southam Demon Forest wasn’t easy even for Ayrin and Rinloran, much less Stingham.
That said, the main crux was that the forest contained countless things which they didn’t recognize.
Although the group had yet to encounter an aggressive beast or monster, they had seen things like plated turtles the size of dinner tables with sharp rocky spikes protruding from their shell and countless poisonous tarantulas of varying colors with fleshy wings protruding from their back which were the size of fists.
Even the mosquitoes here were larger than their counterparts outside.
Just now, Ayrin had seen a scourge of black mosquitos spawning beside a nearby pond of dirty water. Each mosquito was the size of a honeybee. Furthermore, whereas regular mosquitos would wait for the darkness of night before secretly biting people for their blood, the ones he had just seen were stimulated by the scent of blood and had charged at him like brave warriors, resulting in their extermination.
“A place like this is the hideout of the Evil Dragon Followers… the main campsite of the Evil Dragon Followers has been hidden in the depths of the forest for so long, yet the Shadowfiend Corps has never discovered it, or even encountered too many Evil Dragon Followers. It is truly their home field.”
Although Rui had remained mostly silent during the traveling, his heart had been shrouded with a deep feeling of worry and anxiety since entering the Southam Demon Forest.
His feeling had nothing to do with the team he was leading. Although Ayrin, Rinloran, and Stingham were all rushing through the jungle with him at full speed while not at peak condition, Rui had completely numerous missions where his teammates were in an even worse state, so he wasn’t worried.
To begin with, an arcane master had to experience hardships and danger and fight powerful opponents to accelerate their growth.
What Rui was worried about was that they were fighting on the Evil Dragon Followers’ home field, and that the home field was the Southam Demon Forest. If the war went smoothly, then it was fine. However, if the assault on Fallen Shadow Valley failed or if their circumstances suddenly soured, then this place would become the Evil Dragon Followers’ hunting ground. There would be countless arcane teams of Evil Dragon Followers utilizing their familiarity with the forest to hunt down the straggling and isolated arcane teams of the Kingdom of Eiche and Kingdom of Doa.
“This upcoming battle is one which will decide the victors and losers.”
Rui took a deep breath as he prayed that the things he worried about wouldn’t occur.
“From my point of view, that Plague Bishop Ancenoli or whatever better be sensible and not appear before me. Otherwise, I will beat him up like those Green Snake arcane masters,” Stingham abruptly said with a snort.
“Idiot!” Rinloran sneered.
“What did you just call me?”
“Idiot! If you truly encounter the Plague Bishop, you will become a rotting corpse. How can you be so proud and arrogant when you are the slowest person here – the person dragging us down.”
“What, how can you say that when you have no arms?! What is the point of rushing when there is no reason?! I am just too lazy to run faster. For a genius like me, if I just practice a little, won’t I already be faster than you two?”
“Even without both arms, you are still no match for me! You’re such an idiot, why do I even talk to you?!”
As Rinloran and Stingham began quarrelling once more, sparks began to fly between the two of them as killing intent emerged within their eyes.
At this moment, Rui suddenly stopped in his tracks as he raised his hand and gestured for everyone to be alert.
“What’s wrong, are there enemies?” Ayrin quietly asked as his body tensed up and he held his breath.
There was a whoosh as a fiery red cluster suddenly charged out from within the bunch of leaves before them, revealing itself to Ayrin’s group.
“It’s not an enemy?”
“This? It’s so cute!”
Ayrin’s eyes widened in surprise.
It was a small catlike creature covered with fiery red colored fur. However, compared to a cat, its eyes were even rounder and larger, making it seem even cuter.
Stingham gently let out his breath as he immediately motioned for the fiery red ‘cat’ to come to him, “Come here! I love cute animals the most. If I bring you home, girls will definitely love you.”
“Idiot!” Rinloran immediately cursed.
But right at this moment, a change suddenly occurred to the fiery red ‘cat’. The fiery red fur over its body suddenly stood up as its nose abruptly split apart, revealing a set of unusually hideous fiery red teeth.
Goosebumps emerged over Stingham as he fell back in shock.
“What is this thing?!”
Its sudden transformation from such a cute creature to such a ferocious one caused Ayrin to suddenly open his mouth in surprise.
A fireball shot out from the fiery red ‘cat’s mouth towards Stingham.
“Don’t attack it!” Rui shouted.
But it was already too late as a larger fireball engulfed the smaller one and then proceeded to hit the fiery red creature’s body.
The little creature let out a wretched cry as it was charred to a smoking black crisp and fell to the ground, its four limbs twitching.
“Haha, scaring me and then even shooting a fireball at me. Well now you know whose fireball is stronger.” Upon seeing the current appearance of the little creature which had just attacked him, Stingham felt proud as he combed his hair.
“This is not good,” the silent Rui suddenly said.
Stingham’s happy smile abruptly disappeared.
The dense underbrush before them began to violently shake and twist as the sound of trees snapping rang over.
A monstrous lionlike beast abruptly burst out from within the trees before them. It was several meters tall, and had large round eyes and a mouth situated somewhat between its eyes similar to the small creature from before.
Upon seeing the still smoking charred remains of the little creature, a sorrowful, ear-shattering roar rang out from its mouth as terrifying waves of arcane energy fluctuations emerged around its body.
“A Fire Caracal Lord!” [2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caracal]
Rinloran’s pupils abruptly shrank as his face completely paled.
Stingham’s face turned green as he spat out two words.
“Hurry and run!”
Before Ayrin could even react, Stingham had already screamed twice and begun running for his life.
“Run! This beast is as strong as a five gate arcane master. Even if we are able to defeat it, we will have to pay a great price,” Rinloran shouted towards Ayrin, who was still blankly standing in place.
“A five gate arcane master…”
Ayrin finally woke up from his daze as he turned tail and began running away.
“Stingham, this fellow…”
Rinloran immediately quieted down.
During their travels, Stingham had always been much slower than him and Ayrin. Yet at this moment where they were fleeing for their lives, Stingham seemed to have grown another pair of legs as he quickly disappeared from view.
Giant, meteorite-like fireballs began crashing around them, causing the ground to tremble and explode.
Rui, Ayrin, and Rinloran avoided the shockwaves generated from the fireballs and continued running as the terrifying Fire Caracal Lord burst forth from the smoke and continued to relentlessly chase them.
“Prepare to fight!”
After ten or so seconds had passed, Rui made up his mind and issued an order to Ayrin and Rinloran.
Although Rui was certain he was fast enough to escape the Fire Caracal Lord, Ayrin and Rinloran were just too slow. It was impossible for them to all escape unscathed.
At this moment, a scream rang out as Stingham burst forth from the trees in the direction they were fleeing towards.
“This fellow actually listened? He actually came rushing back just because there was an order to fight?”
Stingham’s behavior stunned Rinloran.
But then the same two words from earlier came out from Stingham’s mouth.
Ayrin and Rinloran immediately felt an inexplicable feeling wash over them.
“There is an even stronger existence before us!” Stingham immediately added as he face turned green again.
Ayrin and Rinloran’s eyes both widened as an ostrich-like bird emerged within their lines of sight. Only this ostrich-like bird was at least five times larger than an ordinary ostrich.
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