Chapter 166: Panic in the Blood Forest
Translator: Irene Editor: Lis
Brave men will emerge when the reward is good.
When the magistrate court and Central Pine Academy simultaneously brought out enticing rewards, the number of elementalists coming forward to register increased significantly. Wang Zhen heaved a sigh of relief. The unusual change in situation outside the city had made him extremely uneasy.
Still, he was surprised to see Ai Hui's name; it had left a deep impression in his mind. He wrinkled his brows. This little fellow was most likely still a student.
He compulsively wanted to overrule it but then recalled the dean's assessment of Ai Hui-that he was the most mature student he had ever met, clear about his goals, and lacking in juvenile impulsivity. Wang Zhen then thought about Ai Hui's experiences in the Wilderness as a laborer. Perhaps that fellow had something unique that he did not understand.
This was not surprising. Laborers who managed to survive the Wilderness had to have something extraordinary about them.
Wang Zhen collected his thoughts. Right now, there was nothing more important than getting information about the blood forest.
The dean had already arranged for the teachers to lead students in purging the blood fiends within the city. According to Wang Zhen's plan, the entire city would be divided into twelve regions, each handled by a division of teachers and students.
A few battles had already broken out today, with numerous casualties.
The dean had approached him, hoping to change the plan before being firmly denied. Wang Zhen's wish was for everyone to gradually adapt through this low-intensity battle. In the process, lives would inevitably be lost, but he had no other choice. Only through this could everyone be prepared to fight in more strenuous circumstances. At the very least, if that time should come, they would not crumble and scatter.
Ai Hui did not wear the mantis vest on the outside; he understood the logic behind hiding one's wealth.
After receiving the telepathy lotus seed and movie bean, he departed from the city alone. The number of participating elementalists was not small. Some grouped in threes or fours, while others decided to move independently as Ai Hui did.
Everyone's eyes gleamed brightly in their vigilance. One look and Ai Hui could tell that they were all seasoned warriors with rich experience. His eyes lit up; it was his first time seeing so many veterans within the city. Be it the magistrate court's guards or the teachers in Central Pine Academy, they were all rookies when it came to real combat.
Old hands were indeed different!
Ai Hui was confident in this operation.
With so many people participating, the investigation shouldn't be a problem this time. This was good for the guards in Central Pine City. Plus, having a large crowd would distract the attention of the other blood fiends.
When it came to understanding blood fiends, Ai Hui was better off than most. Since his time in the Garden of Life, he had been secretly observing them and their changes.
For example, the blood mantis was much stronger than the previous blood fiends. There were differences in its body characteristics as well. The blood fiends of the past had blood-red bodies, but the carapace of the blood mantis lacked the strong red hue and even appeared translucent. Its defense had risen as well.
Most elementalists had dismissed these subtle changes, but Ai Hui caught and remembered them.
The blood fiends were becoming stronger, yet even now, nobody knew the method behind their complete transformations and what advantages came with it.
He hoped to find a pattern in the blood fiends' metamorphoses.
As Ai Hui exited through the city door, the blood forest came into view, and he momentarily lost his spirit. The changes were beyond recognition.
With a quick scan across, the devilishly bright red expanse seemed boundless. The formerly azure skies were now contaminated by a dull layer of crimson-it was eerily frightful. The towering, dense, and thick forest... it was like an impenetrable wall of red, blocking out all attempts to peer inside as though concealing a terrifying secret.
Ai Hui stood in a daze for a few good minutes.
His hair stood on end, and a chill ran through his body. He simply could not imagine the force that could create this insanely warped sight before his eyes.
He finally understood why the mayor wanted to spend so much time and effort to obtain the secrets within the blood forest.
Seeing everything, his thoughts were exactly the same as the mayor's. Something frightening was definitely brewing within the forest.
They must find out!
Ai Hui inhaled deeply to warm his cold body. The fear in his eyes receded slowly, his pupils regaining their cool, dusk-blue color.
He stepped forward and advanced firmly towards that towering, blood-red "city wall."
Ai Hui knew the region well; it was the path he took to reach the Suspending Golden Pagoda. After walking here countless times, he naturally became familiar with it. Yet even then, the sight before him was extremely foreign now. What happened to the pagoda? This thought flashed across his mind before he re-focused fully on what was before him.
He stopped at the edge of the forest.
Dense weeds, about two meters tall, obstructed his path. The leaves were like swords, and the red edges were fine and piercingly sharp, reminding Ai Hui of the fangs of dire beasts.
Ai Hui could no longer recognize what breed they once were.
The other elementalists entered by flying, but Ai Hui did not do so. Blood fiends were sensitive to elemental energy, so flying would easily alarm them. Of course, master elementalists were strong and had their own methods of handling them, so he didn't worry. He was of a lowly position; it was of no use to say anything, and he wasn't someone to meddle in others' businesses anyway.
After finding a more covert location, he took off his jacket, revealing the red mantis vest underneath.
Ai Hui brushed the weeds aside with his Dragonspine Inferno and unhesitantly felt his way in. The brush was thicker than he thought because ten meters in, still all he saw were weeds. The red plants were tough, and parting them took a lot of effort. With his sword, he sawed off a small section. The leaf snapped, and fresh red juice oozed out with a familiar, sweet fragrance. Ai Hui noticed that the smell had become more concentrated.
After a few minutes, the color of the cut leaf dulled before withering into a gray. A light touch, and the leaf scattered into ashes.
Ai Hui was painstakingly careful to avoid getting the juice on himself. He was suddenly reminded of Zhou Xiaoxi and felt pity. He couldn't help but sigh. Such a strong elementalist, elite of the Thirteen Divisions, and he died so unreasonably.
Advancing, the lush weeds became more sparse about a hundred meters in. Recalling the topography from before, he knew the way into the forest was just in front.
Ai Hui warily pinched and broke a telepathy lotus seed into pieces.
A haze passed through his eyes. Indeed, the telepathy lotus seed had disconnected, verifying one of the magistrate court's conjectures. Fortunately, the court had considered this and specially provided movie beans for them. Compared to the ones used by the training hall, this one was for military use. Recording images no longer required the cumbersome pod, and the visuals were clearer.
He prepared the movie bean before continuing forward. Everything was going smoothly so far. While there hadn't been any results, the same could be said for accidents as well.
As the surrounding weeds became increasingly sparse, towering trees began to appear before him.
He was dumbfounded.
Over fifty meters in height, the towering trees were so thick that several people would be needed to span the trunk's circumference. Misshapen tree tumors and strips of twisted vines filled it, seeming to wind around the trunk but also somehow embedded within. The foliage was thick like felt, covering the sky completely. Roots hung down like that of a banyan tree, their ends deeply secured into the ground.
Suddenly, a blood-curdling screech sounded from the front.
Ai Hui quivered.
He carefully parted the roots before bursting forward full-speed.
Countless hanging roots from a tree had coiled themselves around an elementalist, his skin pricked by small, fine needles.
The following scene changed Ai Hui's expression greatly and sent a chill down his spine.
The tree roots became clear, and the blood-like red juice pumping within flowed into the elementalist's body continuously. The elementalist's shrieking came to a sudden stop. His panic-stricken face slackened, and he looked on in relish with a drunken expression. His body was like a fully-inflated balloon, while his veins were fully visible in the skin that was now transparent.
The towering tree let out a crashing rumble.
Ai Hui felt his blood run cold. He became aware of the whole tree trembling. The vines around the trunk became translucent as well, like human veins through which red juices flowed. The tumors on the trunk seemed to come alive as well, like many distorted and terrifying faces.
Until now, Ai Hui had assumed he had already experienced the worst the Wilderness had to offer, but he was proven wrong. He had been ridiculously wrong.
He pinched the movie bean with trembling hands that exposed his current dread.
He breathed deeply, continuously, in an attempt to control and calm his state of mind.
No need to look; there wasn't any hope left for that elementalist.
And Ai Hui, with his sharp senses, realized the astonishing changes occurring in the elementalist's body.
Wild animals became blood fiends from the blood poison's infection. What about humans? Would they become...
Ai Hui couldn't help but shiver.
Could such a monster still be called human? Completely transformed blood fiends did not lose consciousness-rather, they became stronger and more agile. What about blood people? What would become of them?
Ai Hui's fear heightened. Blood fiends were already frightening enough to send them fleeing.
If blood people... with the intelligence of a human and the body of a blood fiend...
Ai Hui suddenly thought of the blood poison's name-God of Blood. Were they trying to create another variant of human?
No one could do it!
Ai Hui's body turned cold as aggressiveness emerged in his eyes. He held on to an additional smallsword before throwing himself forward with all his might.
The elementalist's brain exploded, red juice spraying high like a fountain.
Whatever juice ended up on the tree trunk or leaves was absorbed immediately.
The tightly coiled roots loosened, dropping the pale, lifeless corpse on the ground.
Ai Hui relaxed a little.
"Tell me, you killed one of my subordinates. How are you going to compensate?"
An indistinct voice echoes in his ears without warning. A faint fragrance entered Ai Hui's nostrils and a warm breath landed on his neck.
Ai Hui's pupils shrank as the hairs all over his body stood on end.