At this point in the expansion process, the regional map in Qianye’s hand was growing increasingly refined, and he had found certain regular patterns in the process. Normally, the bigger forests were surrounded by lower-grade ones. For instance, the forest with four holy trees was surrounded in three directions by forests with two holy trees.
The geography of the new world was full of strange characteristics, but every region was centered around the forests with holy trees. The one with four holy trees was the highest-ranked one in Qianye’s domain.
Even until now, Qianye hadn’t cleaned out this forest entirely, and some beasts would still charge out from the woods from time to time. Their forces weren’t strong, but their presence stopped people from moving around at will.
Fortunately, these beasts no longer had a commander. They favored charging in groups but didn’t know how to work cohesively between troop types. It really wasn’t too hard to deal with creatures that simply charged on sight.
The sheer size of the beast lair inside the four-holy-tree forest was terrifying. Qianye went in personally to scout the route, but he couldn’t find the core even after entering hundreds of meters. Instead, he suffered a few injuries from clashing with the beasts in the lair and had no choice but to return to the surface.
The forest couldn’t be considered conquered without finding the core of the lair. Qianye needed to face the core and intimidate it with his consciousness, forcing it to stop operating. Otherwise, it would keep producing a continuous stream of beasts.
There were benefits to exploring the lair as well. Qianye discovered that most of the beasts actually came from eggs. All eggs looked the same and were, in fact, identical. At the very least, the researchers from the aristocratic families couldn’t find anything different about them. Why a single type of egg could produce different types of beasts was most likely a secret.
During the exploration, Qianye frequently saw chambers on either side of the tunnel packed full of eggs. He took the time to start clearing them out, but the number of beasts attacking him increased so quickly that he had to eventually retreat.
He never managed to check just how many eggs there were in the forest. The only thing he could do was wait patiently for the eggs to hatch and the beasts inside to be destroyed. Only then would the forest truly belong to him. All this waiting took up a lot of time, but he simply couldn’t think of a better plan.
Setting the forest with four holy trees as the center and using the ones with three holy trees as a guide, there were three directions to expand in. Qianye had already cleaned up the areas around the three-holy-tree forest and one two-holy-tree forest beyond it. According to the pattern, there would only be single-holy-tree forests with no beast lairs beyond this point.
Qianye was in no rush to attack. Instead, he left the Martyr’s Palace above one of the forests with two holy trees, allowing the crew to disembark and construct a new forward outpost. On one hand, he was used to building camps at every step, while on the other, it was to let the strained soldiers catch some air and reorganize. Ordinary soldiers, be they humans or werewolves, were made up of flesh after all. They couldn’t keep fighting without rest like the monster that was Qianye.
The troops were resting, but Qianye didn’t need to. After his breakthrough, he sensed that there was a lot of room for tempering in terms of strength, control, and technique. The fastest way to train was in actual combat. Since there was nothing else to do, he decided to explore deeper into the new world.
According to the pattern, there should be a single-holy-tree forest up ahead. This type of forest was clearly yet to mature, and the six-armed commander inside was the weakest type, barely at the level between a glorious marquis and a vice-duke. Such an enemy would be rushing to their deaths if they ran into Qianye. After all, the latter had grasped their habits entirely after killing so many.
This time, Qianye ran for half a day before reaching a forest. The outline of the woods didn’t look very big from a distance, clearly that of a forest with one holy tree. Qianye, of course, wouldn’t hold back after finding prey. He adjusted his gear and advanced swiftly at ground level.
He was about to arrive in the forest but came to a stop after sensing the aura within. The grove was entirely silent and without the slightest sign of vitality, more like an ordinary thicket rather than anything. According to his experience, there would always be some activity in the forest even if the six-armed commander was asleep. The auras of those powerful beasts stuck out like a sore thumb in Qianye’s experienced eyes.
Qianye retracted his aura and walked quietly into the forest. After a short distance, he stopped to glance at a nearby tree, where he saw several deep slash-marks. They were clearly visible despite already in the process of healing.
Qianye touched the cut-edges and found them to be smooth. This was the work of a heavy weapon like a cleaver or an axe rather than a beast.
Qianye looked around and noticed some shrubbery nearby. He walked over and brushed the leaves away, revealing the bulging soil and a silhouette of a beast. A simple press confirmed his suspicions—the carcass had already turned to stone, and the shrub was growing out from it. The vegetation was using it for nutrition.
He could see similar traces of battle everywhere. The holy-tree forest possessed powerful regenerative abilities and would wipe out all unnatural traces in a short period. The fallen beasts and other entities would become nutrition for the forest.
Judging from the traces, it would seem that the battle had just ended a couple of days ago. The battle seemed to have taken place on a large scale, covering every corner of the forest.
This was the first time Qianye had discovered traces of battle in the new world. At the moment, he couldn’t discern whether they belonged to the natives of the new world or outsiders like Qianye.
Qianye became more vigilant as he crept into the heart of the forest and was utterly shocked upon arrival.
The pond at the center was completely dry, and the holy tree was littered with deep axe-marks. There was a vague fluctuation coming from the tree—ordinary creatures might not be able to sense it, but Qianye could interpret them as painful groans.
The Empire’s research team had confirmed that the holy-tree sap was akin to blood for the tree. The sap would only accumulate in the pond if there was excess in production. The sap was also vital to nurturing elite troop types, providing for the six-armed commander and the production of the metallic stone material on the island. The reason behind all that was still pending research.
Now that someone had drained the sap and damaged the source, the holy tree would wither after a while. This forest would also disappear after losing its foundations.
It was certain that the holy tree was a mystical species. Even Qianye wasn’t sure if they were actually trees in the traditional sense since the beasts, six-armed creatures, and their lair were all dependent on the existence of the holy tree.
Qianye remained still. No matter who had attacked this forest, it was obvious that they would return since they hadn’t chopped down the holy tree and taken it away.
Before long, footsteps rang out in the woods as expected, and a squad of well-equipped werewolves appeared in Qianye’s vision. These werewolves were different from the soldiers of Fort Continent in that they were well-equipped with quality gear, including rifles, handguns, tactical backpacks, and all kinds of melee weapons. Even the elite gear of the Empire was only comparable and not superior.
This group of werewolves wore different emblems, representing their different tribal origins. There were tens of thousands of werewolf tribes, so Qianye had no idea which power they belonged to. All he knew was that they were not from the Summit of Peaks. The werewolves weren’t too cautious as they arrived at the center of the forest. An old shaman wearing a green cloak led the group and walked several times around the tree, muttering all the while. Moments later, he fell screaming to the ground, clutching his head with both hands.
“This is an evil tree! Chop it down! Burn it!” the shaman screamed.
The soldiers moved immediately at the shaman’s orders. Two strong werewolves removed the battleaxes strapped to their back and walked toward the tree. There, they swung their axes at the holy tree with ruthless force!
Qianye acted immediately, arriving behind the werewolves with Spatial Flash and stabbing them from the back with his vampiric blade. He moved like a specter, roaming through the werewolf squad and attacking like lightning. In the blink of an eye, werewolf corpses were strewn across the ground; none of them could pull the trigger on time.
Qianye placed a foot on the howling shaman. “Where do you come from and why are you here? Be honest or I don’t mind pinning you to a stake and letting you air-dry.”
“It hurts, I’m hurting…” The shaman grimaced.
Qianye wasn’t about to fall for this. He drew a dagger and stabbed it into the shaman’s thigh, moving it about mercilessly as he did so. The shaman wanted to scream, but Qianye had pressed down the werewolf’s jaws. He bit the hand with great force but managed to do little damage or even break the assailant’s skin.
Qianye only released his hand when he saw the shaman’s face turning red. The latter gasped for air, shouting, “I’ll speak, I’ll speak!”
Qianye didn’t retract the blade just yet and only looked down at the werewolf with cold eyes. This shaman was clean and well-dressed. Dressing so well in the new world meant that his status was considerably high, and also that he wouldn’t be willing to suffer too much. As expected, Qianye managed to subdue him in just a single move.
“We hail from Moorland Continent, and we’re subordinates of Overlord Sousa. Of course, we’re here to explore the new world. What else is there to do?”
Qianye recalled the intelligence reports. Moorland Continent was one of the three werewolf-controlled continents, and Overlord Sousa was a werewolf great dark monarch, the core of the ancestral faction.
Reportedly, Sousa hailed from the first werewolf king’s bloodline. His ancestral spirit was thus formidable, bestowing him with great power. The violent Sousa had always been merciless toward enemies and all kin who opposed him. The forces under him would frequently hold human blood feasts. The main difference between them and the vampires was that they would use humans and some powerful creatures as sacrifices.
In the eyes of the Empire, Sousa’s werewolves were a target for immediate elimination and not to be considered for imprisonment. Eventually, Sousa became even more cruel and insane against the humans. Those who fell into his hands would become slaves in the best scenario but were frequently tortured to death or eaten.
It was just that many of their tribes pulled out of the faction wars as the holy war against the vampires waged on, and their living space gradually shrunk. That was why Qianye had very little contact with them.
“Who are you and what happened just now?” In order to reinforce the effect, Qianye pushed the dagger a bit deeper in.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie