The journey that followed became fairly protracted. At the outset, Qianye could see the stone forest just by standing atop a hill. In truth, it took him several days to arrive. This was, in part, due to his power being suppressed and his speed, greatly reduced. It could also be attributed to his disordered perception.
Qianye had already noticed the abnormality of this world from the very first day. Perhaps time itself had been affected by the suppression of the void colossus’ will. Even with the Eye of Truth, he could only expand his visual field, but the distorted perception was unavoidable. Many distant objects appeared quite close, but the true distance was far beyond his expectations.
From this, it was obvious that this floating landmass was much larger than he had initially anticipated.
At this moment, Qianye had finally arrived before the stone forest. He reached out to touch one of the stone pillars and confirm that he had truly arrived. Then, he leapt up to the top of the pillar and found a foothold from which to observe the surroundings.
Unsurprisingly, he discovered that this forest of stone pillars was much bigger than he had seen from afar. There was no end as far as the eye could see. The colossal skeleton was still far off in the remote distance. It seemed as though several days of running hadn’t reduced the gap at all.
The deep breath Qianye took atop the stone pillar felt like a mouthful of fire.
The world was, in fact, very cold, and the frigid winds cut right to the bone. Only at this point did Qianye finally discover why people believed this place to be the wind tunnel. That was the near-tangible remnant will of the void colossus—one would take in a small amount of it with every breath.
The suppression of the colossus’ will was fairly special in that it contained a wisp of illusory power. People here would have to circulate origin power at all times to resist it, lest their perception becomes blurry. It was as though time and space had mixed into a formless mass that would fuse and devour one’s consciousness at any moment. Each breath felt like flames even with the resistance of circulating origin power, taking quite the effort to stave off the burning sensation.
This was the true nature of the dangers here.
Those entering had simply no way to resist the will without sufficient rank and would be devoured immediately. Those with sufficient rank would need to expend the standard amount of origin power to suppress the scorching sensation, but a mere moment of slackening would result in a failure to resist the void colossus’ will. The origin power throughout his body would be completely ignited, and the person would be burned to ashes.
Qianye had seen an immolated marquis fall to the ground soon after he had entered this realm. That was how he had fallen.
But after several days of adjustment, Qianye had already acclimatized to the colossus’ suppression. To him, this was only a matter of reduction in available origin power and an increase in basal consumption.
Qianye was just about to jump down from the stone pillar when he suddenly noticed a cloud of smoke surging over from the distance. It seemed like something was running toward him. He quickly activated Bloodline Concealment and retracted his aura, hiding himself perfectly.
After the dust cloud approached, one could see that it was a horde of charging beasts. This type of wild horse had two curved horns on their heads and uneven bone spurs over their shoulder blades. They were tall, large, and looked to be full of power as they galloped, every leap taking them a dozen or so meters away.
This group of strange beasts charged into the stone forest in the blink of an eye and ran toward its depths.
An idea popped up in Qianye’s mind. He leapt down from the stone pillar and landed soundlessly on the last beast, whereupon he grabbed ahold of its curved horn and plunged his vampiric blade through its shoulder.
The creature wanted to cry out in pain but Qianye had choked its vocal organs, preventing it from making a sound. Afterward, the animal slowly fell limp to the ground as the blade drained all of its essence blood.
The beast pack in front charged on without knowing that one of their companions had fallen behind.
Qianye dragged the creature into a relatively deserted area. This was the first large animal he had seen since coming into this realm. He had found few lifeforms apart from strange plants and oddly-shaped insects, none of which seemed palatable.
But fortunately, Andruil’s Mysterious Realm was still effective, and he was able to survive on the supplies inside.
Qianye found a space between two stone pillars where he could gain shelter from the wind. There, he lit a fire and began roasting the beast meat. He had prepared well for this trip and even brought some condiments which produced an immediate fragrance after they were sprinkled over the meat. Having lived off military supplies for several days, Qianye’s appetite at this moment was extraordinarily good. He finished nearly half the beast in one sitting before he was fully sated.
Qianye cleaned up the scene briefly before heading deeper into the stone forest. He then looped back via a longer route and concealed himself atop a nearby stone pillar.
Qianye became fairly patient after gaining an initial understanding of how vast this unknown continent was. He was now prepared to engage in a long-term exploration. As for the ancient essence fragments, it seemed like they were mobile because it was no longer at the same place when Qianye saw the light a second time. Moreover, he couldn’t sense it anymore after entering the stone forest.
Qianye didn’t have to wait very long before a werewolf flew over at great speed. The werewolf leapt over with great agility in his combat form and arrived at the place where Qianye had been roasting meat. The vigilant werewolf first circled around the place, then approached cautiously to sniff the slab of roasted meat on the ground. Only afterward did he grab the food and began eating ravenously. Apparently, he was starved.
This world was sparse in both flora and fauna. Moreover, most plants had a metallic appearance. This signified a lack of food for both humans and the dark races, something Qianye had already experienced.
Although he sympathized with them, it didn’t mean that he would let this werewolf go. Qianye drew the Mystic Spider Lily, installed a silencer, and took aim at the werewolf.
A light “pfft” rang out as blood spurted out from the werewolf’s leg; a fist-sized wound had appeared therein. This shot wasn’t lethal, but it had destroyed the werewolf’s ability to escape. The werewolf roared in agony and was just about to turn around when he was shot on the other leg, then each of his arms as well.
Qianye only jumped down from the pillar at this point and appeared before the werewolf. He walked over to the victim and pressed the scorching muzzle to his temple.
The werewolf’s eyes were filled with terror as he nodded continuously.
Qianye gained little from the interrogation that followed. The werewolf came from a small tribe and was the vassal of an arachne count. He himself was a baron equal in power to a rank nine fighter from the empire.
He was separated from his companions soon after entering Giant’s Repose and had failed to find so much as a shadow after several days of searching. Even he himself had little idea how he had passed through the ten-thousand-mile Giant’s Repose. The werewolf only remembered how he had slipped while passing through a certain crevice, whereafter he fell through boundless clouds and mists to arrive at the stone forest.
Qianye referred to the process by which he had arrived here and couldn’t help but frown. It would seem that many parts of the space in Giant’s Repose were distorted. This meant that some people might not find their way here even after prolonged investigations, but it was possible for others to accidentally fall in. That being said, those who had come in groups were likely to be dispersed.
The werewolf had received two orders from the Evernight Council. The first was to search for the ancient essence fragments, and the second was to explore the lay of the land. They were to draft a map along the way and kill as many imperial people as they could.
No longer able to get anything else out of the werewolf, Qianye pressed him to the ground and plunged the vampiric blade into his heart.
The essence blood from the baron was almost two times the amount from ordinary dark race members of the same rank. Apparently, those capable of moving unobstructed in this world were people with strength well above their peers.
Qianye fished out an emblem from the werewolf’s body. The depiction upon it—a giant running wolf—was fairly well-known. It represented the Sprinting Hunter Mercenary Corps. This dark race mercenary band operated on the dark race side and was comparable to elite corps of the empire like Broken-Winged Angels and Red Scorpion. The Sprinting Hunters were mostly made up of werewolf soldiers, but the leader was an arachne marquis.
Qianye had fought with them before during his time in Red Scorpion and knew how difficult it was to tangle with them. But here, a Sprinting Hunter baron, a high-ranking colonel, was no different from cannon fodder.
This werewolf was still quite young and likely a well-known genius in his world. But he had fallen here in the end.
Qianye stood up to gaze at the deep night sky and breathed the scorching air deeply. He then collected his thoughts and made for the void colossus’ skeleton.
Meanwhile on the surface, an area hundreds of kilometers around Giant’s Repose had turned into an unstoppable battle. Having rallied their forces to a certain degree, the Evernight Council and the empire waged their first major battle one fateful afternoon. Each side had deployed over a hundred thousand soldiers to kill the other. The battle lines were locked in a zig-zag pattern and fluctuating wildly at every moment.
Even a middle-ranked champion was in danger of falling amidst the chaos. But not only did Song Zining take part, but he had also gained significant fame after two battles.
The seventh young master hadn’t mobilized dark flame across thousands of kilometers. Instead, he had borrowed his fame from the battle of Blackflow City to assume command of the armies of a middle and two lower-ranking aristocratic families. He deployed their experts from the bloody battle for group combat tactics and roamed the battlefield in search of opportunities.
Song Zining was never one to fight zealously—he would launch a single attack then leave regardless of success or failure. After several fights, people found to their astonishment that the best opportunities would always appear around this seventh young noble. Whether it was a tired, half-routed division or a completely unprotected minor unit—all of them would be devoured by his forces.
There was only one time where he clashed against an organized dark race army that was locked in battle against an elite division of the imperial regular army. Song Zining had appeared right behind the dark race army to launch a sudden ambush. He broke into the center of the army and worked with the imperial experts to kill the enemy general, thus winning a great victory.
There were many such examples.
The Song clan seventh young noble weaved through the great chaos of the battlefield like a fish in the water, always managing to gain advantages along the way. But whenever the dark races transferred a great force to wipe him out once and for all, Song Zining would disappear as though he had known in advance.
The dark race experts could no longer sit still after several repeats of similar incidents and wanted to finish off Song Zining. However, the empire’s experts were also quite strong in number and they naturally wouldn’t watch from the sidelines. Everyone took action to obstruct the attack. Thus, the armies of each faction launched continuous attacks around Song Zining’s unit and several intense battles erupted between them.
Several weeks later, both factions had accrued heavy casualties; the cannon fodder squads had mostly died off, and only the elites among elites remained. Under such circumstances, Song Zining’s little army made up of men from several minor aristocratic families became quite the thorn in people’s eyes. But he just had to go deep behind enemy lines to harass them again. It almost seemed as though he had been surrounded by several fierce dark race divisions.
Even the Arachne Warlord Darkus’ prestige would be threatened if they couldn’t eliminate this little counterfeit army.
However, the route of Song Zining’s unit was never constant, denying his enemies even the smallest of terrain advantages.
Song Zining was surrounded once again near the imperial borders after an entire day and night of pursuit.Previous Chapter Next Chapter