Blood Explosion wasn’t sorcery. It was an unknown spell recorded in Dragon King’s Mystic Might that allowed a Dragon Warlock to burn their bloodline in exchange for ultimate strength. It was something used when left without choice, a decision to make when in complete despair.
While the blood fog hindering the chilly fog, Isabel now had a path of escape. However, she had now reverted to her human form and could no longer transform. On top of that, the areas that had been covered in dragon scales turned into a mass of bruises.
However, her desire to survive still pushed her to advance forth in the fog forest.
“So I can’t hold on anymore?” The haemorrhaging blood and injuries caused everything to blur, and it all turned into darkness.
“Hm? Boss!” Before collapsing, the last thing she heard was a voice of surprise.
“Ugh… I’m not dead yet?” Isabel raised her right arm and caressed the Red Dragon Sword, the burst of warmth from the sword sheath instantly making her feel relieved. While she felt just as weak as before, having a weapon in her hand would allow her to die with more dignity.
Isabel laughed wryly as she began to assess her surroundings, ‘It’s rather small here, and I seem to be in some enclosed environment. There was also that voice I heard before I fainted…’
“You’re awake!” A muffled voice sounded by Isabel’s ear, and her pupils widened slightly. It was Karen’s voice!
“Where– Where am I now?” Isabel asked slowly, her eyes doing their best to adapt to the darkness as they looked for traces of light.
“We’re inside a hollow tree. We haven’t escaped danger yet!” Karen did not seem to be in the best state either, as she stumbled over her words, “He- Hehe, I’m guessing you saw a monster that looked a lot like me, right? I also met with great danger with someone I knew well!”
Isabel was not so easily convinced, “Who’s the vice captain on our ship?”
“Three Ears, although he was struck a fatal blow and eventually crippled in the last naval battle. Karen especially pressed her lips to Isabel’s ear, “Also… I know a lot more private information, such as what you hide under your pillow…”
“Enough! I believe you’re the real thing!” A flush rose on Isabel’s cheeks as she interrupted Karen.
“This is such a critical time, and that is what you decided to point out?” Isabel’s low voice was filled with anger.
“We need to change our mentality,” Karen said solemnly, “Did you notice that these monsters have held back from killing us? It’s like… What’s an appropriate word… Teasing us. Yes!”
“You mean…” Isabel had the same thought.
“Exactly! I think those monsters feed on human emotions. They keep scaring us to cause despair…”
Karen sounded agitated, “Beings like this exist in the Underdark as well. That’s why I’m doing my best to hold in the fear and unease in my heart. Surprisingly, I haven’t bumped into any particularly powerful monster, and have managed to hold on till now…”
As a half-drow from the Underdark, Karen evidently had a better understanding of such evil monsters. It was a pity though. Her ideas may have been valid in the World of Gods, but dreamforce wasn’t as simple.
Still, Isabel now had no choice but to believe her, “In other words, I can deal with them easily if I suppress my emotions?”
“I can only say there’s a slight effect, since completely obliterating all emotions are things only legendary mind flayers can do…” Karen had a wry smile on her face.
“Also… be careful not to experience intense emotion. It will only attract more powerful monsters!”
“I understand…” Isabel nodded, “These things only seem to appear at night. As long as we can hold on till sunrise tomorrow, we might be safe…” Isabel now had no thoughts of bringing more men to explore the area. She only hoped to escape as far as possible.
*Rumble!* The surface of the ground trembled slightly, and a strange monstrous laughter sounded out. Isabel began to get nervous, “Be careful, something’s here!”
She could see the human centipede crawl over slowly through the hole in the tree, large amounts of saliva dripping from its head. The surrounding trees were pushed away, revealing the sinister and terrifying human faces on the shell.
“Relax, as long as we calm ourselves, it can’t find us…” Karen’s voice trembled, evidently still uneasy at this life and death gamble.
‘Don’t think too much. No! Don’t think about anything, and don’t have any emotions!’ Karen thought to herself as Isabel tightened her grasp on her sheath.
It seemed like their prayers had been answered. The giant centipede didn’t seem to discover them as it wandered past the large tree.
‘It really worked!’ ‘We did it!’ Isabel and Karen exchanged a glance, looking hopeful and excited.
*Huala!* The large trunk was split apart all of a sudden, revealing the two. They stared in shock as the giant centipede swayed back and forth.
“Keke, is this a game of catch?” The faces on the shell kept changing until a child’s face appeared, speaking in a young voice.
“What a pity… You thought calming your emotions would help you escape Zelos. How childish!” The human face warped, becoming that of a middle-aged pirate. The voice grew older as well.
“Hehe… the game’s over! Become a part of me!” The large centipede yelled, the numerous faces on its shell separating themselves and turning into white human silhouettes with masks. They moved slowly, looking blank as they surrounded the two.
“No, why did this happen? Did we guess wrong?”
“This is a nightmare. This has to be a nightmare! No… let me wake up! I want my mother…” Karen was the first to break under the immense pressure, seemingly laughing and crying at the same time.
“Damn it, I knew women aren’t dependable at critical moments!” Isabel cursed, her sword being thrust into a white figure to no effect. They were still slowly surrounding her.
“There’s no way… There’s no way at all… I’ll really die here…” Isabel seemed bedazzled in that moment, her life flashing before her eyes. A hint of tenderness appearing in her gaze, “Unfortunately…”
“Arcane dreamforce spell— Flying Palm!” Just as the white figures were about to completely surround them, a black figure fell from above. Powerful spells shot out, pulling the dark red fog together to form a large palm.
*Thud!* The large palm pressed down abruptly, and countless white figures were crushed. With a swipe, the rest were sent flying.
“Thankfully, I got here in time!” Leylin turned back, glancing at Isabel’s expression as she looked shocked and elated, “Are you two alright?”
“We’re fine! I’ll leave this to…” Isabel felt very suffocated, and only managed to say this at the end before fainting.
“Has her stamina completely run out? And this one…” Leylin watched Karen on the ground, who had been scared stupid, “She looks like she was terrified. Not surprising; not everyone can bear the shock of experiencing dreamforce…”
“Keke… another one! Another one that will become a part of my body!” The large centipede’s head now split open, revealing an old face filled with wrinkles. The other fragmented white figures were inhaled into its body, and masked faces appeared on the crust.
“Such a large being contaminated by dreamforce… it’s at least a legendary, hm?” Leylin looked up, elated, “Just the radiation alone can create a legendary being here… Whatever is here must be even more astonishing!”
“Kid, you dare ignore…” The centipede monster began to howl, and more cysts appeared on its body. They looked ready to explode.
“I have no time to play with you right now. See you next time!” Leylin was the absolute master of this region contaminated by dreamforce. He didn’t even frown, feeling no fear.
“Arcane dreamforce spell— Distrait Dream!” Dark red undulations spread from his hands, and their surroundings strangely went silent.
“Let’s leave first!” Making use of this rare opportunity, Leylin grabbed Isabel and Karen as he spread his wings. He flew to the edges of the forest where the dark red fog converged like a cage.
“Open!” Leylin exclaimed, and arcane spell energy poured into the Red Dragon Staff, blazing flames breaking through the lock. With a few flashes of his body, he disappeared into the horizon.
He was still unable to deal with the large centipede and naturally would not waste his strength on that.
It was now morning. Isabel, who had recovered most of her strength, arrived outside the tent. She then saw Leylin, who was studying the edges of the forest.
“I’m sorry… We were completely wiped out. I’m the one to blame for all this…” Isabel gritted her teeth and stammered.
“This was really an accident. Others would have had the same results.” Leylin was focused as he took samples of the soil, while Isabel looked fearfully at the forest. The lesson she was taught in there was etched into her mind, and she hoped that she would never return to this place in her life.
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