Book 3: Aldrich’s Keep || Chapter 31: Something’s Not Right! (1)

The collapse of the Earthen Bear caused the ground to tremble as its enormous weight slammed onto the grassy floor. To ensure that the Earthen Bear had truly fallen, Ariel used her Lava Warhammer and smashed the meaty skull of the Spirit Beast, leaving a puddle of molten lava. Among the Beast Horde, the vast majority of the Spirit Beasts were brainless, savage Tier 1 beasts that wildly trampled through everything that stood in its path. Commander Alwig and the other Spirit Lords were responsible for thinning down their numbers while the youths with them fought with the stronger Tier 2 Spirit Beasts to boost their overall strengths.

Lazily moving her eyes to track the movements of both the horde of beasts and her disciple, Lady Seph stroked her wrinkled chin as she fell into deep contemplation. Was it truly so coincidental that when they first stepped foot on the fallen tower, a beast horde would suddenly appear?

‘There’s nothing to it… Let me try to search for other clues…’

Resummoning out the Iofiel Angel, Lady Seph coated herself with a radiant golden splendour and rose up high out of the canopies and into the emergent layer. The Uncharted Wilderness was mainly a rainforest with trees reaching one kilometre in height at their peak. Typically, it was not wise for a Spirit User to fly out without proper scouting as powerful Spirit Beasts, such as Tier 8 or Tier 9 monsters, loved to roam the highest levels of the Uncharted Wilderness. However, Lady Seph didn’t care one bit if she attracted one of those beasts.

Once she was satisfied with the height, the elderly blonde woman willed for the Iofiel Angel behind of her to create a ball of light, brighter than the most powerful of flames. For those below, it was as if a second sun had appeared in the cloudless morning sky. The younger members of the expedition had no choice but to turn their heads to prevent the glare from blinding their eyes.

“What is she doing?”

Ariel used her Lava Warhammer to decimate a nearby Tier 1 Spirit Beast before asking the elderly woman’s sole disciple.

“I don’t know! I’ve never seen her do that before!”

Not even Shin, who had spent three years next to Lady Seph, knew what the elderly blonde woman was trying to accomplish. Over the years, the only abilities that he had seen her display were her healing and paralysing light. Given that she was a Spirit Emperor, there were many other abilities that she had not shown to the youth.

Not caring about the chatter down below, Lady Seph congregated her mana to its maximum before letting it burst out in a radar-like manner. It was as if an explosion that threatened to destroy all life within it had detonated, filling the entire vicinity with a blinding light. Oddly enough, when Shin and the others were exposed to the luminescent glow, all they felt was a comfortable, warm sensation crawl up their skins, as if they were greeted by a pleasant sea breeze.

“Found it!”

The light shone for less than ten seconds, but during that time, it gave Lady Seph all the information she needed. In a remote corner of the Uncharted Wilderness, ten kilometres away, there was a small cave that was camouflaged really well. With mossy ferns and grassy patches, if someone didn’t know better, they would assume that it was a natural hill mould. Unfortunately, their disguise was not good enough to hide from the Spirit Emperor’s sensory prowess.

Turning into a ball of light, Lady Seph flew at a speed that no mere human could track and targeted the new discovery that she had made. Commander Alwig, noticing that the elderly woman had found something of importance, sliced the final Tier 3 Spirit Beast of the horde before barking out:

“You guys stay here! I’ll provide the Lady with back-up! The remainder of the horde are all Tier 1 and 2 Spirit Beasts, so you should be able to handle them!”

The first thing that Commander Alwig did when he saw the beast horde was to identify all the dangerous threats of the group. With his Rank 63 Spirit King cultivation, furthermore owning a pure attack Spirit, decimating the Tier 3 Spirit Beasts were a cake’s walk for him. After a few short minutes, the hundred-strong beast horde had been reduced down to just a handful thus giving the assurance that he needed to leave the group unattended.

Similarly turning into a ball of red light, Commander Alwig disappeared into the forest, hoping to catch the trail of the esteemed healer, leaving behind Shin and the others to fend for themselves.

“Alright guys, I think that you guys can take care of the remainder, I’ll be watching over you!”

Ines, who still merged with her Ainu Flame Wolf, gave Shin, Ariel and the twins a mischievous wink before turning around to provide Marric with a nod. Among the elites of the First Elder division, Marric was one of the most trusted. Keeping an eye out on Songath and Slystan, Marric halted his attacks on the Tier 1 Spirit Beasts. Noticing the middle-aged man’s gaze, the two Spirit Lord brothers did the same. Since there was no immediate danger, it was the perfect chance for the youths that came with them to train against vicious Spirit Beasts of the Uncharted Wilderness.

Linus and Leon were the first to act. Not wanting to be overshadowed by Shin and Ariel, Linus used his Niji Swift and quickly attacked a nearby Tier 1 Spirit Beast that lacked the agility to dodge his attacks. Leon, on the other hand, kept a safe distance while protecting any random beasts from attack the young boy’s rear. The other two Rank 9 Spirit Practitioners likewise tried their best to keep up with their young master’s pace, but since they lacked the training, the fell short when it came to fighting their enemies.

“Shin! Cover me!”

Due to Ariel’s excessive swinging of her Lava Warhammer, the forest floor that she had fought in had turned into a landfill of lava, similar to the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. Well, since the scarlet-haired girl had been barred from letting loose in recent days, Ariel was like a pent-up volcano. Everytime her Lava Warhammer bludgeon a savage Spirit Beast to death, she felt her tension that she had built up over the days being released all at one shot.

Still holding the cute little cerulean Koi in his hand, Shin orbited the two spheres of liquid while flashing a bitter smile at the twins who were covering their backs. Emma and Ella giggled at Shin’s helpless reaction, nocking another ice arrow in the process. With Ariel leading the charge, the three Spirit Users behind her must do their best to support her in her exploits in any way possible. Due to Shin’s expert directions, the fiery little redhead was able to evade any certain death situations while the twins could identify the weak points of the beasts that they were facing; and at the centre of their operation, the black-haired teenager used a mixture of his paralysing

Bit by bit, the team cleared out the remainder of the horde. Linus and Leon were doing well too. Now that they were getting the hang of killing beasts, their cleaning operation rapidly increased, with Linus leading the charge. In less than thirty minutes, the last Spirit Beast of the horde was mercilessly smashed by a certain scarlet-haired girl’s Amazonian-like Warhammer, bringing an end to their conflict.

~~~

Traversing ten kilometres in a blink of an eye, Lady Seph made sure to scan the vicinity once more to check for signs of life. As expected, in that short period of time, there was no way that those trapped in the cave could efficiently escape. The moment Lady Seph’s light reached the cavern, the members hiding inside knew that their position was compromised. Frantically trying to destroy all evidence that they were here, the ground shook violently as they scurried about in their abode.

“Hmph! Trying to run huh?”

Nevertheless, there was no way that Lady Seph would allow them to continue destroying evidence. The Iofiel Angel levitating next her begun opened up her heavenly mouth as a melodious tune filled the verdant land. In her hands, a golden harp, designed with intricate carvings played a beautiful song as the angel’s creamy white fingers plucked gently on the tightly stung cords.

“[Sleep!]”

In an authoritative voice, Lady Seph barked out her orders. She had just used one of her trademark abilities, ‘Words of the Angel.’ By utilising the powers of the legendary Iofiel Angel, she was able to use that ability to heal wounds, force people to enter a deep slumber and to a certain extent, order the recipient of her ability to do her bidding. However, such a powerful ability was not without its limitations. It was only able to work if the person she is using it on had a much lower cultivation level than herself. Thankfully, she was currently a Rank 79 Spirit Emperor. There were very little people on the face of this earth that had the capabilities to resist her ‘Words of the Angel.’

Falling down like flies, the people in the cave began to feel their minds becoming clouded and their vision, blurry. The song that was being played continued to fill the area even affecting nearby innocent animals.

Tracking down Lady Seph using the hymn that was making animals enter the Garden of Hypnos, Commander Alwig finally noticed the cave that was so expertly hidden. Since his cultivation wasn’t low, the blonde knight could firmly resist the urge to lie down on the lovely grassy floor and let his mind enter into a state of hypnosis. However, it wasn’t easy. It went to show how potent Lady Seph’s abilities were.

‘Phew, luckily she’s not our enemy this time…’

Thanking his lucky stars that the elderly woman was not here at Aldrich’s Keep to wreak havoc, Commander Alwig raised his flaming claymore and broke down the barriers preventing outsiders from entering the cavern.

“After you, my Lady.”

Falling down from the air, Lady Seph gave the knight a slight nod before proceeding to enter the broken down door. The cave was extremely simple. Not many changes had been made from its natural appearance as bits of paper could be seen littered all over the room. Fallen bodies of men and women lay flat on the floor, some even snoring out loud, oblivious to the fact that the enemy had infiltrated their base.

But this base of operations was no some run off the mill settlement, formed by some average criminal syndicate. The faces of the slumbering individuals all were obscured by the pure obsidian-coloured masks, the signature of their organisation.

“The Black Masks! And so many of them!”

Commander Alwig exclaimed. It was rare to even see one Shura from the Black Masks let alone the twenty-odd number of them lying on the floor. Evidently, they were preparing for something massive.

“Look, my Lady! There’s the Tlchalo Traps!”

On a nearby table, three green lanterns, all emitting a small, odourless fog, lay ominously as if waiting for people to discover it.

“Alwig… Something’s not right… You go ahead and get as much evidence that you can lay your hands on. I need to investigate the inner parts of this cave…”

Although they had gotten a massive haul by capturing the enemy base, Lady Seph didn’t feel joyful in the slightest. Her heart couldn’t shake off this feeling of unease that she had the moment she set foot into this cave.

“Yes!”

Saluting the elderly woman, Commander Alwig flashed a triumphant smile and went on to retrieve the Tlchalo Traps, unaware of the danger that he was in.

“Hah…”

Breathing out a huge sigh, Lady Seph willed the Iofiel Angel to follow her tracks as she walked further into the humid and dark cave.

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