[Edited by: LemonFly (who was not happy about the bug imagery in this chapter)]
Within a dark, wet room, a bloody magical array loomed in front of one's eyes.
It was a mysterious magical array drawn using the mixed blood of seven different species of demons. All the runes and magical lines that composed the magical array were drawn using fresh blood. The fresh blood was warm and the lines carried a slightly crimson hue; they looked bizarre and evil.
In a corner of the room, there were countless dried bodies of demons from the Magical Swamp, all thrown messily in a pile. Each of them looked extremely miserable; anyone who saw them would be struck with shudders instantly.
A previous member of the three strongest apprentices in the tower, Hawkeye Clutha, now sat with his legs folded inside of a magical ring, which was drawn right in the center of the magical array. His body was fully covered with the pungent and stinking blood of the demons. Meanwhile, outside of this magical array, Madwoman stood, holding her huge blade. It seemed like she was thinking about something.
In the next few moments, following a weird murmuring coming from the magical array, countless crows with black feathers and red eyes flew in from the opened window and leapt straight into the crimson magical array.
Every single red-eyed crow who had leapt into the magical array exploded into tiny pieces of flesh and blood that shot in all direction. Countless black feathers floated through the air, but before they could touch the ground, they turned into wisps of smoke and vanished into thin air. Their flesh turned into countless skinless bloody snakes, whose bodies clustered outside of the magical ring that Hawkeye sat in.
When there were enough bloody snakes gathered around the magical ring, Clutha's body flickered as he removed himself from the center of the magical ring and reappeared beside Madwoman.
"Alright, the magical array has started to function. It is your turn now!" Clutha glanced around at everything inside of the room. Then he nodded his head, satisfied. A hideous and dreadful smile emerged on his face.
Though it was the last moment, Madwoman still hesitated. She couldn't help but ask, "Clutha, are you sure this Blood Sacrifice magical array can really stimulate my Physique and make it grow stronger? But why I can sense a slight smell of danger from it?"
Clutha replied, with a hideous smile on his face, "At our current stage, keep dreaming if you want to obtain significant growth in your overall strength without paying any price! Dangerous? Tell me, what magical array is not dangerous? This is the only Blood Sacrifice magical array that is within our ability and is also the only one that can help you! If this magical array wasn't only focused on improving Physique, do you really think I would be so generous and give away the opportunity to improve my overall strength to you? Remember, once you become a Pseudo-Adept, you must help me complete that mission!"
A determined expression flashed upon Madwoman's savage face; she no longer hesitated. Some loud *doom* noises were heard, as she finally removed the thick and heavy magical armor on her body, removed her inner dress, and revealing her lean and perfect body. Naked, she stepped into the magical array.
When she sat with both legs folded in the center of the magical ring, a shivering gleam flickered in Clutha's bloodshot eyes, before he let out a deep, hoarse cry.
As a result, more and more red-eyed crows started to leap through the window, and more and more bloody snakes clustered outside of the magical ring. Countless snake heads were poking around and their crimson bodies stacked, layer upon layer. Anyone who saw this would tremble in fear.
In the center of the magical ring, Madwoman immediately felt a raging crimson tidal wave swarm into her body. Stimulated by this crimson tidal wave, the body factors which had been stagnating for a long time once again filled with vigor and vitality; they started to grow slowly yet steadily.
Madwoman purposely held back the repelling force of her body from these external energies and allowed the crimson tidal wave to sweep across every single part of her body.
However, while her overall strength was increasing, Madwoman had a vague feeling that something was not right.
While the crimson tidal wave was stimulating her Physique's potential, it seemed like it was also slowly corroding her nerve system, which resulted in significantly decreasing her control over her body.
This… why was this process a little bit different from how Hawkeye Clutha had described?
Madwoman struggled, sat up straight, and opened her mouth, wanting to ask Clutha about this. But when she opened her mouth, only then did she realize that all of the nerves on her face had become paralyzed, as she couldn't let out any voice at all. Yet, when she tried to stand up from the floor, she felt as if every single part of her body had been dislocated and would never respond to her will.
Madwoman's heart started to race. Taking the opportunity before she lost all her strength, she poured in all her effort and turned her head. Only then was she able to see Clutha.
Clutha stood at the edge of the magical array, wearing a weird smile on his face and staring at her. His once bloodshot eyes had transformed into a bright green. As he opened his mouth, a bizarre looking bug head poked out from it. It had a ferocious mouthpiece and a pair of dreadful looking compound eyes. Anyone who looked at it felt their flesh creep.
Perhaps sensing that the time was right, the scorpion pushed with its razor sharp legs and leapt out from Clutha's mouth. It then crawled quickly across the floor, climbing over the creeping bloody snakes, until it got to Madwoman's feet.
The magical ring which had blocked all of bloody snakes on the outside had no effect on this scorpion. It moved and swayed its body at top speed, climbing up Madwoman's burly body to her mouth. Madwoman tried her best to clench her jaw, but the paralyzed nerves prevented her from doing so. Using its front legs, the scorpion opened up a tiny slit in her lips. Then, without hesitation, it simply squeezed through the slit.
The raging and furious Madwoman understood everything in an instant.
Evil Bugs Acteon! It was him behind all this!
The raging flame of anger burnt her body and mind. Using her strong will, bit by bit she expelled the crimson energies in her body. But too bad, when she had nearly succeeded in seizing back control of her body, her body started to tremble violently. It lasted for quite a long time, before everything calmed.
Quietly and calmly, Madwoman rose to her feet. When she suddenly opened her eyes, deep within her pupils, one could see a slightly bright green hue.
When she stood to face at Hawkeye Clutha, both of their mouths opened at the same time, revealing the hideous, dreadful, and ugly looking head of a bug.
At the same time, in many dark corners throughout the entire Swampy Tower, some fearful looking and ugly scorpions were hidden quietly. They were either hidden underneath the bed inside of an apprentice's residence or hidden in the darkest corner of the room. Silently and motionlessly, they kept watch over each and every move of all of the Apprentice Adepts.
If any apprentice sank into the deepest slumber, they would move noiselessly. Crawling along the bed-leg and over the soft blanket, inch by inch they moved closer to the target. Once there was an opportunity, they would leap forward immediately, with their quickest speed, and jump into the mouth of the apprentice.
Frightened and hoarse cries, together with the sound of struggling and retching, were heard from many of the apprentices' residences. None of that made any difference to the matter. Their throats swelled up and a small lump dug quickly through them. In just a short amount of time, the apprentices who had put up such a furious struggle would calm and lie back on their bed, continuing their sleep.
Meanwhile, inside their body, the head of bug was vaguely seen swaying its feelers happily!
Inside of the bloody, stinking bug nest of Evil Bugs, Acteon.
Acteon, still clad in the same thick, heavy black robe, bowed his head and sat quietly in the center of the secret room. Though the clothes on his body were seen moving, he didn't look like a living being.
So long his master, Anderson, didn't give him any orders, he would always remain in the same posture and behavior: eating, resting, multiplying, and growing mechanically. All of the scorpions were the result of his own multiplication and fission, and it happened right in his huge abdomen, which looked like a pregnant woman's. Countless tiny larvae kept splitting and multiplying. Then they would cluster together, slaughtering and devouring each other.
Only the scorpions that were strong enough could devour enough of their peers to leave Acteon's body and join the swarm of bugs that were in the secret room.
In a corner of the secret room, a swarm of scorpions had clustered together and formed a new wave of bugs. There were now two groups of distinctly different bugs and they never mixed together. In the heart of this new wave of bugs, the bizarre bug that hosted Acteon's primary consciousness constantly let out a faint chirping, keeping a secret spiritual connection with all of the bugs that had divided from it and now hid in different parts of the Swampy Tower.
Within its senses, one after another, Apprentice Adepts in different parts of the tower had fallen into its control. This had allowed it to spread its spiritual tentacles wantonly to every single remote corner of the place.
However, this army of its didn't go the expedient route and invade every single individual. Instead, it only targeted the Apprentice Adepts who possessed basic combative abilities. As for the human slaves who lived in the lowest tier of this population, it disdained to waste its energy on them. In addition to that, it also purposely avoided a few specific targets in this invasion that had spread throughout the entire tower and so didn't capture all the apprentices in one net.
Greem, Mary, Alice, and Snorlax the goblin: this four unique individuals had become the exceptions who mixed among the group of bug-infested humans and hadn't detected any changes to their surrounding environment.
Meanwhile, Acteon's primary consciousness, which was hiding behind the scenes and remotely controlling everything, now quietly accumulated and conserved his energy. Once the dreadful moment arrived, the individuals whose soul consciousness he controlled would become his fearless fighters. Although he had reached a strategic agreement with Greem, even though they were working together with a common effort, he still wished to keep some final trump cards that could allow him to turn the situation over at the last moment.
Snorlax lay on its stomach in the Little Shop of Goblin, bored.
Recently, things had seemed to become rather strange. All of the apprentices in the tower had been behaving weirdly.
A few of the Beginner Apprentices who used to gather in its shop had gone missing; the Swampy Tower, which had just turned lively and restless, had once again become deserted and quiet.
It was as if all of those apprentices had suddenly gone into a hibernation, dwelling in their own residence and rarely coming out. Occasionally, it would bump into a few of them in the corridor, but they just brushed past it expressionlessly, without even giving it a greeting.
After suffering a few days in such a bizarre atmosphere, Snorlax had started slacking. It simply closed the shop, returned to its residence, and started to arduously practice its Camouflage spell and Partial Transformation spell. For some unknown reason, its master had secretly given it a mission a few days ago. In order to it to achieve the goal set by its master, it would need to pour in more hard work!
After it returned to its residence and activated all the magical defensive mechanisms, Snorlax carefully took out its magic wand, pointed at its own body, and cast a Camouflage spell. Influenced by the magical energy, its body started to transform slowly.
The ugly and short body stretched a little bit taller, becoming similar to the target of its practice. The green skin also gradually turned fair and delicate. More importantly, it's ugly and withered face started to twist and turn; vaguely, the look of a cute little girl appeared.
Standing in front of a mirror and examining its looks, Snorlax shook its head, dissatisfied. It then stretched out the slim and fair hand that gripped the magic wand and kept waving and pointing at its body. Every time the magic wand touched its body, a small Partial Transformation spell transformed that part of the body closer to the image found in its mind.
After an hour of tedious and hard work, the ugly, stupid Snorlax disappeared. Standing inside of the room now was the proud, arrogant figure of Alice.