Chapter 176 Gathering of the Three
The location of the meeting was set in the mountain ridge at the edge of the forest.
Greem was wearing a black robe, calmly sitting there as he poked the crackling fire with a stick. The campfire before him flickered, bright one moment, dim the next.
The impromptu meeting point seemed empty. With the exception of the trees swaying in the wind, there was nothing, not even the golem army Greem always brought with him.
It didn't take long before a sound came from the trees in the west. A man, also in a black robe, came out of the woods with a group of subordinates who walked with abnormal postures.
It was Acteon and his bunch of bugmen!
It seems Acteon had absolutely no trust in his two companions, even though he chose to attend the meeting. He even brought the bugmen force that he had just managed to amass for his own safety.
Shortly after stepping out from the trees, Acteon stopped.
He was not friendly enough with Greem to share a seat and drink with him by the same fire. Moreover, he wasn't an idiot. Wasn't the pile of rocks by Greem's side, that looked like a natural formation, his stone serpent in disguise?
Two clay golems were hidden in the earth beneath the fire, while a fire elemental would probably leap out of the fire itself at any moment. There were even those almost invisible wind elementium golems floating above the top of the trees nearby.
If Acteon had gone to Greem's side, it would be no different than putting your neck before the fangs of a tiger. When that happened, your life was all up to the tiger. Acteon would never do something idiotic like that!
After he arrived, Acteon kept observing Greem's golem army that was hidden all over the place. Greem, too, was assessing Acteon's bugman army.
It seems they had been able to retain their external human shape. They were only stiff and slow in their movements. With Greem's really ‘good’ eye for evaluating things, he could tell that the bugmen were not significantly stronger then they had been in their previous lives. This meant that Acteon didn't intend to rely on them for battles.
If their individual strength had not increased, then the bugmen were definitely for another special purpose! Was it to have them be the host body of numerous scorpions? Or do they have some special ability to transform?
For a moment, even Greem had no clear idea of the use of Acteon's bugmen army.
Ever since he became an adept, Greem's greatest feeling was that the constraints of law and morality on him had vanished. His comprehension of the fire-elemental laws let him sense the existence of the plane consciousness for the first time, and indirectly let him experienced the power and profundity of the adepts.
Anyone that became an adept had terrifying means that drew directly from the planar laws. Even a low-level apprentice spell would have the powerful ability of affecting the soul and interacting with plane laws- if it was cast by the hands of an adept.
This made battles between adepts extremely precarious. Even a slight misstep could put you in big trouble!
When Acteon was still an apprentice, he only had the ability to split into bugs and share damage between all his bugs. These abilities could easily be dealt with as long as you prepared specialized means to do so. But now that Evil Bugs Acteon had become an adept, along with this period of time that he used to improve and cover up his deficiencies, his powers and methods were once again mysterious and unknown.
Even Greem was not willing to break into open conflict with such an unpredictable opponent without complete certainty of victory.
Just as the two were assessing each other, while staying a hundred meters apart, Bloody Mary arrived!
She didn't come alone.
The flapping sound of beating wings rumbled endlessly as seven bloodsucking bats emerged from east of the woods. They landed on the ground and turned into humans. The first of them was naturally Mary, whom Greem hadn't seen in several days. The ones following behind her were the army of blood servants she had just amassed.
These little fellows had just completed their transformation into vampires, and had no chance to experience the power of the adepts. As such, they bared their fangs and threatened everyone present the moment they landed, in a show of loyalty towards their mistress.
Greem and Acteon ignored their provocation, paying attention to the individual power they had.
Of the seven blood servants, three were powerful men that could rival pseudo-adepts, while the other four were as powerful as advanced apprentices.
This amount of power might not be comparable to the subordinates of the other two yet, but one needed to factor in the fact that Mary had created this army in the matter of several days. Once Acteon included the factor of time, he had no choice but reevaluate Mary's power.
Three adepts that advanced on the same day!
As they gathered once more in this other world, even though their wary eyes were still filled with distrust, they all considered each other as strong and worthy opponents in their hearts.
At least for Acteon, this was the case. He had always thought of Mary as a decorative character. He had absolute confidence he could crush Mary without Greem’s meddling. But now, it seemed Mary would be as terrifying as Greem if she was given the chance to show her power!
Greem couldn't help but laugh bitterly in his heart when he saw Mary's gloating expression.
Mary was still too driven by her need to show her superiority.
Even though they were already inseparable ‘strategic allies’ and ‘battle companions’ whose lives were intertwined, Greem’s excessively dominant position in their relationship had provoked Mary's fragile and sensitive heart.
Mary's actions this time were both meant to intimidate Acteon, as well as to flaunt her strength in front of Greem!
Acteon might only be able to see the strength and power of Mary's subordinates, but Greem had done extensive research on her body. He could see past her superficial strength to see her weakness.
How could there be no price for creating blood servants?
The Embrace might look like she was taking the blood from the victim, but in truth, she was transfusing part of her blood essence into the victim's body to achieve complete control over the victim.
With Mary's power, there might not have been a problem if she had taken her time to create the blood servants, along with the nourishment of plenty of blood treats. But for the sake of looking strong, she had Embraced so many blood servants in such a short time. This also meant that she would be lacking a large amount of her blood essence in the short term.
This was a tremendous loss that was hard to be mitigated, even with days of devouring blood!
Now that the three had arrived, the battle conference began.
First, Mary gave a simple description of the witcher-knights' strength.
The witcher-knights that were about to advance into the Greenland Forest this time numbered 117. Most of them were low-level witcher-knights. There were only fifteen of them that were Spellbreaker Knights, who had power rivaling the adepts. This also meant that in the following days of fighting in the woods, the three of them would have to deal with enemies five times their number, as well as an army several dozen times larger than their own forces.
Without the fifteen Spellbreaker Knights, any number of witcher-knights were only prey waiting to be hunted. But with spellbreaker knights now in the mix, their hunt was going to be significantly harder.
One mistake and they could lose their lives!
None of the three here had any intention or spirit to bravely sacrifice themselves. The only reason they were here was because the situation gave them no other choice. Moreover, they wanted a taste of plane wars. As long as there was benefit to be gained, they would do the job. Of course, the dangerous tasks were something no one wanted to do.
Adepts were a group of cold and selfish individuals. All their plans and schemes were for themselves, and themselves only.
Everyone wanted the jobs that gave huge rewards with no risk. And everyone wanted to avoid the jobs that were risky and demanded great sacrifice!
According to Mary, the group of witcher-knights intended to split into twelve smaller groups once they entered the Greenland Forest. Then they will keep a certain distance from each other while sweeping through the entire forest.
Greem and Acteon were naturally delighted to hear this news!
In their eyes, a scattered iron fist was a lamb waiting to be culled. It may be a thorny encounter, but it was far from enough to deter them.
However, the enemies were way too spread out. There was only three of them. It was hard to completely keep track of the enemies' movements. Should any of the enemies accidentally wander into the adepts' base, the situation would be out of their control.
The Continent of Witchers might strongly reject the existence of spellcasters, but the witchers themselves still used primitive magical equipment. If any of them had some kind of long-distance communication tool with them, they would be able to reveal the location of the adepts' base; the three of them would fail their mission that way.
Perhaps an even stronger wave of witcher-knights would attack the adepts' base directly, under the lead of higher grade knights. Then, not only would the adepts' camp be in danger, even Greem and the others would have nowhere to rest, caught between the two and crushed to oblivion.
So after the three had a quick discussion, they agreed that they could not let the witcher-knights wander about just for the ease of hunting. They had to find a way to contain the knights before they even entered the Greenland Forest.
And doing so required them to have a full-on battle with the knights!
All three of them were decisive adepts. After a brief summary of the information they had, they quickly produced a simple battle plan and divided the tasks between themselves.
Fifteen minutes later, Acteon turned back, bringing with him his bugman army and retreating into the woods, disappearing in the depths of the forest.
Mary let out a whistle, and instantly her blood servants turned into bloodsucking bats, beating their wings as they circled around her.
Greem called out, seeing that she was about to leave.
A clay urn the size of a fist flew towards Mary, who was about to take off.
Mary caught the urn. Still confused, she shook it. The sound of a viscous liquid sloshing about came from inside. Her eyes lit up. She opened the urn and the thick and pungent odor of blood filled her nose.
The bloodsucking bats circling around immediately became excited.
Mary smiled as she kept the urn. The next instant, she vanished from the spot in a red flash!