Chapter 177 Bait
Colca Village had become a ghost village!
This colossal news started to spread quickly through Blue Hillock City. Soon, it found its way to Ninther's ears.
According to mercenaries who frequently entered Greenland Forest, the Colca Village, near the edge of the forest, had become a ghost village overnight. All the villagers had vanished! More surprisingly, everything within the village had been untouched. Be it food, clothing, the houses, or even the animal leather and mountain herbs treasured by the villagers- all of it had been left where it was. The only thing missing was the living.
From villagers, hunters, all the way to the hunting dogs, the cows and the sheep- as long as it was a living thing- everything had vanished, with not a single track that indicated that they had left.
The few mercenaries that passed by were terrified, and blamed it all on the supernatural. Immediately, they ran all the way back to Blue Hillock City and reported the incident to the castellan.
And so, in a single day, all sorts of rumours took Blue Hillock City by storm!
Some said that a monster had appeared in the forest. Some claimed that the villagers were infected by some sort of plague. Some were even more preposterous, spreading the news that some terrifying heretics had appeared there……
As everyone in Blue Hillock City panicked over the incident, Ninther had already invited the mercenaries into the camp and had to describe all the details they had seen.
That very night, all one hundred of the witcher-knights suddenly left Blue Hillock City, rushing swiftly towards Colca Village where the mysterious disappearances had occurred.
Twenty kilometers of mountain road was nothing for the witcher-knights, who were used to traversing long distances. Moreover, most of the knights here were elites from all over the country. Their mounts were also no ordinary warhorses, but specially trained magic colts.
These magic colts were larger and stronger than ordinary warhorses, possessing fangs and sharp teeth similar to beasts of the woods. More terrifyingly, special scales that were akin to scale armor grew on their bodies, allowing them to shrug off attacks from sharp weapons.
These magic colts played a significant part in ensuring the witcher-knights were able to ride unchallenged throughout this entire plane.
These magic colts were only available for the elites amongst the witcher-knights, so it was hard to even see one in a place as rural as Blue Hillock City.
Thanks to the magic colts' beast-like agility, and sharp claws that excelled at climbing cliffs, the witcher-knight army managed to quickly arrive at Colca Village, situated in the middle of the mountain.
When they arrived, it was almost dawn already. A thin ribbon of white light had already surfaced on the horizon far away.
Still, walking into the desolate village still sent shivers down the spines of the knights.
Most of the witcher-knights stayed outside the village. Only the elites who had advanced into spellbreaker knights followed Ninther on their horses into the small village. Besides proficiency in all sorts of knight battle techniques, some of these elites also possessed several other unique skills.
Several dozens torches the size of an arm were placed all over the village!
Multiple witcher-knights who were skilled at tracking immediately started a detailed search of Colca Village. Soon, some hidden clues started to surface.
Plenty of odd bug sheddings and broken insect exoskeletons were found. They even found large amounts of torn clothes, and human limbs that hadn't been cleanly devoured, in a straw house.
Judging from all the clues, Colca Village had been attacked without warning two nights ago.
The direction of the attackers pointed towards the northwest of Greenland Forest nearby, while the attacker themselves seemed to be some kind of terrifying magical insectoid creature.
Just as the elite knights gathered to discuss their plan of pursuit, a horrified yell came from the direction of the witcher-knights outside the village.
"They are bugs……"
"Everyone be careful!"
The chaotic noise caused Ninther, the leader of the army, to have a change in expression. Almost instantly, he leapt onto his magic colt and slapped it on the back, charging out of the small mountain village.
The witcher-knights outside the village were in complete disarray now. Under the light of numerous torches, the knights closest to the forest were stamping their feet without stop, as if they were fighting with something. Three witcher-knights had already fallen beside them, no longer moving even an inch.
Ninther had just ridden his magic colt there when he was shocked by the horrifying scene before him.
Scorpions; lots of scorpions, waves of scorpions, mountains of scorpions……
Countless black scorpions were already crawling on the bodies of the three witcher-knights that fell to the ground. The odd sounds of armor and bones being chewed didn't stop. Very quickly, two of the five knights, still struggling amidst the swarm of bugs, were stung by the black stingers of the scorpions and fell in a daze.
The other three grabbed onto ropes tossed over by their companions, and were fortunate enough to have been dragged out of the swarm.
"Where did these bugs come from?" Ninther asked loudly.
"From the inside of the forest! They swarmed out of the forest and attacked us while we were resting……" An elite knight that had stayed behind shouted back.
"Set fire to them……use fire to burn them……"
Following Ninther's command, torch after torch was thrown into the swarm of bugs, falling like raindrops in the ocean. Some witcher-knights even disassembled the hunters’ wooden houses and threw the straw and wooden boards into the fire. As the crackling sound of burning fat, and the pungent odor of scorched flesh filled the air, the rampaging swarm was finally scared, retreating back into the forest like a tide.
"Sir, look!" A witcher-knight suddenly exclaimed.
Ninther followed the direction he was pointing at, and with the help of the strand of dawn light, he was able to see a mysterious black silhouette in the depths of the forests, where the swarm of bugs had disappeared.
It was a mysterious silhouette completely covered in a black robe. It had a large frame, and a pair of ghostly green eyes that were silently looking over from under the shadow of its hood.
"Heretic!" Ninther said, his rage saturating every syllable of the word.
There was no need for his instructions. Already, a dozen rune bows had been drawn into full moons. Qiang! Qiang! Qiang!……a series of cracks could be heard as the bowstring were released. A dozen flame arrows streaking red light slashed through the dark sky, turning the spot where the silhouette was standing into a burning field.
The odd, black-robed silhouette only flickered for a second at the edge of the sea of fire, before vanishing into the depths of the woods.
"Chase!" Ninther waved his arm vigorously, and turned his head to shout backwards, "Edward, you lead the army forward. I'll go intercept him with some troops!"
Having said that, Ninther brought along seven or eight companions. They drove their magic steeds to their limits and quickly disappeared into the dark woods.
The red sun was already halfway past the horizon. The darkness in the woods was slowly receding.
The thin mist slowly dissipated under the sunshine, spreading moist air inside the forest.
The mysterious silhouette constantly flickered in the depths of the woods far away. Ninther had shot several flame arrows with his bow, but the shadow had managed to dodge them all while still retaining its speed.
The magic colts were like terrifying demons, dashing through the woods, scaling cliffs and crossing rivers with ease. The magic colts only needed to jump, aided by the boost of their sharp claws, to cross a small hill nine meters high. The colts could run as if they were in flight, regardless of how rocky and uneven the roads were, as if they were sprinting on flat ground.
The well trained witcher-knights bent their bodies and leaned onto the backs of the magic colts. They rode on the colts as they jumped and sprinted across vines, bushes, and woods with weeds half the height of a human, closely tracking the mysterious flickering silhouette.
This was not recklessness or fearlessness on the part of the witcher-knights; rather, it was part of their combat style and methods.
On the Continent of Witchers, the heretics were few in number and always the targets of pursuit and chase, never able to form an organized or powerful force. Thus, the witcher-knights would always track the heretics relentlessly once they found them, rarely wondering about boring and pointless things like the possibility of the opponent setting a trap.
Yet they had no idea that as they were riding on their horses and speeding across the dense woods, several other mysterious silhouettes was already on their tail, quickly approaching them from above the forest canopy.
This was a group of odd bloodsucking bats.
They had wide bat wings and agile movements, effortlessly weaving through the dense foliage, silently closing in on the group of witcher-knights.
The knight at the rear of the formation was a veteran. His magic colt was already fairly old, and it couldn't keep up with the stamina and explosive movements of its companions. Seven minutes of riding had put a distance of a dozen meters between him and his companions in front.
With the speed of the magic colts, this distance could hardly be called falling behind. But even so, this distance still caused him to be caught in an ambush.
Even though he hadn't heard anything, the senses honed from numerous years in the service alerted him to something odd behind him.
Vigilant, he grabbed the hilt of his sword, bent his body, and turned around slightly to look.
There was no movement at all in the dark woods. Not a single enemy appeared in his sight.
Was the bad feeling in his heart just him being oversensitive?
Just as he was hesitating, he caught a glimpse of something odd above him from the corner of his eyes.
The enemy was above!
A bloodsucking bat that had swooped down in front of him suddenly charged forward before he could do anything. In a fraction of a second, Its furry body transformed into a young man with blood-colored eyes and sharp claws.
The young man in the air knocked the witcher-knight off his magic colt, and the two started a savage fight as they tussled. Before they had even landed, more bloodsucking bats charged forward, transforming into vampires. They ignored the knight’s attempt to resist and struggle, quickly leaping on him.
In just a few seconds, the witcher-knight had been drained of blood and killed, savaged by the attacks of half a dozen vampires. Just then, the witcher-knight closest to the rear of the group up ahead faintly heard the sound of savage fighting and thrashing behind him as he rode. When he turned back to look, all he saw was a mouth lined with sharp teeth rapidly closing in on him.