Chapter 196 Skirmish in the Woods
A small five-person adventure group trekked through the woods with difficulty.
From their formation, it was clear that this was an adventuring party with powerful combat strength.
An extremely strong warrior was carving a path at the very front, using the large sword in his hand to cut a narrow route through the dense vegetation. A scrawny rogue was following behind the warrior, his mousy eyes, cautiously on the lookout, incessantly drifting about the shadows around them.
Besides those two, there was an archer with an arrow already knocked, his expression alert. There were also two powerful spellbreaker knights who had taken off their heavy knight's armor, and were currently only wearing chainmail.
The bushes were dense, and the trees stretched forever.
Coming into this place, and all you would see is darker and lighter shades of green. It was honestly difficult to even find any other color.
The thick and knotted roots of ancient trees, the resilient vines that wound together, the bushes and vegetations that grew everywhere, as well as all sorts of wildflowers and weeds that couldn't be named, were more than enough to completely fill the spaces between each of the large, ancient trees. It was undoubtedly an exceptionally tortuous task for any traveller, without preparation, to walk through such primitive woods.
Flowing rivers, streams in the mountains, and solemn valleys… these were all common sights in the woods. If the terrain had been flat, crossing through these places would not take more than a couple of minutes. Yet here in this dense forest, they often had to take two to four hours of great effort to pass through.
The warrior, rogue, and archer were veterans who often spent their time doing jobs in the Greenland Forest, and were therefore unfazed by the difficulty before them. However, the two spellbreaker knights that were closely following behind, now without their magic colts, were having an absolutely difficult time getting used to the pain of journeying through the hills and rivers.
The had only gone less than four kilometers into the woods, yet the two spellbreaker knights were already sweating all over. The simple chainmail on their bodies felt as heavy as a mountain.
Even so, neither of the spellbreaker knights expressed their discomfort, and neither of them suggested a rest. They grit their teeth and endured, walking behind the three adventurers step by step, exploring the woods before them slowly.
The group finally stopped for a break after arriving at the bottom of a small cliff.
The two spellbreaker knights painfully dragged their heavy bodies to the side of a flowing mountain stream, scooped up the cool water and had a hearty drink. The warrior who led the party did the same.
If it hadn't been for the path he cut open, these two knights, who were used to wrapping themselves up in their tin cans, would never have been able to reach here by themselves.
The archer was a middle-aged man with a lean build, sharp facial features, as well as a piercing glare. He didn't rest by the side of the river and drink deeply like his companion. Instead, he leaned on an ancient tall tree at the bottom of the cliff, constantly assessing his surroundings while occasionally turning his ears to listen for movement in the woods.
Any trace of strange sounds and he would have his finger on the bowstring. If he felt anything out of place, the sharp arrow on his bow would instantly shoot out.
The rogue, on the other hand, was an agile fellow. While everyone was resting, he climbed to the top of the cliff and looked about, periodically leaning down and using hand signals to communicate with the archer.
"How is it? Did Jack find anything?" A spellbreaker knight couldn't help but ask once he was done drinking.
Jack was the rogue's name.
The archer shook his head, his face white as a sheet, "Nothing at all! This forest is way too quiet. I have been making a living in Greenland Forest for five years, and I have never seen the woods be so quiet; so quiet, not even a small animal can be found! Sir, this forest has been enveloped by an ominous feeling. Why don’t we go back?"
The slightly younger spellbreaker knight, his face full of determination, sternly replied, "You lot cannot go back now. We hired you to come here for the purpose of finding the den of those heretics. Before we find anything, none of us here are allowed to go back! If you escape on your own, you will still receive the harshest punishment when you get back. So let go of your pointless thoughts, and focus on how to safely complete the mission!"
The older spellbreaker knight took out an old parchment map from his arms, and started to evaluate their current location. It was obvious that the road that they still needed to search was very long, evident from the bending and curving route drawn on the map.
The warrior shrugged and put on a helpless expression upon hearing the spellbreaker knight's words. Meanwhile, frustration and hesitation appeared on the archer's face.
While he was in a daze, a vine dangling from the tree he was leaning on curiously moved without any wind blowing. Silently, the vine that almost touched the ground started to curl like a snake, raising itself upwards.
The tip of the vine split apart, revealing a set of sharp teeth like that of a beast.
Just as the vine was slowly inching forward, its sharp teeth about to touch the archer's exposed neck, the rogue on the cliff leapt downwards. The throwing daggers in his hand screeched through the air and slashed past the archer's ears, hitting square on the tip of the vine.
"Clang!" The crisp and clear sound of metal clashing. The archer's body trembled. Aware of the danger, he didn't turn around, and instead flipped forward instantly.
The vine wasn't cut or damaged by the throwing dagger. It even let out a metallic sound similar to clashing swords when it was hit. The lunging vine didn't manage to bite the archer's neck, having been stopped by the dagger. It's sharp teeth bit nothing, letting out an odd grinding sound as the teeth gnashed together.
It evidently knew it had been exposed, as a weird cracking sound rang out from the roots of the old tree beneath the cliff. The tree pulled out its fine yet dense roots from the ground, entangling and fashioning them into limbs that resembled human legs, before slowly walking towards the humans.
Moreover, the dozens of vines dangling from its body started to move, their tips splitting into mouths with sharp teeth, letting out terrifying snapping sounds.
"Dammit… what kind of monster is this!" The warrior roared as he waved the large sword in his hand and charged forward.
As a small adventuring group, he was the only one who could charge forward, do frontal assaults, and other sorts of dangerous activities. His two other companions couldn't take on such an odd and powerful magical creature from the front. On the other hand, the two spellbreaker knights, as the employers, had the right to remain neutral until the adventurers failed.
The archer quickly put some distance between himself and the tree-shaped magical creature. Snapping sounds came ceaselessly from the bowstring in his hands, as one arrow after another shot towards the enemy in a straight line. This was the first time he had ever seen a magical creature like this. With no means of identifying the enemy's weakness, he could only choose to attack the enemy's thick tree trunk.
The rogue clearly had the same idea, as the envenomed throwing daggers in his hands were also desperately thrown towards the enemy's thick body.
Unfortunately, most of the their attacks were brushed aside by the madly waving vine serpents. Even when some arrows and daggers made it through, they didn't seem to have any effect.
Evidently this terrifying magical creature was not scared of attacks from such small sharp weapons!
The warrior slashed the tree several times, sending wrinkled and rough tree bark, as well as tree sap, flying everywhere. But before he could do more damage, a thick root came up from the ground, binding his legs and making him fall flat.
The ancient tree moved its forked ‘legs’, slowly moving towards the warrior. The vine serpents dangling from its branches snapped their jaws, as if they were about to devour the warrior whole.
The two spellbreaker knight looked at each other and nodded, before immediately activating the runic equipment on their bodies. The small shield bound to their left hands emitted a semi-translucent energy shield, while a sliver of elementium flame appeared on the runic sword in their right hands, before slowly extending to the rest of the blade.
Energy shields and flame swords.
These two spellbreaker knight were also experienced soldiers. They knew that fire was undoubtedly the greatest counter to such beefy plant-type creatures.
One spellbreaker knight stepped forward, the flame sword in his right hand slashing forward vigorously. The flame blade extended outwards and left a burning crescent moon trail in the air, slicing through the roots binding the warrior.
The roots broke, sending viscous green sap flying everywhere.
The ancient tree-shaped creature shook in pain, and all the vine serpents moved to the front of the trunk, snapping at the spellbreaker knights.
One had to admit that the spellbreaker knights, with their runic equipment, were the natural enemies of all magical beings!
The energy shield with no elemental alignment could block curses and almost all spells, with the exception of spells with penetration effects. They also had exceptional defense against physical attacks. This ensured the personal safety of the spellbreaker knights. With the addition of the flame longsword in their hands, which dealt double attribute damage of both physical and fire types, they could deal incalculable amounts of damage to the enemy.
If this ancient tree, with its tree bark armor, had been left to the adventurers to deal with, at least seven or eight casualties would have been needed to take it down. But with the spellbreaker knights' powerful defense and offense, they were able to set the ancient tree on fire, while only paying the price of the warrior being lightly injured.
Indeed, when the spellbreaker knights cut a deep opening on the ancient tree's body and used the flames to ignite the green sap, the entire tree started to let out ear-piercing scream. It was like that of a human’s as it painfully burned in the sea of fire.
The three-man adventure group was naturally ecstatic at being able to successfully eliminate such a powerful magical being.
However, before they could loot the spoils from the burning body of the ancient tree, the two spellbreaker knights gravely shouted, "Hurry up and come back! Get ready. The true enemy is about to arrive!"
The three-man group was horrified.
Such… such a powerful magical creature still wasn't the enemy’s main force?
Just as they were hesitating, the overwhelming sound of thrashing winds suddenly filled the entire woods nearby.
A large black shadow started to emerge from all over the woods, screeching as it surged towards them.
"Bat swarm! It's a bat swarm…"
The next moment, their shouts were drowned out by the bloodsucking vampires that surged forth like a tide!