Chapter 402 Recruitment
If Greem's fire spells were what hurt the manticores the most, then Gargamel's poison mist potions were what exterminated any hopes of survival the beasts might have had.
The battle today would have taken far more time if it wasn't for Gargamel. Gargamel was able to keep the manticores contained in the cave, but he had no means by which to kill them. In truth, the overall strength of the manticore pack was at least two or three times more than Greem and his party.
However, there was no 'if' in this world!
The logical combat strategy, combined with the appropriate men, along with a perfect execution allowed this victory of the few over the many.
Even with the might of their powerful bodies and fearless wills, the adolescent manticores failed to blow away the 'boulder' in their path. That was when their tragic fates were sealed!
The manticore leader retreated deep into the depths of the cave. Two teenage manticores took his place instead. The strongest manticores had already withdrawn due to their injuries. They had no choice but to send the slightly weaker ones to try and break through the siege.
However, the ones they faced were true monsters. There was the wholly repaired Roaring Monster and the fierce fire adept. A meat shield and a force of pure destruction. Add to the equation the Decayer and Gargamel, and there was no way the teenage manticores could succeed.
They were hit and wounded by a chain of spells before they even reached the Roaring Monster. Even when they finally arrived in front of the stone giant, a single Trembling Earth sent them packing.
Then, it was yet another storm of spells pelting against their hides!
The two teenage manticores collapsed almost immediately. They would have died right there in the tunnel if the manticores behind them hadn't dragged them by their tails and brought their unconscious bodies back into the cave.
It was now that the full extent of Gargamel's sinister plan revealed itself.
If it weren't for the poison mist, the manticores would have had plenty of other options. At the very worst, they would have been able to defend their position and turn the fight into a protracted one with the adepts. However, Gargamel's existence made that impossible. Suffocating poison mist filled the entire cave, leaving the manticores with no other choice but to recklessly throw their bodies against the onslaught.
Of course, the manticore leader could have had a better chance at breaking through if he had been a little more sly. For example, sending the teenage manticores to fight while they were still at their peak would have worn away at the Roaring Monster and Greem's strength. Then they could have sent the elite manticores to hack at them relentlessly. It would probably have increased their chances of breaking through.
After all, the adepts barely had any meat shields on their side. There was only the Roaring Monster and the somewhat underqualified Greem. The situation would ultimately have turned against the adepts the moment the Roaring Monster was destroyed. There would be no turning the tides then!
After all, Greem could not compare to his past self. Having lost the Infernal Tyrant, Greem's strength was barely at the level of a veteran adept. If he unsealed the Flame Fiend's Heart, he would temporarily possess the explosive power of an elite adept. Unfortunately, that only lasted for a mere fifteen minutes.
With only that level of power, it was extremely believable that the elite-level magical creatures would defeat him!
In the end, he still managed to pull off this plan that he had simulated with the use of the chip. Many things happened in the process, but they had managed to take down these manticores without much risk.
Eleven manticores, yet not one of them had been blown to bits by Greem's violent spells. Instead, all eleven of them had collapsed to Gargamel's poison; they were sprawled all across the cave, weakened and exhausted.
Even the wounded elite manticore leader was no exception!
All the hair on his body had fallen out. Blisters covered his skin, and sour pus trickled down his body.
Even Greem couldn't help but feel some slight lamentations when he dispersed the mist and set eyes on this scene. Such a powerful manticore family, yet they were still taken down by a few adepts. It was so bizarre that it was almost unbelievable.
However, Greem's sympathy only lasted for a short moment as he looked at the crippled manticores. He then raised his voice and gave an order to Gargamel, "Hurry up and save them! We must not let them die, or we will be losing way too much!"
There was no need for Greem's reminder. Gargamel was already on the task. He dove into the cave and laughed without reservation when he saw the collapsed manticores. His sharp, owl-like voice was chilling to hear.
"Quick. Quick, quick," Gargamel gave a series of commands, "Give them the antidotes and tie them up."
The mercenaries that hadn't been able to help in the previous fight now rushed into the cave. They held a piece of wet cloth drenched in some sort of potion over their mouths.
With their help, all eleven of the manticores were quickly restrained with ropes and fed the antidotes.
Gargamel was not kind enough to completely remove the toxin in their bodies. If the poison hadn't weakened the manticores, then they could have easily broken free of these ironthread vine ropes with their natural strength. Thus, the antidotes that Gargamel fed them were modified remedies. It took away the lethal effects of the poison but kept the manticores in a weakened state. The medicines also caused the toxins to seep into their lungs to make it easier to force the beasts into submission.
A family of manticore like this one was most suited to be recruited as the future guards of the adept's tower. Greem left the task of drafting the manticores to Gargamel, while he went deeper underground. There, he found a massive cavern and a lava well.
Greem sensed the dense fire elementium aura the moment he stepped into this place. The entire network of caves spanned one full kilometer. A glowing red light enveloped it. The suffocating smell of sulfur was thick in the air. And the source of all this was the lava well in the center of the cavern! A fiery well five meters in diameter!
It was a lava well that went straight down into the depths of the ground. Looking down from above, Greem saw roiling magma everywhere. The well was approximately fifty meters away from the surface of the lava sea. The walls around the lava were all volcanic rocks that could endure the unbearable heat of the molten rocks. These volcanic rocks were the perfect materials with which to construct a fire adept's tower.
Greem gripped his staff and decisively leaped into the sea of lava. The partial immunity brought about by his body of flames allowed him to explore the surface of the sea of lava. The fire adept was promptly shocked.
This place was a natural Lung of the Earth!
Much like humans need lungs to breathe, the world underground required passages by which energy could flow to and from the surface world. Volcanoes were one such formation. However, most of the other Lungs of the Earth existed in such a fashion, like the one in front of Greem.
They were hidden all over the Continent, sometimes even found at the bottom of the Boundless Sea.
These 'Lungs' dispersed the heat underground to the surface with the use of winding passages, then absorbed the ubiquitous elementium energy back into the depths of the underground.
And here was a natural Lung of the Earth that contained mostly fire elementium!
Its existence was immensely valuable to a fire adept like himself!
Greem left a magical emblem near the lava well to serve as a coordinate marker. It was only then that he returned to the manticore den satisfied.
Gargamel experienced a significant breakthrough in the three days Greem had left on his adventure.
The two manticore cubs were the first to crumble before the threat of death and poison. They lowered their heads in humiliation, opening their souls and allowing Gargamel to place a soul mark inside them. With the threat of the poison and the implantation of his soul mark, these two manticore cubs were entirely under Gargamel's control. A single word and they would kill themselves if that were Gargamel's wish.
The other manticores soon surrendered after that. They were then freed. Only the two elite manticores refused to submit, even with the threat of death hanging above their heads. This undoubtedly exasperated Gargamel.
However, after Greem returned, he went to have a heart-to-heart talk with the manticore leader and finally managed to have the beast submit! Two factors caused him to surrender:
First, Greem promised that this would be a contract of service rather than a contract of servitude. That meant that Greem would have to pay the manticore family from now on. This amount was temporarily determined to be thirty magical crystals.
Second, the descendants of the manticores would be free beasts. Any cubs born from now on were not to be bound by contract and were free to live, spawn, and migrate as they wish. The adepts would not be allowed to interfere!
Greem happily agreed to these two points. It was only then that the manticore leader joined his faction along with his mate.
Having dealt with the manticore issue, Greem left Gargamel, Sabrina, and Daniel in Plaguewood and led the mercenaries back to Pinecone Town.
Eva, on the other hand, was hiding somewhere obscure. The mercenaries had never met her, and naturally didn't know of her existence!
This trip into the Black Forest had taken a total of twenty-seven days from start to finish. All of Pinecone Town was astonished when they successfully returned unharmed.
The mercenaries that stayed in the town rushed to the inn to listen to Love and the others talk about their adventure. However, all members of the party that Greem had hired kept their mouths shut. They didn't dare leak even a single detail about their employer.
Greem only stayed in Pinecone Town for a single night. He hurried back to his clan on the second day.
The first thing he did upon returning was to pay a visit to Lady Sanazar. He then submitted his request to construct his personal adept's tower.
This construction was something Great Adept Lord Sarubo had personally promised him after the conclusion of the last planar war. As such, he was extraordinarily straightforward and confident about his request.
Lady Sanazar seemed to be in a good mood. She happily agreed to Greem's request and left the task to Second Grade Adept Fügen.
Greem asked around after the meeting and found out the reason for Lady Sanazar's joyful spirits; the clan's ambassador in the Northern Lands had finally managed to establish contact with Alice. The two clans had established an extremely beneficial negotiation. It wasn't hard to imagine Sanazar's joy at the situation.