The afternoon sun shone on the yellowish mountains, and was especially bright on the rocky peaks.
Four youngsters in khaki coloured hunting clothes lay beneath the shade of a fruit tree and nibbled on round red fruit while looking below intently.
There was a grey-white lane at the bottom of the hill, located in the narrow space between two cliffs.
The four of them climbed onto one side of the hill and stared attentively at the center of the lane in the crevice.
This quintet consisted of three men and a woman, who seemed like some sort of group.
"Garen, make your butterfly fly a little further towards the east. Try and see if there’s anything there?" said one of the friendly-looking men in a soft voice. "We’ve been waiting here for such a long time, yet we haven’t managed to find anything yet. Wasn’t this area supposed to be a hotspot for bandits?"
"I’ll try and see," said a handsome, golden-haired youth sat against the bottom of the tree trunk. The youth was Garen, who had just arrived from Iron Tank City. "My neon butterfly would be too conspicuous in this area. Besides, my maximum control range cannot exceed three kilometers."
"Right now the only thing we can do is wait like here like a bunch of fools," Goth said as he lay on his back. He took a large bite out of the fruit in his hand. There was already a pile of five or six fruit stones beside him.
"Be patient," Jessica replied softly.
Goth bit down hard on the red fruit. A look of utter boredom was plastered on his face.
Time continued to tick away. In a blink of an eye, half an hour had passed.
"I’ve found something!" Garen stood up suddenly. "I’ve found the bandits!"
"What’s their specific location?" I’ll send the black panther over!" Andy rose to his feet as well.
Garen knitted his eyebrows tightly.
"The bandits just left. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that we were a few steps too late,"
"Doesn’t matter. Let’s just hurry over and then we’ll talk."
The four of them got up quickly, and raced towards the direction that Garen had pointed towards.
Following the burnt yellow and grey rocky slope, the four people rushed down the mountain, and climbed up the slope of a different rocky hill.
Just as they reached the other side of the slope, they froze in their steps when they noticed the scene before them.
Two white ox carts had been toppled to the ground, and the black ox that had been pulling the cart earlier now lay in a pool of its own blood. At the same time, a swarm of green-headed flies circled its lifeless body.
On the football field-sized perimeter, corpses were strewn everywhere. The smell of rotting blood hung in the air, causing the onlookers to feel a sense of tightness forming inside their chests.
The dead bodies spanned a continuous distance of thirty-four meters. From the left to the right corner of the lane, not one living body could be seen.
The Black Panther squad had only been standing there for a few moments, but Jessica could not help but muffle her mouth as she began to retch.
Andy took a deep breath, and furrowed his brows at the sight that was laid out before him. "This is terrible… We should start looking for survivors for now."
Goth patted Jessica’s shoulders.
"Are you alright?" Although his own face was beginning to turn pale as a sign that he was also having a hard time, it was obvious that Goth’s patience was stronger than Jessica’s.
Garen, however, still had the same expression on his face. The only difference was that his brows were wrinkled now.
"I’ve seen worse places before. Now isn’t the time for chit chat. Go check at once if you can find any survivors. The bandits just left. If they decide to turn back now it’ll spell nothing but trouble for us."
"It’d be better if they came back here. This type of scum should all be sentenced to death!"
"I’m afraid we don’t have the power to decide that…" Andy walked towards the pile of dead bodies, and began to check them carefully.
The more he investigated, the darker his expression turned.
"At least three totem users were present! And it’s obvious that one of them possesses second form attack abilities!"
"Second form…" Goth was left speechless. "A second form totem user would never be this desperate for money in the first place! Why would he resort to becoming a bandit?"
No one replied him. This was a reason that everyone else wanted to find out as well.
Garen might have thought of an answer, but he kept it to himself.
The four of them continued to look for survivors in the corpse pile. The began their search in the middle and spread out in two separate directions.
Not long after, a cry of surprise was heard in Jessica’s direction.
"I’ve found one! Everyone come here quickly!"
Garen turned his head in that direction and saw Jessica pulling open the wooden section of a carriage. From there, she lifted out a bundle in white swaddling clothes.
"This baby is still alive!" Jessica yelled happily.
The four of them gathered together quickly, and formed a circle around Jessica.
They could see that the baby was still sound asleep in his wrappings, and did not wake up even as Jessica rocked him a few times. It looked as if the baby was in deep sleep. But they noticed the wet tear stains in the corners of the baby’s eyes, indicating that he had been crying for a while.
Andy reached a hand out to touch the baby’s forehead and nostrils.
"That’s good. He isn’t sick, and his breathing is also normal. I’ve also sent the black panther to notify the nearby marshall squad already. Someone should be arriving here soon to take care of this situation."
Garen stood at the side and looked at the other three people who were gathered around the baby. He attempted to access the old images and look into the memories of this period of time. Unfortunately, the images did not contain everything, and only the most important events were usually documented. A normal circumstance like this would not have been recorded.
He lifted his head, and looked at the blue neon butterfly flying circles in the sky. Suddenly, his expression changed.
"Watch out! Someone’s coming! It’s the bandits!"
"How many?" Andy asked calmly.
"Five of them!" The look on Garen’s face began to change again. "And three of them are carrying totems!"
"There isn’t enough time! Hurry up and hide. They’re coming on to us really quickly! Bend down! Watch your breathing!" Garen hurriedly lay flat on the ground near in a recess near some rocks.
Andy and Jessica also climbed in quickly and crouched down, making sure that the baby was by their sides.
Only Goth reacted slowly, and couldn’t figure out what to do.
Garen yanked him aside roughly and pulled him downwards in one go, before pushing him into the rock pit.
Garen jabbed a finger at his mouth immediately.
At the furthest right corner of the murder scene, near the bend of the carriage lane, a group of silhouettes in black robes appeared almost instantly.
The sky was bright outside, yet all of them were dressed from head to toe in fully black robes. Even their heads were fully covered.
There were five of them in this black-robed group. The one leading the group stood all the way in front, wearing a black robe with white embroidery on the edges. The most eye-catching part of him was the black python wrapped around his shoulders.
On first glance, the black python looked like a thick black line that hung around the black-robed man’s right shoulder. This snake seemed like an average serpent, except for the third eye that had grown in the middle of its forehead that looked like a light green pupil.
The three pale green eyes stared coldly at its surroundings as the snake poked its scarlet forked tongue out of its mouth from time to time.
"It’s the three-eyed black python! Damn it! It really is form two!" cursed Andy softly. "How could a form two totem user resort to something as useless as stealing!"
"Shh…" Garen felt like pinching him.
Andy kept his voice down immediately. His voice was soft, but their enemy seemed to have heard something and was looking in their direction now. There was a sense of uncertainty in his gaze.
The four youngsters felt a chill down their spines, and quickly crouched down even lower. They were too scared to even look up now.
Garen like he could hear his heart threatening to beat out of his chest.
Form two referred to a totem user or Luminarist who had evolved their totem to the second form. He had witnessed a battle of a form two totem user with his own eyes before.
His own Teacher Emin once fought with a form two totem user and suffered serious injuries from two losses. He had almost lost his life, and was now in the process of recovering slowly. In the previous world, a Luminarist of this power-level would definitely be higher than B-level. If someone had enraged them, they had the capacity to become human nuclear bombs, except that the range of destruction would not be as vast as that of a real nuclear bomb.
Garen had realised now, that within the Luminarists, a large majority of form one totem users who had the opportunity to evolve to form two totem users, could only do so because of the support they received from specific organizations.
Judging from the luminescence of his current neon butterfly, there was no point in talking about form two Luminarists, or even form one Luminarists or totem users, when he couldn’t even shatter their luminescence.
This was the most troublesome part.
Garen himself was already very clear on this matter. He already had a Secret Technique and knowledge in combining a totem and martial arts, and would definitely be able to defeat a regular person. But when faced with a Luminarist, his skills seemed clumsy in comparison. Assuming that a form one Luminarist would just stand there and allow themselves to be attacked, it would still take him at least ten to twenty minutes just to break through their defense.
In the area of Luminarists, only form two totems were considered legitimate Luminarist totems. Beginning from form two, totems would then have the ability to access various evolutions. Furthermore, they would then be able to possess special capabilities.
The only problem was that the resources and knowledge required for a form two totem belonged to a range that would leave most people dumbfounded and in shock.
Crouching inside the pit, Garen noticed the paleness of his three companions faces.
"The three-eyed black python is the black python’s form two totem. I’ve seen its abilities," whispered Andy in an extremely soft voice. He sounded like he had been out of breath for a while. "Garen, don’t come out. The three-eyed black python’s third eye can will release a green coloured light that corrodes. You don’t have a core totem, so you won’t be able to block it."
Garen felt his heart beat quicker in his chest. He nodded obediently.
After staying downwards for a while, the four of them held their breath, still afraid to come out. They could hear the endless sound of footsteps approaching closer, but did not dare to look up and peek.
The sound of footsteps grew louder as they came nearer, before stopping abruptly at a certain location.
"Gaduma, anjisiladinghute." They heard the words being said in a young woman’s voice, but could not understand the meaning at all.
Garen furrowed his eyebrows, and looked to the rest of his companions. Andy shook his head, signalling that he too could not understand. Goth had a blank expression on his face. Only Jessica seemed to have an idea about what was happening.
Jessica met the trio’s eyes and begin to translate what she had heard into the Kovitan language. She mouthed the words one by one and made sure the others were watching.
Iron Tank City was one of the Kovitan Empire’s vassal states. The feudal lords of these territories were still involved in the imperial affairs of the Kovitan Empire, and still spoke a native variation of the Kovitan language.
But the language spoken by the woman in the black robe sounded more like a local dialect from the South, and sounded almost like a tongue-twister.
Jessica began to translate the sentences one by one for her other three friends.
The young woman said: "Captain, my totem had definitely sensed the presence of others in this area just now."
"How many of them were there?" This was probably said by the man in the black robe. His voice sounded low and full of self-control, giving people a sense of restraint.
"Four of them," replied the woman.
"What do they look like?"
"They were dressed in yellow clothes."
"Then they’re definitely not the marshall squad," replied the captain in a low voice. "Let’s go. They were probably just passersby going down the road. The marshall squad will be arriving soon though."
The sound of footsteps began to move further away.
The four people hidden in the rock pit finally breathed a sigh of relief.
"Hey! This part was moved by someone!" The woman’s voice rang loudly once again. "There’s a hidden section here, something must be hidden inside!"
The footsteps stopped suddenly.
The heart beats of the four people began to speed up.
"Seems like there may still be survivors… Hmm… Interesting. Calania, continue investigating this area. See if there are any survivors left." The captain’s voice echoed throughout the area.
"Yes," replied a woman’s voice.
Suddenly, the sharp noise of bird’s cry could be heard.
The shrill noise only sounded for a moment, and stopped right after that.
"There are no survivors inside the carriage," replied the woman’s voice once again.
"Alright then. Move out," replied the captain indifferently.