Garen and the others got on top of the white rhinoceros again, and followed the trail in a specific direction towards their destination.
During the night, their surroundings were filled with the howls of wolves and other strange roars that echoed from far away throughout the open distance. It almost seemed as if they had returned to the ancient behemoth era for a moment.
"Leader? Why do we need to rush even at night? Haven't you won already?" asked Old Man quietly as he stood beside Garen.
Garen shook his head. "I am indeed stronger than the Green Dragon, but his strength was sufficient to bind me for a while. After that, the following territories belong to the Blood Queen, and I've heard that there are many fighters under her influence. Once the conflict rises, the situation may be even worse than the earlier fight at the snow peak. Moreover, God Cloud and the others misjudged my strength, thus allowing me to kill their general suddenly.
"Does this also mean that the Green Dragon's late but sudden appearance here, actually means that some frightening things are in store for you, Leader?" replied Old Man immediately.
"You could put it that way," said Garen, smiling. He thought of something suddenly.
"That's right, do you know Beckstone from the Terraflor Society, Old Man?"
"Beckstone?" Old Man pondered thoughtfully. "Seems like I heard that name two days ago from Marquess Black Snake."
"Marquess Black Snake?"
"Yes, a veteran master of the Geometry Service who made a name for himself about ten years ago. Our relationship is alright, and we used to be partners when we were younger. We used to travel around the world, but went our separate ways because we expanded differently," explained Old Man, "Before this quest, I used to practice playing chess with him, and that guy's skills were slightly better than mine. One time while we were playing chess together, someone came over with a message, and that was the first time I heard of Beckstone's name and found out that he was a representative of the Terraflor Society."
"Black Snake, Black Snake…" Garen thought of something suddenly. "Didn't he have a Precious Heirloom called the 'Rose Snake Crown'?"
A slightly surprised expression appeared on Old Man's face suddenly, before he glanced at Garen.
"How did you know? He and I were the only people who knew about that Precious Heirloom…"
"It doesn't matter how I found out about it. Just pass a message to him from me, and tell him to be careful of Beckstone. That's right, what is Marquess Black Snake's power like?" Garen questioned continuously.
"Stronger than me, but I haven't seen him in action for many years. However, he has two generals under him; two female twins, who both possess form three spiritualized powers and are extremely formidable as a team. He also has two strange beasts that he has been nurturing for many years, and no one knows about the changes they've undergone," answered Old Man simply, "As a veteran marquess who is also a high-class aristocrat, his family's territories are extremely vast. It shrunk after the turmoil, but the size of a province as of now still remains as their territory."
"Oh?" Garen was slightly surprised. According to the original historical timeline, it was now unsurprising that Marquess Black Snake had shown such formidable strength when he encountered Beckstone, because of the powerful domains that were apparently behind him.
Marquess Black Snake himself was incredibly powerful, but Beckstone was an unworthy opponent, causing him to be killed in an extremely humiliating manner. When he was killed this time, the escort masters from the Terraflor Society were suppressed by the masters of the Royal Alliance of Luminarists. After this period of hardship, a series of accidental events were the key in the path that allowed Beckstone to finally gain the trust of Marquess Black Snake's twins. In his final moments, the Marquess was ambushed and seriously injured by the twins, allowing them to steal his Precious Heirlooms in an extremely unjust situation. This was something that no one could have predicted.
In the end, the Ultimate Precious Heirloom, the Rose Snake Crown had already fallen into Beckstone's hands. He obtained a great increase in strength after his hardships, and finally achieved the fourth form. At this stage, he had finally secured his position, and if the powerful organizations wanted to move him, they needed to use even more powerful means. However, the specialized characteristics of the Rose Snake Crown made it impossible for even certain high-end powers to trap him. Therefore, when the powers finally balanced out and the manpower of the strong organizations finally decreased, Beckstone's latent powers began to show themselves, and the other organizations had no choice but to let him go.
Garen thought of this period of history, and remembered that during this key period in Beckstone's life, Marquess Black Snake had already become a very important individual.
"This person, Beckstone, was essentially a specialized seed that the Terraflor Society was cultivating. He has great potential, so you should tell Marquess Black Snake to be more careful."
"I know, I'll pass the message soon," nodded Old Man determinedly. He knew that if even Garen said that Beckstone would be troublesome, he would truly be a menace.
In a dark forest far away
A line of night walkers walked through the mysterious dark woods. The person in front held a torch as its fiery red flames illuminated their surroundings. The crunching sound of footsteps echoed throughout the area continuously, accompanied by the occasional sound of snapping tree branches.
Among these night walkers, the one leading the way was dressed from head to toe in a long white robe, with his cuffs and hems torn off for easier walking. Both of his eyes were different from everyone else's, as they were blinking with dim silver light.
Among the people behind him, there was an old man, a child, and a beautiful young lady in red clothes.
"Stone, are we there yet?" asked the young lady in red softly.
"Soon, just hold on for a little while longer. This is the Barr giant's territory, we must pass through it slowly. If we move too quickly, the giant will be provoked," Beckstone said seriously.
"Do you know if Marquess Black Snake's people have caught up?" said the young lady in red in a slightly worried tone.
"It won't be so soon. Even if the formations were insufficient to hold them down for long, they would surely cause even greater problems assuming that they were unaware of the current circumstances. They might move too quickly through the Barr giant's territory, " said Beckstone with a calm expression on his face.
Ah woo, ah woo..!!!
Suddenly, the sound of wild men's cries began to echo from a far distance behind them.
Instantly, similar cries could be heard one after another, as they echoed throughout all four directions and began to increase in frequency.
"Look, the giants have gone to greet their visitors," Beckstone said with the glimmer of a smile in his eyes.
"Indeed, it is probably that person's disciple. To think that he even knew about a secret message like this," lamented Emin, who was part of the group.
"You're being too humble. We'll be out of this dark forest soon enough, but this is the furthest I can see you off. One of the Terraflor Society's bases are in front, and you can go there before you make your way to the Headquarters," replied Beckstone politely to Emin.
"You've been a great help to me." From his appearance, Emin seemed much more youthful, as the white hair on his head had become mostly black again, while the color of his beard was also becoming darker.
"As a senior of the Terraflor Society, and a schoolmate who was taught under the same teacher as myself, this little bit of help is insignificant. What's more important are the messages that you gave me, as those are enough to make up for everything." Beckstone's eyes showed that he was sincerely grateful. "You guarded this piece of information in a remote village for more than ten years, and for the Terraflor Society to have a senior like you, is something that gives me a lot of pride," he said before he bowed to Emin respectfully.
"That's unnecessary. I should be doing that." Emin shook his head, before bowing in return immediately.
"Alright, let's go." He pulled his disciple away before glancing at the other members of his team. This journey gave him mixed feelings. When Garen first showed signs of his extraordinary talents, he saw unmistakable loneliness in Garen's eyes, and fearlessness and strength that surpassed the average person. With his talents, perseverance and persistence, such power would arrive sooner or later.
He never expected that this day would arrive so soon.
When Beckstone first tasted defeat at the hands of Garen, his hatred did not spill over towards his own teacher, showing that his heart had become more humble. If only the hatred between the both of them could be absolved…
When this idea appeared in his head, Emin thought of the hatred between the both of them immediately. He exhaled at once. This was probably impossible.
Dragging his obedient disciple along, Emin walked forward and exited the dark forest. On the glossy black grass in front of them, a few people were standing there and waiting already.
"Emin, after all these years, it must have been hard for you." A figure stepped forward in the moonlight, and an old woman with white hair appeared.
"Liz…" Emin looked at this woman who was once his close friend, and felt his throat tighten suddenly, making him unable to speak. He shut himself away from the world for the sake of that piece of information from the Terraflor Society, and even allowed his wife to die, while his final research caused him to be hated by his childhood best friend and made them both enemies. Everything was done for this moment, when he finally received his returns.
"Then… I can finally…?"
"You have the right to restore your school, but only a branch of it," nodded the old woman sincerely.
"This is enough," said Emin as a satisfied expression appeared on his face. He turned around and glanced at Beckstone and the others who were still standing in the woods. "Let's go. I haven't returned for so many years, I don't know whether everyone has changed or not."
"They've changed… Everyone's hair is white now…" The old woman's eyelids began to shut, before her words suddenly disappeared into silence.
Garen pulled at the black box communicator at his collar and knitted his brows closely together. He tried to hear the sounds that were coming from the inside.
They walked in single file and slowly passed through the white stone mounds. The white rhinoceros walked through the uneven rocky grounds, and when its steps failed to find flat surfaces, its body would rock violently.
The sun was high up in the sky and shining down on them, the fiery sunlight burning the black clothes on the backs of the six people, causing their body temperatures to increase constantly. The surface of their black armor would constantly reflect the black rays, making the armor seem like it was made of layers of silver plated metal.
Kitten could not help but pull at his collar. She looked around at her surroundings and noticed that there was not a single green plant in this expanse of white stone mounds. There were only a few black, wilted vines that were lying on a large stone that they passed by, which looked like it had died of thirst for a long time.
"What kind of hellish place is this?! The sun in the sky is already too hot, so why is steam still coming out of the ground?" complained Kitten suddenly in a loud and impatient tone.
Old Man glanced past her impatiently, before looking at Garen, who remained indifferent, and Red Umbrella, who looked drowsy.
"These changes probably occurred after the turmoil. The stone mounds were originally filled with steam, and when I was a lecturer at the Ender Kingdom University, I once brought students here to observe them. The ground here is filled with steam, and has extremely high temperatures, but apparently desert type phenomena have yet to appear here, a sign that there is an abundance of underground water beneath. So…"
"So, there's definitely a hot spring here?!" said Kitten excitedly suddenly. She could feel that her whole body was sticky and full of sweat. The natural temperature balancing effects of the black clothes were completely useless against the frighteningly high temperatures. The terrifying temperature here had already reached forty to fifty degrees. She could only occasionally use some of her Totem Light to deflect some of the strong heat.
Old Man nodded his head surely.
"Hot spring? Taking a dip inside and sleeping will surely make me feel much more comfortable!" An expectant look appeared on Red Umbrella's face as well, showing signs that he had regained some of his energy too.
Kid widened both of his big eyes as well, as he looked around at his surroundings.
Meanwhile, Garen pondered thoughtfully.
"Old Man, you used to be a Forger, so you should know about the War Guild's War Chain right?"