The search and destroy parties had entered the deepest areas of the mountain, and the leading werewolf cavalry suddenly found themselves stepping into foreign land.
This was their homeland, yet it was absolutely alien to them.
Hao Ren remained silent as he followed Uruk from behind, while a dozen knights and clerics looked out for any threats. Everybody was tensed, but there were still no signs of hostile contact.
"Other units have also responded," Uruk grumbled, his ears shuddering. The werewolf's unique communication technique could let them keep in touch across the mountain. "A few teams are heading towards the valley and none of them remembered this mountain path.
It was just as Hao Ren predicted. The monster's had used some sort mental disruption or sense distortion ability to hide this valley and for most living beings with cognitive abilities, this was akin to a piece of the mountain being excavated and those under the influence was none the wiser. No one could say when this disruption had started, but there was something unsettling. No written history from the times the werewolves moved to the Sacred Mountains until today made any mention of this valley, neither did their maps.
A knight of the party could not digest what was going on and blurted out. "Why did this valley appeared all of the sudden?"
Uruk threw him a glance. "It's because of the protective crystals. This was the first time someone stepped into the area without having their senses disrupted."
As they went further ahead, Lily suddenly shouted as she pointed forward. "Something's up ahead!"
Hao Ren turned towards the direction Lily was pointing and saw half of a stone pillar sticking out on the side of the snow-covered mountain. It seems like the remnant of a manmade item. He went ahead to have a look a noted it was a black obelisk and on it was a series of runic inscriptions. An accompanying cleric immediately recognised the words. "A mark left by the heretics."
"This thing had been lying in the open for a long while." Y'zaks said as he touched the almost fully eroded inscription. "Can you run a scan?"
The MDT floated ahead as it scanned the obelisk. "There is dried paint on the inscriptions. This is about three to four thousand years ago."
If the obelisk was about three to four thousand years old, then the valley and everything within in is probably even older. Lady Ophra looked dumbfoundedly at the obelisk before something dawned upon her. The fact that how the heretics had flourished unknowingly under the noses of the Disciples of Glory.
It is because that they were here all this while!
"Their history is beyond the Disciples of Glory." Hao Ren slapped his hands as he got up. "They were here before the migration of the werewolves, before the founding of the Kingdom of Holetta, before the Disciples of Glory was first sanctified. The valley was already being shielded by the monster's powers. They did not expand under the nose of the Disciples of Glory, rather it is otherwise: The Disciples of Glory and the Kingdom of Holetta grew under the noses of the heretics.
Lady Ophra's expression was conflicted. She had no way to accept the fact of the matter. This was even more outlandish than the saying that the heretics were hiding within the Beinz diocese. Even the usual thick-headed Becky felt that this was a little too surreal. "The Cult of Origination is more ancient than the Disciples of Glory? Then this world was theirs to begin with! Why weren't they doing anything for the past thusand of years?"
Hao Ren waved his hand. "How would I know what they were up to. We are just basing in on cold-hard data here. At least from the start of the werewolf migration that the inner sanctum of the Sacred Mountain was already under the disruptive spell."
Vivian rubbed her chin as she demurred. "For something to stay incognito for a thousand of years only to rear their heads of late, there must be something on to that. Perhaps they had some long term plans that needed thousands of years to realise and the change of events in the past years had forced them to react. Possibly osmething to do with the Goddess."
Lady Ophra frowned and was still in disbelief. The fact that the heretics were hiding out in the Sacred Mountain for thousand of years was a seismic shock to what she had known. Thousands of years... if these were mere mortal race, how many generations had passed?
When did the heretics started congregating here? Where did they came from? How did they live here? How did their doctrine spread? How did they kept contact with the outside world? What had kept them hidden for a thousand of years and yet they could still maintain the fervor of their cause? Was it due to the influence of the brain monster? Or something els
"Move on." Lady Ophra shook her head as she ordered her knights. "Stay focused. Report the moment if you detect any illusions or psychological effects."
Even though she was holding on to the protective crystal, her unease was apparent. Mental control was not something that you can defend against, and as such was a terrifying weapon. The terrifying part is not only that it will corrupt someone totally, the fact that the victim would not be aware of it was even more chilling. A sleeping person would not realise when did he fell asleep, and for a victim of mental control, he is most vulnerable when he feels that he is well prepared for it.
Any accomplished mind control masters knew this trick: Controlling your prey is the easiest when the prey is under the illusion that it was free. And any masters of the arts of mental defence would always remind their students: The moment when you look down upon your foe, it usually means you had already lost.
Uruk and the few of the cavalrymen beside him went ahead with a grim expression. The path before them was foreign to them as there were many unknown paths and scenery. Even when they were walking within their own homeland, they were as lost as a foreigner. The only advantage they had was their accustomisation to the local enviroment and lay of the land. They would probably have an advantage if attacked but god knows if that is actually worth anything.
"Why do I feel like the brain monster here is much more powerful than the one at Nasaton?" Lily mumbled as she got beside Hao Ren. "The monster at Nasaton needed a very long time to control others unnoticed. Why does the one here seem to be able to mess with everyone from the outset?"
"Maybe it had set up something here." Hao Ren added. "A few thousand years you know, it'll probably manage to dig up an Epang Palace* with its tentacles alone."
Lily thought for a bit before poking Vivian on the arm. "Battie, do you know how to walk inside the Epang Palace?"
Hao Ren and Vivian decided to both ignore the husky that was beyond cure.
Uruk suddenly stopped his steps, his ears shuddered under the chill wind as his nostrils expanded. A faint wiff of foul scent came from nowhere. "Beware... something unclean is abound."
Lady Ophra immediately drew her longsword as the enchanted blade was ablaze with holy fire. Nangong Sanba and Nangong Wudi too squinted as they activated their special demon hunting ability. Within the demon hunter's spectral sight everything on the snow-covered valley was layered with a light blue outline, and any unclean matter within the sight have no where to hide.
But the first one to detect the enemy was not a combat specialist, but a hyperactive dumb cat that was running here and there since she had entired the valley. Rollie suddenly let out a yelp before darting out from behind a rock not too far away. "Meooowwww--- Meownster!"
Just as Rollie dashed back to the group, a humanoid monster came from behind the rocks!
Well, 'humanoid' was a misnomer, as the monster had already log discarded any vestige of humanity. It was a giant, rotten monster, with wound marks and mismatched body parts, almost like a few corpse was stitched together to form the monster. It was also clad with a oddly shaped vest that was pitch black with plenty of onyx crystals chips on it. Electricity ran across the surface and it was clearly not something that the Holettaeans would be able to produce.
As the first 'stitched horror' appeared, rustling came from all over the place as a horde of monsters appeared out of nowwwhere, and had surrounded the group.
Hao Ren had no idea how did these monsters eluded their notice but there wwas no time to think. He pulled out his spear and pistol out from his Dimensional Pocket and lead the charge. "Take them down!"