The green grass on the ground turned grey-white from the bottom to top, losing their suppleness and turning into rock. They stood motionless, no longer trembling in the breeze.
No, not just the grass. Every plant and the soil all had similar changes.
The brown tree bark, green leaves, yellow soil all turned the same colour and hardened.
What is going on?
What could cause something so terrifying?
Was It human?
No, they did not know anyone who could cause such a large-scale change.
No matter what, this horrifying scene was beyond their imagination.
As they watched the scenery change, a chilling cold pierced their soles and then throughout their bodies as if they were encased in ice. The cold stung their nerves.
We can’t stay!
The faster ones sprinted as fast as they could. There was no need to hide anymore, and their totemic energies were released to its maximum. However, the bit of aura radiating from their bodies was like a wisp of smoke in the face of a storm- it disappeared before anyone could sense them.
They were so tiny, so insignificant!
The ones who were initially hiding in the trees started swinging from tree to tree like monkeys, running for their lives. They screamed in terror, fear consuming their minds.
In their peripheral vision, they saw the land turning from a forest teeming with life to a grey-white piece of barren land!
No plant, no insect hiding among the leaves were spared!
They felt changes occurring to their bodies but forcefully subdued the effects with stubborn totemic energy. However, the oppressive energy was eventually too much for them to handle.
The trees around them had turned grey like an invisible hand was smearing grey paint across the land. That hand was currently moving towards them.
A scream of agony rang. Everyone’s hearts leapt to their throats, feeling even chillier.
The more focused ones did not hesitate even for a moment, letting out a roar as they ran even faster. This person did not dare look back, worried he might lose the bit of courage he had left to run, he might completely break down if he turned around.
But some people did turn around.
They turned around towards the person who screamed. They knew who it was. Before the incident, this person had been hiding among the bushes. When they turned, they saw a man collapsing to the ground, his legs grey-white. The two hands he used to support himself off the ground were quickly turning grey too, as well as parts of his torso. The grey quickly spread across his entire body.
The ones who could no longer run looked up towards their partners, eyes filled with pain, terror and hopelessness. Then, death. And finally a layer of grey until their entire body turned grey like a human stone sculpture.
A tree that had turned grey snapped in half, its crown falling on the ‘human sculpture’.
The ‘human sculpture’ broke in half, the crack extending from his left shoulder to the right side of his waist.
Within the cross section was a little bit of red in the centre. It looked like blood but the drop never got to touch the ground. Even the drop of blood eventually turned grey.
Everything happened within seconds.
The ones who witnessed this felt as if their head had exploded, the wind knocked out of their chests. They forgot how to breathe, then their knees gave out as their totemic energy went haywire.
Amongst the chaos, they forgot about the tree branches in front of them. Two people stumbled and fell off the tree.
The ones on trees had a small chance to escape but after touching the ground, chances were too slim.
It felt like they were falling onto solid rock instead of what was supposed to be grass!
If they had not turned to look, would they have fallen?
Ignoring the pain, they sprinted like mad. There was no time for regrets. They would never come to Flaming River Trading Point again!
However, they felt strength quickly draining from their thighs, becoming heavier and eventually losing their senses and control.
They collapsed on the ground, unable to carry on.
They felt the same feelings as their friend who had turned into stone.
But no one slowed down.
The frontmost person had already disappeared from sight. Anyone slower met the same fate as them.
Very soon, this patch of forest descended into eerie silence. All that was left was an expanding patch of grey-white.
Meanwhile, Zheng Luo at the Flaming River Trading Point was deep in thought. He had already received a message about Shao Xuan and the rest finding the bat leader and the king stoneworm. His greatest concerns were not the ill-intentioned intruders but the unpredictable beast.
They had put in a lot of effort building this trading area with great potential. One king beast was enough to destroy everything they built.
“Boss, some of the people you mentioned went looking for Yi Si,” informed Duo Kang.
Zheng Luo had noticed some people he suspected were from the other side of the ocean infiltrating the trading area. He’d instructed Duo Kang to keep an eye on them and only assigned stronger warriors to this task. These people’s disguises had fooled many weaker warriors already but Zheng Luo and Duo Kang were experienced enough to spot them. However, before finding out their true intentions, they did not want to expose these people. They already had many things to worry about, might as well avoid this trouble while they still could.
When he heard Duo Kang, he rubbed his face, frustrated. “What did they do?”
“They don’t seem to be doing anything, just sitting around to talk. This one guy seems to know I’m watching him but did not intentionally avoid me.” Duo Kang wasn’t sure what they were here for either.
“Leave them be. Stay on guard, watch our surroundings.”
“Boss, the king stoneworm won’t come over here right?” Duo Kang was worried too.
“I don’t know, we’ll have to wait for their news. Shao Xuan and the rest have already gone to track it down. The forest is huge, don’t think it will come here.”
“Oh.” Duo Kang scratched his ear, feeling antsy. He had faced a king beast before and that had been a nightmare. He did not want to do it again.
After sitting for a while, Duo Kang left. Might as well spend his time watching those suspicious people.
The person targeted by Duo Kang and Zheng Luo was currently sitting in Yi Si’s house.
This visitor wore a furless, sleeveless leather top with coarse burlap trousers. A colourful snakeskin belt was cinched around his waist with a few pouches hanging from it. Bone ornaments hung around his neck, and patterns were drawn on his exposed shoulders using dark green pigment. His dishevelled but coarse hair was casually tied up with some straw rope but since it was short, after tying it, his pony tail pointed upwards. He looked like a tribesman from any other tribe that frequented the trading area.
This person surveyed Yi Si’s house with a look of contempt. He pursed his lips, making a judgement. “This place is better than your house on the other side.”
“Of course, why do you think I came here?” Yi Si poured some water into a cup and handed it to him. He had made the ceramic cup himself and drew the patterns on it. It was the same as the kind he had on the other side of the ocean. He preferred using something that looked more familiar.
The guest chugged the cup of water. “One more cup! I was out all morning, I’m parched. But this Flaming Horn’s trading area indeed should not be underestimated. This place suits my taste!”
“Don’t tell me you’re here to take this place from the Flaming Horns?” asked Yi Si.
“How is that possible? This is a large place, it’ll take too much effort. But I do want to cause a bit of trouble, I want to see how much they can stand.”
“You guys really like to entertain yourselves, huh. But the Flaming Horns are short-tempered. If you anger them, you’ll be in deep trouble,” said Yi Si.
The other person pursed his lips, ignoring Yi Si. “Do you think us ‘Changle’ people are scared of angry Flaming Horns? It’s only fun when they’re angry anyway.”
“Wu He, since you lent me your long-winged bird, I feel obligated to warn you,” advised Yi Si patiently.
“Speak.” The other person shook his foot wrapped in a broken shoe, looking nonchalant.
“Don’t provoke the Flaming Horns. If you really want to challenge them, now is not the time.”
“Yo~ I thought you couldn’t do the Yi family’s divination readings? How would you know that?” Wu He ignored him.
He was a member of ‘Changle’. This name might not be known here but it was a famous name on the other side.
“Changle” was not a tribe, they were a unique organisation formed by people of different backgrounds. The members loved taking risks and were a curious bunch. To them, everything else was boring and all they wanted was to rely on their sharp eyes to get themselves an opportunity for entertainment.
In simpler terms: they were a bunch of very curious adventurers, also the first batch of people from the other side of the ocean.
As for why they had not appeared much- that was because most had not mastered the language here. If they could not even speak the language, how would they seek entertainment? They could not even ask for directions.
If people on this side unanimously hated the ‘Robbers’, then on the other side, both slave masters and tribesmen found ‘Changle’ people revolting. This bunch of madmen would go around provoking other people when they were bored, finding joy in causing others pain.
After knowing that the ‘Changle’ people had crossed the ocean, people on the other side heaved a sigh of relief, as if the fly buzzing annoyingly in their ears had disappeared.
No one knew that the Changle’s first target was the Flaming Horn tribe. They were currently regrouping in a secret spot, waiting for the rest of their members to arrive and learning the local language to receive intel. Trickery required skills too.
Wu He was one of the first of them to master the local language.
Yi Si was not upset at the mocking tone. “It’s up to you to listen. You lent me two long-winged birds so I’ll return you the favour by warning you once again. It’s best you leave here as soon as possible. Something huge is happening.”
“A-ha, something huge? That’s even better! More the reason for me to stay!”
Wu He had just finished speaking when he paused and turned.
Yi Si looked at the sky outside the window and at Grasshopper who had been cowering in a corner. “It’s here.”
“What is here? What do you mean?” Wu He looked at Grasshopper.
Due to the beast blood inside Grasshopper, his control over his totemic energy was not as sophisticated and could not completely retract his totemic patterns. However, the totemic patterns on him were clear as ever now, like animal stripes. His coarse hair stood up like needles.
Short cone-shaped pricks appeared on his back as his sunken eyes were filled with terror. Grasshopper kept retreating into the corner. This was a huge muscleman who could touch the roof of the house if he jumped, yet now he was trying hard to make himself disappear.
“What’s making him so scared?” Wu He raised an eyebrow and looked outside where the unusual aura was coming from.
Since he was far away, the feeling was faint. However, it was enough to make him uneasy.
Not just them, even Zheng Luo and the rest inside the Flaming River Castle and anyone more sensitive in the trading area sensed it.
What was happening?
At the entrance of the trading area, Kun Tu and the rest of the guys watched every person cautiously. Zheng Luo mentioned there had been suspicious people in the area but they were not able to pinpoint who. This meant the disguises were impressive.
Suddenly, a shrill and urgent whistle could be heard from the patrol team.
It was a warning call.
Kun Tu’s eyes were locked ahead.
Very soon, they saw seven people scrambling out of the forest.
These seven people looked usually with different portions of their body covered in grey-white layer. It looked like colour pigment but upon closer inspection it looked more like rock.
They looked hysterically, as if they had just witnessed something terrifying, continuously letting out hoarse screams as they sprinted.
When they saw Kun Tu and the rest, their eyes lit up and they screamed, “Help!”
They had just been talking about how they would never set foot into the trading area yet during the escape, they had divided into two groups. One group ran off to another direction but these seven felt like a place with more people was safer. And there were more people to share the burden with.
The only place with more people was Flaming Horn. Hence why they ran over here.
Kun Tu obviously would not let them into the area just like that. He tied them all up, though they kept struggling and screamed their heads off, “It’s coming! Behind! Behind!”
Kun Tu did not know what they were talking about. He initially wanted to knock them out but thought that while they were hysterical, perhaps they had some information so he sent them to Zheng Luo.
When they struggled, the grey rock-like parts of their body seemed to chip off together with some flesh as they wriggled and tugged. Yet these seven people ignored their bleeding wounds and continued to scream.
“Boss, what did they see?” Duo Kang’s voice shook.
Kun Tu might not know what was going on but Duo Kang had his guesses. He refused to believe it.
How could this be?
How could they be so unlucky?
No, it’s not what he thinks.
Duo Kang brainwashed himself.
Zheng Luo dashed his hopes in the next moment.
Clutching his knife so tight his fingers turned white, he said in a strained voice, “Inform everyone there’s a king beast nearby!”
Kun Tu’s hand slipped and the tied-up person collapsed on the ground.
“King… king beast?” Kun Tu felt a chill rushing down his body.
The person struggled even harder after hearing Zheng Luo, his throat extremely hoarse, “Let me go! I want to leave! I want to leave!”
Duo Kang ignored them. He walked up to the top of the tower, took a deep breath, then let out a huge roar.
“There’s a king beast nearby! Be careful everyone!”
With his advanced-level totemic power, his scream could be heard by everyone in the vicinity.
The bustling trading area fell silent as everyone digested this piece of information.
Very soon, the simmering pot boiled over.
A king beast is here!
Like a bomb tossed into water, it raised sky-high waves.
A king beast is here! What do we do?
Run, of course!
The other option was to die here!
Wu He, who was drinking water in Yi Si’s house, spat out his water with a ‘pfffft’, tossed his cup aside and leapt out of the window.
“Why are you running? Didn’t you want to stay and watch? To entertain yourself?” yelled Yi Si at the running Wu He.
“I’m looking for entertainment, not death! You can stay there on your own!”
No wonder I felt the chills! It’s a king beast! Wu He sprinted out of the trading area immediately.
To the people who rarely met regular fearsome beasts, king beasts were legendary figures. This did not prevent them from fearing its name. From the stories passed down by their ancestors, they knew that king beasts were indomitable. High casualties were certain during every encounter with one.
Of course, there were some odd ones out.
“Hahaha, I’ve waited for years, it’s finally here! I’m not running, I want to see the king beast!” someone yelled with two fists high in the air, his face red.
Everyone looked at him like he was insane.
“You’ll die if you don’t run!” his friend advised.
“It’s fine if I die! I just want to see what a king beast looks like! I’m staying! No one can stop me!”
He can’t be saved!
Everyone gave up on the stubborn man. There was no time to hesitate. They packed up and ran immediately. Any stupid idiots who wanted to stay could suit themselves.