DOGE note: Daily chapters from today onwards!
“What’s going on?”
“Why’s he turning back?!”
“What are they doing?!”
The people who rushed over to see the king beast finally caught a glimpse and felt like running away was best. No one dared get any closer. Although they were not in the danger zone, they could feel the terrifying, oppressive aura.
They had been shaken to the core seeing the petrified forests along the way. One glimpse was enough. All they wanted was to keep a safe distance. When they saw the king beast that was supposed to be lured away heading towards them, they ran instantly.
When Shao Xuan was running back, he called Gui He over for a few quick words, then brought the king beast in a circle to buy Gui He time to inform the people at the Flaming River Castle.
No one knew what they spoke about as they were too far away. They did not know what was going to happen. Shao Xuan continued leading the king beast around while Gui He quickly headed towards the Flaming River Castle.
Shao Xuan wanted Gui He to tell the people at the castle that he would be bringing the king beast towards Flaming River and might get close to the Flaming River Castle. He wanted them to prepare themselves and suppress their fire seed auras to avoid detection. In the event of accidentally triggering the king beast, if it headed towards the castle, everyone must retreat. They could always rebuild the castle- fighting a king beast was not ideal. Plus Shao Xuan now understood the king stoneworm a little more after leading it around. Although it was just a surface-level understanding, he was sure this king stoneworm was as strong as the salt beast. Perhaps the salt beast might even lose to it if they met each other.
Luring this king beast away was merely a temporary solution. No one knew when it would return. The only long-term solution was to bring it back to its nest.
Perhaps it could not find its way back, that was Shao Xuan’s guess. But what if he was wrong? And the king stoneworm had no intentions to return to its nest? Then luring it to the forest filled with fearsome beasts might be a solution. Better than leaving it near the Flaming River. There were many tribes here and none had the confidence to kill it.
Could they hope for all the tribes to work together to defeat the king stoneworm? This was likely to backfire, ending with everyone blaming Flaming Horn for the outcome.
If the king stoneworm did not fear water, why not lead it to the place it should be?
That was Shao Xuan’s conclusion.
Gui He sent his message to the trading area, even getting the snow falcon to bring a note to the main village so both sides were on guard just in case. They must be absolutely prepared in the face of a king beast.
After running in a few circles, Shao Xuan looked up to see Gui He’s snow falcon pass by and understood that they were prepared. He turned and no longer turned, instead heading to Flaming River.
The king stoneworm seemed dumb enough too. Shao Xuan was obviously bringing it in circles and it had followed him consistently without much emotional fluctuation. The salt beast would have raged already.
It looked like not every king beast had the same intelligence. Nature was all about balance. If this animal could become a king beast, yet it was not intelligence, then it must be very naturally talented. Just like the beastman slave Yi Si had. Grasshopper was not intelligent but still a terrifying figure just from his strength.
Admittedly, this worm was extremely powerful. Letting it loose here would just wreak havoc.
Within the Flaming River Castle, the Flaming Horns were briefed by their leaders about their next plan.
Sensing the change in the Flaming Horn’s mood, Yi Si was puzzled. Even though he could calculate the probability of something happening based on detailed observation, he had too little information here. He saw that the Flaming Horns must have a solution but did not know what it was.
Then, he heard a chattering sound. He turned to see Grasshopper curled in a ball, his teeth chattering. All the spines previously retracted were now standing straight on his back.
This meant the king beast was approaching.
Didn’t they lure it away just now? Why would it be approaching?
Very soon, not just Grasshopper sensed the king beast. Everyone in the castle could sense its location.
“What is it? Is the king beast here?!” The people who were blocked from leaving craned their necks excitedly. When the houses in front were blocking their view, they leapt to the roof of the tallest house to look beyond the walls around the trading point.
However, their view was still blocked by the forest outside so they focused their attention on the two towers by one of the gates.
All the Flaming Horns wanted was for this rowdy bunch to quiet down but they were curious too. Ta, who was well-rested, brought a group up the tower by the gates for a better view.
The trading point had three gates but Shao Xuan was only going to pass by one.
Ta’s face changed. “It’s here!”
That was the sound made by the wriggling king stoneworm. Although the sound was faint, his muscles tensed up involuntarily and sweat sprouted from his forehead. He remembered the helplessness when the beast was nearby, the feeling of turning into stone- how could he calm down?
Everyone grew anxious when they saw Ta’s state. The outsiders complaining about seeing the king beast quietened down, their eyes locked in one direction, unblinking. They clenched their sweaty palms. They heard the rumbling too. They might want to see the beast but they were also afraid. The brazen courage from before was replaced with uncontrollable fear.
The smell of stone dust lingered in the air.
The forest was dead silent, as if every living thing had been strangled.
The rumbling sound grew closer. The people on the tower by the gate and on the castle could see a grey line approaching from far in the forest, towards the Flaming River.
“That’s… the king beast?” whispered someone. They did not need to be reminded to keep quiet. Although the king beast was far away, they instinctively lowered their voices.
“That’s where the king stoneworm is. Everything around it turns to stone, including trees and even people. Everything turns to stone!” Ta’s tone was flat but they saw the fear and caution in his eyes as he looked out at the king stoneworm.
Everyone drew in a sharp breath. Even if they were far away, the Flaming Horns had painted them a good picture.
Someone gulped and stuttered, “T-t-that’s… impressive!”
“Nonsense, it’s t-t-the k-king beast… how could it not be?” Another guy forced himself to look calm but his stuttering exposed his anxiety.
These people rarely met regular fearsome beasts, their terror was unimaginable in the face of a king beast.
Very soon, their attention turned from the king beast to the Flaming Horns.
“Wasn’t it lured away already? Why are you luring it back?” asked Yi Si. He was the calmest non-Flaming Horn now.
Ta eyed him. “We have our reasons.” He did not elaborate. In reality, he was not confident in this plan either. Shao Xuan’s plan was insane, he would not have done it if it were up to him. But after a lot of thought, he realised this might be the best plan.
“Just wait and see,” said Ta drily. Who was in the mood for conversation now?!
Although the king beast was not heading directly towards them, its route passed through a forest not far away. Everyone could see the green trees turning to grey stone.
The ones who previously could not clearly imagine the king beasts felt their knees give out, their backs drenched in sweat, their lips moving but no words came out. All they could do was stare with widened eyes, their faces twitching pathetically.
The deafening rumbling shook them to their core. Everyone seemed to hold their breaths.
They could not see Shao Xuan or the king stoneworm, for it was all a blur amongst the grey stone forest but they would never forget the large, expanding patch of grey in front of them.
So this was a king beast!
Those who complained about wanting to see the beast felt like they had been too naive! But no one would mock them now.
All eyes fixated on the expanding grey patch until the rumbling slowly faded. They only snapped back to reality when the king stoneworm had passed by and headed towards Flaming River.
“You all stay here, I’ll go check.” Ta ran down the tower and ran towards the river.
Now that the trading area was temporarily safe, he had to go check the other side.