Birds could usually be seen around the edges of this icy land, as well as animals that could withstand the cold, and the occasional patch of green. The deeper you trekked, the fewer organisms were seen. Usually, the threats they had to watch were not fierce beasts but the dangerous terrain covered in snow.
Everything was deadly silent. When they lightened their footsteps, they finally noticed the silence.
But they could not sense any organism nearby either, though there was a bone-chilling source of energy fast approaching. They could not locate its specific location but they knew that it came from deep into the icy lands.
Even the least sensitive warrior shuddered. “What… what is that?”
A sudden vibration came from beneath their feet, then quickly escalated.
There were no tall mountains nearby so they did not have to watch for snow avalanches and their field of visions remained wide. Other than the intensifying vibrations beneath their feet, they could not see anything out of the ordinary.
The initial faint vibrations turned into vigorous shaking so they could not stand. It was just a few seconds, there was no time to react. Run? To where?
Suddenly, they heard a ‘crack’ from beneath their feet.
“The ground is cracking! RUN!” The leader stopped hesitating and yelled for everyone to retreat from this snowy piece of land.
They had never met anything like this before, not even during the natural disaster, the ground did not crack like this then. Their tribe had been on an island with other islands nearby. They could see slave masters and their cities on the mainland across a narrow strait.
That year, during the disaster, the ground shook vigorously but it never cracked. The only threat they faced was a tsunami. There was an expedition team out hunting for gemstones then but most still returned safely. That was why they knew that this place with the gemstones did not have any occurrences as serious as a cracked ground.
They used to think this was a treasure of a place because it remained intact through the disaster and still produced gemstones. Now, they panicked.
A deep, dull crack echoed, approaching so quickly they did not know what to do.
A deafening boom from afar brought an indescribable sense of power, like a thunder unleashed by the heavens.
The ancient permafrost was torn apart, a gulf forming right through it. This crack could swallow the largest beast they had seen in their lives.
The crack extended in all directions, widening at an alarming speed.
The snowy lands used to look like they were covered in a layer of silk but now, cracks wriggled through them, forcing the snow off and revealing the tough soil beneath.
A strong gust of wind tore through the air, picking snow off the ground.
The expedition team stared at the jigsaw pieces of what used to be the ground in terror. What was one supposed to do?
They did not know!
I can’t even run from this!
Cracks also appeared behind them, where they came from. It was hard to tell which path was the safest. They could only rely on instinct since they were trapped, hiding behind boulders as large as houses. They watched fearfully as the manic winds curled, picking up snow, ice and stone chips, gliding past the boulders and beyond.
The rumbling still had not stopped, they felt like their skeletons would soon fall apart from the intense vibrations in the ground. They could no longer hear each other speak, all they saw were the open and closing of their mates’ lips, and pale faces of terror.
The thick armour they wore and heavy weapons in their hands gave them no comfort. Some people curled up with their head in their hands behind the boulder helplessly. They no longer wanted to think if the boulder would also overturn from the cracking ground.
The grey clouds in the sky hung heavier. The ground would never return to its previous calm so soon.
Draughts of wind whistled as more and more snow was thrown around in the air, as if the winds were determined to blow away the thick layer of snow on the ground. They could not open their eyes in face of the wind and snow, nor could they see anything ten steps beyond themselves.
It felt like the apocalypse, the clouds rolling, the ground shaking and cracking. Every sound was a heavy hammer to their hearts.
Another deafening rumble, with it came another shake. This time the source came from somewhere not far from the team. A shower of ice and rock chips pelted unto the boulder, crackling loudly and incessantly.
A crack appeared not far away, then extended in four directions. Many cracks passed just right by themselves. A foreign, eerie aura was mixed with the breeze, raising goosebumps all over.
Large chunks of frozen soil flew in the air. They watched as the chunks flew among the snow and winds, above their heads and far away.
Whatever it was, it was indescribably creepy. The next boom made the ground shake so much their legs went numb. When the next boom came, they saw a gigantic foot set down right in front of them, the cracked ground forming a crater where it stepped.
Their visions were still blurred from the snow but this object was too close and too gigantic to not be seen clearly- especially for a few of them, for the foot had landed right next to themselves, about two steps away.
It was a fierce predator’s claw, covered in thick skin with irregular cracks that looked and felt like scales. Each sharp and giant toe curved downwards, hooking into the ground. A human could fit in that hook.
They looked up to see the approximate shape of a powerful thigh, then at the back, a swaying tail strong enough to sweep a boulder into the air. They could not see anything further above, only a blurry shape, as if this beast was as tall as the clouds.
The team leader almost wetted himself from horror while the rest shut their lips tight, afraid of making even a sound, attracting the attention of this beast, their teeth chattering uncontrollably. Even the most experienced, calmest treasure hunter would not be able to keep calm in the face of a gargantuan creature. They would never have the thought of fighting it. They were as weak as a baby here!
A tall mountain far away cracked, causing an avalanche of rocks and soil but it was mere background noise because the giant’s rhythmic footsteps had become the main attraction.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!
Previously, they could not recognise the sounds but after seeing this beast, they realised that those were sounds of gigantic monsters crawling out of the ground and the mountains!
The foot in front of them was finally lifted. The few people nearby felt their legs turn to jelly, their eyes fixed on the giant foot.
The foot passed over their heads, bringing with it a shower of pebbles and ice chips on their heads but as if they could not feel the pain, their eyes remained fixated on the foot until it landed once again. Step by step, the foot travelled deeper inland.
The rhythmic footsteps slowly grew further and further away, and after a long time, all the other sounds also faded. The rumbling sounded like an army of ten thousand beasts far away and the ground still vibrated but everything was not as strong as before. Their bones still hurt from the shaking.
Then, they heard the sound of water but they did not dare check it out.
After a long time, the winds slowly weakened and no more water sounds could be heard. The ground slowly stopped shaking and the blurry winds and snow disappeared.
Grey clouds still hung in the sky, a heavy oppression felt like solid weight.
After a long time, when the entire world calmed down and they could not even hear the sound of snow falling, the expedition team came to their senses and peeked from behind the boulders shakily, looking towards where the beast went.
The boulders they used as shelter from the winds had already tumbled a few times from the cracking ground. The ground was no longer white. Rocks and soil scattered everywhere as pieces of the ground protruded upwards. Crumbs and pieces were strewn across the lands like a piece of land cleared for farming. Even the ground seemed to have flattened, for the tall mountains far away had disappeared, leaving behind the occasional protrusion.
However, compared to the changed terrain, they were more shocked at what they saw far away, their eyes glazed and faces frozen. They knew that such a dramatic disaster must bring about large changes but they still could not believe what they saw.
Some of them climbed up the boulder in disbelief, staring with widened eyes.
They were on slightly higher ground, hence had an unobstructed view of a large area. It used to be mountain peaks and land but since then, the mountains had collapsed and they could now see the edge of this frozen land!
They saw water waves on the other side of the boundary!
“How… how is that possible?”
Although they did not know how large this land of ice and snow was, they had explored large areas during treasure hunts and could point out routes and mountains with their eyes closed. But now everything had changed!
The rumbling that sounded like ten thousand beasts came from the waves, and it was not a hallucination!
What just happened? Am I dreaming?
The intense shaking, the cracked ground, the hysterical winds, and… the gigantic foot!
As they recalled every scene, they almost fainted.
Was that real? Was that fake?
What just happened to the world they knew so well?
Before the rise of humans, they were the rulers of this world. Ancient gigantic beasts who had been sealed in ice for a long, long time appeared once more in this world.
Despite the fact that their lives had ended eras ago, despite the fact that they bore no consciousness, their bodies had been preserved in ice, some of them perfectly preserved too!
Shao Xuan had learned the enslavement of reanimated corpses in the desert but he never expected the white flames to be this powerful!