Chapter 74 - The first test (iv).
Two miles to cultivators was initially a short distance so with the added motivation of finding a treasure the group’s speed doubled.
Soon, bushes and trees with gold, purple and green leaves came into view. It was truly an interesting sight as the sun rays that reflected against them caused stunning colours to flicker above.
Seeing this, Zilan was almost certain that this was the territory of the Nine Heaven Dew tree.
“What a sinister existence.” Thought Zilan.
The reason the leaves of the surrounding plants had such eye catching colours was simply because of the dark influence of the Nine Heaven Dew Tree.
It would spread out its energy thus allowing the plants in its range to grow not only faster but also stronger. However, once they reached a satisfactory strength and had become sufficiently ‘plump’, the Nine Heaven Dew tree would heartlessly swoop in and devour.
"Fattening the pig up before greedily slaughtering it."
Just as the group of youths were taking their time admiring the environment around them, sudden faint sounds of conflict coming from the direction they were headed shocked them into alertness.
“Could someone have already found the tree?” question Fujo, his eyes flashed with battle intent.
If the Nine Heaven Dew tree really was just ahead of them but had been claimed by others then he would not hesitate to use brute force. For Beasts when it came to territorial disputes or conflicts arising because of their possessions then a peaceful resolution of the matter, was extremely rare.
Zilan was currently slightly confused. Finding the tree was not an easy task, even if one knew of its location beforehand that didn’t necessarily translate to actually spotting it.
“How long has passed since the beginning of the test? Surely not even an hour, so then how? Can people with such Heavenly luck really exist? I have to see it to believe it.” sighed Zilan.
With him cautiously leading the way, a clearing where short grass and wild flowers could be seen was now before them. In a corner of the oval shaped clearing, stood a towering tree that was clearly the tallest one Zilan had seen since entering this ‘garden’.
Beside the tall tree, two experts were currently in the midst of a bloody battle. Their fur, clothes and hair was greatly disheveled, showing just how long they’d fought. Bloody wounds were visible across their bodies and some even appeared to be fatal.
“Bastard! You risk offending my Azure Floating Cloud because of a three star herb? Good! Good! Once I’ve dealt with you, that school of yours is finished.” Cursed a 7 foot bull-like man whose body was covered with tight bulging muscles that exuded power.
“Ngombe, you can’t blame me. I am a man who values my life over friendship. Besides, I doubt your Floating Cloud will go to war with my school because of a useless cripple.” Laughed a rat-like man with ink black fur.
Hearing their words, Fujo sighed in relief.
“It looks like these two fellows had chosen to move together however, when faced with the temptation of a three star herb, that rat couldn’t resist. Thankfully, it isn’t the Heaven Dew tree that they’d discovered.” stated Fujo.
“How does Eldest Brother know it isn’t the Nine Heaven Dew tree?”
“Hmph! It’s impossible for something so great to only have a rank of three stars.” Declared Fujo, before turning towards Zilan and asking, “Does Brother perhaps know what herb they’re fighting for?”
Zilan saw the hint of greed in his eyes despite Fujo concealing it.
He then looked towards the fighting figures and silently shook his head.
“It would be best if Brother Fujo forgets about obtaining that herb.”
“Tsk, I wouldn’t expect a bumpkin like you to comprehend Eldest Brothers power. If he wanted to, even if they were to work together he could still directly kill those two people and take the herb away.” sneered Mnono.
He already had the notion that Zilan must originate from a weaker species planted into his mind. Thus respect for him, was virtually non-existent.
If he hadn’t identified Zilan as a reptile then maybe his attitude although still contemptuous would probably not reach such a level. However since the Half Breed was half reptile, then naturally he felt somewhat shameful.
Ignoring Mnono, Fujo felt there was a reason for Zilan’s words so he asked,
“Is there someone aside from those two lurking around?”
This was the only explanation he could come up with thus he voiced it.
Zilan was slightly surprised by Fujo. He was not right but he also wasn’t far off.
“The Herb they’re fighting for is known as Forest Vitality and it only grows around a Tree King of at least three hundred years old. The tree king is nothing but an old tree that is extremely valuable for crafting however it is adept at attracting energy, making it a good home.
Unfortunately, right now I’m afraid those two people are trying to steal directly from the tiger’s mouth. Something that the Nine Heaven Dew tree has nurtured so well, yet they’re trying to obtain it. I’d be surprised if they managed to escape with their lives.”
Needless to say, the entire group including Kifo were shocked by Zilan’s words. However, some still had their doubts so Zilan wanted to add on something to make them understand, but at that time who’d have thought that Nyoka would actually understand his meaning.
“So the energy the tree king is attracting belongs to the Nine Heaven Dew tree?”
“Yes.” Replied Zilan.
“Is it really going to act?”
“I’m afraid so.” Sighed Zilan.
He had no relationship with those fellows so there was no need to warn them. He wanted to help but after he calmly thought it through, he felt that it was a bad idea.
If it was you and someone suddenly warned you of great danger while you were in the midst of obtaining treasure, what would you do? Not to mention you were currently in the middle of a battle.
Of course, anyone with a brain would fear being the mantis who stalked the cicada unaware of the oriole behind.
Those two people might even team up against him, thinking that it would be better to get rid of him first before settling their own grievances. If this actually happened, he was confident that Fujo and the others would step in to help but by doing so the Nine Heaven Dew tree would notice their presence and this may even lead to his plans being rendered useless.
Just as Zilan was deep in thought, he suddenly heard a heart wrenching scream. He quickly looked towards the source of the frightening screech.
“Phoo.” He quickly took in a breath as he watched the Bull Ngombe being ripped in two. Bits of fleshy innards and large amounts of spraying blood dyed the area red.
The rat-like man looked on in horror. He didn’t even know what was happening let alone who killed Ngombe.
One minute, the two were desperately fighting and the next Ngombe was lifted into the air by an unknown entity before being torn apart.
“Who’s there? Killing is forbidde…_” Before he could finish his words, an unbelievable scene played out before Zilan and the group of youths.
The rat-like man who stood at over 6 feet tall was slowly shrinking. However, his body was not naturally decreasing in size instead it appeared to be forced into a gruesome state.
It was like a giant thumb was slowly pushing down on him. The pressure caused his eyes to explode and then a vast number of bones started protruding out of the skin before finally reaching his end form which was a disgusting meat paste.
No one even dared to breathe.