GDK 741: Spearing ahead
The valley was gloomy. Strange avian creatures would fly past above their heads. It was early in the morning and a dense mist had shrouded the valley. It was difficult to make out the situation in the valley.
Although the heavy fog had made it difficult for the assaulting army to observe the valley below, it aided them in concealing their presence.
Aobashi, Erebus, Han Shuo, and Andrina were together. Blightsoar from Mirage City and Eugene from Hushveil City, each leading their own troops, were traveling on both sides of the forces of the City of Shadows.
Gradually, they were getting close to the valley.
Blightsoar, after commanding his men to maintain formation, quietly walked to Han Shuo. He asked softly, “The valley below is the one we are after, right?”
Han Shuo nodded and replied softly, “It is. Please tell your men not to get too close, lest they trigger the energy towers.”
Blightsoar did not hold any prejudice towards Han Shuo. On the contrary, he was rather admiring of Han Shuo. After hearing the advice, he gestured at his troops from a distance, commanding them to stay where they stood.
There was a chain of mountains around the misty valley with peaks that were high above the clouds. The mountains surrounded the valley in the shape of an arc. Han Shuo and his band were on one of those mountains, crouching, stealthily peeking over the edge and down at the valley.
“I can’t see much of what’s in the valley. What’s the situation there?” Aobashi asked Han Shuo softly.
Han Shuo extended his index finger and started carving a crude diagram on a hard rock nearby. Using the carving, he started explaining, “I have carefully surveyed the area before. There are energy towers and boundary towers disguised as trees over here, here, and here. There is only one entrance, located here. There are also godhunters concealed, doing sentry duties. And there are boundaries on the top of the valley. We will be discovered as soon as we come close to the valley.”
Aobashi looked at Han Shuo in astonishment and asked, “How is it that you are so clear about the situation down there?”
Han Shuo did not answer her question but continued, “Although it is heavily guarded, it is still possible to infiltrate the valley without being detected. By quietly killing the sentries and avoiding the energy and boundary towers, we can enter without alerting the godhunters.”
“Where are the sentries located? Are you sure of their locations?” Blightsoar too was amazed and in disbelief.
Han Shuo paused his briefing. He raised his head, looked at Aobashi and Blightsoar calmly, and said, “If you have trusted me enough to come here, please continue to trust me for the rest of the mission and not question my words. Otherwise, you may charge straight down the valley with your men.”
During such a critical moment, Han Shuo couldn’t bother giving a damn about their statuses.
“As long as you can get me close enough to the energy towers and boundary towers, I can disable them!” whispered Andrina.
Han Shuo was aware of this special ability of Andrina’s and it was the main reason Han Shuo had brought her along. He thought for a moment and said, “Eugene is prejudiced against me. Perhaps he and his men should stay outside. After we entered the valley and started engaging with the godhunters, they will try to break the siege and try to escape. Let’s have Eugene be in charge of stopping those godhunters from escaping.”
Han Shuo would always be very calm during critical moments like this. Accustomed to giving commands, he was unwittingly playing the role of the leader again. Aobashi, Erebus and Blightsoar found it rather strange but they did not say a word as they saw just how much confidence Han Shuo had displayed. It was as though he knew every grass and wood in the valley.
“Okay. I will tell Eugene so that he and his men stay outside!” Blightsoar knew that Eugene wouldn’t listen to a word of those from the City of Shadows and therefore volunteered to persuade Eugene.
After Blightsoar left, Aobashi put on a grimace on her pretty face and said to Han Shuo, “Bryan, please, by all means, don’t make a mistake! We have over four hundred divine guards from three cities. Any negligence could mean the death of many. Our lives are at stake!”
“Bryan, are you really sure of this?” asked Erebus. He looked concerned and nowhere as confident as Han Shuo appeared.
“As long as you listen to me and advance slowly, I’m confident in taking all of you into the valley without being discovered,” assured Han Shuo solemnly. After a short pause, in a relaxed manner, he continued, “At least it’s better than just blindly charging straight into the base, right?”
“Blindly charging has its merits too - it would greatly boost the morale of the army.” Aobashi put on a faint smile and said softly, “If we are discovered while in the midst of infiltrating the base, that would weaken our morale. That is to be considered too.”
“I understand,” Han Shuo nodded. After hesitating for a moment, he asked, “If there is a late-stage highgod in there, how are we going to handle it?”
Aobashi and Erebus remained silent. After a long while, Aobashi broke the silence, “We are greater in number. We will besiege him!”
Han Shuo frowned, “Even you have no way of dealing with the possibility?”
“We had to rush so there wasn’t enough time to get the City Lord’s assistance. But don’t worry, if there is one, I reckon that with my divine guards jointly deploying boundaries, he will be trapped! There’s nothing to be afraid of!” Aobashi asserted. She then shot a glance at Erebus and continued, “Besides, Erebus has an enchanted scroll given by the City Lord. I know the power contained in that scroll. When released, not even a late-stage highgod could withstand its power. We can use it in case of an emergency.”
After hearing Aobashi’s words, Han Shuo knew that she had considered the possibility of finding a late-stage highgod. With that, Han Shuo stopped asking them about how they would handle the possible threat. He thought in his mind, In any case, if the situation goes south, I know I can preserve my own life.
Blightsoar returned to the party and said softly, “Eugene has agreed. We can begin the operation!”
Han Shuo stood up and commanded, “Follow me. Tell your men to be extra cautious and do not make a sound!”
He then glided straight down into the valley and landed at the front of the valley near the entrance. Aobashi, Erebus, and Blightsoar, after giving instructions to their men, followed in Han Shuo’s path.
Some boundaries covered the top of the valley. As the source of energy of those boundaries was located deep inside the valley, even Andrina couldn’t temper with them. Therefore, the party’s only option was to infiltrate the valley through the only entrance.
Element of wind revolved around Aobashi as she gracefully floated down. She appeared nimble and agile and light as a feather.
Han Shuo had long since discovered that Aobashi cultivated in the elemental energy of wind. Her fine long hair would form miniature domains of divinity as they fluttered and danced. These characteristics were unique to gods cultivating in the elemental energy of wind.
The demon generals had been put into position long ago, concealing and watching from the dark. Having visited the valley twice before, Han Shuo knew the area very well. Although the morning fog would hinder the observation power of an average person, it was, however, a natural barrier for Han Shuo that would allow him and his demon generals to be even stealthier.
Han Shuo beckoned and went forward in a strange and seemingly erratic path. He easily avoided the dense growth of shrubs and thickets, making not the slightest noise.
Following behind Han Shuo was Aobashi. She gazed at Han Shuo with complex and mixed emotions, as though she was astonished by Han Shuo’s miraculous performance. She felt as though this youngster who had arrived in the City of Shadows relatively recently might be carrying many more secrets!
Behind Aobashi was Andrina, and following her were Blightsoar and Erebus. Although Andrina was most likely more powerful than Aobashi, as a god who cultivated in the energy of wind, she was better than Andrina at flying and was more agile. Therefore, Andrina travelled behind Aobashi.
The party remained completely silent. They cautiously looked all around as they followed behind Han Shuo who was advancing as though it was his own backyard.
Gradually, their confidence in Han Shuo grew. They saw that it had been almost effortless for Han Shuo to navigate through the region of shrubs and trees, venturing forward leisurely as though it was the back of his house. They finally believed that Han Shuo had surveyed and knew the area well.
Suddenly, his nimble figure froze. He turned around and gestured at his partners to proceed very slowly.
When they finally caught up to Han Shuo, he pointed at a big tree ahead of him and whispered, “The third branch from the bottom an observer is hiding. Who will get rid of him?”
“I’ll do it,” Aobashi said and noiselessly floated to her target like a weightless wraith.
In just a split second, Aobashi arrived at the spot Han Shuo specified. She gave a gentle pat on the tree branch with her fair left hand. The tree creaked ever so slightly and swayed.
Her lips curled up into a faint smile. She turned towards Han Shuo and gave him a nod, signaling that it was complete.
Erebus and Blightsoar had big smiles on their faces. Their gazes at Han Shuo were filled with admiration and approval. Aobashi’s signal was direct confirmation that Han Shuo was not mistaken, that there was indeed a person hiding in the tree. They no longer held a doubt about Han Shuo’s ability.
“Well done, young man!” praised Erebus softly while he stuck his thumb out at Han Shuo.
“Let’s continue forward. Follow me,” instead of preening himself, Han Shuo proceeded forward with a calm face after beckoning Aobashi.
The party then repeated the same action multiple times and silently assassinated seven godhunters. Those godhunters who thought that they were well-concealed died without even realizing what had happened.
Again, Han Shuo suddenly stopped moving. He said gravely, “There will be boundaries and energy towers from this point forward. We are counting on you, Andrina!”
“Don’t worry, not a single message will be transmitted from the energy towers!” said Andrina, proudly.
“Alright then, let’s proceed,” Han Shuo nodded. He would point out the direction of the energy towers to Andrina as they moved along. Andrina indeed did not disappoint. She merely needed to close her eyes for a moment and the energy tower Han Shuo pointed to would be disabled.
By employing this approach, the party managed to infiltrate the valley. Inside, they saw an enormous pond filled with a cold, dark liquid. On the walls surrounding the pond were numerous deep caves which from a distance looked like honeycombs. They roughly counted that there were several dozen caves on those walls.
They could see human figures in some caves while some had been blocked from the inside, revealing just a fine fissure.
“We have arrived!” Han Shuo announced softly. Shortly after, he bunched his brows and said, “The godhunters should be inside those caves. We would have difficulty checking the holes one by one. I have brought you this far and shall leave the rest of the mission to you all!”
Having brought the highgods into the valley without alerting a single godhunter, Han Shuo had completed his mission to perfection.
“This godhunter’s base seems a little strange and quite different from those we previously busted. It seems very likely that this bust is going to be huge, hehe!” Erebus licked the corner of his mouth. He seemed rather excited.
“Wait, do not attack until all our men arrive,” Aobashi wore a calm face as she said softly, “Bryan, you have done a great contribution. After the event, I will make sure to mention your great work to the City Lord. You will surely be rewarded well!”
“Let’s put this topic off until later when we have wiped out these godhunters,” Han Shuo wore a tranquil and indifferent face. His mind was not affected in the slightest by Aobashi’s words. He continued to observe the caves with cold eyes while moving the demon generals into the valley.
A few minutes later, those divine guards who had been trailing behind finally caught up to them. The divine guards silently concealed themselves and watched for activities around the pond from a distance.
Andrina looked ravenous. Her little face was just as cold as the pond water as she said resentfully, “I will kill all these bloody godhunters today!”
“There are a lot of caves. It’s not feasible to check one by one. Also, we do not know if there would be forks in the caves. How should we proceed?” Blightsoar asked the party after thinking silently for a moment.
“It seems that the godhunters are all inside those caves. How about we get Eugene over? He too commands a hundred divine guards. I believe that the battle is unlikely to spread outside the valley so we might as well concentrate our forces,” Han Shuo proposed after pondering for a moment.
The others thought for a while and nodded. Then, Blightsoar noticed that everyone else was looking at him. Right away, he knew exactly what they were thinking. He turned to a divine guard behind him and instructed, “Return on the path we came from and ask Eugene and his army to join us!”
The divine guard spoke not a word and hastily left. Then, around ten minutes later, Eugene and his men arrived.
Eugene needed just one look at the caves to realize that Han Shuo’s words were indeed true - it was indeed a base of the godhunters. Although Eugene was intrigued as to how they managed to enter the valley so silently and without being detected, he did not question it. Instead, he rubbed his hands and asked, “What are we waiting for? Let’s storm the place!”
“There are too many caves. It seems unwise to storm in there without knowing the situation inside. How about if we force them out from their caves and fight them out here?” proposed Erebus.
Evidently, most of the party felt that Erebus’ suggestion was more feasible. Aobashi, Blightsoar, Han Shuo, and Andrina all nodded in agreement.
“First, let’s disperse our troops and place them around the entryway, guard all the exits. Then we force them out!” instructed Aobashi.
The divine guards dispersed. Once they were in position, Aobashi commanded Erebus, “You can knock on their doors now!”
Under the attentive gazes of the party, Erebus took out a dark pike and filled it with his divine energy. The dark pike, now glowing with dark radiance, was hurled. It flew like a streak of dark light, aiming for the largest cave!
Rumbles… The pike pierced straight into the cave and sent shattered rocks everywhere. An earth-quaking explosion reverberated throughout the valley.
“We are under attack!”
“What the heck?!”
Shrieks of panic sounded from within the caves. Right after that, human figures appeared at the mouths of the caves. These people had fierce and ruthless eyes. It was clear from their looks that they were evil and malicious characters. They were no doubt the godhunters the army were after!
“There they are!” shouted Blightsoar.
“Launch ranged attacks!” shouted Aobashi. Suddenly, several gusts of wind so wild and piercing they seemed to be able to split rocks and demolish mountains blew towards the caves.
The fierce winds whistled loudly as though wanting to burst everyone’s eardrums. Those ancient, hundred-meter tall trees in their paths were snapped. The shrubs looked as though they had been mowed down.
The winds moved extremely rapidly and traveled several hundred meters within a few instances and violently gushed into the caves. Two godhunters were instantly killed. Three were forcibly pulled out from their caves and thrown down into the chilling pond underneath.
The few godhunters shrieked in fear and panic as they fell towards the pond uncontrollably.
Splash! The godhunters fell into the chilling pond and their bodies instantly started fizzing, giving off thick smoke. Their shrieks grew even louder and more miserable as their flesh detached from their bodies and rapidly dissolved. Within a short few seconds, they were reduced to three shiny, white skeletons, sinking to the bottom of the pond.
The assaulting party who witnessed the scene jolted. Their eyes were filled with horror as they stared at the pond. A few who originally intended to charge at the caves immediately stopped in their tracks, fearing that they would be struck by the godhunters in midair and fall into the pond.
“Be careful of the pond! Launch ranged attacks!” Aobashi shouted again.
Streaks of light, piercing bone spears, and lumps of dark mist shot out from the thick shrubbery and towering trees where the divine guards hid and towards the godhunters at the cave entrances. In the blink of an eye, another dozen or so godhunters were killed. Two godhunters seemed to be trying to escape the valley when they were struck and fell into the pond. They were transformed into a pair of eerie, white skeletons in no time.
Han Shuo paid little attention to the ferocious battle, and was instead gazing fixedly at the pond. He softly remarked, “The poison inside the pond is the same as that made by the Godswamp Pharmacy in the City of Shadows. My suspicion is indeed true, the Godswamp Pharmacy is associated with the godhunters!”
Erebus’s face turned dark and he hastily asked, “Bryan, are you sure that the pond contains poison produced by the Godswamp Pharmacy?”
“I have seen their poisons before and I’m absolutely sure of it!” said Han Shuo with absolute confidence. He shot a glance at Eugene whose expression did not look well, and said gloomily, “It seems that the master of the Godswamp Pharmacy is a dubious character!”
“Slanders!” cried Eugene, “Those poisons found in the City of Shadows were concocted by Steiss. Hassling has nothing to do with it!”
“Does Hassling have a head full of white hair and skin as translucent as jade?” asked Han Shuo.
“You’ve met him? Hassling has always kept a very low profile. How did you manage to meet him?” Eugene asked in a puzzled manner.
So it is him! thought Han Shuo.
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