The Portal of Wonderland Chapter 466: It’s an Ambush
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466. It's an Ambush
The group marched on for about half an hour more when Shi Mu's eyebrow raised at Cai's incoming telepathic message. He raised his head and cast his gaze far to a particular direction.
"What's the matter, Big Brother Shi?" Zi Ling asked quizzically.
"Nothing, really. There's a group of demonic beasts heading our way. They aren't exactly powerful, but they have strength in numbers," Shi Mu replied.
Zi Ling followed his gaze and stared at the direction, her shiny, watery eyes blinking before she nodded her head.
"What demonic beasts?" An alien youth who was a few steps away from the two instantly scoffed. "We'd been here for at least half a day and all we'd met were some bloody small fries so unsatisfying, I couldn't even call them snacks!"
"I know, right? Plus, we're still out here in the outer layer of the place. How is it possible to have that many of demonic beasts anyway?" Another Demon race male, who spotted a turquois skin and two protruded teeth, chimed in.
Shi Mu smiled quietly.
A few moments later…
"—Dang it! Demon beasts spotted ahead!" Ji Jiang, who had been leading the group, gave out a low cry.
His words had barely left the air when he heard a thunder-like rumbling of footsteps accompanied by tides of howls. With the sounds drawing closer and closer, it became clearer that their numbers were larger than any previous encounter too!
The group's faces collectively shifted to an expression of alarm as all kinds of spirit tools flashed and shone into existence from their hands.
"Everyone," Ji Jiang raised his eyebrow and let out a loud cry, "Battle station!"
His voice had just echoed through the air when the grassy plains before them rose like a tide as a large drove of enormous silhouettes rose. As they trudged forward towards them, the group's eyes finally saw that they were all some sort of green-skinned giants, four or five times the size of an average human; Their body had a strange wooden-like surface while their eyes were shiny green with an extra aura of malice and cupidity.
They had come to meet the group where Shi Mu belonged to in a number of thirty or forty, all of them wielding weapons that ranged from wooden spears, wooden axes, sabers, and swords as they pounced.
"Woodgiants!" Someone cried in recognition.
"Why are there suddenly so many of them!"
"They aren't that much of a deal, you guys! They are just brawny!" Ji Jiang's voice roared above the din as his body flared with a shroud of green light, "Everyone, we work together and watch each other's back. Be vigilant!"
The flesh-fashioned wings on his back spread wild open suddenly into a pair of large-saber like wings spanning several yards wide. As they shone in blinding green light, the wings severed several Woodgiants into halves.
The rest of the group didn't let him take all of the glory. Fireballs, icy blizzards, tempest gales and more flashed and stampeded on the Woodgiants' faces.
Shi Mu's eyes were glinting. He waved, and a shot of golden blade sprung from his hand and sliced through two incoming Woodgiants like a golden serpent. At the very next second, a large shot of red light poured over the bodies of these Woodgiants, plundering a few thumb-sized, green Demon Nucleus from them before flying through Shi Mu's fingers and leaving them on his palm.
Fighting next to Shi Mu, Zi Ling conjured two violet flying daggers that were like two bolts of lightning splitting and killing a Woodgiant in a second.
These Woodgiants may came in large numbers, but they were still no match to a group of steady Earth-rank warriors; It took only a few seconds before they were all slayed and exposed of their own Demon Nucleus.
"So that's how Demon Nucleus looks like," Shi Mu muttered under his breath as h examined the green objects in his hand.
He hadn't had the chance to touch one of these since the group had started venturing into the Tenth Heavens World—the group had encountered a few demon beasts all their way, but they were almost certainly slayed by the front most of the group. According to the rules they had agreed to, low-level Demon Nucleus would always belong exclusively to the one who had slayed them, which meant that the fighters at the front were the ones who had seen an actual Demon Nucleus this whole time.
Judging from the powerful pulses emitted from these objects, these Demon Nucleus were almost no different from the Demon Pills back in Cerulean Sea Star. He eyed them a few more times before waving his Qing Shan Order over them, which emitted a large patch of green light that engulfed these Demon Nucleuses.
"Gentlemen, do not be fooled by the apparent tranquility of this place. Remember, the Verdant Hills was chosen as one of the tests for those who seek to join Qing Lan Holy Sect, which means that there are very real dangers hidden behind the veil of its serenity. I'm sure those who had gone through this would understand the fact very, very much," Ji Jiang said loudly, apparently addressing everyone in his group. "Think, if we were to meet that group of Woodgiants from before all alone, or in a small group of three or five, how the tides could easily change to the Woodgiants' side! Hence, our decision to band together into a large group like this more or less proven to be correct."
Most of the crowd nodded. They had just gone through a battle, after all.
"Alright, that concludes our warm-up, right? Let's move—forward!" Ji Jiang grinned and waved his hand, and the group started again.
"Big Brother Shi, you were amazing!" Zi Ling peeped, her voice brimming with respect and admiration. "You could smell these Demon Beasts several miles away!"
Shi Mu flashed her a nonchalant smile without saying anything more.
Days went by quickly enough. The group marched forward just as quickly.
It turned out that the savanna was much larger in area than they had expected. The group had bene travelling for two or three days but they never seemed to come near its edge.
The number of Demon Beasts encountered had increased, but most of them were still in Xian Tian level, with very few of them even reaching Early Earth-rank. Hence, the group had yet suffered any kind of casualty or harm to their members, and as they had been crossing the savanna unharmed, themselves full of Demon Nucleuses, the general morale of the group was quite high.
"Sect Fellow Zi Ling, are you familiar with this place? Why is it that we're still stuck here despite travelling through it for such a long time?" Shi Mu's lips parted slightly as he asked telepathically; He and Zi Ling were still walking at the very end of the group.
"I don't know this place much, either. But I did once hear people calling this place 'The Straying Savanna', but I don't know how that name came to be in the first place," She replied telepathically.
"The Straying Savanna, huh…" Shi Mu frowned as he chewed the words in his head.
It was then when a sort of furor broke out of the frontmost portion of the group. Shi Mu lifted his head and stared ahead, only to have a look of shock crossed his face. Before them, at the edge of the savanna, was an abrupt forest of rocks and stones stretching endlessly—or at least to as far as the eyes could see.
The more dreaded observation, however, was the fact that the stone forest was shrouded in grey mist, which obstructed even Cai's vision.
"Why are there so many stones here?" Shi Mu said, surprised. He was far from the only one either; Many others in his group expressed the same doubt.
"Don't worry yourself, my friends. These stones look unsettling, yes, and perhaps some Demon Beasts lurk underneath… But we're still at the outskirt of the land, which means the beasts can't possibly be too powerful that we cannot defeat them together. After all, didn't we just cross through the savanna without a single harm laid on us?" Ji Jiang stood, swiftly delivering the morale-boosting speech at the right time.
The crowd, agreeing to him, rejoiced at his words.
"Besides, after crossing through this plain for so long, are we seriously going to turn back just because we met some rocks and pebbles on our way?" Ji Jiang continued.
The crowd started nodding, anxiety and concern fading away from their visage steadily.
"Sect Fellow Ji Jiang, you're someone who's familiar with this part of the secret land. I heard that the place we're in is called 'The Straying Savanna', so I was wondering if you know why," Shi Mu asked.
Ji Jiang eyed Shi Mu and replied, "Unfortunately, this lowly one may have been through the Verdant Hills once or twice, but never once transported to this savanna before. In other words, I don't necessarily know more than everyone else about this specific place."
A look of disappointment crossed Shi Mu's face as he fell silent.
Ji Jiang threw a laugh. "Come on. There might be rare herbs and plants waiting for us in there!" He said, sprinting into the stone forest.
The rest of the group, too, chuckled a bit as the initial dread in their heart receded. Soon, they followed Ji Jiang into the stone forest.
And it was just as he had said, too—the amount of rare herbs and plants increased dramatically once they stepped foot into the forest, making one wondered if this part of the land hadn't been visited for a long time. One could even find rare herbs that had been growing for decades, a century or even centuries.
The group was instantly kicked into a harvesting frenzy. They were overjoyed at their fruitful encounter.
Shi Mu harvested the herbs along with them, but his face wasn't as relaxed or even happy as others'. Instead, he kept scanning the surrounding warily.
"Big Brother Shi, are you okay?" Zi Ling asked quietly after approaching him. "Is anything amiss?"
"No, not… really. I just can't help but feeling a sense of doom. We've entered this stone forest for about an hour now, yet we've never met a single Demon Beast at all," Shi Mu replied. "Something's fishy."
Zi Ling's tiny face wrought in concern. Now that Shi Mu reminded her of it, she couldn't unsee the fact that they really hadn't really met any form of resistance from any demon beasts.
"Um, maybe—" Zi Ling had just started when the earth below them shook in a trrible racket.
Boom booom boom!
The earth below them rumbled like the bellow of an angered beast as it shook more and more violently.
"The earth!" Shi Mu cried, his face completely overtaken by panic. "Something's drilling out of the earth!"
His body bolted upward instantly, leaping himself into the air. The rest of the group, seeing him like this, used their own methods to leap into the air as well. Zi Ling, for example, had summoned a single ribbon made of five colors which she dandily stepped on and stood close to Shi Mu, her tiny face wrinkling in concern.
"What did you sense, Sect Fellow Shi?" Ji Jiang asked in growl.
Shi Mu was just about to answer when the earth below their feet were suddenly drowning in a deluge of yellow light spanning about seventy or eighty yards.
Thump boom boom!
The stone forest below them, engulfed by that same yellow light, was suddenly uprooted before being fired off towards the hovering group like a catapult!
The air was instantly filled with ear-booming rumbles!
Hundreds of boulders plummeted downwards towards them, pelting them like a lethal storm. It was spanning such a wide area that one couldn't possibly evade out of the way.
"It's an ambush!"
The group was frantic, yet they were also seasoned fighters who intuitively and swiftly conjured their own methods of protecting themselves as they braced the incoming attack. In a split second, all sorts of colors started to manifest and coat their bodies as everyone's defensive spirit tools made their appearance.
Shi Mu gave a low growl and a full body of golden scales surfaced on his skin completely. They gleamed brightly, making him look like a golden deity.
A few Demon Race youths around him managed to watch him transform with a flabbergasted expression. Zi Ling, too, looked at Shi Mu with a brief look of awe.
She was already protected by a drove of purplish-violet clouds-like objects as well, which had gathered around her body into some sort of foolproof protection.
As lights flashed on the group's bodies, the boulders slammed downwards onto their bodies. As a result, lights shimmered and flashed while rackets of explosions marred through the air. Being geniuses of their own rights, these candidates managed to brace through the storm of boulders despite being forced to do so in the span of seconds.
As Shi Mu waved and shot out a few attacks on incoming boulders, his glowing golden eyes scanned the earth below them—and his expression shifted to apprehension.
Among the shimmering lights on the earth, a dozen of humongous, yellow lindworms0like creatures bore out into the open, with all of them being at least seven to eight yards long. Judging from the aura they emitted… all of them had reached Earth-rank!