Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
After Vivian and Lily completed their debriefing, Hao Ren turned to Y'zaks and Becky. "What have you found?"
The pair had gone to the northern side of the mountain range where the rock monsters were most active. But now, it seemed like the biggest mystery in Beinz was in another part of Beinz. The rock monsters were little more than just an annoyance. Shaking her head, Becky said, "Not much, except the many rock monsters that were wandering in the mountains. Some gathered in groups. Anyway, the knights have sent reinforcements. There's a megalithic fortress built with magic at the foot of the mountain. A mage-level officer is probably in charge. Biggie and I made a few rounds in the mountain. We were nearly spotted by the patrolling knights."
"The rock monsters were just wandering in the mountain. They had no intention to attack," Y'zaks added. "But the way I see it, it's out of character. I mean they're low-intelligence creatures; they're supposed to behave as such—stomping their targets with brute force. I have a hunch that someone's controlling these monsters. However, the person behind this is clearly not very good at it."
Even though it was not much, what Y'zaks and Becky found was still something. Just that, it was not something critical. After the debriefing, Hao Ren cleared his throat. "Ahem... let's talk about who I met—a bunch of cult followers."
Everyone held their breath and listened attentively. Lily almost screamed when Hao Ren recounted how the cult conducted the evil ritual and human sacrifice. But, Vivian and Y'zaks appeared unaffected; they had lived long enough to have seen such a thing. Y'zaks only frowned when he learned that a flesh and blood monster was summoned by the cult. "Was the monster formed with the flesh and blood of the bodies at the scene?"
"Yup." Hao Ren nodded. "The MDT analysed the monster's biological make-up and it totally defied any logic. That thing shouldn't exist."
"Possessed summoning is a common process used by cults." Y'zaks nodded. "What they summoned must be from another place—another dimension or planet. As they didn't have the ability to open the dimensional door, the monster had to project its will and power into this world by possessing a body as a vessel. Due to limited availability of ingredients and technology, it seems like the cult wasn't able to create a perfect body for it. So, a summoning of this type would only last for a short moment."
"So, the strength of summoned monster would be much lower then?" This was the most important question bothering Hao Ren. He was traumatised by the gigantic brain; it was far more powerful than humans, and even many unusual creatures. If he had not found its weakness by accident and possessed an all-powerful gun of the Empire, which could penetrate all types of shields, things might have gone really awry.
"Not necessarily. It all depends on the form of life and the power of the possessor," Y'zaks said as he shrugged. "If the possesor relies heavily on a physical body, its strength might be severely limited. If the soul and spirit are its main weapons, its power isn't really affected. Sometimes, the method of possession and skills also affect its strength. According to your description, the brain-like being must have been fighthing using a supernatural ability. Even if it possesses a body, it still has the magical power to manipulate gravity and kinetic energy. But like I said, it's just a guess based on what I know from my hometown."
Lily slid Y'zaks a weird glance. "Sound like you're very familiar with stuff like this."
Y'zaks spread out his hand and said, "It's what I'm good at, after all. Teleporting all the way from the Demonic Abyss to the human world is troublesome. So, most of the time I travel by way of possessed summoning. Although I don't like to build a following in the human world, I do have a few human subordinates."
Felling surprised, Hao Ren asked, "Didn't you say you wanted no war with the humans?"
"I didn't come for war." Y'zaks scraped his bald head with his hand, giving an honest smile. "Mostly for travel."
Everyone rolled their eyes, feeling speechless. The demonic king, whose appearance alone was enough to cause worldwide chaos and unrest, purportedly went to "war" with humans only because he wanted to see the world. That would have made the brave army, who gathered in anticipation of the demonic king's arrival look stupid. Hao Ren could not even begin to imagine how the brave in Y'zaks' hometown would react to Y'zaks' line of thinking. Anyway, Y'zaks' interest in travel was good for the business of weapon makers and adventure pubs.
As if Y'zaks knew his habit was hard to believe, he scraped his bald head again and smiled wryly. "Let's not make this about me. In conclusion, the gigantic brain is dead. It's true that a summoned creature could abandon its vessel and return to its own world at any time, but you have a very special gun. Your gun can exterminate the soul and burn the linkage of the possessed projection. So, we don't have to to worry about the gigantic brain returning with its buddies for a second match."
Y'zaks made the conclusion based on what Hao Ren told him about the gun.
After the debriefing, Hao Ren and Vivian, who were the team leaders as well as think tanks began to compile all the information into a report.
The mysterious underground tentacle at the lakeside (which was certainly part of the root system of the Gnarled Grove); the person responsible for the rock monsters; the cult ritual in Dragonspine Ridge; the summoned flesh and blood monster; the appearance of Church Knights and Royal Knights among members of the cults; the Disciples of Glory, which were accused of stealing the power of God, and the illusion of the red ocean in the faraway land...
And lastly, the final words that the dying, gigantic brain left Hao Ren with: "You are all just scum."
All these seemingly related, but messy things had Hao Ren wondering how he was going to stitch everything together. He was unsure if people behind the rock monsters were the cult followers themselves. He also was unsure if the flesh and blood monster was related to the strange phenomenon in the Beinz Diocese. He could not tell if the root system of the Gnarled Grove had anything to do with these occurrences. It seemed like each incident was independent, and they only had one thing in common: they were all weird.
"I can't think of anything," Vivian said as she spread out her hands. "We have too little information to work with."
"In that case, we'll have to change our schedule for the next two days," Hao Ren said, scratching his chin. "Since we're so clueless, we won't be able to find anything. I've decided to inform Ophra and let the marshal utilise her power to investigate; I bet she'll be happy to deal with the cult."
"You trust her?" Vivian had a quick thought.
"No one can really be trusted, but it doesn't matter. I just want the powers that be in Holletta to know about the matter. They'll know what to do." Hao Ren shrugged. "We don't belong here. If worse comes to worst, we can just pull the plug and presto, we'll be back to reality. The problem now is, things are calm—so calm that we won't be able to find anything. So, we need someone powerful to stir the pot a little. I don't care who muddies the water as long as the water gets muddy."
With regard to how he was going to explain their presence in those areas to Ophra, Hao Ren was still clueless.
Feeling surprised, Vivian looked at him and said thoughtfully, "...You're different."
Lily looked at Hao Ren with a surprised look on her face too and said thoughtfully, "You're different."
Hao Ren eyeballed the husky. "Do you know what you're talking about?"
Lily wagged her tail and replied, "I don't know what you guys were talking about. But, every time Battie talks to you like that, you'd praise her, so I figured I should do likewise!"
All of a sudden, Becky received a mental kick. She then asked Hao Ren, "Wait a second! Did you really mean what you just said?"
Hao Ren also received a mental kick, but a harder one. He did not realise that the native of The Plane of Dreams was there. She must have mistaken his words for not caring about The Plane of Dreams—of course, Hao Ren did not mean it. He quickly explained, "Please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying—"
Before Hao Ren could finish his sentence, Becky got to her feet and said, "We can only stay for 10 days or so! Oh no! If Lady Ophra wants us to stay and help with the investigation, my manor and title will be as good as gone."
Everyone had sweat trickling down their forehead: all she cared about was her title...
Fortunately, Becky was pretty considerate. She did not insist on getting it at the moment. She could bear to leave it on the back burner for the time being. Unless Holletta was destroyed in a month, she could always come back again to claim her rewards.
There was another important reason why she chose to compromise: she was no match for these monsters in the house...
There was still some time before dawn, so everyone tried to get some shut eye. After a long while of building up, the dark clouds in the night sky began to pour down its contents alongside some thunder. It was then that Marshal Ophra came visiting.
It was as if she knew Hao Ren would be coming for her too.
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