Suria was waiting at the other side of a small hidden hill with grief not too far away from the Elemental Fiends nest. She could see a large number of Elemental Fiends chasing after a tiny black snake. Her stomach rumbled noisily as she blushed. She hadn’t eaten well for quite some time. That amount of spiritual insects could've made her so full for seven days, seven nights.
She tried her best to locate Markisah but to no avail. Only when Markisah gave her the green light would she be able to eat to her heart's content. She had never come to this part of the ancient forest, hence her lack of knowledge of the surrounding powerhouses, or potential easy prey.
She was thinking, should she just intercept all those delicious morsels? However, after a few agonizing moments of uncertainty, her rationality stopped her from the plan; one, she was afraid of angering Hana, and secondly, her opportunity for advancement was more important than to fill this belly of hers. She shouldn’t test Hana’s patience and at least tried to cozy up to the creature as much as possible. She had a tainted record, after all. At that moment, she knew she survived on account of the creature’s whim.
With a faint sound of a fluttering of wings, Markisah finally appeared. "Suria, it's your turn now. Please bear in mind to minimize the damage to the surrounding, not to forcefully crack the underground nest, and spare the red and orange colored ones, but make them busy."
Suria rolled her eyes in exasperation, "Hah, alright, whatever. So many rules! I'll try my best."
Markisah added, "Between you and me, I'd like to advise you to heed the rules placed by Hana. She will be watching your performance with her own eyes. Hence, if she feels unsatisfied, God knows whether she will help you. Just saying."
Markisah remarks had forced Suria to stop her rebellious train of thoughts and to think seriously of the consequence once she truly angered the mysterious creature. She wasn’t willing to sacrifice her chance for advancement, even how fleeting the notion was. Granted, she had seen remarkable changes happening to Markisah, but her little pet-friend was just a pseudo-spiritual beast. Whereas, Suria had been trying to amass her energy to assail the glorious Lord realm but was stop short only at a half-step. Every time her energy accumulated to a certain point, it dissipated naturally to mid-tiered Noble multiple times. She wasn’t confident, but heck, at least the being promised to find a solution for her.
What if, due to feeling irritated with her, the creature just gloss things over and said she can’t find a solution without even trying?
Suria could feel her blood freezing as she came to this conclusion from Markisah’s kindly advice. All the annoyance she felt from the nonsensical rules immediately vanished as she vowed silently to give the best performance ever to entertain the creature called Hana.
Markisah shrugged and added once she saw Suria’s determined look. "Hana had help two powerful spiritual beasts ascend through a minor and a major breakthrough just not too long ago in front of my eyes. The heaven's tribulation descended might be too far for you to detect. Another one had been upgraded too, though in a way that I don't understand." She referred to Ara's core-forming breakthrough. "As a whole, in front of me, she had assisted three individuals into a breakthrough consistently. Believe that you’re making the right decision, Suria" Markisah lifted her black-highlighted left wing and made an intelligent 'three' sign with it.
"I'll do my best. Tell Hana to observe me properly!" Suria suppressed her already subdued aura before she opened up her huge three-meter black and white wings and flew into the air in the most pompous way possible to attract the attention of whoever still within the nest.
"Mom, the big bird has moved." Shiro observed the spiritual bird's action with his spiritual sense. He could sense the spiritual aura from the bird, although it tried to hide it well. When the differences in strength between two spiritual beasts were nearly similar, one will not have the option to hide its real level, except with the help of external natural or refined treasures.
"Finally, it's our turn." Hana took a deep breath to calm herself before standing up.
"Chomper, the double-layered air bubble, please."
Hana rode on Shiro's back while holding his antlers uncomfortably. She always felt sorry for having to do this to her little cutie. However, now was not the time to stay wishy-washy. What they needed was efficiency, and Shiro had that. If it depended on her own speed, she knew she will most probably drag everybody down with her.
Chomper floated to the duo's side and started making the double-layered bubbles. Inside was filled with air, in the middle was filled with water, while the last layer trapped the water from losing its round form. She had inadvertently thought up of this trick to hide the scent of the lightning mushroom from their previous adventure with Ara. As such, immediately, the scent of the three creatures dissipated completely. Chomper had practiced fervently for this, although he wasn't sure what was the use. Didn't those Elemental Fiends still have their eyes?
"Please maintain this bubble well, little Chomper. Regardless of anything."
Chomper nodded nervously after he was told of the meaning by Shiro, especially after Shiro added his personal words of ‘encouragement’.
"Shi-chan darling, Frost Mirror, please."
Hana had callously called Shiro’s Ice Shard Mirage arcane skill with a simple name this time. Since it worked like a mirror and was based on ice, she just called it Frost Mirror. The water particle outside froze thinly and bent the light akin to a mirror. Some ice particles hovered in close proximity around the frozen bubble, adding up to the mirage-like effect. Immediately, the bubble vanished from view…
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"Chomper, Shi-chan, maintain both of your paces together. Never stray from the bubble. From now, please stop making any sounds. Chomper, please follow beside Shiro tightly. He will lead the way." Hana can't stop herself from reminding both of them to work together. They were moving closer and closer to the entrance of the Elemental Fiends' nest.
The surface of the area was full of multicolored Elemental Fiends moving in a tight formation to assault the incoming four-winged Mistral Great Hornbill. Even though Hana had seen Suria’s sorry state before, she was still amazed by such a large hornbill rampaging like in a Jurassic movie! The color and the morphology were the same, but this Great Hornbill was as huge as a light single-engine aircraft with four enormous wings! Every flap will blow hundreds of Elemental Fiends midair before they were chomped down with one swell whoop. Hana was glad that the bird was purposely ignoring the orange and red-colored ones. It meant that her message had gone across loud and clear. The orange ones were the Worker-class Elemental Fiends with no elemental powers, perfect as grunts for brawny works, while the red ones were pure fire elementals; a good source of natural fire starters. She had no need for the white and black ones since she already had Kuro!
Hana waited for an opening within the ranks of the Elemental Fiends as Shiro completed a spiritual scan and share a rough map within the shared telepathic channel. She studied the map diligently while the white fox continued to scout.
Hana has requested for Shiro to progressively include more details in the map and indicated different types of Elemental Fiends by colors for easy identification once he got more information. Slowly, the chart out spiritual map in their shared consciousness turned into an imitation of a MMORG map Arash used to sneakily play in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep (Oh, she knew alright. She just pretended that she didn’t).
The purple ones are coming, Mom. Shiro notified his mistress. Once other Warrior-class showed signs of collapsing, the Elemental Queen Mother had commanded the purple General-class Elemental Fiends to support the frontlines. Thousands of purple-colored Elemental Fiends entered the fray, complicating the situation to another level. The giant four-winged hornbill finally felt pressured and released a small part of her true prowess.
In between all the chaos, the opening of the nest was finally devoid of Elemental Fiends! Hana and co. quietly rushed forward and entered the miniature cave opening.
"Adjust the shape to accommodate this opening, Chomper." Chomper nodded and fine-tuned the surface tension of the bubble meticulously; it was yet again another new ingenious method to manipulate the gift of all Waterwave Marine clansmen thought up by Hana. The only thing needed was an ample amount of practice, just like Kuro's electricity generator charging capabilities. The double-layered bubble shrunk and expand gently to fit the uneven shape of cave opening following Chomper's manipulation of air to water content ratio and the charges within. No one knew that little Chomper actually had talent in this area!!!
"Shi-chan, reinforce the Frost Mirror again with your spiritual energy at half seconds apart. Expand the coverage of the ice particles to half-meter? Let's see whether it could accommodate the everchanging shape of the bubble." Since the shape of the dual-layered water bubble changed all the time to follow the narrow opening of the nest entrance, Shiro needed to sync with Chomper by blasting the camouflage skill fast enough at different intervals to accommodate to the change. Shiro started to adjust the amount of spiritual energy used to maintain the Ice Shard Mirage skill with finesse. The camouflage 'mirror' flickered a few times before their presence was gone.
Hana was quite worried whether their tactics will be able to fool the Elemental Fiends or not. From the beginning, the mirage concept must be accompanied by light. In this dark cave, she could only hope that the insects' ocular prowess were subpar in favor of sense of smell.
The sudden presence of the spiritual bird had caught the Primordial Queen Mother by surprise. She was worried that all of her precious personnel could be wipe out soon, leaving no one protecting the open grounds. She immediately connected telepathically with the rest of the Warrior-class Elemental Fiends in pursuit of the lone thief to double back to aid the rest of the team outside their nest. She could not afford for the grounds to be devastated; to grow the spiritual Lightning Mushrooms artificially, the land must have a spiritual vein, and the surface must be touched by lightning! The Lightning elemental pool formed deep inside her lair couldn't possibly substitute the electricity-rich elements within the surface soil. The previous Queen Mother had already sacrificed her own life to produce such blessed grounds for them to thrive! She was very unwilling to let it become a waste!
No matter how many times she tried to direct them to double back, not a single Elemental Fiend could actually heed their Queen Mother's command. They had been besieged by thousands of Earth Demons, their natural enemy, at the moment. At the periphery where both natural enemies met, tens of Elemental Fiends were killed at every second as the battle became extremely chaotic! Exoskeletal limbs, mushy body fluids, decapitated heads, and broken mandibles from both sides littered the grounds as the battle reached a fever-pitched frenzy.
She had no choice but to mobilize almost all of her General-class personnel to defend their nest and the surrounding spiritual herb cultivation area. At the moment, only the King was by her side, and a small group of elite Warrior-class Elemental Fiends undergoing the upgrading process into General-class Elemental Fiends. The success rate was really low, at most two to three of them out of all of these elites will succeed while the rest will fail and perish. She hoped the Generals could hold off the spirit bird's invasion and drove it away.
Kuro grinned in delight at his own handiwork.
I'm so impressive! He laughed inwardly with a sense of achievement and proudly announced inside the public telepathic channel loudly. The deed is done! I'm doubling back now, Mommy, Brother!
The notorious little snake had slithered so fast towards the territory of the Earth Demons, west of his own territory while bearing the heavy-scented mushroom soup. Since it left a trail, he wasn't worried that the Elemental Fiends pursuing him couldn't find where he was. Once he neared the main nest, which was in the form of a miniature hill, he threw the canister hard until it shattered. All the leftover liquid and mushroom bits were strewn on the ground. He immediately flew past the nest and burrowed himself inside damp leaves and loamy soils, effectively making him smell like rotten fertilizer. He then double-back and hid in between the upper layers of a tree, observing Hana's plan to fruition.
A group of Earth Demons approached the mushroom dish Hana made curiously. The scent was so strong, it assaulted the whole nest before, as they were sent forward by the Primogenitor Queen to investigate. The gravy stained their legs as they crawled all over it. As they were carefully picking the tiny pieces to be brought inside their nest, a large battalion of Elemental Fiends arrived! Seeing the bits and pieces of their own cultivated spiritual herbs in the grasp of their natural enemy, their senses were clouded as they finally attacked without reservation!
Immediately, the small group of worker-class Earth Demon's were killed by the huge numbers of Elemental Fiends! It provoked the observing Primogenitor Queen as she issued an order of total annihilation to these large groups of weaklings! Tens of thousands of dark brown Earth Demons flooded the area, circling the whole group of Elemental Fiends, cutting their escape path! The battle has officially begun!