76 Mystery of The Forest of Towering Rocks Part 3

    After taking a deep breath, Daniel said "We won't accuse anyone without a reason.. Let's talk."

    He then released the grip on the snake-like elemental, and allowed it to crawl back towards the human-sized one.

    "It doesn't sound genuine when said by someone who is in mortal danger." Retorted the human-sized earth elemental, then paused for a moment before saying "But I am listening."

    A faint smile grew on Daniel's face, which disappeared the very next moment. He asked "What did you mean when you've said 'Saving your lives'?"

    "Exactly what I meant. I have witnessed the greed of humans for centuries.. And I didn't care for it until I was alone. But I cannot allow my children to be exposed to that level of malice." Responded the earth elemental.

    "I still don't know what you are talking about." Said Daniel with his brows furrowed, and eyes narrowed in confusion.

    The human-like earth elemental looked back at the little snake that coiled around his leg, then said "I knew every single one of the humans I've killed. Every now and then they would come accompanied by other humans, which they would them kill once entered the area."

    "Do you have any proof of this?" Asked Alis with a dubious tone.

    Daniel immediately noticed how the elemental clenched his fists in rage after hearing Alis's question. He then heard it say "Be glad I am still only talking."

    "We are here to investigate. If what you say is true, show us some evidence so that we can go back and report the truth." Said Alis with a slightly fearful tone.

    After harrumphing loudly, the earth elemental remained quiet for a moment, then said in a calmer tone "Very well.. Follow me."

    The earth elemental turned around, and started walking at a human's pace into one of the carved passages.


    East border of the forest of towering rocks.

    At the east border of the forest of rocks, a large camp had been set. Spread around the territory were dozens of large tents separated into differently sized groups. Each group of tents had large banners that indicated which powers the owners of the tents belonged to.

    Amongst the numerous groups, there were three different groups which belonged to the legion, two that belonged to the magical covenant, and half a dozen groups which belonged to other high level powers.

    In the middle of this large camp, was a massive tent inside which the various group leaders were sitting and discussing the course of action.

    Amongst them, sitting quietly in the area reserved for the group leaders of the legion, was Heimart. Behind him Leigart and Jerigh stood in silence.

    "The 'Platinum Warriors' offer to form an alliance. Our terms are either the full carcass of the high-ranking beast, or the beast core." Said a middle aged man in shiny plate armor that sat in the area reserved for a power called 'Mercenary Horde'.

    A young woman dressed in large dark green robes that sat on the side reserved for the 'Alchemical Circuit', stood up and said "We, 'The Proud Bookworms', offer our support in exchange for the carcass of the beast.

    "The group 'The Aimless Adventurer' is willing to discuss an alliance. Our main interest is the beast core." Said Heimart after standing up.

    For the next few minutes, various agreement were made between the various leaders of the groups. What was unfortunate, was that nobody had agreed on accepting Heimart's terms.

    Simply requesting for the beast core wasn't unreasonable. What others weren't willing to accept, was to consider Heimart's small group of five worthy of advancing demands towards the beast core.

    Every single leader within the large tent had entered along with their second and third in command, but differently from Heimart, they had left a larger group that was left outside in wait.

    Whenever a group leader approached Heimart to discuss terms, they would renounce after learning that his group was only composed of five people.

    Unable to find allies, Heimart, Jerigh, and Ligart were about to leave on their own and proceed the search for allies elsewhere. But when they were about to exit the tent, a scout which belonged to one of the groups rushed in and said "Another body has been found.. A fresh one. Deceased within the past four."

    "Lead us there." Said the leader of the group to which the scout belonged.


    Two hours later, Site of the murder.

    "Broken neck.. No signs of fighting except for the bloodstain on the wall at about four meters of height.. The victim was at the sixth rank of martial cultivator. The scene is similar to the others, but there is something different this time. There are footprints." Said the scout to the various group leaders.

    "Footprints?" Asked one of the leaders.

    After receiving a nod of confirmation from his leader, the scout started to explain "Three sets of footprints. Based on the size and depth, I would say they belong to a very heavy adult and two younger people. When I've found the body, it was already cold but not yet rigid. The footprints were already present and looked much more defined than they are now. They might have witnessed the man's death.."

    "Okay, let's follow the footprints then." Said the scout's leader, which thanks to his group member's prompt actions, had had the chance to act as the tip of the spear for this company of mercenaries.

    The army of cultivators followed the trail for about an hour.

    The footprints became clearer and clearer the more they walked, until finally, they reached a narrow path right in between two extremely tall rocks.

    The path was curved, and it was not possible to see where it lead.

    Because of the narrowness of the path, the various leaders of the groups decided to go first, accompanied by their seconds in command. Amongst them, were Heimart, Ligart and Jerigh.

    The spearhead of the formation was the leader of the group to which the scout belonged. He carefully walked the path, and after less than twenty minutes of walking, he came out from the other side.

    In front of him was a ravine, and at the edge of the precipice, Daniel, Alis, and a human-like golem were looking down.

    One after the other, the rest of the group of cultivators appeared behind him, clogging the exit of the path completely.

    The three turned around after hearing the sudden noises. What they found was a large group of cultivators which belonged to many different groups.

    When the spiritual cultivators within the group noticed the true elemental next to Daniel, their eyes collectively opened in a mix of shock and greed.

    "Who are you?" Asked the middle aged man in shiny armor.

    Daniel looked back at him and said "I am Dan Hiel, a member of 'The Aimless Adventurer'.. A group related to the legion. What are you doing here?" He then asked.

    "We've followed your footprints until here from the scene of a murder" Responded the middle aged man. He then looked at the elemental and said "What is that thing? It doesn't look like a normal summon.."

    "It isn't.." Said one of the spiritual cultivators amongst the group "It's a true elemental of the earth type.. Given the purity of earth essence it emanates, it's old, intelligent, and extremely rare. Everything makes sense now.. The injuries didn't match the style of humans and beasts.. But they match the way of fighting of an earth elemental perfectly."

    "Is what he said true?" asked the man in shiny armor to Daniel.

    Daniel gave a grim look at the spiritual cultivator, then looked back at the man in shiny armor and said "There is a simple explanation to this.. We fel-"

    Before Daniel could explain, a voice within the crowd could be heard saying "Look at his leg! It's not alone!.. Two earth elementals spawned together.. there must be an extremely high-level earth essence treasure nearby!"

    With a deep and powerful voice, the earth elemental barked "I DARE YOU TRY TO STEAL IT, HUMAN MAGE."

    Everyone within the group that was below the early sixth rank of cultivation, couldn't help but feel a shiver run down their spine.

    Enraged by the elemental's tone, the spiritual cultivator that had just finished talking said "He is our enemy! He killed all those people. We have to kill it."

    Alis walked in front of the earth elemental and said "Wait! There is an explanation! He only kills bandits who pose as guards.. Look at the bottom of this ravine! This is where thee bandits ditch the bodies of the merchants and travelers they rob."

    What Alis said was the truth. At the bottom of the ravine, mixed with the red soil, were hundreds of rotting corpses. On these corpses, one could see clearly see the cut injuries.

    Unfortunately, aside from making a few of them approach the edge of the ravine from the side, and take a look down to verify the Alis's words, nothing changed.

    "It doesn't matter. We have all been sent her to find and kill him. So that's what we will do" Said the spiritual cultivator with a righteous tone.

    Furious by the spiritual cultivator's words, Alis looked back at him and shouted "THAT'S SO UNREASONABLE! If he were human, you would have called him a hero!! We have to go back and ask our powers how to proceed. We owe him this much."

    No matter how convincing she sounded, there was nothing else to do. Everyone was aware of how precious high level essence treasures were.. So, blinded by greed, they had already gone past the point of reasoning.

    "He is right. The elemental is guilty of killing those people. He had no rights to act as an executioner.. And if we leave now, he might leave before we get a chance to come back with the new orders." Said the man in shiny armor. He then took a step forward, unsheathed his sword and said "Step aside girl."

    "Why don't you make me?" Asked Alis while unsheathing her short sword.

    Daniel stepped next to Alis, and while unsheathing his sword, he said "Legion's sixth rule, paragraph eight. It is prohibited for groups that belong to the legion to engage in a deadly fight. In case a fight breaks out, the attacking party will be considered accountable.."

    The spiritual cultivator from before laughed and said "Hahaha! We are not from the legion, we have no reason to fear your warnings, kid."

    "You've misunderstood. Who I was warning isn't you.. It's the other members of the legion... You don't get to have a warning." Responded Daniel with a matter-of-fact tone.

    Suddenly, someone from the crowd said "Hey, aren't these three from the same group as those two kids?!"

    The idea of keeping the three as hostage immediately appeared inside the minds of the groups of cultivators, but before they could act, Daniel used spatial essence to switch place with Ligart. He then touched Heimart's shoulder and teleported back next to Alis. He then teleported Jerigh next to him from the distance.

    The whole thing happened in half a second.

    "FUCK! That guy has comprehended spatial essence.. Be careful when you attack!" Said the spiritual cultivator that had exposed the earth elemental.

    The middle aged man in shiny armor looked sternly at Daniel and said "You look like a talented kid. There is no need to lose your life like this. There are at least a dozen sixth rank cultivators here.. And I know that none of you are above the fifth rank.

    The earth elemental looked at Daniel's group from behind. He then said "You are honorable humans. But killing those people was my own decision, and I'll face the consequences myself"

    As he finished talking, his body started to grow and change shape.

    From an enormous human-like golem, the earth elemental turned into an incredibly large horned snake. Its length reached the fifty meters, and the earth essence of which his stony scales were composed, changed composition and turned into diamond scales.

    The giant snake-like earth elemental looked at the group of cultivators, and said with an intimidating tone. "IF YOU WANT ME, COME AND GET ME."
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