528 Following a Trail of Blood

    Exhausted and injured, Daniel rested on the stone floor in order to allow his body to recover his strength, and heal from his internal and external injuries as fast as possible. Unfortunately, the natural healing he was left with only allowed his body to recover from tiredness if he rested, as contrary to cultivators, who only needed essence to restore their physical strength, a mortal's body could only recover while resting-if not for that obstacle, Daniel would have already left to check up on Dawn and the others.

    Nevertheless, while the mortal way of healing had limitations, Daniel's system was able to boost it to an unnatural degree, allowing the blood that had been flowing out of his wounds mere minutes ago to clot, and almost turn into scabs in just a couple of minutes. In the same span of time, his breathing and heartbeat had stabilized, almost as if he had rested for several hours.

    Daniel knew that, if healed without the use of healing essence, these wounds would leave permanent scars on his body which would remain with him even if he regained his powers.. but unfortunately, he had no alternatives. He needed to recover as quickly as possible, as he and his companions had inadvertently entered a place that had bigger dangers than a few large animals, and he was unsure whether they were fine.

    After about ten minutes of rest Daniel rose to his feet, still sore but overall healthy, and began to rummage in the belongings of the six warriors he had just defeated. A search that turned out to be as disturbing as it was unprofitable.

    What Daniel discovered about these monsters was that their armor was not simply worn, but actually wielded and nailed through the light chain mail that was hidden underneath, and their flesh.. Making it impossible to remove. The wounds created by these nails had recovered a long time ago, and the skin had cicatrized around the entry and exit holes. He also noticed that the black and smelly blood that came out of the wounds he had created, despite having been in contact with the warm and dry air of this desert for several minutes, had maintained its near liquid state it had when it had been spilled.

    Unable to asses the origin of these beings from their belongings, Daniel recalled the room filled with thousands of skulls and severed heads similar to the ones of the monstrous warriors he had killed, and realized that this party had likely followed the painted warrior back into his hideout, where, if not for his intervention, they would have either killed him, or more likely, he would have killed them just like he had the thousands that came before them.

    It was possible that the painted warrior had mistaken Daniel for one of these monsters' allies, and that when he found himself locked in a fight with him, right as the party of monsters arrived, he chose to retreat, only giving a helping hand when Daniel and the monsters had engaged in battle.. Or at least, that was what Daniel was thinking. If his guess was right, the painted warrior's perception of Daniel should have changed from enemy to ally, and yet, he had refused to show up.. be it during the fight, or during the time Daniel had taken to rest afterwards.

    If Daniel had to pick whom to question about the place he and his companions had found themselves in, he would have picked the painted warrior ninety-nine times out of a hundred. But, alas, since he was still unsure about the status of his companions, and could not afford to wait for the painted warrior to grow comfortable enough to approach him, Daniel grabbed the steel sword of the team leader and a couple of iron ones, and after sheathing them in one of the rings of his leather belt, he left the room from the door that led to the staircase.


    Once out of the tower, Daniel immediately noticed a few traces of battle. With a few drops of human blood scattered on the ground, hundreds of footprints of different shapes, and the sword that Daniel had created for Dawn from the leg bone of a large animal, broken near the entrance, he was able to paint a clearer picture of what had happened.

    The painted warrior lived in this tower, which he would use as either a base, or a trap for hunting the monstrous beings that Daniel had fought with. When out for one of his hunting trips, Daniel and the others discovered the first sign of civilization ever since arriving on this planet.. And that was his tower, which Daniel decided to explore to look for clues.

    When the painted warrior returned, followed by a team of enemies, he had likely spotted Dawn and the others near his base. However, just from the traces he had seen, Daniel could not make out whether Dawn and the others had fought with the painted warrior and somehow escaped, or not. After all, Daniel had fought with the painted warrior, and despite being able to improve Dawn's swordsmanship with his teachings, he knew that he wouldn't have had a problem with taking out the entire group at once.

    The only alternative was that either one of the two towers had a hidden entrance that the painted warrior had used to sneak into the tower, which would explain the presence of a trap at the main entrance.

    To reassure Daniel, was the fact that the six monstrous warriors he had fought, while not friendly in any way, before being provoked by the painted warrior into attacking Daniel, were still able to maintain their calm. This was shown when, right after spotting Daniel, the leader of the six warriors had commanded for him to be captured alive, instead of being attacked right away, and that meant that maybe, if Dawn and the others had encountered these monsters, they might have been taken alive somewhere.

    This theory was far fetched, as there was a possibility Daniel's was a special case, and yet, it was proven to be somewhat right when, after looking a little more attentively at the surroundings, Daniel noticed several sets of footprints that dug deeper into the sandy ground, as if those who had created them had suddenly gained a significant amount of weight. These sets of footprints headed far west from the tower, and deeper into the stone forest.

    Hidden in between footprints, was the occasional drop of human blood, left by the same person that had been injured in front of the tower.

    Left with no other choice, Daniel could only follow this trail into the stone forest.. Alone, and with only his clothes and three swords to weigh him down, he was hopeful to reach his companions before they could be used for whatever purpose they had been taken away for.

    As Daniel left the area, with the shade of the two towers pointing westwards, he noticed a shadow leap from the top of a tower's shade, to that of the stone that he had just passed by.


    Meanwhile, around two miles to the west, a group of twenty monstrous warriors, identical to those Daniel had killed, were marching in a straight line westward. This path, which they seemed to know by heart, led them deeper into the core of the stone forest, which they were trying to reach as fast as possible while carrying the tied up bodies of Dawn and the others.

    The animals that noticed the approaching of these monstrous warriors hid instinctively, as the stomping of their feet and the clanking of their armor was enough to show that they were not prey. If Daniel had been here, he would have immediately noticed that this party was lacking a leader, whom he had already killed in the watchtower, and that they had likely been ordered to bring the captors back, while him and the party of five followed the painted warrior into the tower.

    On top of the fourth warrior from the head of the line was Dawn, who, after spending an unidentified amount of time being manhandled by the monster that was carrying her while she was unconscious, had finally woken up.

    When she had seen these monsters approach the tower, she had told the others to hide into the stone forest as Cassie and her tried to stop the monsters from entering the tower, and catch Daniel by surprise. Unfortunately, even though she possessed a strength slightly above that of a male adult, the brutality, unpredictability, and advantage in numbers of these monsters was too much to handle, and after no more than two exchanges, she had been disarmed and injured lightly. If not for the grunts of the larger and better equipped one of these monsters, she and the others would have been killed without a doubt.

    The last thing she remembered before the lights went out, was the sight of more of these monsters emerging from the stone forest where Saha, Lilith and Rose had run off to, while carrying their unconscious bodies on their shoulders.

    Now that she was awake, Dawn had no intention of having these monsters knock her out once again, so instead of trying to escape, she decided to pretend to still be out while quietly memorizing the path that these monsters were following, as well as marking the path with the only thing she could drop on the ground inconspicuously.. Her blood. When she touched her arm in hope to find the light wound that one of these monstrous warriors had left on her, however, she noticed that the wound had already stopped bleeding.

    Confused, Dawn started to wonder how long it had been since she had lost consciousness, but instead of letting herself be distracted, she slammed her hand against the sharp edges of the armor of the warrior that was carrying her in a failed attempt to open her wound once again. Unwilling to give up, Dawn kept trying until, a few minutes later, right as the warrior that was carrying her made a sudden turn to the right, she saw a pointy part of his armor, and struck it with her wrist.

    The light blow was enough to catch the attention of the monstrous warrior, who turned his lucid and beady eyes to the right to check whether Dawn had woken up.. However, after seeing no sign for several seconds, he turned to look back at the warrior he was following, and focused back on marching, unaware that the young woman he was carrying was dripping flesh blood onto the back of his legs, and into the sandy ground he walked on.

    The large party of monstrous warriors kept marching for several long minutes, until they reached a part of the stone forest where the towering rocks were all interconnected with one another, and while not too tall, they were close enough to turn the path more and more similar to a cave system than a trail.

    Dawn spent all of this time trying to look unconscious, while also trying to keep the cut open enough to keep bleeding. She did so until finally, around half an hour later, the light that her eyes could perceive through her closed eyelids, went out completely. When she opened them, she realized that they had entered a cave.

    Once inside the cave, the group of warriors suddenly stopped moving, and dropped Dawn and the others near one of the cave's walls, causing those who were still unconscious among her group, to wake up violently.

    "Wh-Ow! What is going on?" asked Lilith while rubbing the back of her head, where she felt a big and painful bump. She was followed by Rose, Saha, and finally, Cassie, who just like Dawn, had woken up a few minutes after being knocked out and was only pretending to be unconscious.

    After noticing that these monsters did not appear to be bothered by the fact that her friends were awake and talking, Dawn opened her eyes and looked around. She and the others were currently at the side of a relatively small and empty cave along with the party of monstrous warriors that had captured, who were standing in a straight line while looking down on them with indifference.

    At first Dawn thought that this was the place where they would be killed, but as time passed, she realized that these warriors were waiting for something, or someone.

    Her guess was proven right when, from an entrance to this cave opposite to the one they had entered from, walked out a being similar to the warriors. This being was just as monstrous, but contrary to the others, he wore nothing but a tattered loincloth, a mouth piece made out of the jaw of a predator animal, and carried his scrawny build on what appeared to be a staff decorated with a human skull on top.

    The other monsters seemed to revere this sort of shaman, and stepped back the moment he had appeared.

    The shaman, on the other hand, did not care for their existence, as shown by how it walked in front of them as if they were not there to begin with.

    Once in between the monsters and Daniel's companions, this shaman lowered himself, and began to analyze the party's prize, finding great interest in them. He smelled them, touched their pale skin with the end of his staff, and looked at them with amazement, until finally.. He took a step back, and began to dance with joy. A few seconds later he stopped, and walked back into the inner part of the cave while grunting some orders to the party of warriors, who immediately reacted by grabbing the legs and arms of the five girls, and dragging them into the darkness of the inner cave.
Previous Index Next