Chapter 94: Blood Forest Two
While Jin Zhuan and Zhang’s men stood guard the wind whistled through the forest. As these men stood guard, wait for the end of their shift, all kinds of horrors came to life in their minds. Memories of mangled bodies and geysers of blood were ever present in their thoughts as the night embraced them.
The many lit torches around the camp danced and flickered as the howling wind continued blowing.
As these men stood waiting for the executable to occur they couldn't help but worry for their own safety. Unlike Zhang’s seasoned soldiers, the Jin Clan’s escorts were merely hired guards who most likely have never even engaged in battle before. Although they currently stood guard and put up a brave front to make a living, if faced with life or death they would certainly abandon their clients or maybe even turn their swords on those they were paid to protect for their own gain.
As they stood watch, the moon’s brilliance was clouded by clouds and the light from the torches extended by the wind, the earth began to bulge as some unknown entity borrowed its way toward the camp.
Before anyone noticed due to the lack of light dozens of tentacle like limbs shot forth from the earth causing a few unlucky souls to lose their lives without even being able to put up an ounce of resistance.
Limbs were crushed and lives were taken as blood sprayed all about. Be it swords or shields nothing we able to stop these whip like limbs. Swords were shattered, shields were dented beyond repair and armor was penetrated before this unknown foe.
“Enemy attack! Enemy attack!” A few men who survived the onslaught began yelling, pleading for assistance.
Answering their cries was a lone man donning nearly transparent white armor with a pitch black cape fluttering in the wind. In his hand an eerie black fire danced and flickered about.
In a hairs breath the black flame in Zhang’s hand shot forth and smashed into one of the tentacles that were one sidedly slaughtering the Jin Clan’s escorts. By a hint of luck of some sort, Zhang’s twenty soldiers have been able to survive the one sidedly slaughter with only skin deep injuries.
They dodged, they rolled and if needed they jumped, to keep the tentacles from ending them. But without vision these men had to leave their lives to luck and heaven’s will.
Once the black flame smashed into a part of the tentacle, it was severed from the rest of whatever it had been connected to and laid motionless on the ground. This sight was extremely odd because the black flame had never been able to physically damage anything and Zhang had only used it to test if his foe possessed a soul or not because he could not see a hint of essence being emitted from them.
“I shouldn't think too much of it… If the black flame can do damage the. I might as well keep using it.” Zhang thought as more black flames ignited around him.
Soon one after another the tentacles were severed using the black flame, but unlike the night before none of them could be seen oozing a blood like goo.
However, before Zhang was able to sever all of the tentacles, even more popped up from the ground. But this time instead of going for the escorts or the soldiers the tentacles shot toward the tents where the people of the Jin Clan were. Although they had been awoken by the commotion outside these people could be considered defenseless against the incoming attack and would only be slaughtered senselessly.
Thankfully dark green vines began sprouting from the ground and created a protective dome over and under those defenseless people. Then dozens of razor sharp crescent water blades shot through the air and sliced through the tentacles. Though Ai was able to shield protect the people of the Jin Clan for now it did not mean she could keep protecting her because soon after the tentacles once more sprang out from the earth.
This time perhaps instead of a few dozen tentacles, there were a few hundred. As the battle went on the clouds above the sky finally released the moon’s rays from their dark curtain, allowing light to shine down on the battlefield below.
In the instant light was restored to the battlefield and those in it, the sight of hundreds of thick brown tree roots were visibly whipping about above ground. With this everyone was able to realize what their opponent was. Obviously it was some sort of demonic tree, but of course no one could name an exact kind since the term tree includes a wide variety of species. Although one could argue a demonic tree could be classified as a plant, there was a fundamental difference between the two. Demonic plants such as the one Ai’s whip was made out of, which live off of the essence in the earth. Then there were demonic trees which often times feed on other creatures and use them as it’s nutrients.
Unlike demonic plants, demonic trees are many times more dangerous because they can extend their roots to encompass a huge area and also they possess the overly powerful ability of connecting their roots into regular trees and controlling them. This meant that when someone faced a demonic tree in battle, they were not facing one foe but an entire forest of foes.
But from the looks of things the demonic tree that they were facing right now, is but a fledgling. Had it been a fully grown demonic tree then Zhang’s story would have ended here. A single man cannot face an entire forest of trees in battle, theoretically it was impossible for this scenario to play out favorably for the man. Even if fire came into to play the amount of time required to burn down a vast forest was immense and the demonic tree could always extinguish the fire itself by sacrificing a few regular trees. But now that the opponent was identified as a demonic tree it would explain why the black fire was effective against it. This was because the demonic tree possesses other trees not by using its essence but by implanting a part of its soul into the other trees.
However, the heavens never look too favorably on any single lifeform thus demonic trees possessed one fatal weakness. Although they are sentient and are able to control an entire forest, demonic trees cannot move from the spot that they spawned from. It is said that underneath the spot where a demonic tree grows there are treasures called The Fruits of Eternity. Every single demonic tree starts out with at most ten such fruits and never grow anymore for the rest of eternity, hence the name. As for the effects of the fruits no one has ever openly spoke about it.
“Ling you watch over the others I’m going to tree something.” Zhang said to Ling who seemed to be the only one of the four beauties to be able to counter the roots of the demonic tree.
What Zhang was able to do could be considered truly foolish and extremely idiotic. He began running at full speed at one of the tree roots whipping about at the escorts of the Jin Clan. In an instant Zhang pounced onto the tree root and then splintered his hand with it. As blood oozed out from Zhang’s palm he channeled essence from the Underworld Heart and sent it into the tree root. Over the course of seconds, Zhang’s essence traveled through a vast network of tree roots that ran through a vast area of the forest.
It did not take long for Zhang’s essence to locate where the main body of the demonic tree was. After finding what he wished to find, Zhang burned the tree root that was stabbing into his hand with black fire. Once the tree root turned into nothingness only a bloody hole was left in Zhang’s hand. But it did not take long for the Underworld Heart to do its job and mend Zhang’s hand back to how it was.
“I wonder if I can get my hands on a Fruit of Eternity.” Zhang muttered as he ran off toward where the demonic tree was rooted while twinkling stars could be seen in his eyes. There were but a few things that could get Zhang’s attention and they were his wives and treasure. Being an extremely rare fruit that has unknown abilities, the Fruit of Eternity could be considered a treasure. Thus Zhang wished to possess it.
Zhang ran through the forest as hundreds of tree roots shot up from the ground trying to block his path. But they tried to no avail because the shadows around Zhang gave birth to a dozen Abyssal Demonic Beasts, whom took all of the deadly blows for their creator.
Though something that did manage to stall Zhang was the sight of a group of travelers being ripped to shreds by the tree roots. There were most likely many more groups traveling through the forest who were being assaulted by the demonic tree just like Zhang and Jin Zhuan’s group.
“I guess the fruit can wait, it’s not like they are going to just magically disappear.” Zhang thought as he changed the direction he was heading in and headed toward the group of people in peril.
By the time Zhang arrived to their aid, this group of people had lost nearly half their numbers. Men and women had been torn limb from limb once they were caught by the roots. As they were ripped apart, blood sprayed on the faces of their friends and family. With Zhang’s arrival the ten or so remaining members of this group found salvation.
Although using the black flame took up a considerable amount of essence stored in the Dragon Heart Necklace, Zhang felt that saving anyone he could in such a situation was the right thing to do. So with that thought in mind, dozens of black flames ignited and began extinguishing the tree roots.
Only after saving these people did Zhang realize that he was in a dilemma. If he continued heading toward where the demonic tree was rooted, then he would not be able to protect these people from the assault of the tree roots. But if he stayed in protected these people then not only would be not being able to get the Fruits of Eternity but he would also have left his wives to fend for themselves to protect some strangers.
“Fuck… What should I do…” Zhang cursed to himself in his mind.
Of course he couldn’t just abandon these people, but he couldn't bear to no go obtain the Fruits of Eternity nor could he bare protecting these strangers while not protecting his own wives. Thankfully after a few moments of brain racking thought, Zhang came to a conclusion.
“I’ll take these people to where the girls are and then go obtain the treasure.” Zhang mumbled to himself.
“Follow me if you want to live.” Zhang said to the ten odd people who he just rescued.
Also once he said the words that he did, Zhang couldn't help but chuckle as he remembered a certain man from his previous life saying the same thing. Listening to Zhang the group of ten people followed as he sped through the forest to return to his own camp.
But along the way he spotted yet another group of people who were being attacked. As Zhang sprang into action an unlucky man was grabbed by a tree root and had his head ripped off. Without even thinking Zhang sprang into action once more to save those in need. But this time he did not use his black fire but instead opted to use the twin swords hanging by his waist.
Moments passed before a dance of blades diced a large tree root into pieces. Soon after ten familiar looking throwing knives and two chain daggers appeared and floated in the air around Zhang. Although the daggers and throwing knives not being long enough to cut through the roots, Zhang had other uses for them. The chained daggers would be used to pull those that were about to be slaughtered by the tree roots to safety while the throwing knives were used to change the trajectory of the tree roots when they swung downward at their victims.
Not long after rescuing this second group of people, Zhang encountered yet another group of survivors. Although he wished he could face palm himself and just ignore them, he could not bring himself to do so. In the time it took Zhang to return to the camp where his wives and men were, he was able to save quite a few groups of people.
Sadly, he would often appear after these groups were nearly annihilated and turned to pools of blood. Alas in the end Zhang was only a man and he had done what he could. One could only blame how strangely packed with people the forest had been tonight.
“Why are there so many people in this forest?” Zhang questioned as he continued toward the demonic tree once more.
This could all of course be viewed as heaven’s view of making a hero out of our young prince. Once these people make it out of the forest, the tales of his heroic deeds would surely reach the ears of the populace and from there he would turn into a hero in the making. After being branded as a hero, Zhang would be able to wage war as he pleased since a war lead by a hero would always be considered a war for the people and for justice. But again these things are meant for the future and currently do not apply as Zhang was still making his way toward the demonic tree behind the senseless slaughter in this forest.
After tiring of running a black shadow emerged from under his feet and formed into an Abyssal Mirage Viper, with two heads. With a new mode of transportation, Zhang quickly slithered through the forest and toward the demonic tree. thanks to the speed of the Abyssal Mirage Viper none of the tree roots were really able to impend on Zhang’s path. Like a blur the viper slithered about.
It did not take long for Zhang’s eyes to gaze upon a grotesque looking tree with the faces of hundreds of people visible on it’s trunk. Numerous corpses were hung in the tree as it slowly sapped them of their nutrients to feed itself. The ground around this tree could only be described as being soaked in the blood.
As he gazed at the tree Zhang realized that not all of the bodies that were hung on the tree were dead. A few people who being sapped of their nutrients were in fact alive and partially conscious as the tree fed on them.
“Perhaps this is one of the few moments in my life that cutting down a tree would benefit mankind.” Zhang thought about the irony of cutting down a tree to save lives.