GDK 732: Hunting
Seven bodies laid lifelessly in front of them, but they had not even seen the shadows of their enemy. It was most disconcerting for the godhunters.
“Andrina! If we don’t kill her this time, many more of our people will die!” Gallas said while gnashing his teeth in fumes. Of the seven silently slaughtered, four were his subordinates. It was only natural that he would be enraged.
“Something isn’t quite right. Andrina is taking a group of encumbrances with her. How could she be so bold to strike under such conditions?” that sinister old woman remarked with a puzzled look on her face. She started to suspect that something was amiss.
“Taylin, I too feel that something isn’t quite right. How is it possible that every one of them has escaped from right under our noses every time? She shouldn’t be able to conceal all those burdens so well, so perfectly, even if that is Andrina. Isn’t it strange that the trails stopped just as we were about to catch up to them?” Brovst too was getting suspicious. After hesitating for a moment, Brovst bunched his brows and continued, “Could it be that the intel provided is not accurate?”
After keeping silent for a moment, that old woman named Taylin took a deep breath and proposed, “Let’s try probing the area again. This time, everyone goes in groups of three. Do not stray too far from other groups, lest someone gets killed again!”
Gallas and Brovst nodded in approval. The godhunters proceeded with their search but as they had to maintain a close distance, the effort was greatly slowed down.
With that, it would no longer be possible for Han Shuo to take down the godhunters noiselessly. He would easily be discovered and quickly be surrounded. To avoid falling into that most detrimental situation, Han Shuo chose not to recklessly attack. Instead, he went into hiding once again and observed their movements with his demon generals.
The godhunters had to keep on readjusting their positions and stick near each other. Therefore, not only was their pace much slower, their search couldn’t cover much ground at all. They had scanned merely a dozen or more miles and of course, their search yielded nothing.
Han Shuo watched the godhunters as he racked his brain on how to harm them further. Finally, after spending a long time pondering, the corners of his lips curled into a sinister smirk.
With one thought from Han Shuo, those concealed demon generals materialized and took the forms of Andrina, Phoebe and the others. They appeared all around the perimeter and were running away in every direction.
“Someone’s trying to escape here!”
“Over here too!”
“Andrina is over there!”
Anxious cries broke out from various directions in the mountain range that had been silent for a long time. Brovst, Gallas, and Taylin hurried towards the false image of Andrina after hastily instructing their minions, “They are trying to escape by dispersing. Capture those mortals alive so that we can use them as hostages against Andrina. Go get them!”
In the minds of these godhunters, of the hunted party, only Andrina alone was a sizeable threat. They assumed that the rest of the people, including Han Shuo, were merely nonentities who could easily be captured.
This plot that Han Shuo came up with worked by specifically exploiting this erroneous assumption of theirs. Those truly powerful experts, including the three godhunter leaders, had all gone after Andrina while those meager ones dispersed in every direction, happily pursuing what they thought were heavy baggage to Andrina. Never had they expected that these so-called ‘burdens’ would lead them to their demise.
These godhunters would watch their targets abruptly disappear in the middle of pursuit. Then, before they had even come to their senses, they would be hit by a sneak attack. Their divine soul would be stored into Han Shuo’s Cauldron of Myriad Demon a short few seconds after.
As the godhunters had been successfully lured far apart from each other, this gave Han Shuo more than enough time to devour their divine energies. Three mid-stage midgods of death and one early-stage midgod of destruction died by losing all their divine energies to Han Shuo.
“I have got her!” Brovst loudly shouted. Gallas and Taylin hastily caught up.
A thread of light smoke suddenly floated into appearance and enveloped Andrina’s figure. The trio of Brovst, Gallas and Taylin quickly rushed to surround Andrina excitedly. They gestured at their minions to get closer.
“Andrina, you may have managed to escape the last time but where are you gonna run this time? I reckon you have yet to recover from the injuries sustained that day. Hehe, you should know that this fate of yours is inevitable for you have chosen to go against us godhunters!” Gallas said with a sinister smile. He then nodded at Brovst and Taylin, and they approached the lump of smoke step by step.
“Andrina, please don’t think that we are being cruel, you are just too bothersome!” said Taylin. All the element of death within ten miles radius wildly gathered towards her.
A gentle breeze blew across them and the cloud of smoke at the center of three midgods dispersed with the wind.
“Wha– What the–” Taylin was startled and absolutely dumbfounded.
“Impossible! How could she vanish into thin air?” shrieked Gallas.
Brovst did not utter a word but he didn’t look well. To have Andrina suddenly and somehow slip through their fingers when they thought they had her was an awful experience, to say the least.
The trio looked at each other in silence. Their faces turned dark.
“Oh no! She’s killed more of our men!”
“Over here too! Wait a second, all his divine energy has been sucked clean! What’s going on?!”
“We have found the same thing too. This is obviously the work of a godhunter. Could it be that we have an enemy within our own ranks?”
Piercing gasps of surprise sounded from every direction.
Soon enough, eight additional bodies was placed before the three highgods. Among them, four of the bodies shared obvious injuries indicating that their divine energies had been devoured. This was clearly the work of a godhunter.
When Brovst, Gallas and Taylin looked at the four bodies, the expressions on each of their faces were uglier than the next. The godhunters standing around them were filled with dread. They had subconsciously spaced out from one another as if the murderer was standing among them!
“Everybody, assemble here!” Taylin instructed as she gestured with her hand.
Those godhunters who were all in fear and on guard against each other, although feeling rather uneasy, nonetheless gathered at Taylin’s command.
“The three of us will check each and every one of them. The attacker definitely wouldn’t have finished digesting the divine energy within such a short time!” Taylin suggested in a deep voice.
Brovst and Gallas immediately nodded and went on to inspect their respective minions, checking if there was chaotic and impure divine energy present within their bodies.
Naturally, there wasn’t any.
“It wasn’t one of our own!” Brovst softly exclaimed. He suddenly asked, “Don’t you think that the situation has been rather bizarre?”
“Yes. For some reason, it feels like we are the prey instead of the predator!” at this point in time, even Gallas felt that something wasn’t right. After taking a short pause, he continued, “Even though Andrina’s strength is remarkable, there’s no way she could vanish in front of the three of us just like that. We might have been pursuing an illusion!”
“Someone is trying to get us!” Taylin said in a deep voice, “And it could likely be high-level godhunters. I can’t say for sure but perhaps, there are people trying to take our positions. This could be a trap!”
The faces of the godhunters simultaneously jolted upon hearing those words. Brovst and Gallas looked at each other in the eye. They had grim faces. Brovst said in a deep voice, “We can be certain that the attacker isn’t from Andrina. She bitterly detests people of our kind. She would never associate herself with any godhunter.”
“The opponent has obviously laid traps in this mountain range. We have been led by our noses all along. They have obviously prepared this long ago to finish us. Brovst, could Godswamp Pharmacy be a co-conspirator?”
“Godswamp Pharmacy has cooperated with us for many years and logically speaking, wouldn’t have stabbed us in the back, though I can’t say that for sure. But what’s for sure is that when the matter is over, we need to investigate this thoroughly,” Brovst took a moment to think before replying to Gallas.
“We shall abandon our current mission of killing Andrina. Assemble everyone, stick together, and leave this mountain range at once. Otherwise, with the enemy having detailed planned everything, we might not leave this mountain range alive. Since they dared attack us, their strength likely wouldn’t be too far from ours!” said Taylin.
Those godhunters of midgod strengths had lost their guts long ago. An enemy that is always hidden is the most fearsome. They were afraid of becoming the next victims to this invisible hunter. Therefore, all the midgods hastily nodded their heads after hearing Taylin’s words.
“Alright then, we will stick close together and leave this mountain range. Everyone be extra cautious. I doubt that our enemy will let us walk away easily. If we want to leave this place alive, we must work as a team!” declared Brovst.
And so, this mighty group of godhunters started retreating in paranoia. They all behaved very cautiously and had lost the confidence they came with.
Han Shuo, as the person behind the mischief, having seen their reactions using demon generals, couldn’t help but laugh. He did not expect that the godhunters would turn out to be such cowards and would immediately assume the worst scenario when the situation did not go exactly as planned. They were like ants who would be startled by the gentlest breeze. All that was in their minds was to escape from this sketchy area.
Han Shuo did not know the fear of being a godhunter. As the public enemy of the entire material plane, these people had lots of experiences of being hunted. All kinds of danger followed them wherever they went. In every Divine Dominion, there would be constant streams of people who would seek them out in order to eliminate them.
Living in such circumstances for ages had molded the godhunters to become overly cautious. Even the slightest abnormality would cause them to assume the worst. Discovering their comrades mysteriously died to people of their kind was especially terrifying to these godhunters. And even more frightening was that they couldn’t detect a single trail of their attacker. In the end, they could no longer contain their fear and crumbled.
These so-called godhunters are but a bunch of cowards! thought Han Shuo.
The godhunters were very skilled in escaping from being followed. They would deploy all kinds of obstacles and barriers behind them. Wherever they passed, there would be confounding boundaries to be found.
The party of godhunters had left confoundment boundaries on trees, ground, and rivers. They would also have people stay behind and hide to make sure that no one was following them.
They were indeed used to being hunted and pursued. After all, as the public enemy of the entire Elysium, they must have a unique set of skills in escaping and avoiding being followed. Otherwise, if the location of their base was to be discovered, it could mean their own demise.
Unfortunately for the godhunters, they were messing with the wrong person. Han Shuo’s demon generals were not just invisible and incorporeal, but they could also cover an incredibly extensive area when used for surveillance. As Han Shuo saw where they had placed the boundaries, he was able to avoid stepping into them easily.
If Han Shuo was able to discover the base of the godhunters and lead to their destruction, it would be an enormous contribution. With that, he should have no trouble forming his own family clan in the City of Shadows, possessing his own territory, and an emblem of his own. He decided to secretly follow the godhunters to their base as it could potentially lead to great rewards in the future.
Han Shuo followed the godhunters for five days straight. They had walked out from the mountain range.
They arrived at a plain. As there were no trees on the flat terrain where demon generals could hide, it had become much more probable for the three highgods to discover the demon generals.
When they were still inside the mountain range, Han Shuo first had the demon generals take a detour around the three highgods, get ahead of them, hide in the trees and remain completely motionless. This was a method of avoiding from his demon generals being detected by highgods that Han Shuo had recently discovered. As long as the demon generals were kept a great distance away and remained motionless, their presences would not be discovered, even by a highgod.
Whenever a demon general flew around, even in incorporeal state, it would produce waves in the air. Midgods might not be able to detect those very minute waves, but highgods could often sense them. This could lead to the discovery of a demon general.
It was extremely difficult to have the demon generals take detours and remain stationary in this flat terrain they were in. This was because there was absolutely nowhere to hide. Therefore, Han Shuo only used one demon general to follow far behind the party of godhunters while he would follow even further behind the demon general.
However, even though Han Shuo had taken precaution, three highgods had nonetheless noticed an anomaly.
“It feels as though something is following us!” Brovst softly exclaimed. The other two highgods nodded in agreement. It seemed that they too had noticed it.
“You two may proceed. I will stay behind to check!” Brovst told the two after thinking for a moment.
At times like this, it was to be expected that Gallas and Taylin would readily agree to such a proposal. They could not wish more to have someone stay behind to make sure they had a safe retreat. They told Brovst to be careful and then proceeded forward with the rest of the godhunters. Brovst stayed behind all by himself.
Soon, the demon general discovered that a blurry figure was standing still in the distance. The demon general immediately halted in its path, not proceeding a millimeter forward.
Han Shuo, who was far behind the demon general, also remained still. It was a battle of patience with Brovst.
An hour later, having discovered no abnormality, Brovst finally continued along the journey. Han Shuo became even more cautious after this standoff. He waited until Brovst had traveled even further in the distance and all that the demon general could see was a faint black dot before he continued following him.