Chapter 111: The voice of temptation
The swamp’s surface was extensive, with bones from humans and creatures subtly poking out of the grey sludge. It looked like quite a number of humans and beasts had died within. There were also various ugly and bizarre plants growing within the sludge. Sharp spikes grew on the plants’ branches as they swayed aimlessly through the air. It all appeared quite eerie and horrifying.
The large trees around the perimeter were located on the edges of the sludge. When some leaves landed within the sludge, they would disappear without a trace in the blink of an eye, as if there was a demon hidden at the bottom of the sludge that swallowed everything. Waves of disgusting stench were emitted from the sludge and attacked the senses, causing the water mage Aphrodite and female elf Nia to crease their brows and cover their mouths, appearing quite ill at ease.
When everyone’s gazes landed into the swamp, Trunks continued explaining, “The plants that live within are all exceedingly dangerous. The swamp will swallow all humans and beasts that venture in, and the stench in the deep regions also contain a slow toxin that drains one’s energy. The Medusa that hides within this swamp appears according to its will and is very difficult to handle.”
Han Shuo’s gaze focused gravely on the large patch of swamp. His forehead creased after hearing Trunks’ explanation as he privately weighed his options on how to proceed.
“We don’t have the ability to fly and will sink into the ground as soon as we set foot into the swamp. According to what you’ve told us, the Medusa lives within the swamp and can completely conceal itself beneath the swamp. It can attack or retreat and holds all the advantages. The level of difficulty for us to fight it within the swamp is simply too great.” Han Shuo said lowly after he’d put some thought into it for a moment.
Flicking a glance at Han Shuo, Trunks said, “The Medusa’s strength greatly increases within the swamp. Even the manticore, a magical creature also of the first rank would be helpless. We don’t have the ability to fly and won’t be able to injure it much at all, but if the Medusa walks out of the swamp, I think all of us combined will be able to solidly triumph over the Medusa. but according to my knowledge of the Medusa, it won’t leave the swamp easily.”
“Is there anything that has an increased chance of attracting the Medusa?” Han Shuo asked.
Shaking his head, Trunks said, “I don’t know. The Medusa can emit a marvelous sound, and this sound has the power of attracting humans and beasts. It will suddenly attack as soon as humans or beasts get close to the swamp and pull its prey in. Thus, the Medusa has no fear of not having enough food. I don’t know what else it needs apart from this.”
After remaining silent for a moment, Han Shuo suddenly smiled, “Since this is the case, we can only use the dumbest method. We’ll stand guard here and kill its prey as soon as the Medusa makes sound to lure in its prey. I think it’ll be unable to resist its hunger after a few discoveries that no prey has approached it and will exit the swamp then. We’ll make our move together and kill it then.”
“Yes, although this method is dumb, there’s no other way. My manticore and I aren’t afraid of the Medusa as long as it leaves the swamp. If we add all of you into the mix, I think it’ll be impossible for it to escape death.”
“Alright, then let’s make our preparations.”
Several traps and simple fences were set up around the swamp, with everyone finally realizing how all encompassing this task was when they started to undertake it. The swamp was quite vast and it was quite difficult and exhaustive to completely defend it on all sides. The group spent quite a large amount of time before wearily finishing their preparations.
After resting for a night, everyone’s ears were plugged the next morning as they took up watch around the perimeter in previously discussed positions. The territory of the swamp was too vast. Even with eight people and one manticore split up, they were still spread a bit thin. Han Shuo also released his three original demons and used them to patrol the surroundings of the swamp, continuously paying attention to the situation.
The group waited with full attention for quite a while on the first day, but didn’t discover the Medusa hunting prey. Just as Trunks had mentioned, the Medusa hunting was enough for it to be fed for more than ten days. The group had no way of estimating when it’d last hunted and so could only continue waiting with this brute force method.
The Medusa didn’t hunt again on the second day, with Han Shuo’s original demons discovering that a portion of the sludge within the swamp had suddenly surged upwards on dusk of the third day, revealing the Medusa’s form within.
Just as its name stated, the Medusa’s numerous strands of hair were made of live snakes. These snakes were incomparably elongated and extended in all directions of the swamp like tentacles. The Medusa’s features were actually that of a beautiful woman. Her slender eyebrows and cherry lips were quite beautiful, but her mouth opened to reveal rows of sinister fangs. Its slightly revealed lower body was the body of a serpent. An ugly brown suffused its durable and thick skin, forming an indefinable, bizarre contrast with its striking face.
Although it displayed rows of sinister fangs from its open mouth, the Medusa was emitting an elegant and desolate sound of temptation. Han Shuo and the others had long since plugged their ears, but could still faintly hear the sounds. They all felt their hearts tremble, as if they’d experienced a baffling sense of attraction and had the desire to investigate the source.
It was a good thing that they could only hear a little and had the benefit of Trunks’ repeated reminders earlier that morning. This was how they kept their heads and didn’t walk towards the swamp, firmly standing guard where they were, their gazes continuously roving around in all directions and always paying attention to movements around them.
Slowly, the sounds of small magical creatures being attracted to the previously quiet swamp traveled to them. They were trotting along happily as they involuntarily traveled in the direction of the swamp. A few larger magical creatures were also approaching from a distance.
Han Shuo and Trunks looked at each other, temporarily not activating the traps they had prepared earlier. The magical creatures that were appearing didn’t possess much destructive power, so there was no need to use the traps. Everyone split up and carefully avoided the obstacles of the traps, making their moves mercilessly and started hunting down the smaller magical creatures that were slowly approaching.
It would appear that Trunks’ injuries had recovered well. His efficiency was the highest amongst them all, and it was as if his body was another dangerous magical creature as he treaded through the trees and shrubbery, bringing with him waves of blood. He’d thoroughly cleaned up the magical creatures, that had been first to approach, in short order.
With the aid of the Demonslayer Edge, although Han Shuo’s speed was slower than Trunks, he was still much faster than the others. The Demonslayer Edge was like a magical machine reaping lives as it twirled and easily slaughtered level five and six magical creatures.
After taking care of the low level magical creatures in their areas, Han Shuo and Trunks walked to another area and helped the others handle the swiftly approaching magical creatures. After a short while, the twenty or so small magical creatures that had approached had all been wiped out by the group. The value of these small, low level magical creatures was too low and thus Han Shuo didn’t even make a move to collect the spoils of battle.
In this short lull, Han Shuo yanked out of the soft cloth plugging his ears and stood where he was with a grave expression. This greatly startled Trunks, who was beside him, as the latter made several hand gestures to Han Shuo.
The elegant and desolate cries seemed to be a lover murmuring lowly by his ears, giving one the uncontrollable urge to want to go to her gentle embrace and entwine themselves with her, voicing the agonies of yearning. This strange temptation instantly permeated Han Shuo’s mind, creating illusions for him immediately, as if it was Fanny who was calling out to him again and again in the swamp behind him. This caused him to uncontrollably lift up his feet and stride towards the swamp behind him.
However, he’d only taken a few steps after raising his feet when the thoughts in Han Shuo’s mind churned slightly. Following that, indomitable will immediately halted Han Shuo where he stood. His body remained unmoving where he was as he defended against the onslaught of temptation with stubborn will.
After training his magical yuan for such a long period of time, Han Shuo had full confidence in his willpower. Magic and fighting aura were of no use in fighting the temptation emitted by the Medusa’s voice, the only thing that could counter it was stubborn and tenacious willpower. It was precisely that Han Shuo felt his current self would be able to withstand her that he’d decisively given up the cover of the soft cloth. He was attempting to see if the Medusa’s allure could shake his indomitable will.
The final result demonstrated that after training his magical yuan for such a long period of time, he had indeed developed an inhumanely strong will. The cries filled with temptation proved to be full of temptation at first, but slowly started losing their effect, until Han Shuo was no longer affected.
The footsteps he’d started taking backwards once again moved forward with determination, the expression on his face carefree and natural. He was obviously not suffering under the temptation of the mesmerizing voice anymore. Trunks had been watching in astonishment from afar as he saw Han Shuo struggle with some difficulty in the beginning and then easily handle things in the end. He raised his thumb from afar, acknowledging Han Shuo’s stubborn willpower.
Five to six level three and four magical creatures once again appeared in everyone’s line of sight. There were also two frost eagles circling overhead. Han Shuo, Trunks, and the others cast looks of surprise and wariness at each other, focusing all their concentration on the lowly circling frost eagles.
The frost eagles were obviously affected by the Medusa and looked like they intended on roosting in the swamp. They wouldn’t be flying so low otherwise. Grasping the crossbow in his hands, Han Shuo took aim at the outstretched throat of one of the frost eagles and an accurate bolt broke through the air.
At the same time, Nia and the other two mages made their moves, aiming for the other frost eagle. The frost eagles were quite large, and the Medusa wouldn’t need to come out for at least five or six days if they fell into the swamp. This would waste all their previous efforts, and thus the group could absolutely not let the frost eagle land in the swamp.
The alertness of the entranced frost eagle was obviously not as it usually was. Han Shuo’s bolt pierced through its neck and shot it down from the sky. On the other side, Nia and the other two mages’ attacks were a bit feeble due to the distance. Several of Nia’s arrows were stuck on the frost eagle’s body, but didn’t seemed to do much damage.
Upon seeing the injured frost eagle fly over their heads and head for the swamp, Han Shuo become a bit anxious. The already fired crossbow needed a bit of time before a bolt could be loaded and the crossbow become operational again. He would never make it in time. Just as he was planning on taking out the Demonslayer Edge, Trunks suddenly flung out a short sword that was imbued with Trunks’ fighting aura, sinking into the lower spine of the frost eagle.
Suffering from the severe damage from the short sword, the speed of the frost eagle’s flapping wings deceased noticeably. It started to slowly descend as the manticore flashed out like lightning from a distance, suddenly appearing in front of the frost eagle and slashed with its incomparably strong claws, tearing the frost eagle’s neck apart.
The magical creatures on the ground were all cleaned out with the efforts of the traps and three swordsmen. Just as everyone had heaved a sigh of relief, an elven maiden suddenly appeared in the distance. The elven maid’s beauty was pure and unadorned. She was dressed in luxurious clothes as she swiftly approached Han Shuo’s direction with a blank look on her face.
Horror gripping him, Han Shuo immediately shot out and blocked the female elf’s advancing footsteps. He opened his mouth to say, “Stop, hurry up and stop!”
It was a pity that the mesmerized maid let had obviously temporarily lost her senses and completely ignored Han Shuo’s words as she continued to walk towards the swamp.
“Not everyone has the same willpower as you. Stop trying to persuade her and just grab her!” Trunks couldn’t help but roar out when he saw that the female elf approaching the swamp step by step and Han Shuo was still trying to persuade her.
Han Shuo blanked and finally reached out with the speed of lightning upon seeing the female elf make her way closer to the swamp, wrapping her in his arms and hauling her away from the perimeter, ignoring her struggles.
“Brother… brother!” The female elf cried out continuously and struggled continuously in Han Shuo’s arms. When she discovered that she couldn’t break free, her small fists beat fiercely on Han Shuo’s chest as she desolately wailed, “Brother.”
This level of attack was neither painful nor ticklish on Han Shuo’s chest. He held the female elf tightly as he walked further away from the swamp. The Medusa’s elegant voice became more and more hurried, but no more humans or beasts appeared in the surroundings.
After a short while, the Medusa finally listlessly stopped its calls of temptation and its body, concealed within the swamp, slowly revealed itself.