Konrad's hands flashed in incantation gestures, causing human flesh ball to expand, morph, twist and shrink, before starting over. Meanwhile, black fog still poured from his sleeves and fueled the transformation.
Before such a dreadful scene, even Zamira and Else couldn't stop their eyes from widening in disbelief. As for Astarte, while she'd been through legions of death matches, such eldritch a scene, she had never seen.
Konrad joined his hands, causing the flesh ball's transformation to reach its final stage. It turned into a 1.8 meters tall, genderless human frame with snow-white skin, a bald head, and closed eyes.
However, though this slender human frame possessed arms and legs, no nose, ears or lips stood on its figure. Konrad beckoned, and the dark fog pulled the makeshift creature toward him before lowering it onto the ground.
"Master, what…is that?"
Astarte blurted, unable to restrain her shock. And though they didn't speak the words, Zamira and Else's faces clearly showcased them. More startling of all was that under the scrutiny of their Origin Sight, this makeshift body appeared…completely flawless. Devoid of impurity, devoid of imperfection, and only containing the best in the victims.
"That, my dear, is the future. Humanity's future."
Konrad replied, and with another wave of his hand, the makeshift body vanished within his space ring.
"Are you…trying to create a new form of undead?"
Else inquired, and hearing this, Konrad couldn't help but smile. He stood up, spun and stepped toward the fallen Aran tribe's exit, leading the three alongside him, while the Hidden Moon Pavilion's experts remained in their shadows.
"Not just undead. I want true immortals."
Meanwhile, Verena and Yvonne stepped deeper into the Hidden Forest, and recalling the brume they faced at its entrance, Verena couldn't help but sigh.
"No wonders the average expert can't make his way out of the Hidden Forest. To say nothing of what lies inside, that brume alone is enough to lead non-sages into perdition."
Verena remarked while sweeping the murky forest with her Origin Sight. Even inside, the brume lingered, making it so that the atmosphere always maintained a gray shade, and ensuring the unprepared wouldn't fare long.
At the same time, danger lurked at every turn. Fortunately, there cultivation bases and means were profound. Otherwise, the many risks would have long since minced them into pieces.
"The Hidden Forest is the root of all the native fiend and restoration beast descendants in the Ancient Crystal World. It is an ancestral land that endured the arrival of the Infernal Cult and Celestial Church. This level of protection is no surprise.
Of course, the only reason why the Hidden Forest's experts survived the founders' era, was because they were allowed to."
Yvonne replied while they moved past an array of graying trees. Clearly, the World Tree's withering wasn't leaving the Hidden Forest unharmed. Or rather, the withering's source wasn't sparing them, either.
The World Tree stood at the very center of the Hidden Forest. For the likes of Yvonne and Verena, a step was more than enough to reach it. However, on the one hand, they wished to investigate what befell the Hidden Forest's native experts, and on the other hand, they didn't want to alert the zenith ants of their presence.
Therefore, they could only proceed with caution.
But as they delved deeper in this dark, murky land, from the shadows of the forest, pairs of glittering eyes locked upon them.
In an abrupt move, the trees surrounding them expanded, and fired their enlarging branches at the duo, attempting to bind them where they stood.
Verena waved her hand, causing magenta light to erupt and shred both branches and trees into wooden debris.
Several hulky figures then emerged from the trees' shadows, massive demonic beasts of various shapes, but similar strength. Above them hovered a bulky humanoid figure, but the intensifying brume made the contours of his face hard to discern.
"You've trespassed into our territory. Were it the past, we could have turned a blind eye to your presence. But now, I'm afraid you only have two choices. Follow us or perish."
Said the humanoid figure, and if the contours of his frame didn't make it evident before, it was now clear that he was male.
"Incorrect. But I'm feeling generous today so we can cut a deal. Become our mounts, and we can spare your life."
Yvonne leisurely replied, and as soon as her words echoed, the demonic beasts' eyes blazed with wrath.
The male ordered, and in tandem, the several beasts emerged from the brume to barrel into the two ladies, each showcased a high-level Restoration Beast cultivation base.
But of course, before Konrad's empress, such strength was negligible. Yvonne raised her right hand, causing the seven Restoration Beasts to drop on the ground in a single, resounding thud.
Verena then made a grasping motion, forcing the seven beasts to slide toward them, leaving their massive shapes in the ground as they did.
The hidden male, who realized he'd just kicked an iron sheet, turned heels to run for dear life. The Hidden Forest was a unique environment where only sages could fly. Therefore, seeing the duo step into their territory on foot, he didn't believe them to be much of a threat, thinking they were some of those rare, lucky fools that managed to bypass the brume with low cultivation.
But now, he was proven the fool, and before he could make his move…
…A word echoed from Yvonne's lips, and he found himself trapped by a tyrannical force.
With a step, Yvonne then appeared before him, waving aside the brume to reveal his figure.
"Now, now, little mount, let's discuss."
She instructed with her arms folded beneath her voluptuous chest. But though spoken in a mild tone, her words didn't sit well with the male whose forehead was now filled with cold sweat.
"Discuss, discuss, anything is discussable…"
He replied with a forced smile.
And as Yvonne and Verena acquainted themselves to the Hidden Forest, Konrad's party was departing from the fallen Aran tribe, to unleash the same fate on those unfortunate tribe that stood in their way as they proceeded toward Tel'Hatra, the capital of the Northern Khanate.