Meanwhile, when words of her mother's will reached Ilkaalt, she first denied them.
"This is the place where I want to be."
She immediately replied. Although the offer was appealing and would undoubtedly yield better results than siphoning the life force of mortals, having seen her death, Ilkaalt firmly believed she should do the opposite of what the usual her would have.
Moreover, she knew that the last place she should stand in was…the Hidden Forest! Although the deadline still was decades from now, she would undoubtedly not idle in the location of her impending demise. If that wasn't courting death, what was?
However, hearing this, the ant queen turned messenger followed with an irresistible speech.
"The jade empress is the one leading the Hidden Forest's tribes alongside one of the two jade consorts. Those are undoubtedly the jade emperor's most favored women. Having them, it won't be long before we can dictate him terms."
The messenger added; and having done her homework on the world's political situation after her return, Ilkaalt naturally knew that the "jade emperor" referred to Konrad. Instantaneously, her ire was triggered. But it wasn't the possibility to hold his treasured consorts that roused her. No, it was the knowledge that he could treasure! How dared he? Who gave him the right?!
She couldn't accept it! And the more she thought of it, the less she could suppress the desire to feast on those women's corpses.
Ilkaalt ordered, letting go of her better judgment to return to the Hidden Forest and receive her mother's boons. The army she left behind welcomed a new group of leaders whose bloodlust didn't pale in comparison of hers, and the slaughter continued.
In the following week, the Eastern Barbarian Khanate became a den of billowing smoke and horror where men, women, children, elderly, the fit and the handicapped alike became victims of the Zenith Ants' brutality. Walls were dressed in the torn faces of howling victims while the perpetrators danced with glee.
Even for the dystopian barbarian society, this was a first.
Of course, the slaughter squads didn't forget to bring their Life Siphoning Formations to harvest more essence for their rulers. Were it not for that process, death would have spread faster. But little did the Barbarian Continent expect that when the demonic horde crashed onto them, the Northern Khan would use the excuse of foreign invasion to make his bid for unification and dispatch troops into the Eastern Khanate!
More shocking was the might of those troops at the front of which a battalion of cloaked experts lay. Those troops cut through the Zenith Ant Saint horde like a knife through butter, thereby forcing the headquarter to reinforce them with Sages!
Naturally, those were Konrad's legionaries dispatched by Krann to assist Zamira in evening the playing field. And not only did they target the Zenith Ants, but on the principle that the Eastern Khan had proved unable to shoulder his responsibilities, they swept through his armies, and executed him!
The entire royal line was put the sword, and the Eastern Khanate's capital annexed alongside the remainder of the country. At the same time, Zamira allowed or forced the Zenith Ant hordes to pour into the other khanates before cutting their path to retreat.
On the one hand, she promptly set the other khanates in flames, and on the other hand, managed to restrain the conflict to a containable level.
Two weeks before the war began, the Barbarian Continent housed almost forty-nine billion citizens. Two weeks afterward, eighty million had already lost their lives and the count went on. Even those within the Holy Continent could hear the millions of barbarian howls soaring toward the sky. The red sky that now covered it all.
Meanwhile, the two top Zenith Ant Battalions, one led by the boosted Ilkaalt and seven queens, the other by the twelve remaining queens, led their Divine Forces against their respective targets: The Hidden Forest Tribes and the Celestial Church. But instead of a lightning war, fierce resistance awaited.
With the support of the Hidden Forest's formations, Yvonne, Calisto and Vylsea personally led the defenses against the ant troops, trapping them in guerilla warfare and suppressing the deployment of their Withering Formation with a new one using the Ancestral Blood Pool as its nucleus.
At the same time, Verena coordinated with Else to enhance the Ancient Crystal World's Structure-Level through the manipulation of Truth Laws.
With Konrad's soul supporting them, they had no need for respite. And their understanding of the laws they wrought rose at a startling speed.
And within the Celestial Church, a God-Artifact wielding Dasra met the Ant Queens without vacillating.
The Ant Goddess was therefore forced to realize that her recovery was the only way to break the stalemate. What a pity that it wasn't such a simple matter. Moreover, she couldn't afford to just recall her troops, for if she did, the risk lay that the enemy would let go of their animosity, and sandwich them at the foot of the World Tree long before she could make a full recovery!
To avoid such a passive fate, regardless of the cost, they had to hold on!
But little did she expect that as she devised ways to obliterate her foes, unwitting help would descend!
From within the crimson sky, a festival of blood light announced the descent of massive demonic legions accounting for more than ten thousand soldiers at the summit of the Divine Road!
And as soon as they arrived, five hundred broke through, but shackled by the Mortal Realm rules, had to temporarily embark on the Demigod Road! All bore the banner of the Eastern King of Hell, the Blood Lord Ashara!
"Anharya? The second Infernal Star?"
Dasra wondered in astonishment, unable to comprehend why the most favored grandson of Ashara led blood legions into a mortal world. Clearly, they weren't summoned by virtue of Merit Exchange, but crossed the cosmos through a Legendary God's help.
Ashara's help, of course.
Although when compared to Ashara's personal legions, this was nothing but a trivial force, Dasra knew that when considering the Mortal Realm's conditions, this was the best he could dispatch!
"Not right. Did they somehow get wind of our actions? Or did Ashara hear of some untold treasure lying in wait within this world? No, that makes no sense. The Tower should be the highest possible treasure. And the Tower can't trigger such a massive move from a Legendary god. Could it be…related to the Jade Dynasty?"
He reasoned but was startled to see that the first target of the Blood Legion was neither the Deva nor the Jade Dynasty, but the Infernal Cult!
For indeed, as soon as they appeared, Anharya waved his hand, causing a blood scroll to unfurl and release irresistible blood laws that obliterated the Infernal Cult's shield!