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208 Fiends and Tentacles

 (ED: Warning: NSFW near the end. *insert lenny face here*)A putrid smell arose from the depths of the dimly lit underground cave.

What's happening?

With a torch raised, Barney felt jittery when he led his men deeper into the caverns.

It had been five days since they entered the Blackrock Depths.

However, unexpectedly, they hadn't met any enemies so far - no, rather, it was more like they couldn't detect the enemies. The underground caverns weren't the same as the tunnels they traversed before, where the Goblins and Earth Protoplasms continually harassed them. Now, everything appeared to be avoiding them like a plague as though the mercenaries were the only living creatures in this underground world.

"Barney, do you want to stop and rest for a moment?"

The half-elf maiden walked up to Barney and asked softly. Then, she turned around and glanced over to the mercenaries behind.

"Everyone... Everyone seemed to be worried."

"I know."

Barney was a little unhappy hearing the half-elf maiden's words, but he quickly let out a sigh.

"Sorry, I was just..."

"I know... but this isn't the solution, Barney. We are certainly within the Blackrock Depths. We are not lost, but why can't we see anything?"

Whenever she used her innate elf vision, she could see clearly in the dark unlike ordinary humans. But even so, she could only detect randomly strewn debris and some aged bone dust. After spending five long days in the caverns, these obviously weren't the things they had come here for. Other than discovering some underground residences, there was nothing else of interest to the group.

Barney wasn't dense. He knew that these caverns must contain something valuable. Before entering Blackrock Depths, he had sent scouts to scour the area, and it was truly an extremely dangerous place. All the legends, rumors and warnings further proved this point. Besides, the reason why the church requested for help was that this place posed a certain degree of danger. Rhode wouldn't have valued this mission if not for its rewards.

Although Barney possessed a burning hatred for Rhode, he had to admit that Rhode was incredibly powerful. And even with that strength, Rhode still hesitated to accept this mission.

But the problem now was, where were the threats?

It was quiet to the point where it was terrifying. The lack of danger made Barney increasingly nervous, and this panicky sensation wasn't a good feeling at all. Initially, he thought that this place would be littered with monsters, thus, he instructed his people to buy a bunch of Fire elemental scrolls. But there weren't any monsters for him to use these scrolls on at all!

The half-elf maiden didn't know what to do either. Her sharp senses weren't useful in this situation. They were simply walking on the only path forward, but somehow, they were still lost. If this situation kept up, then who knows what would happen?

"Oi, leader!"

Finally, a mercenary from the rear couldn't bear the silence any longer.

"How much longer do we have to walk for!"

Barney frowned and remained silent. Unquestionably, he understood the unhappiness from his men. During the initial preparation for the mission, he boosted their morale by enticing them with fame and fortune. However, after so many days of aimless walking, their adrenaline finally died down, and dissent became apparent. Even veterans wouldn't be able to tolerate wasting time like this. Not to mention that these people can't be considered close to the cream of the crop - frankly, it was a miracle that they only rebelled at this stage.

"Hmm? What's that smell?"

And at this moment, a pleasant aroma blew past their noses.

The mercenaries looked at one another curiously while their noses twitched.

"It smells so good... is there something up ahead?"

"Quick, let's go!"

In a regular situation, most mercenaries would hate it when any sudden or peculiar situation occur during a mission. But at this moment, facing anything would be better than dying of boredom. With his torch in his left hand, Barney cautiously moved his right hand onto his sword's hilt and inched forward slowly.

After turning the corner, soon enough, they entered a spacious room.

Oddly, without the need of the torch, they could see everything clearly. It wasn't because they developed the same innate ability as the half-elf, but instead, it was a radiance emitted from a 'light' source.

In the seven meters wide open cave, a vast forest expanded unhindered because of the strange light. The green leaves on the trees swayed in the wind while its luscious crimson fruits dangled from the branches, causing a distinctive aroma to drift towards their direction. And underneath the trees, a beautiful garden laid bare in all its splendor, bringing vibrant colors to the otherwise dull cave.

What is this? Why is something like this here?

Barney scrutinized these strange trees. He felt suspicious over this whole situation. It wasn't logical at all. There was neither water nor sunlight, therefore it was impossible for vegetation to thrive here. However, before he could put all his thoughts together, some of his mercenaries already ran and plucked the fruits.

"Ohhh man... this smells so good..."

The fruit had a bright, crimson red exterior; also, it was shaped like a banana but much thicker. After peeling its skin, a sugary scent flooded their sense of smell which caused them to swallow their saliva.

"I can't take it anymore, let me take a bite!"

Soon enough, a mercenary bit into the bright red fruit. And at this moment, Barney immediately reacted.

"Wait! Don't eat! This situation is too strange!"

"Strange? What's strange?"

Some mercenaries stopped, but most of them ignored him and ate as much as they could. The ones that managed to control their urges also thought that this place was too good to be true. However, as more of them ate the fruits, the fragrance became increasingly thicker, and soon enough, even the mercenaries who had previously refrained from eating fell into temptation. The strong-willed ones still wandered around, carefully observing the rest.

"What do you think?"

Barney held his forehead helplessly and asked the half-elf maiden.

"I... I don't know, Barney."

The half-elf maiden shook her head.

"This situation is too bizarre... How do I put it...? They don't feel like vegetation at all..."

"Forget it."

Barney lost all his mood and interrupted the maiden with a wave.

"Search the surroundings. This is the deepest part of the cave. I don't believe that there's nothing here. There must be something that we've missed!"

"Okay, Barney, I..."

"Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!'

Before they could finish their conversation, they were interrupted by a shrill scream. Barney and the half-elf maiden jumped slightly in shock and immediately turned towards the voice. Then, an unbelievable scene unfolded in front of them.

The mercenaries who consumed the fruits had collapsed on the ground, moaning painfully. They struggled and rolled on the ground, tearing out their skins and letting out excruciating screams. Suddenly, the trees overhead shook slightly, and the crimson fruits peeled open, revealing the soft mesh within. Then, it fell to the ground and began to rapidly crawl towards the fallen mercenaries before forcefully invading their orifices.

For a moment, those who were still conscious were stunned speechless by this freakshow. As the leader, Barney was the first to react.

"Everyone unleash your Fire elemental scrolls! Burn them!!"

As he spoke, he unfurled the scroll and unleashed a wave of flames towards the trees. The other mercenaries recovered from their daze and quickly did the same. Soon enough, a blaze engulfed the nearby trees, drawing the attention of the fruit fiends. They spun around and crawled towards the mercenaries with an unbelievable speed. Two mercenaries unknowingly stepped on the fiends who quickly pulled them to the ground. The fiends then crawled into their mouths, causing their bodies started to twist and turn from within.

"Q-quickly retreat! Go!!"

Barney unfurled a Firewall scroll and yelled at the mercenaries to retreat using the wall of flames as cover. The half-elf maiden followed closely behind while displaying a terrified expression on her face.

"Barney, there's too many of them!!"

"Escape to that tunnel over there and blockade it with our Firewall scrolls, if we do it well, we can block these heinous things from advancing!"

Barney yelled at the top of his voice while gesturing towards a nearby tunnel.

At this point, he finally understood why Rhode needed so many Fire elemental scrolls. But there was nothing more he could do then to escape with the half-elf maiden and the remaining mercenaries.

The ground began to shake.

The earth under them creased as though something pinched the ground. Then, the fiends utilized their element to advance towards the mercenaries undetected by digging under the wall of flames.

Suddenly, a tentacle appeared from beneath the ground and shot towards the half-elf maiden, successfully latching onto her leg.

"Ahhhhh!!!"

She screamed in terror when she felt a slimy sensation on her leg. Barney hurriedly turned around when he heard her scream. But at that moment, dozens of tentacles broke out from the ground, binding the maiden tightly as they lifted her up into the air.

"Barney, save me, save me!! Save me ah!!"

The half-elf maiden struggled with all her might, but she still couldn't escape. Instead, the tentacles became even tighter when she resisted. At this point, her clothes were already torn into pieces, revealing her soft, snow-like skin. The tentacles then squirmed and tightened around her four limbs, slowly squeezing out the air from her lungs.

Barney saw this and hesitated for a moment, but he decided to continue running towards the tunnel.

"Barney, save me... save me..."

The half-elf maiden began to gasp for air as her consciousness blurred. She struggled to extend her hand towards the direction that Barney fled to, and at that moment, two thick tentacles slithered up her thighs and under her skirt. The maiden's face immediately paled as she struggled furiously.

"N-No, no!! Stop!! Stop ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-!!"

The half-elf's heartwrenching cry turned into a painful scream. In her abdomen, two thick bulges twisted and turned unceasingly. The maiden's body shook intensely when the tentacles entered. Her body bobbed up and down in the air as she gagged continuously when another thick tentacle penetrated her mouth. The maiden's eyes rolled back and her body trembled violently. Sounds of gooey liquid and flesh pounding together echoed throughout the cave.

"Arg... arh... ah..."

Suddenly, the tentacles became increasingly aggressive in its movements and vibrated violently for a moment before finally flinging the half-elf maiden's body side-to-side like a toy.

"---!!"

A wave of heat suddenly erupted from within her body. For a brief moment, her eyes opened wide in shock as her body arched upwards, then her eyes rolled back before a series of convulsions wrecked her body. She let out choking sounds as the tentacles quickly retreated from her body, leaving a trail of white, gooey liquid which shot out from between her legs. At this moment, the maiden slumped lifelessly from one of the tentacles; her clothes totally torn apart and strewn everywhere.

The earth raised once again.

A huge chunk of meat appeared underneath. It grabbed the maiden into its body with its tentacle and ravished her body violently once more.

"Damn it!! Why did this happen!!"

Barney released another Firewall scroll without turning his head back. He gritted his teeth with a blank mind.

How did this happen? Why? Why? What on earth is that thing?!

Ahhhh! It's pointless to think now! I have to leave this place immediately! As long as I can survive...

A cold sensation brushed past Barney's neck.

Is it water?

The young man glanced upwards in confusion, but that puzzled expression soon turned into horror.