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450 The Cause of the Barren Mountains, Revealing a Secret of the Husband and the First Wife

 Day ▮▮ - ▮▮:▮▮ ▮▮ - Arid Mountains, Spirit Dimension

About eleven kilometers north of where the Night Everred Spirit Tree grew, the nearest kingdom of the wind spirits, Syplhs, was located. It should have been a beautiful land maintained by the nature-loving creatures that inhabited it. It was an almost imaginary place, filled with peals of laughter from the lively Sylphs and their usual playful antics.

Of course, none of those characteristics remained its current repulsive visage.

A continuously pulsating mass of flesh covered the already dried up kingdom. The only things that kept the trees upright were the tentacles of that enormous expanse of flesh that spiraled around the trunks extending to the ground. Like its main body, the spiraled fleshy appendages continued to pulsate in a manner that made it look like it was sucking something from the earth.

Without needing to think or observe, it was evident that the Kingdom of Sylphs faced its destruction.

This scene of their kind wandering and buzzing about as mindless infected broke Amihan and Malaya's hearts. In the Mortal World, although there were quite a number of them, it was remarkably hard to meet another of their race. It was even more particular to Amihan and Malaya, who were both born in the Mortal World.

They thought that they would meet more of their kind this time, only to face total disappointment.

"Pefile," Mark called out as he patted Amihan's head, who sat on his shoulder. "Do you know how many is the population of Sylphs there?"

Mark and his team were currently observing the scene from their initial position after seeing the remains of the Sylph Kingdom. There was no need to move any closer as they could see the situation on the next mountain. It was not hard to see the more than two-hundred meter wide carpet of pulsating flesh from their position.

Furthermore, trying to go closer could spell disaster once the infected Sylphs roaming their former kingdom spotted them. Just imagine humans trying to approach a killer bee nest of that size and getting chased by an unclear number of six-inch killer bees. Not to mention that all of them would be hurling wind magic at him.

That was suicide. There was no doubt about it. Mark could protect himself in that circumstance, but it would be hard to keep everyone in check. Using miasma would also risk causing mutations if used frequently as it could contaminate the dimension filled with magical energy in the air.

Use [Photokinesis] to hide? That was even worse. More than sounds, the infected folklore creatures, and even animals in this dimension were highly sensitive to magical fluctuations. To cover his whole team with [Optical Camouflage], Mark would need to use an enormous amount of energy from the crystal and cause a disturbance that was enough to alert the infected in a mile or two radius.

That was why Mark asked Pefile that question. He needed some information to decide on what to do first.

Pefile looked at Mark and shook his head.

"I can't answer that, even if I want to. We are different from humans that monitor numbers and populations of other races or groups. It is enough for us to know how many individuals we had in our group and did not care much about others. That is the work of the ones in the rule, like the king, tribe leader, and their trusted men."

"So, you don't know?"

"Yeah, I don't. Sorry."

Pefile shrugged his shoulders. He wanted to be of help as he was also disappointed in the scene before him. However, the question was beyond his knowledge to answer.

Then, Mark turned to Teremillio and Felenia, who looked pale as they thought about something.

"How about you two, do you know?"

Everyone looked at Mark as they could not comprehend as to why he would ask the two.

"Boss, why would you ask Husband and Big Sister Felenia?" The second wife, Dathlia, asked. "Pefile did not know, why would they?"

The other wives, except for Felenia, also had the same notion. They could not understand the reason why.

That was when Mark dropped a bomb that even Teremillio and Felenia went agape.

"Don't look at me like that." Mark shrugged. "Pefile said that only those in the ruling would know this information. I just thought that they would know since they are both royals."

All the wives of Teremillio were shocked. None of them knew where Mark could have gotten such information. When they looked at the two in question, however, they started to have doubts. Both Teremillio and Felenia both looked like a couple caught in the act of adultery. Of course, it was not like it applied to them.

"H-how did you..."

That was what all Teremillio could voice. Both him and Felenia did not know what reaction or reply they should give out. Teremillio might have a flowery mouth, but outside of being dandy and romantic, he was not much of a con man and a liar. It was more so for Felenia, who was also as pure as a child in many things.

And thus, the two were not able to deny it.

"Well, it's not hard to realize if you know the stereotypes. Not only me but some of us, like Mei'er and Mizuki, also noticed how you two behaved differently from the others. You two are more refined, formal, and you two have an aura of superiority over others."

The more Mark said, the more both Teremillio and Felenia shrunk. Then Mark said the main reason.

"You two don't know, but I have someone who can hear everything happening at the base when necessary. You two talking secretly about royal stuff and calling your parents king and queen did not help."

The other wives of Teremillio looked at the two in realization. They did not suspect anything at all. So, that was the reason why both of them looked very worried when Mark told them what was happening in this dimension. Although they were not angry, they felt dejected. The two should have told them about it.

"Go on with the drama later." Mark interrupted the mood. "Answer me first since we need to move and find a place to rest and eat if possible. Also, I don't want to spend a night in an unsecured place. We also need to find one if we can't get to the next destination in time."

Teremillio sighed and nodded.

"I don't know how long it passed in here, so it might not be accurate anymore. The last time, both I and Felenia are here... There should be about two-thousand Sylphs in that Kingdom."

"That many, huh." Mark contemplated. "We better not mess with that hornet nest right now."

Everyone nodded. What Teremillio said might be too long ago. The number of infected Sylphs could already be higher, even if there were survivors that managed to escape.

Mark wanted to deal with this thing as soon as possible though. By what the environment appeared to look like, that carpet of pulsating flesh was the cause of all this dried up mess.

"So, the next one should be the Kingdom of Duendes, right?"

Mark asked Pefile while glancing at Teremillio and Felenia.

"That's right." Pefile agreed. "Two mountains to the east from here, If I remember correctly."

Sure enough, it was quite a distance away. Just hearing about it made everyone feel tired. It might be a short distance if it was flat land. However, going up and down mountains made it not only farther but harder to go to. Going around the mountain was not plausible either as they would end up needing to climb more mountains.

They did not know now whether they should be glad about the whole place being dried up or not. Even though it was a bad thing, it did help them traverse the way easier.

As for the Kindom they were going to, next, it was Felenia who gave a stronger reaction. Looking at that, it seemed like Felenia and Teremillio belonged to two different Kingdoms. Still, everyone her was reasonable and did not push the two about their story. Everyone had circumstances, after all.

Thus, they continued on their tiring journey. Sure enough, there was a lot of interception along the way. They even encountered the infected Manananggal, who was crawling using its wings, that Mark had seen before.

A Mananangal was a demonic entity that looked like a human. Well, until night came. When the sunset, a Mananangal would go in a secluded area to transform. It would separate its torso from its waist down to its feet. The separated torso would grow wings at the same time and its separated upper body would fly away to hunt prey.

Their favorite diet was the fetus of a pregnant mother and they were very attracted to their smell. They would fly unto the roof of a house inhabited by a pregnant woman. Using its straw-like long tongue, it would suck the fetus out of the mother's genitals while she was sleeping through a hole in the roof or ceiling.

The Manananggal's weakness was the sun and its lower half that was left hidden. Pouring salt on the exposed organs of the lower half would prevent the Manananggal from returning to its human form, and once the sun had risen, they would turn to dust.

And sure enough, this Manananggal that Mark and his team encountered had Mutated in a way that addressed its weakness. That was a really bad thing as it meant that even demons, that was afraid of the sun, could traverse the surface even during the day.

The Manananggal they encountered was killed quickly, as it did not have its greatest advantage, which was flight. Nevertheless, the possibility of others retaining flight was there too. The thought was quite unnerving.

As for the harvest, Mark actually got a black colored crystal from the Manananggal. The odd thing was that it was marble-sized.

While Mark was pondering about the black crystal on his hand, Mei spoke.

"Gege, aren't Manananggals previously humans? Maybe, that determines the size of the crystals?"

She said although she was quite unsure of it herself.

Nevertheless, what she said was plausible.

It also conforms with the size of the [Spirit Crystal] that he got from killing the headless priest before. That evil spirit was also previously human and the crystal was the same size as the [Physical Crystals] and [Mental Crystals]. And as for the races that were never human, to begin with, what he got were smaller crystals of varying sizes.

"I think, you're right about it." Mark agreed. "But we better make sure of it."

Mei nodded in agreement.

On the way up the other mountain, Amihan received several more crystals from Mark. It made her very happy. However, she did not absorb all as she gave a few to Malaya who was enviously watching her. Malaya had no ill intentions about her envy. It was quite natural as anyone wanted to get stronger these days.

Nevertheless, she did not want to be ill-mannered and wrestle for something that was not hers. Mark was Amihan's master and it was all-natural for her to receive something from him. Still, Amihan gave Malaya some which she was really thankful for.

"You know, if you really want to be like Amihan, you can be my subordinate, like her."

Mark remarked in a whisper.

And of course, Malaya was very tempted. The treatment Amihan was receiving from him was something to be envious about. Nevertheless, she shook her head. She had a husband, which she shared with her sisters. She would consult them first and think, than blindly accepting the tempting offer.

"Gege is being sly again."

Mei whispered to Mark which he could only shrug in reply.

The journey over the two mountains surely took too much time. Not only that they had to deal with strange infected animals, but the terrain was also steep and hard to climb at some parts. Even with Chaflar and Gifre's large bodies, there were some parts of the mountain that they could not traverse.

By the time they reached a reasonable height on the second mountain, the sun was near to set.

Mark could not help but take out his watch and phone to check the time.

Unfortunately, as the laws of this world were different, both the time on the phone and watch were frozen to the time that they entered this dimension. Mark could only store the gadgets back into his bag and face the other side of the mountain.

There, they saw it.

Unlike the Kingdom of Sylphs which looked like a forest paradise, the Kingdom of Duendes was different.

It was a huge stone fortress embedded in the face of the rocky part of the next mountain.

The stone fortress was outside the dried land. This made them all glad. The best thing, however, was despite their current distance, they could see activities of gigantic creatures around the fortress.

Without a doubt, there were survivors.