Volume 2 – Chapter 25: Interfering
After Brae left, Qin Lun and the others packed up their tents and continued on their way.
On the second day, the witches’ magic organisms continued to disturb the exorcists the entire day. That night, the attacks reached their climax. All three teams at the vanguard sent out their firework signals, requesting for assistance.
Otto and Tony, the two seasoned exorcists, had a discussion about their problem before sending the teams at the back to provide assistance to those at the vanguard. At the same time, they pulled back their formation and had each team keep a distance of a half kilometer away from each other. That way, it would be more convenient to help one another.
On the morning of the third day, the evil organisms had finally retreated, and all the exorcists were forced to regroup. When they returned to the center camp, the amount of work Qin Lun had to do increased.
Casualties had appeared in the exorcist group. There were two dead, and another five seriously injured. The two that sacrificed their lives were from the teams at the end of the formation. Originally, they were already the weakest teams. When they went to help last night, they were met with a surprise ambush midway and suffered a huge loss.
The two corpses were in tragic states. One was chopped in half, and only the upper body of his companion was brought back. As for his lower body, it was likely already in some evil organism’s stomach.
Qin Lun noticed that the wound on the corpse’s waist was jagged. His muscles and internal organs all appeared as if they were broken by brute force. It was hard to imagine just how much pain the poor guy was in at the moment of his death.
According to his companion’s discussion, they were sneak attacked by a scorpion man in the dark. The poor guy was caught off guard and got chopped in half by the scorpion man’s large pincers.
This scorpion man was a type of evil organism made by witches, different from the gargoyles that were completely made by magic. It was also different from a grand devil, an aboriginal evil organism. The scorpion man was an artificial organism containing a broken soul.
Gargoyles were magic organisms that used magic cores as their source of power. They were incapable of understanding complicated orders and were limited by material shortages. The witches were unable to make too many of them. Grand devils, who were complete living beings, were also incredibly rare. They also had a low reproduction rate, preventing them from becoming the main fighting strength.
That’s why, after the millennium contract, the witches began researching a way to combine a creature’s soul using a magic configuration, in order to create artificial lifeforms with broken souls.
These lifeforms were called halfmen, or halfbeasts. They had an animal’s body and a human’s badly damaged soul. They could accept more complicated commands and completed all sorts of tasks assigned by the witches.
There were many kinds of halfmen. Some had the lower halves of deers or horses and the upper half of a human, forming a centaur archer. Some had the lower body of a tiger or leopard, while their upper halves were another form of predator. There were eaglemen, made by the combination of multiple birds of prey. Giant spiders and giant scorpions could be combined to create a chimera, with the face of a spider and the body of a scorpion.
Because these halfmen had the broken soul of humans, they were more crafty than the gargoyles that were purely magic organisms. And because their souls were incomplete, they would often sink into madness from the pain, causing them to become more cruel and violent in battle. They would often tear and crush the bodies of their enemies even after their deaths, creating a mess.
The appearance of the scorpion man was proof that the Maize Witch had noticed the presence of their group, meaning they had not accidentally encountered the evil organisms of the forest.
Qin Lun shook the syringe in his hand, then injected the medicine into Nova’s shoulder. The Flower Overlord with unsurpassed strength was also injured in yesterday night’s battles. Her shoulder was bitten by a leopard man. The average person’s bones would have shattered. The same would have happened to her if it weren’t for her natural sturdiness and bones that are as strong as steel.
“Thank you, Dr. Stein!” Nova looked at her shoulder that was wrapped like a rice dumpling with a rather strange expression.
While Qin Lun removed the rotten meat and straightened her bones, his surgery skills had seemed very professional, steady and practiced. But when it was time to wrap the bandage around her injury, his skills became very crude. In fact, he couldn’t even be compared to exorcists.
“You’re welcome, Lady Nova!” Looking at his own rice dumpling “masterpiece”, Qin Lun could only shrug his shoulders while laughing at himself.
He couldn’t just tell Nova that he actually didn’t know how to wrap a wound. As for his skills in surgery, it was thanks to the self-taught “dissection practice” he had done way too many times in the past.
“Lady Nova, are we preparing to withdraw from Maize Forest?” Qin Lun quickly thought and asked with much concern.
“We still haven’t decided. It will be discussed after everyone catches their breath.” Nova’s fierce face trembled a bit as she tightly pursed her eyebrows.
Different from the leisureness of two days ago, starting on the morning of the third day, Qin Lun had become the busiest man in the camp. Not counting the two that died and the five that were seriously injured, there were less than twenty people left in their group. Most of them had also received small injuries to some degree.
“Dr. Stein, here is something to drink. It’s great that you’re in our group. If you weren’t here, at least one of the five that are seriously injured would be dead.”Otto handed Qin Lun a cup of hot chocolate and said with a heavy face, “The leaders in charge of each team want to have a discussion, you should come too. We want to hear your opinion about some things.”
Qin Lun’s lips curved up slightly. He naturally knew what Otto and the others wanted to ask. It could only have something to do with how they should handle the seriously injured, whether they could keep on going or if they had to be escorted back so the others could continue the mission.
Otherwise, in front of these experienced exorcists, he did not have the qualifications to participate in the meeting.
“I think that we should withdraw from Maize Forest. Gargoyles, grand devils, halfmen, they make up the entirety of the evil organisms. The fact that they have all appeared at once at the edge of the forest is enough proof that the Maize Witch is spying on the situation outside. The time for their official attack isn’t far!”
When Qin Lun entered the tent, the team leaders were in the middle of an intense argument. The one saying they should withdraw was a middle-aged exorcist with a netlike pattern on his face.
“We can’t. Whether or not the plague was caused by the witch has not yet been confirmed. Once we leave the forest, our mission will be considered a failure and will not help settle Odia Region’s plight!” Tony raised an eyebrow and immediately opposed the idea.
“But if we all die here, the amount of manpower in Odia Region will decrease, making it unable to prevent the witch from invading. Our best choice is to immediately go back to Albert Castle and inform headquarters about the situation.” The man with the netlike pattern on his cheek retorted.
Hearing his analysis, the exorcists in the tent, one by one, turned silent. They did not lack the courage to sacrifice their lives, but they were not willing to do it in vain. The present situation was as the man said. This was the first time they had ever ran into so many evil organisms at the edge of the forest. No one was willing to believe that a witch wasn’t behind it.
The important question, currently, was whether they should give up the investigation mission in search for the plague’s source. After withdrawing from the forest, even if the witch started a large-scale attack, they could still rely on Albert Castle’s home field advantage to defend. However, once they gave up on investigating the plague’s source, the epidemic situation in the towns would become even more grave.
“Dr. Stein, how long can the five who are seriously injured last?” Otto spoke and broke the silence when he saw Qin Lun enter.
“I already handled their external injuries, but I lack the necessary medication here. With their injuries, they won’t be able to participate on a long trek. I believe that it’s best to send them back to the castle to heal, otherwise, I can’t guarantee the safety of their lives.” Qin Lun indifferently reported.
Qin Lun wanted the exorcists to keep going into the forest, but he did not deliberately hide the situation of their wounded. These exorcists were experienced, even if he didn’t tell them, most of them already understood the situation.
Tony also become dispirited after Qin Lun’s report and leaned against the chair. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. If the other five couldn’t continue on, then along with their escorts, the remaining power was already not enough to continue into the forest. Throwing away their lives in vain was not something they would do.
“Since it’s like this…” A trace of conflict appeared on Otto’s face.
“Please wait a moment, Sire Otto. My respected exorcist seniors, will you listen to my opinion?” Qin Lun quickly interrupted Otto from speaking, as he thought of something.
“Dr. Stein, please speak. Although you are a new exorcist, as the group’s doctor, your opinion is also very important.” Nova agreed.
“Thank you, Lady Nova.” Qin Lun smiled and nodded at the Flower Overlord. “As for judging the current situation, I do not have as much experience as everyone here, so what I want to talk about is the epidemic situation at Odia Town.”
The moment Qin Lun mentioned the subject, he immediately had everyone’s attention. If the doctor was going to rashly state his opinion on the mission, then the other exorcist would just scoff. But regarding the epidemic’s development, he deserved full authority. There was no one that would dare to ignore his opinion.
Seriously speaking, the ultimate purpose of the exorcist mission was to protect the ordinary people of Odia Region. It was fine if the mission could not be completed, at most, the exorcist headquarters would just deduct some mission points. But if the epidemic affected the safety of the entire region, they would really fail as exorcists.
“Based on the information everyone has given me so far, I predict that in two weeks, a huge outbreak will occur throughout the entire Odia Region. The amount of plague patients that have accumulated up to now has already reached a critical point. If it continues to spread, the epidemic will not be containable.” Qin Lun expressionlessly stated.
“Dr. Stein, are you saying that we must find the plague’s cure within two weeks?” Otto’s eyes were burning. He, who always seemed like a kind, middle-aged man, now emitted a fearful atmosphere.
“Dr. Stein, you don’t have any way to control the epidemic? Your medicine…” Tony’s face changed, and he hastily asked.
“The method for creating the medicine is very complicated. Others would not be able to replicate it. I am just a single person, even if I worked for twenty-four hours making the medicine, it would only save a few.” Qin Lun said it in a rather light way, “We must find the true antidote to the plague virus. Otherwise, why would I, a doctor, insist on following you guys on this battle mission?”
“Dr. Stein, you should have told us earlier!” Otto’s face ashened as he gloomily said.
“It’s not too late, right?” Qin Lun narrowed his eyes, his gaze flickering as he spoke, “As for our current predicament, I also have some thoughts about it. Would the seniors consult with me for a bit…”