Chapter 141: Spring Comes Upon A Withered Tree (VIII)
The total population of the specters were roughly only a couple hundred thousands while their longest lifespan was almost a thousand years. They reproduce by binary fission and every doppelganger since the child phase would have a sturdy physique. They have twin talents of gold and fire magic as well as complete memory inheritance. If it weren’t for there to be so much forestry, the specters would have long taken over the continent.
For this war, the specters sent out two thousand of their own race while the puppets they controlled assembled roughly three hundred thousand of their own. The alliance army had five hundred thousand while the numbers of the mercenaries were a bit harder to count. But in pure numbers, they had the advantage. However, the fighting strength of two thousand specters was a great threat to the alliance.
By the time Ivan hurried to the battlefield, the alliance army had already fought several battles against the specters. They lost more than they won, their losses totalling over ten thousand men and horses.
“Ivan, how many oxygen spirit beads do you have?” The leader of Tears of Blood mercenary, Tomo asked.
“Fifteen.” Ivan reported.
Tomo frowned as he fell deep in thought before replying, “We only have thirty left on our side. There isn’t enough to make a significant dent in their numbers.”
Sandy added, “This war was too sudden, the alliance isn’t prepared enough. We will probably lose the war in the end, which is the end of us.”
“If we can’t suppress the specters, the alliance army won’t be able to last long.” Other people piped up with great worry.
Alvin spoke up this time, making a suggestion. “We can choose a target in advance and launch a surprise attack.”
“That’s right.” Alvin continued, “The specters don’t know how many oxygen spirit beads we have. If their members are successfully killed by us one after another, they might be more hesitant and be more unwilling to put themselves in danger.”
His suggestion sounded rather feasible, so the remainder of the meeting was for selecting targets and further planning out their course of action.
Ivan basically remained silent the whole time during the meeting. As an alchemist, he did not need to participate in the surprise attack operation, he only needed to supply the weapon.
As he left the oppressive tent, the cries and screams of the injured was everywhere. The air was filled with the stench of herbs and rotting flesh. The formerly beautiful country of elves was now a scenery of ash and death.
Ivan raised his head and looked in the direction of Waiser Forest, his eyes full of longing and warmth. No matter how many conflicts the world outside may have, as long as he thought of the elf waiting at home for him, his body would be filled with power.
Three days later, the alliance picked ten experts from every mercenary group, with each person carrying two oxygen spirit beads. They headed for the camp of the specters to mount attacks against a couple important targets. The oxygen spirit beads can greatly weaken the specters with the effect lasting months. As long as they are successful, they can destabilize them.
The alliance army feigned defeat during the recent battle, causing the specters to lighten up on their vigilance which made it easier for them to put their plan in action.
The experts lived up to expectations as they successfully launched attacks on five high ranking military officers of the specters. Several days later, it finally led to internal disorder within the specters, and they ordered a retreat, temporarily stopping their allied forces from attacking.
The alliance army had the advantage within the battlefield for the first time and it brought great elation.
Ivan who provided the oxygen spirit beads became the most valuable player within this operation, but he did not relax and took the chance to make some oxygen spirit beads with a couple high level alchemists.
The oxygen spirit seal that he had recently developed was the best weapon against the specters, but it was a pity that it was troublesome to make and the gathering of concentrated oxygen was also very difficult. Even up until now, he had only made two. So rather than wasting time on making them, he would rather make more oxygen spirit beads.
Finishing his day of work, Ivan took a walk alone within the camp. When he passed by the edge of the camp, his heart suddenly jumped as a feeling of danger rose within him. In the next moment, his figure flashed and disappeared from the spot. Almost at the same time, a number of sharp blades shot out and nailed the ground where he was originally at.
Ivan had not even stabilized himself when the sound of more blades flying through the air came from behind him. While he dodged, his surroundings suddenly caught on fire which blocked his path. In the moment he paused, his right arm and left shoulder were pierced. The blade within his flesh immediately deformed, turning from a blade into a net that spread within his body without pause.
Ivan bore the great pain and threw out an oxygen spirit seal. The seal flashed and the word seal appeared within the air, followed by a scream. The seal disappeared from the spot after that.
Finishing that, Ivan fell to his knees but the net within his body was still extending. He promptly made the decision to insert his finger into the wound and grab thee net, then with his flesh and blood still hanging onto it, pulled it out from his body. Blood immediately spurted everywhere, dying his jacket red.
The events happened in a flash, by the time Ivan took out the net, the soldiers nearby finally noticed something was wrong and rushed over as fast as possible to help.
Ivan panted heavily, the bandage on his face was soaked in sweat and his conscious blurred.
“Ivan, how are you?” Alvin helped support Ivan up and asked with great concern.
Ivan gritted his teeth and managed to respond, “There’s poison.”
Ivan immediately lost consciousness after reporting that.
“Call a doctor fast!” Alvin shouted at his companion as he held onto Ivan.
Chaos immediately took over the camp.
Soldiers found a specter not too far from the spot. He had fallen unconscious on the ground, his copper skin full of seals.
Everyone was greatly shocked. Just what was that thing Ivan threw out just now? It had immediately sealed a specter, it was really too amazing!
Within a tent, Alvin and the other members were overcome with anxiety. Ivan’s situation was very bad, his skin was gradually turning into a dark brown as his blood turned from red to black. In only a few minutes, his situation went from bad to worse.
“What kind of poison is this? Is there any way to deal with it?” Alvin couldn’t help asking when the doctor remained silent.
“This is a highly toxic poison ‘Massacrer’.” The doctor hesitated before continuing, “It’s progressing too fast, I’m afraid that by the time we compound an antidote…”
“How is the situation?” The leader Tomo quickly walked in. Seeing how bad everyone looked, he couldn’t help mentally gulp.
“We don’t have any ready-made antidote?” Sandy did not bother greeting their leader and questioned the doctor instead.
“The Massacrer is a very rare poison so we did not prepare one for it this time.” The doctor stood up and addressed everyone, “Hurry up and get a priest over, see if they can suppress the poison for the moment. We will try to make an antidote right now.”
“I’m here.” A person suddenly walked out from behind Tomo.
Alvin and the others followed the voice and were astonished to find that it was the elf Shang Ke that they had once met.
“It’s you? You’re a priest?” Cassia greeted him with pleasant surprise.
Shang Ke did not take notice of her and walked straight to the bed. He gently held Ivan’s hand and a light green light roamed from where their hands were connected, then started to slowly cover Ivan like a gauze.
Shang Ke arrived three days ago and had been staying in the camp as a priest. The first person he had treated was Tomo, so they had gotten to know each other. When he heard that Ivan was attacked, he had silently followed Tomo.
The moment Shang Ke entered the tent, Shang Ke immediately sensed the phantom jade’s seal weakening with the power of the Spring of Life slowly flowing out. Shang Ke once again determined that the phantom jade was hidden within Ivan’s left eye, using his life as the origin of the seal. If he were to die, then the seal on the phantom jade will immediately loosen it’s hold. Getting rid of it completely would be a simple matter by then.
From the looks of it, the specters don’t know that the phantom jade is on Ivan either. Otherwise, they wouldn’t send out someone to assassinate him.
Looking down at the man on the bed, Shang Ke’s eyes were gloomy. As long as he stopped his treatment, Ivan’s life would immediately end and then he would be able to remove the seal and release the Spring of Life. His mission would be completed, the elves would recover and with the oppressed people, have enough power to contend against the specters.
However, how could Shang Ke have the heart to watch him die? Although he was prepared to sacrifice his own life, Ivan’s life and death was not for him to decide. If he could, he wished for this man to keep living on.
The light of the magic shone within the tent, and along with movement of the light, Ivan’s dark brown skin was gradually returning to its previous bronze color. The wound on his arm and shoulder was also gradually healing.
Although he couldn’t completely clear the poison, Shang Ke’s healing magic was enough to preserve Ivan’s life. All they had to do was wait for the doctor to finish making the antidote.
“You are too amazing!” The doctor praised, “You are the strongest priest I have ever seen.”
Shang Ke smiled and turned to speak to Tomo, “Leader Tomo, I would like to stay behind and take care of Ivan.”
Tomo was first dumbstruck but immediately nodded, “Okay, please take care of him.”
After everyone left the tent in succession, Shang Ke took off the bandage on Ivan’s face and pulled off his clothes. He then started to wipe down his body.
When he reached his waist, his wrist was suddenly grabbed. Shang Ke raised his head and was met with a pair of golden eyes.
“Am I dreaming?” Ivan stared, unable to take his eyes off the elf in front of his eyes as he spoke hoarsely.
“Yes, you are dreaming.” Shang Ke pulled away his hand and continue to wipe him down.
“I only have wet dreams.” Ivan looked down at his naked body and spoke truthfully.
Shang Ke glanced at him, “Why don’t you have one for me to see?”
Ivan no longer spoke. He couldn’t even move his shoulder right now, so there was nothing he could do.
After a moment, Ivan finally spoke again, “Keke, how are you here? What about the little elves?”
“I sent up a maze boundary near the forest, they will be fine.” Shang Ke paused, then continued, “I was more worried about you so I came to take a look.”
Ivan’s eyes were full of fondness as he gently smiled. But his smile immediately disappeared into a frown, “It isn’t safe here, you should quickly leave. You don’t need to worry about me.”
“Oh?” Shang Ke looked him up and down, “This is your ‘you don’t need to worry about me’?”
Lying half dead on a bed really didn’t hold any persuasiveness. Ivan gloomily turned his head away.
Little guy, so even you know how to feel embarrassed? Shang Ke laughed in his heart but did not continue to poke at his weak point. He merely warned him, “Take care of healing your wound, I will stay here with you.”
“Mhm.” Ivan watched as Shang Ke covered him with a blanket, his heart bursting with unspeakable happiness. The fatigue he accumulated over the course of battle turned into a strong sleepiness under the gentle care of the elf.
Ivan peacefully closed his eyes and entered a comforting sleep.
On the other side, a half-elf hesitantly spoke to Tomo, “I think I just felt the presence of the Spring of Life just now.”
“What?” Tomo’s heart immediately jumped and he quickly asked, “Where did you feel it?”
“In Ivan’s tent.” The half-elf looked toward Ivan’s tent, and after another moment of hesitation, spoke, “The feeling disappeared after Shang Ke healed him. I think…”
“What is it?”
“The phantom jade is on Ivan.”
Two days later, Ivan’s wound was almost completely healed up under Shang Ke’s gentle care. He would be completely recovered once the poison is cleared from his body.
Tomo walked into the tent and saw Ivan sitting half naked on the bed. The face that was originally hidden under bandages was now completely out in the open. The twisting vines looked comparably sinister. Shang Ke was half kneeling on the ground, his head dipped as he carefully wiped his hair. From the side view of his pretty fair, there was an indescribable gentleness. His eyes were concentrated as if only this man existed. A hard to describe intimacy seems to linger between the two.
Tomo paused at the sight, his footsteps slowing uncontrollably.
“Leader Tomo.” Shang Ke saw Tomo and stopped his actions, smiling as he greeted him.
Ivan merely nodded in greeting.
“Ivan, how are you feeling? Has the poison spread?” Tomo walked closer and asked with concern.
“I’m much better, thank you for your concern.” Ivan replied and his eyes went to the half-elf behind him.
The half-elf first looked at Shang Ke, then immediately shifted his gaze to Ivan. At the same time, he released the nature element within his body.
Shang Ke’s eyes flicked and raised his head to the half-elf. The latter was placing all of his attention on Ivan until he found that his power was blocked two meters away from Ivan. Astonishment flashed through his face and he turned to face Shang Ke.
The half-elf sensed a pure aura from him, a sweet scent of flower and wood, along with the vitality of nature that made people want to get closer. He must have already noticed the situation with Ivan, but why was he preventing him from finding out the truth? The phantom jade’s location has to do with the future of the entire elf race, even if it’s a suspicion, they cannot let it go.
“Let me introduce him, this is Holy Light Mercenary’s Yao.” Tomo introduced him to Shang Ke, “He is good at healing magic and an outstanding pharmacist. I asked him to come check your body to better administer the antidote.”
Ivan’s brow wrinkled. Haven’t they started to make the antidote two days ago? Why did he still need to be inspected?
While he was confused, he did not refuse.
Yao glanced at Shang Ke again, then immediately walked to Ivan and placed a hand on his wrist. A few rays of light flashed from his fingertips, but in the next moment, Yao’s hand spasmed like he had been shocked as his expression turned bewildered as he stared at Ivan.