Chapter 1323 Forbidden Life
The flames burning on the ground had yet to extinguish.
Plumes of black smoke lingered above the battlefield.
There were no remnants of human architecture within fifty kilometers of Kerslin Castle. Even the once green fields had been reduced to scorched earth. Patches of black marks designated what was once the land of the Entom Clan.
However, Kerslin Castle remained standing upon this lifeless plain. In fact, this castle didn’t seem to show any sign of damage at all.
An old castle could remain in the center of such a ravaged and devastated battlefield? Moreover, everyone knew that his Kerslin Castle had animated into a raging stone giant and fought a ferocious war against the Crimson Clan.
Even though it was obvious that Kerslin Castle had its secrets, what happened next was truly mysterious. After the battle concluded, not a single core adept of the Entom Clan managed to escape from the castle. They had vanished without a trace. It utterly confused and terrified all the observers. They could feel a genuine chill in their hearts.
Had the Crimson Clan reached such heights of power that they could wipe out every last member of the Entom Clan without leaving a single survivor? These conjectures struck even more fear into the hearts of Mirva and the others. Consequently, the voices calling for resistance against the Crimson Clan grew softer still.
At this point, even the few organizations that had been firm in their hostile stance against the Crimson Clan had fallen silent. It seemed like they wanted to stay low for the moment and avoid being made the second example by the Crimson Clan!
The reason they had opposed the Crimson Clan was to avoid losing the authority and power they possessed. However, if the result of a violent opposition was death and extermination, it was a completely different story. With their thousands of years of lifespan, it was too high of a price for a Fourth Grade adept to pay.
Freedom was indeed important, but if the price were their own life, then no Fourth Grade adept would ever agree to such an exchange!
Compared to losing their lives, submitting to Greem and becoming subordinates of the Crimson Clan no longer seemed as unacceptable.
They had been far too used to being the sovereigns of the Central Lands, which resulted in a bias of their understanding of the world. They had never witnessed the terror of an ultra-grade powerhouse and believed that they could force Greem to submit just by uniting their forces.
The battle at Stoneshard Valley and the battle at Kerslin Castle had completely shattered their false pride and peace. It also allowed them to truly understand the might of an ultra-grade powerhouse. Ultra-grade powerhouses were no longer the same species as Fourth Grade adepts. They existed on two ends of the food chain. One was a predator, and the other was no more than pathetic prey.
This understanding upended the worldview they had formed over the past few centuries. It also allowed them to recognize their folly and childishness. The reason Zhentarim had managed to exist for tens of thousands of years wasn’t because they–the Fourth Grade adepts–had intimidated the three major organizations. No, it was because the three major powers maintained a fine and delicate balance between themselves.
Now that the balance had been broken, the future path of Zhentarim had become an important question in the minds of all Central adepts!
Would they choose Greem, or would they choose one of the three major organizations? Or perhaps they would remain as fence-sitters, letting the Central Lands become a bloody battlefield where all three major powers fought for control?
All the Fourth Grade adepts that had appeared in the past had instinctually rejected the very idea of unifying the Central Lands. They had always preferred the calm and tranquility of the status quo. Now, even they had no option but to consider this question seriously.
If they weren’t willing to make a decision, someone would come along to make it for them. When that happened, those adepts wouldn’t have many options left.
Just like that, the question of whether the Central Lands would be unified had become an artifact of the past. Now, people were discussing how unification would happen!
Whether Greem would be a tyrant, whether the Crimson Clan would assimilate every single clan, or what kind of position would adept clans have in the Central Lands in the future. These questions burned furiously in the back of the minds of the leaders of the many clans. They wanted the answers to them desperately.
Of course, the only one who had the answers was the Crimson Clan!
On the eleventh day since the Entom Clan’s extermination, and the second day since Molten Fire City announced its subordination to the Crimson Clan, countless anonymous messengers swarmed to Kerslin Castle. They all wanted to meet the victorious Greem and obtain practical promises from him.
The moment the messengers arrived at where the Crimson Fleet was stationed, the first thing they saw was the perfectly untouched Kerslin Castle.
Many of the messengers who often visited Kerslin Castle back in the day couldn’t help but be curious. The castle before them looked exactly the same as it always had in the past. It had not changed at all. However, when their gaze lingered on the castle, they couldn’t help but feel an odd sense of strangeness.
It was almost as if this was the first time they were laying eyes on Kerslin Castle!
The messengers of the various clans stepped into Kerslin Castle with this strange feeling weighing on them.
The feeling grew even more intense once they entered the castle.
The same castle gates, the same plaza, the same light-golden stone corridors, the same spiritual suppression, and even the same magical aura flowed through the walls. Yet, what filled the messengers’ noses was a thick scent of blood. What lingered near their ears were the screams and cries of undead wraiths, and what always remained within the corner of their eyes were seemingly crying spirits.
All of this was evidence that a horrifying blood ritual had taken place here. Moreover, the victims of this ritual had likely been those missing Entom adepts.
Two hundred adepts, seven of which had been Third Grade. An entire army of adepts had just been sacrificed through this blood ritual.
The messengers couldn’t help but feel a deep chill in their hearts at the very thought of this. Even their steps seemed stiffer.
Naturally, Greem couldn’t meet each and every messenger of the numerous clans personally. Only messengers of the major clans could have a personal audience with him. The smaller clans and organizations could only visit Meryl and relay their secret terms and agreements to her.
As a great battle had just concluded here, there were only ruins all around them. These messengers had nowhere to stay but Kerslin Castle. However, after just a single night, all the adepts moved out of Kerslin Castle.
They would rather spend a night in the wild under a mud house eating rations than take another step into Kerslin Castle. That one night of endless nightmares had almost driven them insane.
A certain adept was spreading a rumor of what he had experienced. On the night he was in the castle, he had woken up in the middle of the night. He was horrified to find that he was no longer lying in his large, comfortable bed; he was bathing in a pool of blood.
There were caved-in heads, severed limbs, tattered intestines, and all sorts of white and red substance floating in the pool, along with countless souls of the dead. These souls were trying to climb out of the pool, their pale faces distorted from extreme agony. They reached out with their broken arms and howled at him in despair.
Moreover, the room’s walls, floor, and ceiling had all been covered in a layer of gray substance. The gray substance squirmed and swelled, thick vessels bulging on the surface. The fleshy material was a sickly translucent pink, and it rumbled continuously. Some sort of purple liquid seemed to be flowing within. Occasionally, he even saw specks of undigested flesh and meat.
Living inside the castle felt like he was living in the stomach of a strange lifeform. It was this feeling that made him move out in a hurry and no longer dare to remain inside Kerslin Castle.
The current Kerslin Castle was no longer the Kerslin Castle of the past!
It had undergone some kind of change, becoming…becoming some inexplicable existence that was simultaneously an alchemical lifeform and a biological being of flesh and blood.
That was why the adepts with sharper senses instinctually chose to distance themselves from the castle!
It wasn’t just the messengers. Even the higher-ups of the Crimson Clan were staying in the Motherships rather than Kerslin Castle.
There were only two guests at Kerslin Castle currently– Greem and Mary.
Of course, Shadow Demon always followed at Greem’s side, constantly protecting him.
As for why Greem chose to stay in Kerslin Castle? It wasn’t because he enjoyed the scary atmosphere. He was trying to further convince this strange lifeform, which had broken the limits of magic, to join his side.
Indeed, Kerslin Castle now possessed all the characteristics of an intelligent lifeform. If it weren’t for its lack of a permanent energy supply, even Greem would have trouble controlling this forbidden lifeform that had devoured the entirety of the Entom Clan.
Compared to an ordinary lifeform, forbidden lifeforms grew stronger by employing taboo and forbidden magic. They needed blood rituals, sacrifices, murder, or destruction to fuel their growth. Adepts might look like individuals with no care for the taboo, but they had to abide by the basic principles of being an adept. They could not merely victimize weaker individuals of the World of Adepts.
These were basic tenets of being an adept that had been established for the sake of the adept civilization’s continued growth!
You could choose to break these rules, but if knowledge of your actions got out, you would be blacklisted by every single adept organization. No one would trade resources or expertise with you again.
Some of the more self-righteous adepts would even actively hunt you down; the Adept’s Code of Conduct would not forbid their actions.
Considering the severe consequences, no adept had ever dared to conduct slaughter or blood rituals publicly. Of course, as long as you did it in the shadows and destroyed all evidence, there would be no problem.
There would always be numerous adept apprentices that died silently in private adept towers every year. These apprentices were often sacrifices for dangerous magic or experiments. Most adept organizations turned a blind eye to these instances and would not launch detailed investigations.
After all, the improvement of their adepts meant the growth of the clan’s strength. They couldn’t be happier to see their adepts grow more powerful!