The woods were dark and the trees towered above everything else.
From inside the dense forest, the branches and leaves seemed to have cut up the sky into fragments of light.
Spots of radiance scattered from the skies, flickering as the leaves swayed in the winds. The vast and seemingly boundless greenery of the forest extended without end, from stout bushes to towering trees. This place was like a paradise of plants and nature's treasury itself.
Ironoaks, firs, spruces, cedars, and all sorts of arbor trees grew straight towards the sky, their magnificent and towering bodies an impressive sight to all. Meanwhile, all types of nameless vegetation and vines filled the gaps between the trees, leaving no spaces at all.
Any outsider would find it difficult to walk in such an ancient and primal forest.
At this moment, two odd groups of people were recklessly engaged in pursuit through the Great Fantasy Forest, fighting ferociously with all they had.
Fleeing at the forefront was the vampire army led by Mary.
Though this group was described as an army, their actual number was no more than two hundred, while those that could be considered elite vampires numbered only three dozen.
Despite it being such a motley crew, they were able to transform into palm-sized crimson bats and weave between the branches, wildly escaping the mad pursuit of the enemies behind them.
The ones chasing after the vampire army were a group of only a dozen strange birds with excessively ferocious appearances.
Most of them were large hawks with golden talons and silver wings. These birds could reach up to two meters tall when standing upright, while their wingspan easily measured four meters long. The rest of the flying creatures were odd flying serpents with wings upon their backs. Blinding electricity rumbled across their bodies as they flew.
As large flying beasts, their bodies weren't suited for such high-speed flights in the woods. However, they were oddly able to traverse the harsh terrain, occasionally flaring their wings and riding upon the winds while sometimes folding them to maneuver between the branches and leaves.
A terrifying wind blade or lightning blast would shoot forth whenever their green eyes locked onto a flying bat. It was just too hard for a vampire spawn to dodge instant-cast magic like this with their power!
That was why several crimson bats had been exterminated in the skies along the way.
On the other hand, the hastily organized retaliation of the bat had absolutely no effect upon the pursuers. The rumbling lightning would exterminate a vast majority of the bats before they could even get close.
As vampire spawn with only the strength of an advanced apprentice, their bodies lacked magic resistance and were as thin as paper beneath the eyes of elite druids. As for their ability to regenerate by consuming blood? That was utterly useless before a tidal storm of lightning.
The only ones who could hold their own against these pursuers were the blood knights and the blood elves. Even the First Grade vampires had trouble guaranteeing their own safety.
However, due to the threat of the giant thunder roc above, Mary didn't dare to send her elite squad to execute the pursuers, even after a great deal of hesitation.
Both parties quickly traveled the forest during this pursuit, traversing a distance of a hundred kilometers within a single day. At this point, the power of the vampires' unique Physique was slowly starting to show.
The vampires still had energy to spare, but the druid squad was at their limits!
Finally, the pursuers were gradually left behind, and the vampires screeched as they continued into the depths of the forest.
They flew on for another two hours in the forest and eventually stopped near a short cliff when there was no longer any trace of the druids.
Though the vampires had unique Physiques, an entire day of continuous exhaustion had still caused the blood energy stored within their bodies to fall to extremely low levels.
Night had already fallen by now. The entire forest was engulfed in heavy darkness.
After they had set camp, large swarms of vampires scattered into the surrounding woods to find blood treats. Meanwhile, Mary gathered a group of her subordinates and silently started to discuss their plans for the upcoming days.
It was undeniable that they would never dare to set foot anywhere near Skywater City anymore!
Their reckless actions before this had infuriated the upper echelons of the elves. The fact that this elite elven army had managed to intercept them near the west coast was no coincidence. Rather, it was a planned operation of extermination on the elves' part.
Mary summoned a few of the blood elves and quickly gained an understanding of the situation after some questions.
Within the ranks of the elven army, the elven commanders were often accompanied by elven diviners. Apart from their immense knowledge that allowed them to understand the geography of the entire continent and recognize all sorts of flora and fauna, these individuals were also prophets.
Prophets. They were undoubtedly the most difficult opponents amongst casters, as well as the type that Mary was most reluctant to deal with!
As a Second Grade vampire adept, her confidence in slaughtering elves inside the elven kingdom's sphere of influence with a ragged crew all came from the agility and stealthiness of the group. She wouldn't even consider touching excessively strong elven cities and groups.
The ones she chose to deal with had always been delicious food that had been specially selected and that she could easily swallow.
However, if an elven diviner came looking for them and provided guidance, the advantage of the vampires would no longer exist. This group that Mary had spent so much effort into raising would instantly be cast to the winds if elves surrounded them on all sides.
In fact, if one were to be brutally honest, even a Second Grade vampire adept like Mary would have plenty of trouble escaping unscathed!
While Mary and the rest were softly discussing the problems with frustrations in their hearts, the angered and anxious roar of vampires came from the woods in the distance.
"What's the matter? What's happened there?"
Mary suddenly stood up. Her crimson eyes glimmered in the darkness.
At that moment, her spiritual senses picked up on four spiritual nodes that had their connections severed with her origin power. It seemed the enemy had exterminated them.
The forest in the distance suddenly buzzed as several dozens of crimson bats swarmed out from within. They cried and circled around as if avoiding something.
While Mary was still lost in confusion, the sound of snapping bowstrings rang out without stop. Several odd arrows shot out from the forest and pinned a dozen of those bats to an ancient tree.
"It's the elves!"
Mary and the rest realized the enemy's identity almost immediately.
Even though Mary was very confused as to how the elves had been able to catch up so quickly, she still led her Second Grade subordinates into the forest.
The Fantasy Forest at night was just as mysterious and unpredictable as it was during the day.
The Fantasy Forest in daytime was dark and dim. Ironically, the Fantasy Forest of nighttime glowed with a faint light due to a large amount of microscopic moss and magical plants.
This bit of faint light wasn't enough to illuminate anything for an ordinary person, but it was more than enough for Mary and her vampires to see as perfectly as if it were daytime!
Everything inside the vast and deep Fantasy Forest seemed so serene and obscure, so peaceful yet quiet.
Mary looked around her and couldn't help but frown.
The enemy? Where was the enemy?
She couldn't see any living beings in her crimson field of vision, much less elven archers.
Those arrows had been shot out from right here. How could they have escaped so quickly?
While Mary was thinking to herself, the sound of ferocious winds broke out from the shadows of Fantasy Forest. Massive barrages of wicked and accurate arrows came out of nowhere, forcefully engulfing the vampires in their range.
Several of the vampires and Old Fox Vanlier were hit due to their lack of experience. The sound of arrows piercing flesh rang out in succession, and the vampires let out muffled grunts. Three of the blood knights drew their swords and swung them around, deflecting most of the arrows. They then endured the few unfortunate arrows that pierced their bodies without even flinching.
As this was happening, Mary extended a slender, white hand, the fingernails painted with daffodil juice. She flicked her fingers several times and managed to flick away the arrows directed at her. The casualness of her actions terrified the fellows that were hiding in the darkness.
Lights flash, and her silhouette trembled.
The area where the arrows had come from flickered and the horrifying silhouettes vanished once again.
Three blood knights had charged to the spot and hacked the rose bushes to pieces. Strangely enough, they found no enemies.
As they were still caught up in shock, a few dozen more arrows shot out toward them at extremely close distances.
This time, they did not have the fortune of shielding themselves with their swords; they were instantly pincushioned with a rain of arrows.
Mary's eyes froze.
She saw it clearly this time. These arrows had practically shot out right by the side of these three blood knights. It was almost as if they were standing in an encirclement of hidden elves while being utterly oblivious of that fact!
The crossbow arrows were forged of refined steel. Delicate magical patterns had even been carved on them, seemingly imbuing them with the effects of Pierce and Windwing. The former was to increase effectiveness against individuals with heavy armor or tough skin, while the latter was to eliminate the sound of the shattered wind as the arrow shot across the sky.
That was why the arrows that had pierced the bodies of the three blood knights were all enchanted arrows.
Moreover, those who could afford to use such expensive enchanted arrows couldn't possibly be ordinary people either!
Even with seven or eight arrows through their bodies, the three blood knights were still vigorously waving their longswords. Large crimson sword blasts were being fired from their blades, slicing the surrounding trees and bushes to pieces.
An ancient tree where an enemy was hiding seemed to have been cut down during this chaos because a slender shadow jumped down from a falling tree. The silhouette rolled on the ground and quickly vanished as they leaped into the shadow of another tree.
The next second, Mary had already appeared at the position where the enemy had vanished. She looked around her with crimson eyes as they flickered with a strange light.
In the shadows behind her back, where her eyes could not reach, a dark and lightless dagger extended from the shadows, silently stabbing toward the back of Mary's head.
A spotty shadow was cast down through the leaves and branches due to the moonlight, entirely concealing the magical aura gathering upon the blade of the dagger.
The energy at the tip of the blade only erupted at the moment the dagger was about to make contact with the skin.
A tremendous and overwhelming aura of energy spilled forth.