Chapter 602 - 602 Hm... I Guess Not

602 Hm... I Guess Not

Oli’s turbulent mind was a stew of calm, rational thoughts and fast, cynical deductions. With the perennial walking up to each nearby stone cluster, Oli’s brain hastily reached a fork of decision and possible consequences.

*I could keep hiding,” thought Oli. “Sarpo failed to sense my presence with essence alone, and that was while I was visible in the shade of a wagon.

*But Hurdo did sense me, using earth essence… There’s a chance that this perennial could do the same.*

Erratically, Oli’s brain bounced between those two choices, seemingly at lightspeed. All the while, the suspicious perennial was narrowing his search with each passing moment.

Eventually, the time arrived to decide.

The perennial strolled over to Oli’s hiding place. He walked around the boulders. He poked his head in every crevice. Earth veita was seeping through every rock and pebble there.

Going through that search, Oli felt strange. The pervasive earth essence didn’t feel like it could reach Oli. But it wasn’t far away either. It was as if Oli was wrapped in a thick, heavy blanket and the earth essence was pulsing over the blanket, searching for the faintest hint of irregularity.

... Pausing, the scan of his earth essence, the perennial blinked.



A hammer appeared in the perennial’s hand a split second before the hammer crushed the rock cluster. It ripped through the stone in a horizontal swing, decimating seventy-five percent of the boulders to rubble and strewn about debris.

“... Hm. I guess not.”

With his suspicion lingering, that perennial moved on to the final rock clusters in the vicinity.

Below the destroyed cluster, a much smaller shadow was still cast there. Inside that shadow, Oli was cowering while also breathing easier. *He couldn’t sense me… Damn…*

A few minutes passed. And, finally, the perennial was done searching the area.

However, that perennial then moved on to the other rock clusters dotting the hillside.

It was then that Oli deduced what was actually happening. *... Is this part of the routine? To sense the surroundings like clockwork? … They must be trying to prevent Hurdo from burrowing through the ground and finding their hidden camp.*

That search continued for half an hour before the perennial approached the hidden passage.

Knock, knock… Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock… knock.

The man used the same knock as the scout Oli had tailed in the first place. Then, the perennial disappeared into the underground passage with the concealing stone put back in place.

Oli silently exhaled, slowly letting his pent-up worries fade away. But there was now a new issue at hand that Oli needed to solve. *This cluster is too small now. In a few hours, once all three suns are at their peak, this shadow will disappear. And I’ll get pulled out regardless… If I continue waiting, then I’ve only got a couple hours left. No more waiting till nightfall.*

Oli used the next half hour to completely calm down and throw together some kind of emergency protocol. Because Oli still couldn’t come up with a strategy better than fleeing in a Prodson uniform.

… After another hour passed, the third and last sun was nearing the end of its daily ascent across the sky. The shadow had grown so small that it could be covered by a single foot.

But Oli’s calculated patience finally paid off.

Krrrsh… Krrrsh.

The sound of the stone wall being moved and replaced filled Oli’s ears with glee. But Oli quickly caught himself before verifying who it was that exited the passage.

It was another scout, and they weren’t a perennial!

Once the stone had been replaced, the man rushed to take his first steps. And Oli did the same.

The moment the scout’s back was facing Oli’s shadow, only a couple of krin to the side of the broken boulder cluster, Oli reappeared and activated his dark-based speed gambit.


Oli’s bare fist crashed into the man’s unguarded jaw. At the same time, Oli’s other hand grabbed the man’s wrist to yank him closer. A blitz of soul force rushed into the scout’s body while Oli’s fist jerked the scout’s head in the opposite direction his body was being pulled.

With a small crack, a shattered soul, and a fast catch, Oli was left holding the scout’s corpse after that single exchange.

Oli hurriedly undressed the body and donned the clothes himself. While cleanly storing the corpse, Oli noticed how tight the uniform was on Oli’s broad build, standing at almost two krin. *I’ll need to be careful. Or I’ll rip the uniform from just sprinting…*

In enemy uniform, Oli jogged off toward the wooded hills way off in the distance.

But Oli’s mentally sighed the moment he spotted a returning scout on his way back to the hidden camp.

“Sorry I’m late,” laughed the scout.

“No worries,” Oli casually replied. “But be careful. I won’t keep covering for you if this becomes a regular thing.”

Nodding, the returning scout stopped and stood beside Oli for a moment. He was eyeing Oli’s unusually tight uniform. “I haven’t seen you before… Are you with the reinforcements?”

Oli shook his head. “Sorry, they still haven’t arrived. But I am one of their scouts. Me and a few others arrived not too long ago and they’re already putting us to work without a proper break.”

The returning scout laughed and swung his arm toward Oli’s shoulder, as if trying to give the brawny Oli an amiable slap.

Oli reacted accordingly.

Smack. “Hey–” Crack…

Reaching out in a similar fashion, Oli laughed along. Whether the smile and slap were fake or not, Oli didn’t care. There was no way Oli was going to let the scout hit him first.

Using his speed boost, Oli stepped uncomfortably close to the returning scout. Oli’s hand immediately covered the scout’s mouth, only letting a single, muffled word escape the man’s lips. Then, Oli’s other hand grabbed and pushed the top of the scout’s head. Between the hand on the man’s jaw and the hand atop the man’s head, the scout’s neck promptly snapped before any cries for help could be sounded and before the scout even knew what was happening.

Oli stored the corpse right away and continued moving forward.

*Damn it… At least Prodson won’t know where these two died. They’ll likely assume Forell’s scouts have begun entering the wooded hills. I hope…* Oli thought to himself.

As Oli crossed into the wooded hills, he moved toward the section of trees that the returning scout had come from. That way, Oli faced the best chance of not spotting any more Prodson scouts before hurrying back across the border.

Once Oli was deep into the wooded hills and getting closer to the border, Oli stripped. Despite his desire to not do it again, Oli forced himself to transform back into a drake as quickly as possible.

*Oww…* Oli kept his grunts of pain and discomfort within his mind. *The aching is stronger this time. I guess training for faster transformations will be a divine pain in the ass.*

But Oli didn’t waste any more time. He flew straight for the border and ignore the aches and pains of his joints and muscles.

Leaving no trace behind, Oli finally returned to the Iron-Forell base camp. Only half a day late.

As soon as the camp guards spotted the drake, they cheered and sent word to the commanding tent. They all congratulated the drake on a safe return, both out of pride and out of the desire to kiss up to the mighty beast.

All Oli asked for was food and an immediate meeting to share his report.

A whole cart of food was taken to the command tent within just a few minutes. There, Oli sat up and began to eat. After a few big bites and downing a mug of wine, Oli sighed, “Okay… Alright, I think I’m still in the clear. Though I did have to take care of a couple of bodies on my way back.”

When two corpses appeared, the others weren’t too surprised. Hurdo, Sarpo, and Lambier all scanned the bodies to quickly deduce how Oli had finished them off.

“Broken necks…” Lambier commented with a surprised nod. “I wasn’t expecting that level of finesse from a huge drake.”

“And shattered souls,” Hurdo added with a proud chuckle. “That is to be expected from a soul assassin. Well done, Vero! You keep proving why Hurman chose you, though you are still a weak elder.”

Oli retrieved the uniform he had been wearing and set it beside the naked corpse. “I’ve found two camps, but I only got a good luck at one of them.”

Intrigued, the others nodded and waited for the drake to explain.

“There’s one camp here, on the cliffside with ballistas positioned along the cliff’s edge,” Oli stated, pointing the spot out on the blown-up map laid across the command table. “I counted eighty-one tents hiding under the overhanging rocks. It’s a perfect, natural-made watchtower, large enough for dozens of archers and spearmen to attack at once with ballista fire as support.

“Then, there’s the other camp. It should be around here,” Oli said, startling the others when he pointed at the rocky hills instead of the expected, open grasslands.