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After leading Mbenga as they travelled deeper amidst the foggy path, they passed by two other abandoned villages along the way. Without an exception, not a single soul remained in those chaos wrecked villages. Even worse, eerie white bones surfaced in those villages, hinting of the immeasurable torture they went through before perishing.
At this point, Sheyan realized the path ahead had broadened a little. Wooden totemic stakes were impaled glaringly by both sides of the path, resembling lampposts. Though the wooden stakes were decayed and archaic, they donned a revering and imposing incivility from afar. The surfaces of each stake revealed a dried and deep brown luster, indicating a possible sacrificial cleansing by blood.
When they arrived here, Mbenga’s breathing turned heavier. Sheyan glanced round in alarmed as he noticed Mbenga’s peculiar mood. Sheyan’s heart instantly flickered with delight as he hastily asked.
"What’s with you?"
Instead, Mbenga remained silent as he advanced ahead with large strides, but the flustered Sheyan hastily pulled him back.
Bear this in mind, various kinds of innumerable monsters littered the region, and if Mbenga were to advance with such overbearing audacity, even the disguise of herb medicine would be useless. It was just like a human wouldn’t be suspicious with a piece of rock, but if one noticed that rock aggressively trudging ahead and hopping imposingly about, it would be tough to repress one’s suspicions.
Fortunately, Mbenga quickly calmed down from his agitated emotions, as he took in heavy breaths. Sheyan hurriedly pulled him into a nearby concealed cover, before feeding him with water and allowing him to rest.
Sheyan was about to speak, but within an instant, his body started shivering with chills involuntarily, as his teeth issued out chattering sounds.
Lifting his head for a peep, Sheyan beheld an extraordinarily huge, blood red Licker emerging from the thick foggy pathway ahead. Standing a hundred metres away, it surveyed around with its tongue.
Sheyan immediately shut his eyes, as he tugged Mbenga tightly and prone to the ground; even slowing down his breathing exponentially.
All of a sudden, that blood red Licker pranced towards the spot that Mbenga had stood previously, before dipping its head for a whiff.
Sheyan secretly cursed inwardly. "Mbenga must’ve been too excited, and perspired a little too excessively. That freak was actually able to detect an abnormality. If Mbenga starts to vomit like before, we will be in deep shit."
Fortunately, Mbenga maintained his pristine hygiene. In addition to the incredible effects of the Tigfog herb medicine, the Licker lurked for a good long while before departing resentfully.
Sheyan and Mbenga no longer dared to be too careless. Just 20-30 metres away from that blood red Licker, its terrifying aura had been sufficient to induce a horror that could scare them out of their wits! One could fathom the reputation of this stronger than ordinary tier Licker was not just in name but in reality.
Sheyan reckoned that with his current strength, he still didn’t possess the guts to attack even if he could sneak right up to it.
Such immeasurable pressure was simply too dreadful. Sheyan estimated that the savage might of this boss tier Licker could very possibly be on par with Kraken Paul, or even the Great Leonopteryx of the Avatar world!
Evidently, Mbenga’s heated emotions had been thoroughly shaken by this menacing boss, as he rapidly composed himself.
A good news was that Mbenga seemed to have retrieved a fragment of his memory from this familiar environment, and begun leading the way.
They both then set foot on a tiny deserted lane, that appeared to have been created by an alarmed stray dog that dashed wildly within this foggy land.
Their journey was unexpectedly filled with many ambushing Arachnidacrabs and various Ndiapaya tribe snares....luckily, the humans’ odour was masked by the herb medicine. Those Arachnidacrabs simply lazed around dormant. As for the Ndipaya tribe snares, Mbenga seemed to have them within his palms, allowing them to advance rapidly.
After roughly venturing further for half an hour, they both discovered a distinctly man-made sacrificial altar and climbed up consecutively. The fog ahead seemed to be thinning away, and their eyes spectated a vast spacious and empty plaza.
This plaza was estimated to be the size of a football field, and though it appeared rather crude, it was extremely levelled with a wide bedding of stone. Some distinct decorative designs had been engraved onto its surface, where they appeared coiled resembling that of serpents.
At the center of this plaza, was a monumental but strange stone statue. It was indeed an extremely queer statue – an enormous serpent coiling a full round, with its mouth swallowing its own tail! The eyes of this enormous serpent were shining luminously amidst the fog, appearing to be crafted with exceptionally rare gems; brimming with a bewitching ambience of mystic, serenity and dignity.
Due to the unsophisticated craftsmanship, the plaza was crude and gruff, but a single stone statue transformed the entire architecture into one of the highest quality. Anyone residing here would develop a desire to worship in reverence. One could imagine the Ndipaya tribesmen offering series of tributes during grand occasions of the past.
Surrounding the plaza were many wooden Ndipaya tribe huts. However, these huts were a tier larger than the ones in the other villages, and their pillars and roofs were even laced with ornamental architecture. Apart from malevolent looking serpent heads, they were other totems that exhibited abstract significance. Just any random hut here was equivalent to the grand halls of other villages. Evidently, this had been the core assembly for the Ndipaya tribe.
Without a doubt, this place had already been abandoned. Not a single trace of existence was left. When Mbenga witnessed the plaza, his throat emitted choking sounds as his body trembled violently. He started clutching his own head, as the scar across his forehead reddened brightly.
In response, Sheyan immediately offered him several words of consolation and poured him a few mouthfuls of rum. Instead, Mbenga continued in his bizarre state, seemingly being incapable of escape within a short span of time.
At present, Sheyan could only seize the time and first flung Mbenga aside. After a hasty search across the plaza, he realized that an incredibly tragic and catastrophic massacre had befallen this place.
Multitudes of ghastly white bones were scattered in every hut, bones that appeared distorted and fractured; implying of the cruel fighting before these inhabitants had perished. Large puddles of purplish-black stains, as well as streams like rivers, extended out incessantly.
Apart from that, Sheyan discovered a handful of weird and grotesque bones. The size of the structure of these bones exceeded that of average humans. Moreover, these weird, grotesque bones were scarred with javelins, pikes and arrowheads; indicated the resistance of those Ndipaya tribesmen of past were not totally in vain.
To his pleasant surprise, Sheyan managed to harvest numerous benefits from the largest hut, that grand hall hut directly behind the plaza’s stone statue. He found scattered gold fragments, a single ‘Silver Beetle’, a grain of diamond, and even a golden egg he hadn’t come across yet.
That golden egg was the size of a fist; utterly flawless and of the highest quality. Its periphery radiated with a pattern of scorching brilliance. Nobody could tell if this was the work of an expert artisan or laid by a genuine creature. After appraising it, his nightmare imprint feedbacked that similar state.
[ Pandora’s Egg. All other attributes: ? ? ? ? ]
Undoubtedly, this item was vastly superior to those archaic beetles, and could even be described as something Sheyan with his current capabilities could never acquire. That was why only its name was reflected, while other detailed information was omitted. Furthermore, Sheyan had found this golden egg in a corner, where the dust seemingly covered almost half of it. This was sufficient to indicate a state of utmost crisis and fleeing they were in, that even such a valuable item had been accidentally neglected.
After a series of hasty searches, Sheyan stood at the edge of the altar once again; squinting his eyes as he silently surveyed the foggy plaza. Without a doubt, this was a core territory of the Ndipaya tribe, a place analogous to the Mosake temple. However, even this place had been razed and laid waste. This very fact hinted at a cruel reality.....the inhabitants of the core inner reaches of the Kijuju Marshland, the Ndipaya barbarians, had very possibly been exterminated.
As he spectated this scene, Sheyan took deep breaths as he seemingly reflected on the tragic events of old, where massive hordes of Lickers, Plaga hosts, and even freakish creatures like the mutated Arachnidacrabs had flooded in. Under the leadership of that gigantic blood-red Licker, they pressed in and swept the elite warriors of the Ndipaya tribe into deadly ruins.
Though they fought hard in resistance, it was impossible to impede the raid of these freaks of nature; each successively perishing in their homes. Knowing the helplessness of the situation, a remnant of elite warriors and elders had hastily gathered the wealth of the tribe and made their escape.
Amidst the chaos, a portion of wealth had been left behind, a single golden egg tumbling down from a bundle of cloth, as it rolled silently to a corner; only seeing the light of the day when Sheyan finally picked it up...
"Therefore, for what reason did the Ndipaya people, who painstakingly established their kingdom for centuries, suffer such a horrifying calamity…..?"
This doubt arose in Sheyan’s heart. Very quickly, he squinted his eyes; the exact reaction of Sheyan whenever he found his answer.
"Ah, the greatest possibility is most likely that..."