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"Stop!" Otto raised his hand, signaling them to stop. After their team separated from the main group, the five of them had walked for almost half a day with the iron cage covered by a black cloth.
After Otto shouted for everyone to stop, he went ahead alone, and inspected the ground below some rather thick trees.
"Sire Otto, did you notice something?" Qin Lun and Tony slowly walked up from behind him.
"Look at the bottom of these trees." A trace of joy lit up Otto's eyes as he pointed ahead.
It had already been three days since the exorcist team had entered Maize Forest. As they went deeper into the large forest, the treetops above became denser. Even when the sun was straight above their heads, only half of the sunlight could penetrate through the forest.
Qin Lun stared ahead, the trees were tall and large, dead leaves littered the ground, and the sunlight that came through created mottled shadows. He couldn't see anything special. The only thing that might be different from other areas was that this area had a lot of mushrooms growing all over the ground. Layers of them grew like umbrellas.
"We can actually get this close and still not be noticed." A trace of excitement flashed through Tony's face, and he suppressed the excitement in his heart. "It looks like this witch has placed all her attention on controlling the magic organisms. Lady Nova also hasn't sent any fireworks… it looks like our judgment was correct!"
"Are you guys saying that… we're close to the witch's lair?" Qin Lun's expression finally changed as he understood what Tony meant.
"Yes, I once read in a book that witches who live in forests tend to plant mushrooms around their lairs." Will walked over as well and started talking in high spirits, "Rice cannot be grown in the forest, but mushrooms are also a good source of food."
"Sire Tony, we can let it out now. It can surely help us find the witch." Otto looked at the carriage Frank was driving and seriously stated.
"Okay, I will let it out now." A light flitted through Tony's eyes, and he walked over to the carriage, pulling off the black tarpaulin.
"Clang!" There really was a large iron cage in the carriage. Tony unlocked the cage and guided the thing within out.
The creature was muscular and stood upright, its arms extended to its knees, and its nails were sharp as blades. Its entire body was covered in black fur. It seemed to have just come to its senses after a deep sleep, so its gaze was blurred. But the dark green eyes of the beast revealed the cruelty and ruthlessness within.
When it saw Tony, it slightly leaned over as its chest heaved. The pointed ears on its head were erect as it bared its long fangs. Saliva flowed from its mouth, and it snarled lowly.
"Silence, b.a.s.t.a.r.d!" He didn't know when, but Tony was suddenly holding a long whip. The sound of the whip striking the beast could be heard as he yelled.
"Wuuu…" A trace of fear colored the beast's eyes, and its ears drooped down like an obedient dog crouching on the ground.
"Werewolf!" Will's eyes widened as he exclaimed.
So such an organism actually existed. Qin Lun observed the werewolf in front of Tony, an understanding light flitted through his eyes.
Although he had heard many stories of the witches and their evil organisms ever since he entered this world, even encountering gargoyles and what appeared to be a ghost, everything still felt somewhat unrealistic. The appearance of the werewolf seemed to disperse the last layer of fog over this world and convinced him of the dark forces hiding in the shadows.
Could it be that the plague of Odia Region was really the witches' masterpiece? Perhaps there wasn't any other hidden secret behind Steven's death or maybe Steven was imprisoned in some witch’s lair? Qin Lun had no choice but to make more conjectures about Steven's death.
No, even if he throws Steven out of the equation, the strange state Little Miller was in definitely has something to do with the Albert Family. Furthermore, how would he explain the white figure? That isn't the work of a witch!
The gears spun round and round in Qin Lun's mind. No matter what, his other premonition was right. This investigation mission would allow him to find a new trail and truly uncover Steven's mystery, as well as the origin of the plague.
"Go, find the witch's whereabouts." Tony rubbed the werewolf's head, then whispered into its ear.
A fierce light shone in the werewolf's eyes, and it raced forward on four limbs, jumping into a large tree. Its sharp nails firmly grabbed the tree trunk and disappeared from view after leaping from tree to tree.
"Follow it!" Tony seemed to have some kind of strange connection with the werewolf, allowing him to know where it was at any time. He waved his hand at the others and led the way.
"Sire Tony, to think that you were a beast tamer. You were even able to tame a werewolf!" Qin Lun scooched closer to Tony and quietly spoke.
"Hehe, I cannot be considered a true beast tamer. This werewolf has served our family even before I was aware of it. It usually stays in the second fortress' prison, so very few people know about it." Tony spoke in a very good mood as he explained to Qin Lun without further prompting.
Looking at Tony's happy and excited appearance, Qin Lun had a thought. He asked probingly, "Sire Tony, you seem to really look forward to fighting the witch, is this perhaps your first time seeing a real witch?"
"Of course not, however, this is the first time ever since Steven's accident." Tony's mood dampened.
"You older brother, Steven Albert?" Qin Lun pretended to ask in surprise. "I'm very sorry, I heard that he had an accident during his newcomer trial.h It is truly regretful, but how come he had never gone through the trial before at his age?"
Based on the grave, Steven Albert was already over thirty on the day of his death and was Tony's older brother. In contrast with Tony, this experienced exorcist, the Steven in rumors was more like a hot-headed exorcist newbie. This was also one of the doubts Qin Lun could not solve.
"Steven was different from me. Ever since he was young, he never liked to fight. He was even more against it after he got married." Tony's face was somewhat dim and uncertain, "Actually, before his accident, I was not at Albert Castle. I was traveling outside. I was only called back to the castle after the event."
"Oh, that's strange indeed. Are you sure that Steven died by a witch's hand?" Qin Lun narrowed his eyes and carefully avoided making Tony angry, "Oh, I'm sorry. I should not be questioning you about your brother."
"It's fine, I know what you are suspicious about. Even I was unable to believe it when I first heard that Steven, who never liked to fight, would suddenly decide to single-handedly go start trouble with a witch." Tony sighed and bitterly smiled.
"However, there was a reason for it. Steven's wife was attacked by a magic organism when she went out… in order to protect a pair of children near her, she was seriously injured and pa.s.sed away the next day. That's why…"
A trace of understanding appeared on Qin Lun's face. He seemed to finally understand all the twists and turns behind the scenes. His wife suddenly died tragically, while his son was infected with the plague by the magic organisms. No wonder Steven, who did not like to fight, would be so heartbroken and grieved that he would crazily rush into Maize Forest, where the witches gathered. The result was that he was killed inside and left behind a pair of orphans.
The explanation the Albert Castle gave to the outside world made sense now. No wonder the exorcists firmly believed that the plague was caused by witches. They even decided to ignore the huge price they would have to pay for breaking the Millennium Contract, forming a plan to fight the witches.
"Was Steven's wife named Mary?" Qin Lun finally asked after settling all the questions from before.
"Mary? Who's that? Steven's wife was Nina." Tony looked thrown off for a moment, then replied without much thought.
"You don't know Mary?" Qin Lun's pupils contracted, and he was just about to ask more when he heard screams of fear come from the other side.
"AH!" The cry of fear came from the young exorcist, Will. The other people were startled and turned their heads to him.
Will, who was on their left, no longer stood there, while the stem of a giant plant appeared ahead of them. The plant had very strange appearances, ten or so large leaves were spread on the ground, a brightly colored stamen was among them, emitting a thick fragrance. It was like a giant lotus flower on ground instead of water.
One of the plant leaves had curled up like a rolled-up pastry, wrapping Will from head to toe, like a piece of wrapped rice.
"It's a giant man-eating flower!" Tony wore a grave face, "We need to cut off its runner first, or Will will be choked to death!"
"We really shouldn't have let this child come." Otto shook his head and took a large axe from behind him as he headed for the giant man-eating flower.
The giant man-eating flower had five stems that crowded together and became one. If they wanted to cut down the one that had Will, they had to defeat the other two beside it first. They were unlikely to save Will in a short amount of time.
"I promised his mother that I would not let him die here." Otto's expression turned for the worse as he hesitated, then turned to Tony.
"Let's do it. We haven't seen the witch yet, we can't just let a companion die a meaningless death like this." Tony hesitated a bit then nodded.
Qin Lun was somewhat at loss at the two's interaction, however, Otto and Tony's next action finally made him understand what they were planning to do. He couldn't help but bitterly smile. The two of them actually each took out a shotgun.
The large caliber shotgun was rather strong and crammed with steel b.a.l.l.s. Two guns were enough to abolish the two stems in front of them. Before Will was choked, they would be able to save him. However, the sound of the guns was rather loud…
"Bang, bang!" following the loud sounds, the two man-eating flowers were immediately turned into a mess by the steel b.a.l.l.s. All of its leaves were withdrawn, revealing the one that was holding Will.
Watching the scene as Otto and Tony fought, Qin Lun sighed. Such a loud sound, even if the witch was deaf, she would still hear it. Perhaps she was busy controlling the magic organisms to monitor Nova and the others, but she would now certainly notice their team that had already arrived at her front door.
"So-sorry!" Will wiped the mucus from the man-eating flower off his face as he blushed, "I lost awareness for a moment."
"The werewolf found the witch's cabin!" Tony suddenly raised his head as his eyes shined brightly, "It's around five hundred meters ahead of us!"∇ ∇