In the stadium, the crowd burst into resounding cheers upon witnessing the sight of Grandar destroying a treant with a single punch. More and more people began paying attention to the situation over at Roel’s side.
The Giantwood Forest had definitely traumatized quite a few students in the Saint Freya Academy, leaving them with a painful memory they would never forget about. Senior students would begin gritting their teeth hatefully whenever that place was mentioned. Rather than the seemingly innocuous name of ‘Giantwood Forest’, they believed that it should have been named the ‘Nightmare Forest’ instead, for that place was filled with malevolent intent toward all who dared to journey into its depths.
Everything looked calm and peaceful when the students first entered the field, but in truth, the first wave of monsters was already right before them. They were no other than the vile treants who had disguised themselves as normal trees.
What was even more infuriating was that the treants chose to bide their time to scout out the enemies that posed a greater threat before finally making their move. While the students were still preoccupied with the Demon Wolves, they would lock on to the stronger students and abruptly launch a barrage of powerful attacks.
It was just like the saying, ‘The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind’. In the other trials, the students who fought the bravest and the hardest would receive the greatest reward, but the opposite was true in the Giantwood Forest. Those who performed the best against the Demon Wolves would be mercilessly struck down by the treants.
And once the strongest ones were picked out, the remaining students would be powerless to turn things around, even if they chose to huddle close together and cover each other’s backs at this point.
This was also the reason why it was always a team wipe for the Giantwood Forest.
But unexpectedly, someone actually managed to outwit the treants this time around, and what drove the crowd even more excited was the terrifying skeleton giant he had manifested to punish those vile treants. The moment the giant smashed through the thick tree trunk of a treant, the crowd suddenly felt a blaze of passion running through their bodies.
“Holy shit! He might really just be able to pull it off!”
“Gooooooooo! Exact vengeance for us all!”
Endless cheers roared from the crowd.
Over at the VIP platform, Glint’s face turned livid upon seeing the development of events. The young Ringbearer felt like he had been humiliated in Lilian’s presence, and his only relief was that Lilian wasn’t paying any heed to him at the moment.
A rare hint of emotion surfaced on Lilian’s usually impassive face. Her purple irises dilated, and she even shot to her feet out of sheer agitation. She wasn’t just astonished by Grandar’s appearance since she had already sensed a powerful existence hidden in him earlier on. What really shook her up was the way he manifested his mana.
“Is that… creation-type magic?”
Just like me?
Lilian could hardly conceal her shock at all, and Grandar’s following movements only further verified her guesses. A series of doubts began to surface in her mind.
Is that the reason why Emperor Lukas stopped me from coming into contact with Roel? Or is it just a coincidence here?
No, that’s not right. While we’re lacking in intelligence regarding Roel Ascart’s transcendent abilities, we do have a grasp of what his father, Carter Ascart, is capable of. Carter Ascart is definitely not a creation transcendent, and the order for me not to approach the Ascarts would include Carter as well. Could the two matters be unrelated to one another?
While Lilian was swiftly making conjectures on the situation, Roel had started going on a rampage.
Those living in the present era probably knew next to nothing about treants, but Roel happened to be an exception here. After all, he had one planted back at home. In the days he spent smuggling Kayde back to the Ascart Fiefdom, the two of them had chatted about a lot of different matters.
In truth, treants could be divided into two categories, similar to saint beasts and demonic beasts. Treants with Origin Attributes tended to be intelligent and amicable whereas those without one were likely to be evil and cunning. The vile treants liked to stoke violence and bloodshed so that they could absorb the casualty’s flesh and blood. They had the habit of picking off the stronger adversaries in a battle first, which was indeed a good strategy since they were likely able to pull off a successful surprise attack.
Shortly after arriving at the Giantwood Forest, Roel noticed the presence of a large number of dead corpses and carcasses around the towering trees, and the faint but familiar mana pulsations he felt from the surroundings convinced him that there were treants in the vicinity. It was just that he couldn’t clearly discern which ones were the treants and which ones were the real trees, which could put him in a dangerous predicament if he were to make the wrong judgment.
However, now that all of the enemies had chosen to leap out on their own accord, there was no longer any reason for him to hold back anymore.
It had been a year now since he reached Origin Level 4, but he hadn’t really had any chance to test out his powers. This was probably the ideal moment for him to reveal his true prowess, especially since he was in quite a pickle at the moment, being completely surrounded by enemies while his ‘allies’ were being picked off one after another.
The only silver lining in the situation was that the treants appeared to have gotten careless. They thought that victory was in their grasp, so they didn’t bother uprooting for greater mobility.
This carelessness would prove to be fatal, for the immobile treants were nothing more than stationary target practice for the skeleton giant. This lapse in judgment had pretty much determined the outcome of the battle.
Yet another explosion echoed through the forest as Grandar’s fist shot forth with blazing mana that crackled intimidatingly. To him, the massive bodies of the Origin Level 4 treants were no more than slightly thicker pieces of paper that took a bit more force to rip through. His fist smashed through the tree trunks like bullets, creating an explosion of wooden fragments.
The treants didn’t give up despite being in a desperate position. They began focusing their massive vines toward Grandar, hoping to tie down the giant’s body temporarily so as to buy some time to uproot themselves from the ground. As long as they could uproot, they might just be able to slowly regain their momentum and make a comeback here.
So, a grand battle between the giant and the treants unfolded. It reminded Roel of the giant mecha battles he had seen a lot of in his previous life, where every single movement of the behemoths caused the ground to quake. The surviving students looked at the epic battle happening above their heads with frightful looks in their eyes. This had far exceeded what they had expected to face on their first day in the academy.
Meanwhile, in the stadium where the happenings in the dungeon were being telecasted, the atmosphere had crescendoed to a climax. This real-time boxing match broadcast had brought everyone’s emotions to a new high, and celebratory roars would echo each time Grandar took down a treant.
“Everyone, we’ve found the name of the freshman. He’s Roel Ascart! Let us offer our encouragement to the hero who’s punishing those vile treants in our place!”
“Ro-el! Ro-el! Ro-el!”
The host of the event climbed onto a nearby stool and began bringing the crowd along with him. The responses he received were massive as the hot-blooded youths began raising their arms up high, emulating Grandar’s movements. More and more students were joining in on the ‘Ro-el’ chant.
“Quick, adjust the payout ratio!”
The gambling dealers quickly bellowed out orders to their subordinates, causing the payout ratio for ‘Roel Ascart’ to quickly began to plummet. Even so, there were still many who continued doubling down their stakes on him.
A celebratory spell shot a firework into the sky, producing a brilliant outburst of light that lit up the faces of the teachers and students alike. Over on the balcony of the stadium, Chris let out a peal of hearty laughter as she shook her hand holding onto a cigarette excitedly.
“That’s right, hit that bastard there! Well done! Hahaha…”
“M-Miss Chris, please calm down a little!”
Under the intent stares coming from the other staff members, Chris’ students tried their best to calm down their teacher but to no avail.
Glint had risen to his feet and left the stadium just as the cheering started. Lilian had also settled back onto her chair to enjoy her cup of tea. She didn’t bother looking on at how Grandar punched and kicked those treants down. Unlike the feverish crowd, she had already seen what she intended to see.
The Ringbearers this year can already be confirmed.
Another powerful upward hook that carried the force of an erupting volcano was dished out, exploding the tree trunk of the final treant into wooden fragments while sending the other parts of its body flying all over the place. Knowing that his work was finally done, Roel breathed a sigh of relief.
After the remains of the final treant fell to the ground, the few remaining survivors were safely transported out of the trial, as if they had finished their job as spectators by witnessing this historical moment in the making. At the same time, Roel and Grandar were finally able to take a break.
The mana shrouding Roel slowly extinguished, causing Grandar’s massive body to dissipate. His spirit guide had already grown to the size of a ball by now, but even so, it was still busy rushing about to absorb the mana of the enemies Roel had felled.
Roel took a look at the tattered remains all around him and sighed deeply. Given the sheer number of treants he had killed and the Demon Wolves he had inadvertently crushed over the course of the battle, he probably cleared over half of the enemies in the Giantwood Forest by himself. Given the unimpressive efficiency of the spirit guide, it would probably take a long while for it to finish collecting all that mana.
So, he looked for a sweet spot to sit down and rest a bit. The night sky scenery had cleared up a little now that the massive treants were gone, allowing him to enjoy the beautiful silver moon while catching his breath.
According to the usual procedure in ‘Night of the Demons’, the demonic beasts would attack in waves, each stronger than before. Only after clearing the final wave of Origin Level 4 demonic beasts would one earn the right to challenge the Ring Guardian.
Of course, not every Origin Level 4 demonic beast was as cunning and massive as the vile treants. In fact, the rampaging treants were far more difficult to deal with as compared to their counterparts in the other trials. However, it just so happened that this trial was apt for Roel since it allowed him and Grandar to go on a rampage.
It was indeed exhilarating, but he still ended up having to hold back a little.
Roel’s advancement had led to a considerable increase in his mana capacity, but Grandar was growing correspondingly stronger as well, resulting in an increase in his mana consumption. Due to that, they had to aim for one shot one kill in order to end the battle quickly.
Watching as the spirit guide busied itself, Roel quickly began trying to recover his mana. In truth, he could have cleaned up the enemies far more easily, but he knew that the preliminary selections would be telecasted to the rest of the academy. He figured that most students would probably focus their attention on Nora and Charlotte, but he did make quite a commotion by helping Paul out earlier in the day, so there would likely be some attention on him too.
Due to that, he chose to work with Grandar whom he had known for the longest time. Brute strength was simple and had nothing much to show for, but it was deceptively difficult to deal with in a battle due to its frightening destructive prowess.
It was fortunate that there would be no surveillance in the battle against the Ring Guardian, so he would really be able to go all out without worrying too much.
After some time, the spirit guide finally finished gathering all of the mana in the area and returned over to Roel’s side. By then, Roel had already managed to recover a fair bit, and his breathing had also calmed down. He rose back to his feet, and fog began setting into the forest once more. The spirit guide released a glimmer of light before leading the way forward.
The fog set in much faster compared to the first time around. It took mere seconds for his silhouette to fully vanish under the concealment of the fog.
The final fight had begun.
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