The Record of Unusual Creatures 1076 The Post-Battle North Pole
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"...Last month, the demons opened a portal, and left Coldpath as promised, and boy did they leave in style. To be honest, I was quite surprised myself. These demons gave me a feeling that they are more trustworthy and reliable than most others. Before they left, they had helped up clean up a number of the battlefield, and that helped our reconstruction work a lot." Claude continued as they went. "The temples within Coldpath are very resilient, and the battle did not destroy the buildings. So the holy sanctum's facilities are still intact, but the energy locus had shut down and there are many ma.s.sive spell blasts, so Coldpath is littered with the remnants of energy fields and arcane pollution. It's not fit for habitation now and getting rid of those takes time."
"The Netherrealm Clock Tower is still being sealed. The dimensional distortion within the tower had recovered after you ended that sinister ritual. But the tower itself has always been in a state of dimensional flux, and the incident before had reset the entire tower's dimensional sequence, leading to many mysterious new zones within the tower. In view of safety, the Council of Elders has temporarily forbidden all regular demon hunters from approaching the tower. We have set up an exploratory team to investigate, and until a new map of the place is produced, the clock tower will remain sealed."
"So all in all, the situation is turning for the better, the worst had pa.s.sed and our problem now is manpower. The Council of Elders had already recalled all demon hunters in the southern hemisphere back north. This is our power base after all. A few other roaming squadrons have been reorganized as well, after the recall, about 80 % of all hunting parties will cease activity. Now it is crucial that we secure what we have, and we are thinking of disbanding the hunters; perhaps reorganise them into the Night.w.a.tchers is the only option."
"That should have been done long ago. The hunt had already ended, what do you expect those parties to do? Hunt rabbits?"
"Ugh... the hunting parties are... Alright, fair enough." Claude let out an awkward laugh. "Time has changed, times will really change."
"Times had changed long ago." Vivian nodded slightly. "Have the otherworldlings contacted you yet?"
Claude's expression changed a little, and while the hunt had indeed ended, old habits die hard, and it is especially true for the old guard who had been on it for over a thousand year. "We have received a missive from the Athens Sanctuary, and Elder Ymir's seal is on it..."
"What's on it?" Hao Ren asked casually.
Hesitation appeared on Claude's face. "This..."
"Just speak for goodness sake." Vivian glared at Claude. "I have people on both sides, and if you can't tell me I can just go ask those at Athens. What's with you playing all curt and secretive with me?"
Claude coughed dryly. "Ahem, actually, there's nothing confidential. The missive mentioned a new organization called the Shadow Council. The Council of Elders is contemplating meeting the otherworldlings in the near future... but there have been differing opinions about the location and the representatives."
"Normal, and I think the Athens Sanctuary is probably arguing over the same thing," Vivian said as she crossed her arms.. "You lot have been at each other's throat for so long, and now comes a sudden peace talk, who would not be worried about ambushes during the talks?"
They continued on speaking as they went and only after reaching the plaza of the clock tower did Hao Ren realized the extent of the changes that the demon hunters had undergone, and the situation of this Arctic zone. Finally, they were brought by Claude to an imposing structure beside the tower.
The building was similar to the rest of the facilities around and was made by ma.s.sive blocks of impermeable ice and subtle magics flowed within the st.u.r.dy ice blocks. The building was ma.s.sive and awe-inspiring, looking almost like the ancient Gothic cathedrals that carried a militaristic flair as well as stature to it.
"The h.o.a.rfrost Sanctum, the seat of the Council of Elders." Claude stood before the door. "Follow me, Elder Gregowen is waiting for you."
Contrary to how it looked on the outside, the inner part of the sanctum was not chilly. Even as he stepped into the h.o.a.rfrost Sanctum Hao Ren felt warm air in the current. This was probably magic. The group walked for a quite a bit in the cathedral-like building, and as they went they saw many demon hunters going out and about the corridors, and a few of them were acquaintances, who stopped for a moment to say h.e.l.lo before going on their way. It was just like Claude had said. The Council of Elders were short on manpower.
And finally, they had reached Elder Gregowen's office.
This was just a simple room in the h.o.a.rfrost Sanctum, aside from being a little wider, it looks about as spartan as the rest of the room. A ma.s.sive bookshelf was on one side of the rectangular room, and weapons, armor, and ritual items hung on the other, and they looked worse for wear, clearly not items meant for decoration. A warm fireplace was cackling as it burnt by the side of the room, two figures stood by the fireplace, and one was the elderly Gregowen, and the other Ha.s.se.
They were now the two most senior figures in the Council of Elders.
Claude bowed as he left the room, and Gregowen immediately went forth to greet his guests. "I am very pleased to see you again, my lady the Countess."
"That's a drastic change in manners." Vivian sn.i.g.g.e.red at the old demon hunter. "I'm still not used to it I must say."
Gregowen returned the smile. "Well, since we now know the truth."
The group huddled by the warm fireplace and Rollie immediately took Lil Pea out to let the little one warm herself. She even diligently took a few wood chips from her pocket, as she stood by, eager to serve. Even Ha.s.se, with his paralyzed face, was gawking at the scene. He dared not imagine what the cat had undergone to make her that subservient.
Even Gregowen was stunned by the scene, but he quickly s.h.i.+fted his attention back to the matter at hand. Looking at Hao Ren, he said. "I've read your message, and you said a demon hunter called Zhao Xi was possessed?"
"Possessed... is not the exact term, but you're not wrong either." Hao Ren nodded. "She had since made full recovery, but we are afraid that there are still some divine powers left behind in Coldpath, and so our trip this time is to investigate the place."
"This is not a problem." Gregowen continued. "The sanctum was only saved because of you. Your army pacified the entirety of Coldpath and left without any ha.s.sle, so I think we can give you that much trust, and your investigation is really for our own safety."
But at that very moment, Ha.s.se interjected. "I have no qualms about letting you lot investigate, but we still need to take into account that some will still be wary. Coldpath is after all the home of the demon hunters and we have lived here for generations. Everyone is looking forward to a peaceful life after the war, and an investigating party now would... raise some alarm."
"Let them squirm in their pants then." Vivian shrugged. "You demon hunters have been running amok for centuries now, since when you guys started losing your edge? We are here to help you get rid of the cause of the whole thing. Don't come crying when someone actually dies."
Gregowen threw Ha.s.se a disapproving look, as he squinted and whispered. "That's why I told you to keep your mouth shut..."
Vivian glared at both of them. "Can you two not treat me like I'm deaf and invisible?"
Ha.s.se coughed and immediately diverted the topic. "Ahem, so that settles it. Not sure if you would need any help with the investigation?"
"There's probably nothing you could help, we have our own ways and means." Hao Ren waved off. "Just get us a guide, someone bred and raised in Coldpath and is familiar with the place."
Ha.s.se nodded. "Then White Flame is the best for the job. That child grew up in Coldpath, and she just happened to be at Coldfrost Citadel."
Lily immediately perked up as she heard White Flame's name. "Oh yeah, I was just about to ask why isn't White Flame here. Isn't she your lackey?"
"...White Flame is just my student. She too has her own matters to attend to." Ha.s.se was taken aback when he was confronted by the 'former lord' and stuttered for a moment. "She just came out of Coldpath and is resting today. I'll get someone to call for her."
"Forget about that. By the sounds of things... let us go to her." Vivian interrupted Ha.s.se. "Since we are looking for her help after all."
Ha.s.se's expression changed a little as if he was concerned about something. But alas, he kept silent and nodded. "That's fine too."
The Record of Unusual Creatures 1076 The Post-Battle North Pole
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The Record of Unusual Creatures 1076 The Post-Battle North Pole summary
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