However, Kieran leaned back on the carriage leisurely despite the gaze sizing him up like picking an item in a store and even though he noticed a few more similar presences who thought they were concealed, he didn't change his movements at all.
On the other hand, Jyaichi who sat beside him vanished silently, together with Torstar and Fanner who were investigating further ahead.
"What's wrong 2567?"
Inside the carriage, the sharp-sensed princess noticed that the atmosphere wasn't right.
"Nothing," Kieran said calmly.
Out of her trust for Kieran, Mary didn't press the topic further, she continued burying herself in communicating with [Thorn Blade]. Meanwhile, outside the carriage, a silent battle broke out.
A faint bloody stench filled the air.
Suddenly, a figure dashed out from the forest and went after Kieran like an arrow let loose.
Then… he had his chest pierced by a long narrow rapier.
[Dandelion Pierce] that hid in the shadows acted as the best assassin, not only discrete but straightforward as well.
The figure whose chest was perforated looked down at [Dandelion Pierce] with an inconceivable gaze but the rapier didn't care, it flew out and slashed the figure's throat right away.
Blood splashed and the figure was decapitated.
Jyaichi, Torstar, and Fanner also returned at that moment, none of them were wounded.
"A bunch of amateurs," Fanner commented.
"With decent strength," Fanner then added.
Torstar was nodding beside him, agreeing to his comment; Jyaichi was inspecting the body which [Dandelion Pierce] killed but he shook his head in the end.
They weren't the people he was familiar with, and no obvious or familiar marks were on their bodies.
"Move the fallen wagon, we'll continue forward," Kieran ordered.
The trio quickly moved out and carried out the task.
The other one who made a move at the same time was the person who threw the judgmental gaze toward Kieran.
The person was moving slowly, carefully towards the wagon.
His technique was different from common [Undercover] skill, thus the trio didn't notice him in the first place. When the person saw that the trio was dealing with the blockage, he grinned.
Everything was proceeding as planned.
Kieran was still in enjoying the "victory time", so they wouldn't have known all those dead people were just a smokescreen. He was the true leader behind this little ambush.
Closer than ever!
Looking at the carriage in front, he could even hear the breathing from the little princess.
He too showed sympathy towards the young, innocent princess but once he thought about the things "someone" said, he discarded the meaningless sympathy.
Would it have allowed him to live until this day?
Could it allow him to grasp the Origin Force like the Prairie King?
As long as...
As long as he got the princess, that item would be within his grasp!
Until then, I'll be…
His palm finally touched the carriage where Mary was but before he rushed in and seized Mary, he stood on the spot frozen, because he heard breathing behind him.
Without a second thought, a gloomy dagger appeared in his hand and was driven towards the person behind him but…
Not only did it miss, but he also didn't even see the person's figure behind him!
All he got was breathing that once again that came from behind.
Sweat broke out uncontrollably on his forehead.
The leader of the ambush lunged another stab behind him and it missed again without surprise.
He didn't stop there though because after the second time missing the target, he ran towards the carriage with Mary in it.
He wanted to break in and seize Mary.
No matter who the person was behind him, with a hostage at hand, even Kieran would have scruples to move against him.
With the thought in his mind, the person dashed out with a never before seen speed but when he was about to reach the carriage, the carriage door was opened from the inside.
A black figure was glistening under the sunlight and was looking darker than black by his presence.
The person's face turned sour.
"2567!" he cried.
He didn't understand how Kieran who should have fallen into his trap appeared inside the carriage, similar to how he didn't understand the gap of strength between them.
"Look into my eyes."
After that, Ganarde lost every single one of his thoughts.
The Trial of Sects wasn't important anymore.
His original goal didn't matter anymore.
All he had in his heart now was the person that he ought to follow for the rest of his life.
Ganarde knelt on one knee.
The convoy resumed its journey, the newly joined Ganarde didn't follow the convoy though, instead, he hid in the forest, trailing them.
For Ganarde of the Ape Sect, the forest was the best battlefield for him.
He could maximize his potential in there, whether in terms of battle or reconnaissance.
Kieran sat back beside Jyaichi on the driver seat.
"Ape Sect eh?" He muttered.
Ganarde originating from Ape Sect was kind of a surprise to Kieran but what surprised him the most was that Ganarde knew about the matters regarding the [Unknown Goatskin] from Perry Kaner.
Of course, Ganarde was the target that Perry Kaner chose, otherwise why would she tell him about the [Unknown Goatskin].
Viper Sect leader hoped to borrow Kieran's hand in killing Ganarde, thus bringing Ape Sect into the fray, therefore she could fish in troubled waters.
As for controlling Ganarde with [Mesly Ring]?
It would be the best-case scenario for her.
[Mesly Ring] was widely known because of Mary's aunt, Jeanne James, and those who had their eyes on the ring were definitely not the minority, let alone the sects.
The sects would probably take precautious amidst their watchful gaze at the ring, using certain methods to test whether a person was controlled by [Mesly Ring] or not.
Kieran could already imagine Perry Kaner contacting Ape Sect the moment Ganarde moved out.
She didn't even have to alter the facts, all she had to do was conceal some details and it would be a sufficient reason for Ape Sect to target Kieran, whether it was for their disciple or because of the [Mesly Ring].
"Aqua Ape, Flame Ape, and Blade Ape eh?"
Kieran was pondering the intel he got from Ganarde just now.
Unlike the fallen Viper Sect and Raven Sect, the lineal inheritance in Ape Sect was intact.
Other than the common disciple, there were three major branches: Aqua Ape, Flame Ape, and Blade Ape.
While on top of the three branches was… White Ape!
Ganarde was obviously not from the branches, and there was even less of a possibility of him being the White Ape.
In fact, he traveled to train himself to get into either Aqua Ape, Flame Ape, or Blade Ape, thus falling into Perry Kaner's scheme.
Based on what Ganarde said, the leader of the three branches could rival an army on their own respectively.
As for the one above the three, the White Ape?
It wasn't something that a common disciple like Ganarde could get close too.
"How powerful is the White Ape?"
"Same as the Prairie King? Or even more powerful?"
While Kieran was thinking about the enemy, they were getting closer to the southern reinforcement campsite.
An ominous air was swirling above the campsite, rumbling like a dark cloud.