The walls of his mind were incredibly sturdy after the various projects and struggles that Noah had gone through. That made him able to use the devouring properties of his mental energy again without worrying about negative consequences.
The hunting team mostly focused on the rank 4 magical beasts living on the path that the human troops would have to trail, but those beings were too weak for Noah's requirements. He needed wills capable of enlarging his mental sphere, and he also wanted to push his body toward the peak of the middle tier in the process.
So, he usually left the hunting teams alone whenever they reached a danger zone and went looking for prey that met his requirements.
The four organizations had colonized and cleared large areas of the new continent, but there were always territories that were too troublesome to make habitable.
The poisonous swamp was an example of that. The Empire had freed only a small part of that territory from the presence of magical beasts to place the castle and the formation that controlled the toxic water. Yet, the rest of that region was still filled by poisonous creatures that were too annoying to face as humans.
Luckily for Noah, his hybrid status made him particularly resistant to those poisonous properties, which allowed him able to hunt freely in those areas.
The hunting teams' targets were the poisonous swamp and the mountain chain with the Divine Stele in their missions. It was enough for them to create a safe passage, but Noah's presence allowed them to scare away entire packs without even lifting a finger.
Noah would release a growl when he reached those areas before leaving to search for the powerful beings hidden somewhere in those regions. His roars scared away most packs, which made the missions of the hunting teams far easier.
It wasn't easy to find a satisfying number of rank 5 magical beasts, but the new continent was still something belonging to the Immortal Lands. In that environment rich of "Breath", powerful creatures would often take control of large and isolated areas.
The mountain chain didn't have many creatures on that level. Noah could only find two rank 5 magical beasts in the lower tier during his missions with the hunting teams.
That wasn't surprising. The mountain chain had traces left by divine beings, which had pushed the Empire to clear that region multiple times, leading to a scarcity of packs that met Noah's standards.
The poisonous swamp, instead, reserved more surprises. The Empire had barely touched that territory. That vast area had remained in a wild state since the fall of the continent from the higher plane.
Noah could find four rank 5 magical beasts in the lower tier as he explored the swamp and two of them in the middle tier. There was even a danger zone in one of the areas where the water became more profound, which was densely populated by creatures on that level.
However, Noah felt forced to ignore that part of the swamp since his instincts started to scream whenever he neared it.
That sort of danger was something that only a being in the last stage of the heroic ranks could cause. There was a rank 6 danger zone inside that toxic environment.
Noah noted that location in his mind. He had done the same whenever he found traces of rank 6 magical beasts since he would need them once his body reached that level.
He knew that the requirements of his body could only increase as his rank rose. After all, it had taken him more than forty years to start to feel the arrival of the breakthrough even if he had eaten powerful creatures all the time.
Yet, even if he had two worlds where he could hunt almost freely, Noah knew that he would have to explore the depths of the sea at some point. That environment was too rich of powerful beasts to ignore it.
Noah performed the Body-inscription spell on his prey and let the properties of his mental energy devour the wills of the beasts that appeared inside his mind. Then, he ate the maimed corpses to nourish his body.
His mind gained weeks of training every time his mental energy ate those wills, and his body neared the limits of the middle tier as he fed on the flesh of those creatures. His dantian also improved at an incredible speed when he trained. It was clear that the war had brought immense benefits even to that organ.
Six months had to pass before all the injured cultivators became able to fight again, and the leaders of the three factions didn't hesitate to order another attack at that point.
The troops spread through the new continent gathered on the northeastern coast, near the encampment around the Divine Stele. They marched toward the wasteland situated at the end of that coastline when everything was ready.
The Empire was waiting for them. Its observers had noticed the arrival on the enemy army since it left the encampment, and the defending troops had always been ready for the deployment.
It was impossible to catch the Empire unprepared, especially since it was on edge all the time.
The army of the invaders attacked without hesitation and faced the usual defensive measures that they had already seen in the other territories. In that area, the Empire didn't manage to exploit the lifeforms to its advantage, so the protections were relatively weaker.
Yet, there were chained hybrids in that territory, which made the battle somewhat hard to win without losing some assets. Also, it was almost impossible not to lose heroic cultivators when the Empire was so focused on increasing the number of casualties on the enemy's side.
Noah couldn't go after the hybrids even if he wanted. Icy Stare kept him locked in a harsh battle that he didn't know how to win.
Her centers of power were on a higher level even if they were still in the same ranks and stages as Noah's, and her battle style was incredible.
Icy Stare would send various figures made of ice toward Noah while she kept on increasing the area of the sky that she could affect. Noah saw his opponent's offensive becoming harsher as the air around him froze and gave birth to different shapes, but his mind was too busy for him to worry about that.
He had activated the Divine Deduction technique since the beginning of the fight, but he was using it to find flaws in Icy Stare's battle style. He would have been satisfied even if he found a sort of habit of her as long as he could exploit it.
However, Icy Stare was perfect. She never repeated the same action twice, and she even had an exceptional understanding of her power.
Of course, Noah had tried to find a solution during the months spent hunting, but his meditations led to no answers. Icy Stare was just stronger than him.
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