Translator: Silavin & Tia
Translation Checker: PewPewLazerGun
Editor and Proofreader: Leo of Zion Mountain & Dhael Ligerkeys
The Small Stone Race clansmen that marched out of the cave were also around thirty centimetres tall. The surface of their bodies was not only covered in sharp and well-defined edges, but also shone with a glistening lustre. They were clearly different from the clansmen earlier who had been responsible for transporting rocks.
Looking at both sides, they seemed to be fairly equal in numbers. The invading Small Stone Race had around 1,000 clansmen among their ranks, and the same was true for the Small Stone Race clansmen who came marching out of the cave.
Both sides took up battle positions at the entrance of the cave, separated by a distance of several hundred metres between them. The Small Stone Race clansmen were lined up neatly in ranks and files that resembled a phalanx.
Furthermore, there were several clansmen holding stone hammers and stone clubs in both camps. Wielding these weapons made them look taller and fiercer. When they bared their fangs at each other, the cold light reflecting off their fangs looked even more sinister.
On the side of the Small Stone Race who came marching out of the cave, the largest Small Stone Race clansman among them came to stand at the front of the camp. He was holding a pair of stone hammers that were almost the same size as him. Walking along the front of the phalanx, he shouted out a series of battle cries in a rhythmic fashion.
Following his movements, all the clansmen began shouting in unison. Their shouts reverberated through the air incessantly, “Hah! Hah! Hah!”
Yang Kai watched the scene with a strange expression and whispered a question to Yue He, “Is this to boost morale before the battle?”
Yue He nodded, “Something like that.”
The Small Stone Race clansmen who came marching out of the cave were not the only ones performing this ritual. The invading Small Stone Race clansmen were doing the same. The actions on both sides were so similar that they looked like they were carved from the same mould. It didn’t take long for them to complete the ritual to boost morale.
Afterwards, both sides began to advance towards each other in an orderly manner. The distance of several hundred metres was closed in the blink of an eye as the two armies belonging to different Small Stone Race Clans charged towards each other. They soon became indistinguishable from one another.
Yang Kai and Yue He watched quietly.
The Small Stone Race clansmen might be small in size, but they were fierce and fearless in battle. Those with weapons would charge towards their enemies, raise their clubs and hammers high above their heads, and bring them down viciously. Oftentimes, it would only take one hit from a stone hammer to smash their enemy to pieces.
Meanwhile, those without weapons would lunge themselves at the enemy and engage each other in a melee. They would open their mouths to reveal their fangs and bite down hard on the bodies of their enemies. There was no doubt that their teeth were exceptionally sharp. Every bite was capable of tearing off pieces of rock from the bodies of their enemies.
During the fight, the sound of cries coming out of their mouths undulated throughout the battlefield!
For a time, the scene became extremely tragic. The Small Stone Race clansmen were dismembered one after another, turning into piles of rubble that scattered across the ground.
There were nearly 2,000 clansmen on both sides at the beginning, but it only took an incense for almost 300 to be killed in battle. After another quarter hour, only half of their numbers remained.
All of a sudden, the battle ceased. The two sides that had been fighting to the death earlier abruptly stopped and made peace without any warning. Immediately after, the surviving Small Stone Race clansmen began picking up the bodies of the dead Small Stone Race clansmen and returned the way they originally came. Even the many Small Stone Race clansmen who had lost various limbs in battle struggled to move their bodies and returned to where they came from.
Yang Kai was very puzzled by what he saw, “What are they doing?”
Yue He replied, “You will understand if you continue watching, Young Master. This Race is very strange. These battles seem to be a means of survival for them and happen quite often.”
“How high is their sentience? Have you tried communicating with them?”
Yue He shook her head, “Of course, we tried. Unfortunately, their sentience is not high enough for us to actually communicate with them.”
Yang Kai nodded and said nothing more.
The battlefield was cleaned up quickly, with both sides having lost some of their troops in the battle. The invading party slowly retreated. Likewise, the party defending the cave earlier carried the corpses of their clansmen or enemies back into the cave in an orderly manner.
Yue He beckoned to Yang Kai and followed behind the Small Stone Race clansmen into the cave.
The cave was generally as tall as a person, but some places were lower than average; hence, the two of them needed to bend down from time to time. Nevertheless, it was certainly as Yue He had mentioned earlier. The nest of the Small Stone Race was very similar to an ant’s nest. There were countless twists and turns inside, not to mention tunnels and passageways everywhere that stretched out in all directions to form a huge network of underground caves.
There were many Small Stone Race clansmen who had dug out little enclaves along the walls and were resting within them. Disturbed by the presence of Yang Kai and Yue He, they poked out their heads out of their little enclaves to stare at the two Humans with their black eyes.
As they headed deeper into the tunnels, Yang Kai carefully perceived his surroundings and was secretly shocked to discover that the ground had almost been hollowed out by the Small Stone Race.
After reaching a depth of almost a dozen kilometres, they suddenly arrived at a huge cavern. Inside the cavern were several bridge-like passages that connected to a large platform in the centre. A figure on the central platform that was much larger than the rest of the Small Stone Race clansmen appeared in Yang Kai’s field of vision.
“That’s the Stone King of this Small Stone Race Clan!” Yue He said softly.
Yang Kai nodded lightly and looked up at the Stone King.
The Stone King had an extremely bloated body. Lying horizontally across the platform, his body, which was approximately ten metres long made him look like an enormous fatty; moreover, his entire body was as white as jade.
There was a group beside the Stone King that consisted of Small Stone Race clansmen who were almost as tall as a normal person. They were patrolling back and forth around the Stone King. Their numbers were few, only several dozen in total. In contrast, they were unusually large compared to the rest of the Small Stone Race clansmen and the rocky surface of their bodies resembled a full set of armour. They were truly an impressive sight to behold.
“Are those the Stone King’s Elite Guard?” Yang Kai raised a brow and asked.
Yue He nodded, “Most likely!”
At this moment, those Small Stone Race clansmen who withdrew from the battle earlier were carrying their loot along the passages leading to the central platform. The loot they were carrying was none other than the stone left behind by their clansmen or enemies after their death.
When they arrived in front of the Stone King, the Small Stone Race clansman in the lead raised the stone in his hands high above his head. The Stone King’s extremely fat body wriggled slightly as he lowered his head to sniff at the stone. Then, he opened his mouth that was larger than a washbasin and chomped down on the stone to swallow the entire thing whole.
Crisp, crunching sounds echoed throughout the cavern. The Stone King’s teeth were extremely sharp, so chewing on the stone was almost like he was biting down on brittle bone instead. It only took several bites before he swallowed the entire stone.
The next Small Stone Race clansman holding a piece of rock had already approached the Stone King. When he delivered the rock to the Stone King’s face, the Stone King opened his mouth again.
One after the other, the Small Stone Race clansmen offered up their loot from the battle earlier and the Stone King did not refuse anything that was presented.
A short while later, the Stone King’s fat body suddenly shook violently. Yang Kai could sense that the Stone King seemed to be straining with great force. It was immediately followed by a plopping sound, and something came out of the Stone King’s posterior.
The Stone King was lying horizontally in the middle of the platform, but his posterior was suspended in the air. That was why the object fell straight down to the ground after popping out.
Yang Kai took a closer look.
The object that fell out of the Stone King’s posterior was an oval stone egg! It resembled a small pebble, and only after rolling around on the soft ground for a moment did the stone egg come to a stop. A Small Stone Race clansman who had been waiting nearby quickly rushed forward to pick up the stone egg before running into one of the tunnels nearby with small steps.
Yang Kai was amazed, “The Small Stone Race is oviparous?”
Yue He nodded, “This is another reason we say the Small Stone Race are very similar to ants, both in terms of their colony structure and their life cycle.”
Yang Kai released a small thread of his Divine Sense to follow after the Small Stone Race clansman carrying the stone egg. The Small Stone Race clansman soon arrived at another cavern. Inside the cavern were hundreds of stone eggs that were already neatly arranged together. Each stone egg contained a pulse of vitality.
Furthermore, there were specialised members of the Small Stone Race inside the nest who were responsible for taking care of these stone eggs. They monitored these stone eggs like nannies, examining them or touching one from time to time.
There were also several other caverns in the vicinity that were similar to this one. They were all used to store the stone eggs.
Yang Kai even witnessed the scene of Small Stone Race clansmen hatching from the stone eggs.
The Small Stone Race clansmen brought back some loot from the battle, but the harvest was not that great. The Stone King finished eating all the offerings in just a little over two hours. During this period, he laid as many as several dozen stone eggs.
After all the loot was offered up, the Small Stone Race clansmen who lost various limbs in battle also lined up and headed towards the Stone King. However, they had no loot to offer.
Just as Yang Kai was wondering what they were doing, the Stone King opened his mouth and chomped down on an armless Small Stone Race clansman. He finished eating that clansman in two of three bites.
The clansmen standing next in line did not show any reaction at the sight. They simply continued to wait in line and offered up their broken bodies to the Stone King. None of them showed any complaints, regrets, or fear.
“They even eat their own clansmen!” Yang Kai was shocked, “It seems that this Small Stone Race really doesn’t have much sentience after all.”
Yue He sighed slightly, “It’s also for the sake of the Clan’s continuity. The Stone King will only lay stone eggs after eating. He does not lay eggs under normal circumstances.”
Yang Kai frowned, “If it’s for the sake of the Clan’s continuity, then what was the reason for the battle just now? They lost several hundred clansmen in the battle, but less than 100 stone eggs were laid even after feeding all their winnings to the Stone King.”
“We believe that their actions are a means to control their population. Reproducing to ensure the continuity of their Race is their entire mission in life, but the resources in the Small Stone World are extremely scarce. They may perish with time if their population is not controlled. With their level of sentience, they might not understand the extinction of their entire Race, but they are still living creatures. It makes sense that they can instinctively sense the issue and take the corresponding measures to solve the problem!”
“Population control…” Yang Kai rubbed his chin as he pondered in silence. Everything that he witnessed earlier indicated that Yue He’s explanation made sense. The Sixth-Order Open Heaven Realm Masters had been cultivating and observing the environment in this place for more than 40 years, so it was only natural that they had a deeper understanding of this place compared to Yang Kai.
“The truth is that… Aside from the extremely unique cultivation environment here, we did not discover any valuable resources anywhere on the Small Stone World. We were initially confused by the situation, but we finally figured out the reason after realising that the Small Stone Race is scattered across the entire Small Stone World.”
Yue He explained quietly, “It might be that the Small Stone World used to have various resources, including cultivation materials. Unfortunately, these resources must have been devoured clean by the Small Stone Race. Although they can only feed on common ores nowadays, their reproductive ability is still too strong. It is necessary for them to control their population, and carrying out battles between different Clans is the best method to control their numbers.”
Upon hearing those words, Yang Kai nodded and said, “That makes sense. No wonder they fought so viciously just now only to stop and make peace abruptly. They even brought the corpses of their respective clansmen back to their nests.”