Chapter 355 Nightmare Garden
Greem and Alice reached the witch's cottage two days later.
It was an arcane cottage hidden within the Nightmare Garden. The one in charge of guarding it was First Grade Death Witch Sharon.
The two of them eventually found the entrance into the Nightmare Garden in an unpopulated area after Alice used her cuteness to pry the information out of some nearby villagers.
According to Alice, this place was one of the 'wild' mission sites specially set up by the Witch Council. An official witch was garrisoned there to be responsible for the assessment and assignment of the missions undertaken by apprentice witches.
As this place was not open to curious outsiders, the witch stationed in this place had intentionally created an atmosphere of mystery and terror surrounding the cottage. It effectively scared away any nosy villagers who were curious about the affairs of the witches. That said, there were indeed quite a lot of rare magical plants in the Nightmare Garden. Disregarding an ordinary peasant, even some of the weaker apprentices would have trouble walking through this place.
The first thing Greem and Alice saw at the entrance was a grim and sinister garden enclosed by a slanted and ancient metal fence. They could vaguely see the tall trees and strange plants through the half-opened gates. A thin layer of mist obscured everything else in the distance.
A line of bloody words had been written on a worn-down sign by the side of the gates of the garden.
Nightmare Garden. Trespassers shall die!
All the metal fences in sight were rusted and slanted. They barely managed to remain standing. Moreover, there were plenty of gaps in the perimeter that were large enough for hounds to pass through.
That said, your ordinary dog probably wouldn't even have the courage to come close to an area like this!
"Let's go. These are tricks the witches use to scare those village folks." Alice shrugged and reached to push the rusty metal gate. She walked into the garden as the rusty hinges creaked.
To Greem, who was following right behind, Alice appeared to have suddenly melded into a layer of water. Her short and petite body became distorted all of a sudden.
"Chip, keep a lookout for any trouble. Notify me immediately if anything abnormal happens!" Greem secretly gave an order to the chip.
"Beep. Mission construction complete. Detected unique forcefield fluctuation. Danger rating does not warrant a warning as of yet."
It would be best if there were nothing wrong!
Greem finally let go of his concerns and walked into the garden.
As expected of a garden known as the Nightmare Garden!
The first thing Greem saw was the massive orchard before him. The orchard was a planting grounds for all sorts of magical plants.
This spot was a magical plant resource site that was as large as the gardens of human nobles.
The winding stone road beneath their feet was five meters wide. It was more than enough for two or three grown adults to walk side by side. To either side of the road were gardens protected by one-meter tall fences. All sorts of bizarre herbs cultivated within.
Greem might not be a potions master, but he was still able to recognize most of the plant species thanks to the data library of the chip.
The Nightmare Garden lived up to its name. None of the plants were of the ordinary variety. Almost every single one of them was a vicious and wicked plant that subsisted on blood and flesh. Any single one of them would cause a great disaster if they appeared in a society of ordinary humans.
Human-Faced Mushrooms, Bloodsucking Vines, Man-Eating Flowers, Passiflora Caeruleas, Magical Konjacs, Snakehead Fungi, Dryads, Flower Fairies, and more were here.
Most of these plants lived in groups. Greem had seen most of them back in his days at the magic swamp.
The human-faced mushroom, for example, looked like little red mushrooms. There were a few dark red spots on their mushroom caps that looked like a smiley face drawn by children when connected. They would come to life and extend slim hands and legs when they sensed the aura of humans. They would gather together and chatter with their child-like voices. As a matter-of-fact, these human-faced mushrooms were reasonably cute creatures.
However, if anyone were to be tricked by their appearance and walked into the circle of mushrooms, they would be trapped in a mysterious dream-like illusion. The victim would fall into a trance-like state that they would be unable to break out of.
One shouldn't judge them on their cute appearance. The mushrooms were, in fact, carnivores!
Of course, there were also plants that grew alone. There would only be one of their type within the entirety of the massive garden. Dryads were one such terrifying plant. They did not need companions to survive. All plants that settled near it would have their lifeforce forcefully ripped from them and ultimately wither and die.
Still, the dryad planted in this garden was still growing. Once it grew to maturity, it would pluck its roots out of the earth and transform into a humanoid intelligent life. Transformed dryads were beautiful creatures. The males were handsome, and the females were attractive. Moreover, all dryads possessed natural charming abilities. They were one of the ideal contract creatures for witches.
Wild dryads often hid in the depths of forests. They were a type of forest spirit and were extremely hard to catch. Even Greem didn't expect to see a young dryad in this garden.
There were all sorts of other mysterious plants that Greem didn't recognize.
He saw a large, dense patch of light yellow flowers. Their soft petals closed slightly together. The flowers waved along when a breeze passed by them. It was hard to tell what was so unique about them. It wasn't until Greem bent to take a closer look that he was shocked to find a realistic human face within each one of the closed flowers.
Old, young, male, female, pretty, ugly; all sorts of faces appeared in the hearts of the flowers. They all looked different but had a single common trait. The eyes closed tightly on all their faces.
Greem couldn't help but describe the faces as 'them.'
It was merely due to how realistic the faces looked to be. At one point, Greem had even mistaken the faces to have been taken from actual humans.
Greem lifted his head in surprise. The patch of flowers blossomed with bright colors and plenty of liveliness, yet for some odd reason, he felt a chill run down his spine. A wave of chattering sounds overwhelmed him as a breeze blew across the flowers. It seemed like the human-faced flowers were secretly discussing something.
"Beep. Detecting unknown forcefield interference. Recommending host leave the area immediately!"
Perhaps the bad feeling wasn't just an illusion!
Greem backed away and quickly left the eerie garden. He had a feeling that something terrifying would happen when those human-faced flowers opened their eyes.
"Relax, this is one of the many resource sites that belong to the Witch Council. All magical plants are very strictly managed and cultivated. They wouldn't dare to attack you as long as you don't stray off the stone road. But if they managed to trick you into the flowerbed, then..." Alice didn't finish her sentence, but Greem understood what she meant to say.
This situation was similar to the magic swamp Greem had spent many years in. There were far too many dangerous magical plants growing within a resource site. They were scariest monsters for ordinary humans. Even the weaker apprentice witches would be in great trouble if they came in here without prior preparation.
Perhaps this was why the Witch Council arranged this place as the location of the apprentice witches' trial missions!
Of course, a place like this had to be managed by someone!
A strange morning glory rapidly increased in size just as Alice and Greem were wandering around the Nightmare Garden. The hoarse and sinister voice of an old lady came from inside it.
"The Nightmare Garden is not open to the public today! It doesn't matter where you came from. How dare you trespass into my territory! Me, Witch Sharon! This is a massive offense! You have three minutes to get out of there, otherwise…"
"Granny Sharon, your cute little Alice is here to visit you! Could you have forgotten me?" Alice didn't seem scared at all. Quite the contrary, she started to shout excitedly.
Did she know the witch here?
Greem immediately understood the situation. No wonder she picked this place, among so many others, as the first place to visit!
"Alice. Which Alice…"
The witch started to mumble to herself. Meanwhile, a naked, palm-sized flower fairy that looked like a miniature teenage girl climbed out of the morning glory. She had a pair of thin, transparent wings on her back.
Honestly, the flower fairy looked remarkably similar to the green fairies Greem had previously seen. However, they belonged to a different category of forest spirit.
One was good at plant-attribute support spells, had a gentle nature, and was often caught by adepts to serve as aides in their labs and homes. The other was skilled at the plant-attribute poison spells, was wicked and ferocious, could dash about at high speeds, and was often kept as a combat pet.
The flower fairy took out a magic wand once it flew out from the flower. She flapped her transparent wings and circled Alice. Faint green spots of light drifted in the air.
"Alice! It's you indeed, Alice. Alice of the Moya Clan. Your name has been talked about amongst the witches recently. I thought it was another fellow with the same name as you. Who knew? It was you! Well, now that you have arrived, come in. But it's best to leave that guy who came with you outside. He's really big trouble right now!" The old witch also saw Alice through the eyes of the flower fairy. Her voice continued to come out of the flower.
"Granny Sharon, Greem is Alice's companion. Do you really have it in you to leave Alice's companion out here alone with these nasty plants?" For some reason, Alice had gotten better and better at exploiting her identity as a 'little girl.'
Sighing came from within the morning glory.
"You are already a twenty-five-year-old grown adult, and you still do this to me. Very well, very well. Have that male adept come in with you!"
The flower fairy smiled at them when she heard the witch's orders. She then turned and led them towards the cottage.
With the flower fairy as their guide, they quickly approached the wooden cottage that they hadn't able to reach earlier. It only took Greem and Alice two or three minutes to reach the entrance of the house.