Chilly winds blew occasionally, bringing with them eerie sounds that made one shudder from fear. The rain had subsided now by a fair extent, no longer a heavy downpour. Re'Kha kept part of her focus on the direction the stampede proceeded towards, retaining the rest on the area around her.
She focused on the path she trod on, seeing the level of water cross her ankle by now. In some uneven places, the water level reached her knees. Thankfully, she now had her Water Qi perception to rely on, no longer having to tread blindly through all dangers.
Suddenly, she heard faint sounds echo in the air; she focused on them, trying to make out the contents. But, the sound of the rain hindered her from hearing it clearly. For a moment, she thought it was the wind that made her hallucinate such noise.
Re'Kha stopped focusing on the stampede and perceived her surroundings. She soon noticed a lot of legs far to her front, after which was a large blank space. When she focused on the blank space, she noticed thin lines of blue span from the ground to high up in the air. The lines were arranged in order, equidistant.
It was a large wall spanning thrice her height. And, judging by the patterns the flowing water made, she recognised that it was a settlement. But, she dared not be hasty, after all, the walls of the Withered Courtyard also had the same patterns as their settlements.
She headed in the direction of the settlement, wishing to find out for herself if it was an actual settlement or something like the Withered Courtyard. She also noticed a place among the walls where the blue lines didn't exist. It probably meant the walls had been breached.
When she neared a fair distance, she could hear numerous screams, though the contents were still inaudible. The rain had thinned out considerably by now, turning into a faint drizzle, about to stop any moment.
After making sure of her surroundings, she deactivated her Water Qi perception, taking a couple of breaths before activating her Wind Qi perception. She perceived the grey sand world once again, though with a lot of noise.
It seemed to still be recovering, as the rain hadn't fully stopped. But as rain intensity had almost died down, the wind wasn't fully cut off, allowing her Wind Qi perception to function fairly reasonably.
She noticed that a section of the walls had been breached as beasts and animals alike rushed into it. They only seemed a small portion of the stampede she had witnessed. She extended her senses further, noticing that the buildings were wholly intact, save for cracks and damages of small sections here and there.
After all, the buildings were carved from stone. So, unless the beasts unleashed their elemental attacks on them, the stone buildings wouldn't be damaged. Re'Kha noticed figures of large stature make a retreat from the other side of the settlement.
Soldiers holding spears made the back of the group while those that seemed to be the regular populace ran while carrying their bags. Some soldiers patrolled their march and acted as bait to lure away the nearby beasts and animals.
Using their swift horses, they shrug off their pursuers before returning to their station around the marching crowd. As they were being chased by the animals, with many beasts lingering amidst them, the retreating citizens were mostly on the run.
By the time she spotted them, they had already travelled a fair distance away from the settlement. She also noticed the blank space related to the rain fall on their bodies, sensing that their figures weren't damaged.
'So, they are actual people.' Re'Kha heaved a sigh of relief despite being unable to catch up to them. They were already on the run, and she was situated a fair distance away from them, by at least 4000-5000 paces. In her exhausted state, it was impossible to catch up to them.
Even if she were to use all her might and barely catch up to them, she would be unable to keep up with them. After all, they were evacuating in panic. Instead of overexerting herself and be put in a situation where she would be chased by the beasts, all Re'Kha did was to note their escape route with respect to the settlement. Just through her observations, she judged that the settlement was a real one.
There was only a small fraction of the animals and beasts lingering within the settlement. The rest had begun chasing the escaping citizens. Even the ones that had stayed behind were looking around in panic, intending to join the stampeding crowd and escape.
'How grave was the poison plaguing master that it raised such a scenario?' Re'Kha seethed in rage, wishing to shred her master's enemies. But, she knew her powerlessness, suppressing the thought in her for now.
She took regular breaks and alternated between her Wind Qi and Water Qi perception, soon entering the settlement through the breach in the walls. Once she entered, she activated her Wind Qi perception, noticing the words carved into stone that made the top portion of the settlement's gate, 'Burkurel Ju Clan: Western Settlement.'
'This is the actual Ju Clan's Western Settlement.' Re'Kha heaved a sigh of relief, hiding behind a rock as she watched a beast move a fair distance away. Because of her Wind Qi perception, she didn't have to peek her head above the rock.
The beast sniffed some areas, roared a couple of times before exiting the settlement through the breach. Re'Kha surfed through the area using her perception and decided on one of the houses in the centre of the settlement.
It was the place where the Harmonisers from the Ju Clan lived. So, the defensive strength of the houses was the maximum there. It was not to mention the amenities that would have been stocked up within. Re'Kha planned to rest and recover there for the time being.
She stealthily roamed through the streets, skipping numerous corpses along the way. Most of the corpses were near the breach, followed by the areas around the walls. Further inward into the settlement, and there was barely any corpse.
Re'Kha soon barged into a house in the centre and made herself home. Now that she was in relatively safer territory, she could relax a little.