Youth in White. Beasts of the Dark Forest. (Part 4)
The snake-head creature could crush a city’s wall if it just rested its head on the wall. Earth was too fragile for the monster that could leave craters in the ground with its sheer weight and wreak a path of havoc merely travelling from point A to B.
There’s a kind of smile that is depicted as nightmarish. No matter how much destruction and how many lives it took, it kept that same “smile” below its eyes resembling someone afflicted with a severe case of jaundice. It just needed to exhale softly to erase motivation to challenge it.
Ten years ago, one man faced the monster with his sword, hatred and rage, but only those who returned alive from that battlefield remembered the unstoppable personification of peril.
“You recognise me? Hahaha.”
It had been decades since Death Spirit Shaman had been able to relish the joy of showing the pugilistic world why he deserved plaudit, for he had to work in the shadows to achieve the plan he and Gewu envisioned. The aim of his comeback into the public eye was to clear the path to advance the plan. That said, if it was too easy, wouldn’t that spoil the fun he had been craving all this time?
Sima Huai responded, “I know where your snakes come from, too.”
When Death Spirit Shaman was killing skilled martial artists from the Central Plain left, right and centre, Ming Huayu had yet to make his debut. Sima Huai embodied the savageness of Nanjiang warriors, the class of the Central Plain’s martial artists and the ferocity of Beijiang’s pugilists. Sima Huai’s familiar exterior, yet different interior, intrigued Death Spirit Shaman. Hence, he stated, “There aren’t many people I plan on sparing this time around. You can be one of those I spare.”
Death Spirit Shaman’s gaze didn’t shift from the ether in spite of the increasing number of fighters rendezvousing with Sima Huai – including archers who had loaded their bows.
“How long has it been since I’ve sparred? How about I warm-up?” Death Spirit Shaman huffed a breath onto his hands.
Somehow, that summoned over several roaring tigers and leopards that accelerated in perpetuity. The snakes let the tigers and leopards stomp on top of them without any fuss.
“Yi Blade Grind.”
Ten Qilin Guards, split into two five-man cells, came forward from the rear, zig zagging in between the incoming animals, slicing one and then moving onto the next fluidly. They were specialists at executing the formation as they already conquered thirty-man squads as ten-man cells in Beijiang.
“Sixth, to Qian position. Fourth, to Xun position. Brothers, Split Gate Flower Jia,” Sima Huai ordered.
Upon casting their gaze in the direction of the footsteps that sent tremors through the earth, they beheld two monkeys triple their height storming over, fangs brandished. Dozens of tigers, leopards and wolves following behind them unleashed a synchronised howl.
“Be careful now. I am set on killing people to taste some blood.” As though Death Spirit Shaman’s line was a command code, his snakes started flashing their tongues again.
The veteran Qilin Guards, slippery and brave Evil Spirits and experienced Emperor’s Entourage agents were stupefied when faced with the foreign force. While they were stunned for how to react, Sima Huai calmly instructed, “Split Gate Blade Ding. Sixth, Dugu, take a silverback freak to the left. Hero Li and Sixth, take the other giant to the right wing. Archers, prepare to puncture them dead.” The usually calm Sima Huai then turned back and yelled, “Do you imbeciles have death wishes?! Freaking kill them!”
Twang! An arrow flew off the string right away, perhaps as a product of Sima Huai’s fear scaring him.
The snakes hissed again, but the vibe they gave off was completely different when arrow after arrow impaled them. Whether instinctively or purposely, everyone successfully maintained the formation as they branched out into their designated roles.
Dugu employed his defensive skills to keep the opponent at bay. Lian Zhuiyue changed levels throughout his assault, but he couldn’t pierce the silverback’s dense body.
Tianfeng Xuanyuan traded while Teng Ji just watched on.
Besides Abels, pretty much everyone had arrived on the scene to help out.
Long Zaitian: “Whoop-de-doo, Nanjianger’s sure have a big appetite.”
“Get your behind out there!” Emperor Yuansheng kicked Long Zaitian into the scuffle and then inquired, “Young Master Sima, do you think we can win?”
Eyes trained on the busy field, Sima answered, “Not necessarily. Our survival takes priority in this showdown.”
There was no point taking issue with Sima Huai’s lack of manners when it seemed to be a trait of Mount Daluo’s disciples, so Emperor Yuansheng asked, “Anything I can do?”
“Yeah.” Sima Huai glanced over to Emperor Yuansheng. “Please grant me full command here, including whether to fight or retreat.”
The archers were able to reduce the number of snakes they had to deal with at close range. Alas, the snakes successfully boxed them in as there were smaller ones that had an easier time slipping past – in addition to ones that travelled underground.
“This isn’t going to work. I don’t have enough powder to ward off this many snakes, and it doesn’t work on some types,” A-Lan notified.
“It’s all right,” Sima Huai asserted. “You have me.”
Sima Huai flitted into the barrage of arrows as a green flash, then flapped his sleeve, shooting almost-invisible needles into dozens of snakes all at once. He needed to move so fast that he remained airborne as he was zipping in and out of batches of flying arrows whilst dispatching the snakes.
Those catching glimpses of Sima Huai in action could only wonder how a man who could take out four hundred, if not three hundred, snakes singlehandedly had never received a mention in the pugilistic world.
Emperor Yuansheng looked in the direction the roar came from, expecting some vicious beast, only to find it was Teng Ji capitalising on an opportunity to try and behead the overgrown monkey. If anyone could feel their neck turn cold watching that, it was Teng Ji’s victim for the last month.
Lian Zhuiyue finally immobilised the monkey on the ground without leaving any visible damage or blood on his sheathed sword.
Dugu commended, “Striking accupoints using your sword tip whilst airborne is incredible, Young Master Lian.”
Death Spirit Shaman’s smile never faded notwithstanding the beasts fleeing one after another. “Impressive. Impressive.”
“You haven’t seen anything,” Ming Xiaolou responded, already positioning her dagger tip at Death Spirit Shaman’s throat.
“Ooh, smart girl. Being able to close in on this old one proves you are smart and skilled.”
While everyone was focused on what was taking place on the battlefield, Ming Xiaolou sneaked over to Spirit Death Shaman. Like her brothers, they all had roles on the field that they excelled in, and she took the trophy for improvisation.
“I still will kill you even if you compliment me, so you can save your breath.”
“What a sweet girl. How about warming my bed? It’s better than living dangerously.”
“Luckily for you, it’s me who’s killing you. If my parents or brother heard you trying to solicit sexual services from a young girl, you would die a painful death.”
“Hohoho, are you so sure you can kill me?”
“Let’s find out.”
Ming Xiaolou pierced Death Spirit Shaman’s throat, yet no blood was excreted. Hence, she slashed his torso horizontally and then vertically, but the feeling of gashing a human wasn’t there.
“You need more training if you want to kill me, hehehe.” Death Spirit Shaman shed his black robes similarly to a golden cicada.
Ming Xiaolou’s intuition prompted her to retreat even though she moved in the direction of a pit of snakes.
“Child, come out and get some oxygen,” Death Spirit Shaman called.
The earth began to rumble. Mountains began to wobble.
Split Gate formation’s primary function was to expedite a retreat at the sacrifice of a powerful offence. Sima Huai, nevertheless, never expected he would have to give the order to deploy it so soon.
The colossal white python, smirking as always, crushed rocks it slithered over. The overgrown monkeys on the ground were mere ants in comparison to the python. Like Spirit Death Shaman, it gazed upon them as though they were new toys it was eager to try out.
“Everyone, retreat! Nobody is to stay!” Sima Huai belted at the top of his lungs without needing time for second thoughts the moment the white python emerged. “Retreat! Now! That’s one of them – the Yanhui!”
Bing, Yi, Xun, Qian… – These are a Chinese system of ordinals collectively called Celestial Stems/Heavenly Stems.
Lian Zhuiyue changed levels throughout his assault – Just so we’re clear here, changing levels in combat means switching between high, mid and low (head, torso and legs), not switching between super saiyan and super saiyan 2.