Several profound skills landed at once, exploding the ground where Bào bǐ had previously been standing. Dirt and sod were flung into the air, and a filthy cloud rose up, blocking the view of the five cultivators. However, they were not worried. They had seen their techniques land perfectly, and no child, even if he possessed some cultivation, would be able to survive such a brutal onslaught. The leader who had ordered the child’s death only gave a single nod before turning away, immediately putting the child out of his mind.
“Seriously, guys! That was really close! Don’t you have any humanity in you?” A small voice suddenly cut through the smoke.
The leader spun, and with a wave of his hand, cleared the area. Standing a few feet to the right of the crater made by their profound attacks was that kid! Had they all missed? The attacks of 4 separate profound attacks, every one of them landing a few feet short? No, that was an impossibility. Regrettably, so was the idea of that kid being able to move out of the way that quickly.
“Capture this kid!” The leader changed his order.
At the very least, he wanted an answer to his questions. This small child couldn’t be more than a 1st tier. There was no way he should have been able to dodge a strike from four mid to high-tier cultivators.
“Hey… Hey… guys… be cool!” Bào bǐ held up his hands and backed up as the four men started to walk towards him.
He really didn’t understand why they wanted him dead so suddenly. If they recognized him as a Xaoi, he was technically family, and if they didn’t, he was just a stranger. Either way, why would they resort to such violent methods? Wasn’t cultivation all about refinement and becoming a better person? It’d be like a yoga serial killer! Where is all of the pettiness coming from?
As the men showed no signs of stopping their progression, Bào bǐ turned and ran, avoiding them instantly. When his life had been jeopardized before, he had activated the movement skill he was caught on impulse. The Wind Symphony of the Midnight Reign was a powerful technique that had nine tiers followed by mastery. It depended heavily on sporadic movements and and finding places to push off of. It was ideal for someone like Bào bǐ, who liked to parkour. He wasn’t great at parkour, but ever since watching a parkour show, he had grown very interested and even took some classes.
This was why, the first day he had met Liao An, he had been swinging through the trees. Being able to jump from branch to branch was exhilarating, and he enjoyed it greatly. Although Bào bǐ didn’t know the Wind Symphony had been made for him personally, he had to admit that it was well suited for him. It wasn’t the technique that made you the fastest, but it capitalized heavily on rapid changes of direction and bursts of speed from pushing off objects. Some movement techniques focused on sprinting in a straight line as fast as possible. Some focused on long distance marathon running. This one focused on leaping from foothold to foothold. This was why it was also such an effective evasive technique, although it’d eventually need to be combined with something better as Bào bǐ grew.
“He’s running! Get him!” Someone from behind called.
Bào bǐ once against instinctively leaped just before a spot was struck with another technique that would have incapacitated him. These men were only in the purification realm, so they only really knew a handful of techniques. Given the cutthroat nature of cultivation, it was common to learn a fighting technique first. They all likely had a defensive technique as well. As for movement techniques, that usually came later. Perhaps only the highest tier leader held such a technique. As for the others, they were deficient. While Bào bǐ was only a half-step into the first-tier of this technique, it was still vastly superior to no movement technique at all. He jumped up grabbing a branch and then swung away, sending himself to the next tree. The men shot techniques at the branch, attempting to hit him out of the tree, only for him to dive from it and catch the next branch.
The highest tier watched with a frown as four young adults struggled to bring down one preteen child. Despite the fact that he could have defeated Bào bǐ quickly, it was far beneath him to chase after a small child. He could only grow more irritated at the poor performance of his men. As Bào bǐ continued to dance in the treetops while the four men grew more exhausted as they wasted their limited selection of skills and ran around like dogs barking a cat in a tree, he finally reached his end point.
“Enough of this! Five spirit stones to the man who brings down this boy. Dead or alive!”
Greed immediately started to spread across the men’s faces. A chill went up Bào bǐ’s spine as their bloodlust started to increase. If these men had valuable items or hidden techniques, it looked like the wealth their leader had promised was sufficient for these men to go all out. Just as Bào bǐ went to leap from the tree, a force struck him. He fell from the tree, but depending on his high constitution and his movement technique, he just managed to right himself.
Landing with a hard thud, Bào bǐ took off without another glance back. Perhaps he shouldn’t have teased the men to get to this state. He still had some negative feelings towards them for taking the land away from his father, and he had a desire to grief them a bit more. The result was that they put aside the alive part, and were now going all out. Even though Bào bǐ’s body was abnormal, he was still on a first tier. Being pursued by these men wholeheartedly, even if they didn’t have movement skills, still left Bào bǐ panting just a step ahead.
“Titan’s Rage!” One man screamed, slamming his fist into the tree Bào bǐ was trying to climb up.
Bào bǐ fell back down. Landing with a roll and trying to put some distance between the men.
“Stop running, you coward!”
“If you’re a man, you’d fight fair!”
“I’m a fucking child! If you were men, you wouldn’t fight four on one!” Bào bǐ snapped back at the jeers. “In fact, you wouldn’t try to murder small children at all!”
If this was a world where the strong bullied the weak, how did children fit into that? Even with a superior mind, Bào bǐ still didn’t have enough time to cultivate to the level of these men. They spoke of fairness while being completely abhorrent!
Two more attacks followed Bào bǐ’s attempt to reason with these men. If these men ever had a reason to begin with, it had been clouded by the promise of five spiritual stones. That was a significant sum of money to a starting cultivator.
“Quick, go head him off! Don’t let him escape!”
Dodging several flying attacks, Bào bǐ looked back to see one of the men downing a bottle of something that must restore spirit energy. That was probably a pricey item. These men were getting serious. He furrowed his brow as he continued to run, occasionally pushing off a tress branch explosively and putting some distance from these men. Had he been even slightly slower in constitution or lacked his movement skills, he’d have been killed already.
Bào bǐ had never had his life threatened like this before. For the moment, he was moving mostly on adrenaline, narrowly avoiding attack after attack. The men had closed the distance between him, and them. They no longer had the energy to throw out distance attacks and had instead started throwing out punches and kicks. Each one came with a force that would have crushed Bào bǐ’s skull if he allowed even one to land.
Bào bǐ pulled on his experiences to duck and avoid strike after strike from all three men, but he was finding his former self-defense training did not prepare him to battle three martial artists at once. Wait, three? Weren’t there four men?
“Reverent Blaze!” A voice came from the direction was running.
He looked up just in time to see a massive fireball being shot in his direction. It was about five times stronger than any of the previous techniques. This must have been this guy’s best attack. With three men behind him in a pincer, they really had managed to squeeze him into a certain kill attack. These men had managed to coordinate this attack with a single sentence. They must have had experience fighting together as a team.
The heat quickly descended on Bào bǐ, but his mind wasn’t like that of a normal person. The Reneki mind expansion pill had altered the way his brain thought, and at this moment and time, his mind worked faster than he could possibly imagine. The fireball descended on him slowly. Although he wanted to dodge, his body had yet to meet the speed of his mind. Casting out spiritual perception, he desperately looked for a direction that wouldn’t lead him to certain death. At that point, he noticed the guy behind him had stopped and widened his stance, throwing out a punch to further threaten Bào bǐ and hasten his path into the fire.
Bào bǐ’s momentum was already heading into the fireball, but wasn’t the Wind Symphony designed around the concept of sudden movement? That movement didn’t just mean pushing forward suddenly but also included spontaneously changing direction at will. Liao An had told Bào bǐ that in future versions, he’d be able to double and even triple jump in mid-air. Even after he gained a flying ability, he’d have the option to erratically change directions, exploding forcefully off of profound energy foothold he created himself. That was the power of this skill.
He felt like he just took another step towards understanding the Wind Symphony. He was now at the very edge of the first tier, and for the first time, profound energy leaked into his movement skills. As he saw the area between the guy’s legs, he realized he had the size to slip through that crack. He pushed with his feet, throwing himself at the guy. The entire decision and movement took less time than a blink and the man behind him could only stare in wonder as the boy disappeared in front of him.
What didn’t disappear was the fireball! In the middle of his punching stance, he couldn’t break it quickly enough. His fist landed against the fireball in a contest of wills. The fireball won. The man screamed as the fire consumed him quickly. Meanwhile, Bào bǐ shot through his legs and changed his direction. He could hear water nearby and decided to head for it at a full run. The three remaining men stared in stunned silence as the fourth guy collapsed to the ground dead. They recovered quickly though and began their pursuit of Bào bǐ again.
“You bastard! You killed our friend! You’ll definitely die today!”
“How was that any different from when you were going to kill me before!” Bào bǐ shot back, but he didn’t receive an answer.
He hadn’t killed anyone! They were killing each other! How could he be responsible for their own mistakes while he was simply trying to live! Bào bǐ was feeling more and more that the life of cultivators was completely ridiculous. Cultivating seemed to do something to your brain where you blamed other people for your own mistakes and refused to take personal responsibility for your actions. To this, Bào bǐ was becoming certain!
“I got you now!” A man appeared right next to Bào bǐ and threw out his fist.
Bào bǐ attempted to throw himself back like before, but he didn’t put any profound energy into it. He failed to execute his movement skill properly, and thus his feet flew out from under him. His momentum faced a sudden change that didn’t match his leg movements. These were exactly the kind of mistakes that happened when someone tried to use a skill before reaching the first tier, and why these skills shouldn’t be used in life or death situations until someone was sufficient in using them. Bào bǐ’s ankle immediately broke, unable to handle the flawed technique. For someone with his constitution, the force needed to break a bone would be astronomical.
“Ahhhh!” He let out a scream.
Bào bǐ’s head dropped back as he flew, narrowly missing the guy’d fist. Another guy had appeared on his other side, and the first guy’s fist struck him instead. The guy shouted as he fell down too. The first guy looked on in surprise and horror as he realized the three of them had been running towards the edge of an embankment. The direction Bào bǐ had run was the roaring of a waterfall, and they were at the edge of the river. The man leaped up, grabbing a branch and doing a perfect acrobatic spin as he righted himself.
However, Bào bǐ who was still flying forward with a broken ankle, and the man’s friend who had just been struck, ended up falling over the embankment. Sliding down the muddy path, the two weren’t able to stop themselves as they plummeted into the river.
“Brother! Help!” The man gasped as he emerged from the water.
However, the waterfall was only a few meters from the spot the pair had fallen in. There was absolutely no time to even think. The current pulled both Bào bǐ and the male cultivator over the cliff. The onlooking man looked pail as he heard the other cultivator scream while he plummeted to his death. On the upside, this was a fairly long fall, and the water was very powerful. While it wouldn’t be surprising for a 2nd realm to survive this with ease, it was certain death for a small child.
The other cultivator caught up with the one in the tree. The pair gave each other a look and then headed down the cliff. At the foot of the waterfall, they checked along the bank. After about fifteen minutes of searching, they finally found their friend. He was completely dead, his head having struck a rock on the way down. Catching this child had surely cost them more than it was worth. However, the two were still alive, and that always gave the opportunity for future fortunes.
If even a 6th tier had died, what chance did that child have? Even without a body, it was clear to these two men that Bào bǐ had perished. Chuckling to each other, the two men returned back to the camp. Even with the death of two friends, it only meant the reward would be that much higher. While they might not go to the extent of murdering each other in their sleep, they also wouldn’t be too depressed knowing the fortune waiting for them. The pair decided to split the rewards and the credit.
“What took you two so long!” Their leader demanded as they returned.
“Kid had friends. Had to take care of them too!” the cultivator lied. “The other two fell in the fight.”
The leader’s face paled for a moment. “Ah… g-good job!”
He was a leader on account of having more strength, but strength didn’t necessarily mean he was more clever. The leader was mostly just happy that he hadn’t tagged along. They might have expected him to fight and he might have lost his life. Of course, had they been honest and said they accidentally killed two of their numbers while trying to take down the slippery kid, his attitude would have changed, but it was that exact reason they had decided on the lie.
“I’ll tell you though…” The other guy decided to add. “That kid was a pain in the ass…”
“Well, it’s a good thing we killed him.” The other shot the first a warning look.
The pair wanted all the credit for this death! If the leader knew he fell down a waterfall and was killed by nature, they’d lose a great deal of face!
“You should have seen that little kid’s face as I crushed his throat!” The first guy laughed, trying to cover up the slip.
“We crushed his throat!” The second broke in. “I mean… I held him down while he broke his neck. However, the little fucker was still alive, which is why I gutted him with my knife!”
Both men started trying to take credit. They were greedy men, after all. Their agreement to share credit ended the second they returned. Now both wanted the boss to give all five spirit stones to them. Their tactics were transparent even to the leader. He was a peak 1st realm, almost about to reach the second realm. He may have been careful with his life, but he was even more careful with his money.
“Don’t act like the pair of you can extort me!” The leader snorted. “Since half of you are dead, naturally, only half of the award should be handed out. How can I forgive such laziness and failure! And since a spirit stone can’t be split in half, let alone forths, I will award you each with one spirit stone.”
Both men shut their mouths. They were upset, but at the same time, one spirit stone was still generous. The leader reached into his pocket to pull out the stones. Then he grunted for a second. Looking down, he saw a knife in his chest. It had pierced his heart directly. This man was no Di Qi. He was dead before he hit the ground. Standing behind him was a little girl.
“You killed that child, is it?” The girl asked, her voice low and dripping with killing intent.
The men would normally have glared at her in scorn, but she had just killed their leader, and more than that, she exuded a killing intent that was a hundred times greater than they had ever experienced in their lives.
“Wh-who’re you?” One of the men shouted, not able to control his shaky voice.
“Your death…” She said simply.
The two men looked at each other. She was just a child, right? They could even sense her cultivation, and it was low. The two men laughed off their fears. All that happened was their leader was stabbed in the back while distracted. However, this girl here was weak, and it should be no problem killing her. In fact, she was a cultivator, so there was power to tap there. They could each pop this little girl’s cherry and enjoy the benefits of her vital yin. The fact she was five didn’t matter. These men would murder children to further their cultivation, why wouldn’t they rape as well?
The men immediately took a step to advance on the girl. A step was as far as they got. Her body disappeared with a blur, and a moment later she was in front of one of the men. He grasped his throat, and blood began to gush from it. He could only stare wide-eyed as he fell back, landing down on the floor. He spasmed like a fish a few times, but died extremely quickly, his life force snuffed out.
Five-year-old or not, she had killed two cultivators in an instant. He couldn’t deny the ruthless effectiveness of her second kill. He pissed his pants as he started backing up. She started to walk towards him slowly. The blood on the knife clutched in her small hand dripped with each agonizingly slow step.
“If Bào bǐ is dead, where is his body?” Tigra demanded.
She wanted to see his body before she was willing to give up.
“I-I don’t know!” The man screamed.
Birds burst from a nearby tree as a scream ripped through the forest. Had the Liao family been outside at this time, they might have even heard the scream in the distance. When the bodies were nothing but ash, Liao An sat down on the ground and began to cultivate. She immediately pushed herself into the mid-tier realm. Anonymity be damned. She needed strong spiritual control so that she could detect Bào bǐ. Simply by moving from 3rd to 4th, there was a massive change in ability. She could now detect as far as the city. If Bào bǐ was anywhere in a 100 km, she should be able to detect him.
Yet, his life signs, or even his body, weren’t there. It was as if he was killed and burned to ashes and even the ashes allowed to scatter in the wind. Liao An had never been so unnerved before. Bào bǐ couldn’t be dead. He just couldn’t. However, as the sun began to set, Bào bǐ’s lifesigns couldn’t be detected. Liao An continued her search.