“Holy shit! That wolf is massive!” Bào bǐ screamed.
A grey wolf the size of a small horse slammed into the ground, causing a small area to shake around Bào bǐ. In his mind, he had expected spiritual beasts to be about the same size as their animal cousins. After all, when Bào bǐ himself cultivated, he wasn’t growing bigger. Would that be the end result of cultivation? Would he be the size of a giant thumping around the world? He didn’t like the thought of that at all.
“Focus!” Liao An demanded, “Keep your spear up!”
Bào bǐ sighed and then squared his shoulders throwing the spear with full strength. There was a booming sound as it left his hand, and the wolf barely had time to pounce before the spear struck him and pinned him to a tree. The spear that Bào bǐ had initially looked down on, he had to admit was pretty good. By his reasoning, Liao An must have really lucked out by selecting such a strong piece of wood. It never occurred to him that the spear worked so well exactly because it was made by Liao An.
It had a great balance and even thrown it could pierce a tree. Considering it contained the same essential parts as the trees it pierced, that was really amazing. As for these animals, they barely stood a chance under this weapon. The spear slid in easily, and Bào bǐ had found that it worked well as a throwing weapon.
“Perhaps I made it a bit too strong…” Liao An murmured to herself as she watched the wolf take its last breath.
In conjunction with Bào bǐ’s high physique, this weapon really was too powerful. So far, there wasn’t a single spiritual beast that they had encountered that Bào bǐ wasn’t able to KO in one hit. Although, she was still having him fight some of the weaker ones who didn’t even have a spiritual core. His throw seemed especially good though, and she was a bit surprised since she never taught him any throwing techniques.
“If you missed with your throw, you have no additional spears to back you up.” Liao An decided to offer some advice. “You’d be helpless at that point and would have to fight the spiritual beast by hand.”
Although she ultimately thought Bào bǐ should fight by hand, she knew that he seemed oddly avoidant of doing it. Thus, she started to use it as a deterrent to help teach him. As for Bào bǐ, he shivered a bit as he thought about trying to wrestle a biting wolf to the ground with his bare hands. He went and fetched the spear from the wolf’s abdomen and letting its body fall to the ground. He thrust once more into the throat to ensure the animal remained dead.
Bào bǐ wouldn’t call himself an expert hunter, but he enjoyed hunting enough. That enjoyment was typically with a rifle or shotgun. However, during a period when he was being more holistic, he had joined a bunch of hunters on a retreat who wanted to hunt like their ancestors. While on a Paleo diet, he got to learn how to skin and prepare the catch himself and had practiced knife and spear throwing a bit. He was by no means skilled at it, but when it was used in conjunction with his heightened body, he could probably be a top tier in his old world.
Liao An nodded approvingly when Bào bǐ started cutting the animal apart properly. She didn’t understand why he kept the fur, as these spiritual beasts were too weak to make particularly good armor out of it. However, she had been more worried that a young child like Bào bǐ would be squeamish around killing and blood. She had taken him here to help him gain a killing instinct. She had expected to need to kill the first few animals before he would be comfortable with that sort of thing. Fortunately, Bào bǐ quickly took to hunting and didn’t seem to mind blood and gore.
It was only a few minutes to free the animal of its meat and skin. These items went into a spacial ring Liao An had given to Bào bǐ. Of course, these items were incredibly rare, and even though this was a rather simple one, it would have been a prized treasure to the likes of the Xiao sect. Only those in the top of the Xiao clan could possibly be frivolous enough to have such an item.
“Eh?” Liao An turned to one of the entrances to the valley.
There were three people who had entered the area. They had the Xaoi sect tokens, but at the same time, she could sense blood on them. It was clear to her that these men had murdered some disciples and were now in the valley without permission. Liao An pursed her lips. It looked like it was time to up Bào bǐ’s training. Since he took to killing animals with ease, then the next logical step was to kill men. This step was perfectly logical in her mind.
“What is it?” Bào bǐ asked, lacking the spiritual sense that Liao An had refined over countless years.
Liao An shook her head. “Let us continue the hunt for now.”
On their current path, these men would encounter the pair of them. Liao An had no doubt that these men were not here peacefully, and they would try to kill her and Bào bǐ if they met them. Even though it was a bit strong, Liao An picked her next target to ensure their paths would meet. She nodded in a direction with a very powerful spiritual beast. It was at the peak of the low tier, and thus would be very difficult to face for Bào bǐ alone.
The pair headed in that direction, moving through the forest quickly. It wasn’t more than five minutes before a massive roar stopped them in their tracks. Bào bǐ could instantly feel pressure all around him. They had entered the territory of a strong monster. Liao An seemed calm as ever though. That, in turn, caused Bào bǐ to not worry. He had been hanging around with Liao An for many years now, and he had gotten very used to her advice, which had never seemed to be mistaken about anything. He barely realized it himself, but he had grown a great deal of respect for the girl, and rarely saw her in terms of the age she appeared to be.
Bào bǐ’s face went slightly white as another roar filled the area, closer this time. “Is that a lion?”
Liao An nodded in confirmation. “This is a Winged Spirit Lion.”
“Winged!” Bào bǐ’s mouth fell open, “This animal can fly?”
At that moment, there was a powerful crack in the forest as something strong pushed off the ground. The lion exploded out from over the treetops, having jumped straight up. As soon as its eyes fell on Bào bǐ and Liao An, it completely its arc and used its wingspan to come in their direction. Bào bǐ cursed and threw the spear one more time.
Just as the spear left his hand, he noticed an expression on the animal’s face that he hadn’t seen in the previous ones he had fought. This one seemed to have a certain degree of intelligence. It glared at his spear with disdain, and with a twist of its body, completely avoided the spear. Bào bǐ’s most powerful weapon harmlessly flew off into the forest. Bào bǐ leaped out the way, narrowly avoiding the swipe that would have cleaved him in two. Now, Bào bǐ was without a weapon.
“Didn’t I warn you this would happen?” Liao An admonished him in a no-nonsense tone. “Attack him with your palm techniques. He’s too strong to defeat, but you should be able to drive him off.”
Bào bǐ grimaced as he looked at the lion that was spinning around to attack him. He really didn’t want to wrestle with a lion, let alone one that was able to fly. Cursing at his initial bad move which he had even done after Liao An had warned him, Bào bǐ lunged forward, performing the attack he had practiced with Liao An a dozen times.
The flying lion spun around, its paw coming up and swiping at Bào bǐ’s palm. The two struck with a small boom and Bào bǐ flew back a few dozen meters. He grabbed his hand, which felt numb. He was expecting to see a tattered mess after taking on the swipe, but to his palm only had a light red mark after facing the strike of the lion. While Bào bǐ was staring in wonder at his hand, the lion didn’t waste the opportunity, immediately leaping at him again.
“Bào bǐ!” Liao An warned.
Bào bǐ jumped back as the lion flew at him. Putting a foot out, he slammed into the creature’s gut while simultaneously meeting its claws with his hands. Continuing the roll, he kicked with all of his strength. Bào bǐ slammed into the floor, but the lion was tossed over his body harmlessly. He forced himself up to his feet while shooting a glare at Liao An who was still just standing there.
“Hmm…” Liao An snorted, turning away as if the lion was beneath her. “Barely passable.”
Bào bǐ could only give a wry smile and then turn back to the lion. It had already spun around, but suddenly it stopped, looking to the side.
“His cave is definitely here…” A voice faintly came through the woods.
“We have company!’ One spoke up.
“Hmph… low-level trash.”
The lion let out a roar that made Bào bǐ need to cover his ears, else he felt like he might bleed from them. The lion changed its mind and chose to ignore Bào bǐ and leap into the woods. A moment later there was a shriek, and then the lion’s head came flying out of the brush, landing a few feet from where Bào bǐ was standing. Bào bǐ’s eyes turned into pinpoints as he watched three people walk out of the brush. One of them was holding the lion’s body casually as blood dripped down on the floor.
Unaware of the nature of these people as Liao An was, Bào bǐ immediately gave a bow. “Seniors.”
Perhaps he could fake that he was as a disciple of the Xaoi sect. Of course, Liao An hadn’t mentioned that this place was usually the valley disciples who were being punished were sent to. Any disciple that was sent here on a mission either had done something to deeply offend the sect or had the worst kind of luck imaginable. Suffice it to say, these people wouldn’t be weak and would not care to be seen, particularly by the Xaoi sect.
The three men chuckled darkly. “A Xaoi sect disciple… they sent such young ones in here.”
“There is another one… oh? A girl.” Another guy’s eyes turned gleeful as he shot a look at Liao An, “Our luck appears to be good. Her vital yin is intact.”
The three men all turned to Liao An as if staring at a piece of meat. She crossed her arms, her expression, rather than fearful, seemed bored.
“She is a bit too young for dual cultivation, but it really would help with my bottleneck. Hmm… Her cultivation feels pretty good, I might be able to reach the mid-tier 2nd realm.”
Second realm? Bào bǐ’s eyes flashed in recognition. He hadn’t been able to read any of these men. They were all in the second realm, that was the mortal origin realm. At that stage, they concentrated opening up their spiritual gates. At the point of opening a spiritual gate, you could utilize heavenly energy. The entire first realm could be considered a realm where one enhanced and purified their own body. However, this realm, even at its max, only brought out the maximum potential a human body could obtain.
Only at the mortal origin realm was one able to take energy from the environment around them and use it as their strength. That meant that although Bào bǐ was in the 9th and final tier of the mortal purification realm, the distance between the two was extremely vast. While he was only at the level of an elite human, which admittedly still exceeded the limits of the greatest athletes of his time, these men were at a level of superhuman. They were no longer bound by the laws of the mortal body. They were true cultivators.
These men had even instantly killed the lion that Bào bǐ was struggling with. Those men also had their eyes on the nine-year-old girl next to him. Those eyes looked extremely lewd and hungry. What were the chances of three men with that particular disposition all appearing at once?
“Pedophiles?” Bào bǐ asked.
The three men blinked and then let out sounds of anger.
The leader stepped forward and shot Bào bǐ an angry look, exuding his spiritual pressure on him, “Who are you calling pedophiles? I’ll let you know, we are from a noble and powerful clan! You of the Xaoi sect would best to know your place!”
“Oh… is it a pedophile clan?” Bào bǐ raised an eyebrow, completely unperturbed by the spiritual pressure.
“We are the Black Shadow Destruction Clan!” The man declared proudly, pushing his spiritual might to the max.
He frowned, noticing the Bào bǐ was acting completely unaffected. A 2nd realm nearly at the max of the low-tier should be able to suppress even a max 1st realm. He didn’t know that an expert had carved a formation into Bào bǐ’s bones at birth, and that spiritual pressure couldn’t affect him in the slightest. Having never felt spiritual pressure before, even from Liao An, Bào bǐ didn’t even know how it felt.
As for Bào bǐ being such a high level, he was impressive to these men, but if he were truly 12 or 13 as they assumed, it was only at the level of a gifted genius. These men were still stronger than him and thus were not put off in the slightest.
“So… you’re a clan that deals in human sacrifice, dual cultivation, and other acts considered evil to the cultivation world?” Bào bǐ inquired.
The three men’s faces went white.
“How did this little brat hear about our sacred human sacrifice technique? These are restricted!” The leader demanded. “Speak, brat, what does the Xaoi sect know about our human sacrifice? Who told you of such things!”
Bào bǐ gave a wry look and scratched his cheek. “Um… you’re called the Shadow Destruction Clan… even if you didn’t just threaten to rape a 9-year-old girl, it’s kind of in the name. It couldn’t be more obvious if your clan was named Rapey Baddie Bad Guys Clan.”
The men’s mouths all dropped open as they stared at each other. What was with this brat? Not only did he not fear the most secretive and dangerous clan that even rivaled the Xaoi clan, but he was also only a measly Xaoi sect disciple. They shouldn’t even be holding him in their eyes, yet he had managed to engage them in a conversation and even insult them.
“Bào bǐ…” Liao An suddenly spoke up. “Taking out all three will be difficult for you alone. Let us split up. That will also split them up. You run this way, and I will run this way.”
“Take us on your own?” The leader let out a laugh. “You truly overestimate your own abilities. Well, I’ll show you, children-“
“Okay! Go!” Bào bǐ broke off in the direction Liao An indicated.
Liao An only waited a moment longer before taking off in the opposite direction. The leader, who was still monologuing, stopped with his mouth falling open. He was lecturing these kids on how futile they were being, and yet they had the audacity to just take off in mid-sentence.
“I was talking here!” He screamed into the forest before turning to the guy next to him. “You, go kill that brat that dares to reveal our clan secrets.”
The other man gave a wry smile. Wasn’t it the leader himself who confirmed the kid’s accusations? However, he was only a 1st tier mortal origin realm, so he didn’t really have much of a say. He turned and started heading in pursuit of Bào bǐ.
“We’re going to pin down that girl. I’m going to enjoy that girl’s vital yin! After I have my hundred strokes, you guys can have her all you want.”
“Ah… actually, her cultivation will probably be tapped by that point, I don’t really like little girls, boss.” The other guy laughed, scratching the back of his head, clearly perturbed by the small boy’s accusations earlier.
The leader frowned, the word Bào bǐ had called him floated in his mind. Pedophile… the leader was no pedophile! This was cultivation! It was just cultivation! It might be evil cultivation, but evil cultivation was still cultivation. It was the powerful who wrote the rules! Even though if his clan’s practices were revealed, the other clans would condemn them as an evil clan, they were too strong to just wipe out. Being morally reprehensible allowed them to have the strength to compete with these other clans who lucked out with powerful bloodlines, inheritances, and pocket realms. They simply used these acts to maintain the balance, and no one would be able to object once they were strong enough!
He was certainly not… what that stupid child said he was. He was just a thirty-year-old man who did what he had to do in a world where only strength mattered. After giving himself a quick pep talk, he and the other man locked on to the moving target and started the chase. They were in pursuit of a 9-year-old girl so that the leader could bang her.
“I’m not a pedophile…” he muttered under his breath, but somehow that didn’t make him feel any better.