AGM 0039 - Persistent Tracking
Fan Le's cultivation was at the 1st level of the Arterial Circulation Realm, while Qin Wentian was only at the 9th level of the Body Refinement Realm. As long as they didn't venture deeper into the Dark Forest, and were cautious, it wouldn't be easy for them to get into dangerous situations.
Hence, this period of time was extremely leisurely for Qin Wentian and Fan Le.
"Qin Wentian, you should be able to enter the Arterial Circulation Realm very soon. What Astral Soul do you want to condense for your 2nd Astral Gate?" Fan Le asked as he walked beside Qin Wentian.
Fan Le was looking forward to which Astral Soul Qin Wentian would choose to condense, since his first Astral Soul already belonged to a layer higher than the 3rd Heavenly Layer. There were no doubts that his 2nd Astral Soul would be of a similar level as well. The strength of Qin Wentian's tyrannical Heavenly Hammer Astral Soul was something that he'd personally witnessed.
"I'm still thinking. There are countless constellations throughout the 9 layers of the Heaven. This time, I have to choose carefully." Qin Wentian smiled. He too, was anticipating the condensation of his 2nd Astral Soul.
"You're abnormal." Fan Le cursed in a low voice, "Many people's will can only be sustained briefly in the 1st Heavenly Layer, and they have to hurriedly form innate links with the constellations. But you, even in the 3rd Heavenly Layer, still want to take your time to choose."
"However, even though you're abnormal, you're still a distance away from me." Fan Le spoke with a deadpanned expression on his face.
Qin Wentian was long used to the bragging of Fan Le. His only reaction was to smile disdainfully, as if he was trying to purposely infuriate Fan Le.
"There's someone in combat." Both of them said simultaneously, as they both dashed in the same direction, running as fast as if they were flying, while behind them, a small white blur of fur followed them.
Not far from Qin Wentian, Liu Yan began to despair. She hadn't thought that she'd actually meet a 4th-level demonic beasts here - the fish-scaled python. In front of her, the python towered over her, wrapping itself over her friend Zufan, before swallowing him in a single gulp. The cruel ending frightened her so bad that her legs were trembling in fear.
"Liu Yan, run." Liu Yue, who wasn't far from her, madly roared. After all, Liu Yan was only 16 years of age, and upon seeing such a cruel situation, couldn't help but break down in fear, staring dumbly at the green-colored python as it neared, trembling madly.
The body of the python stopped in front of Liu Yan, as she stared up at it. At this moment, Liu Yan only felt crushing despair. She didn't hear the whistling sound that had emanated from the side.
"Evil creature." Qin Wentian, like an arrow, shot forth from a bow, dashed towards the head area of the fish-scaled python, unleashed the 3rd strike of his Dragon Subduing Fist, Draconic Roars of the Nine Heavens, and brutally smashed his fist through the eyes of the python. The enraged python hissed and immediately slithered about as it angled it's bite in the direction of Qin Wentian's body, trying to bite it.
"Peng!" The immense strength of Qin Wentian caused the head of the python to be knocked back as it's tail swept towards Qin Wentian in a sweeping attack.
"Go." Qin Wentian shouted to Liu Yan, who was still standing there, only to see his palm catch hold of the tail of the python, losing control of his movements, as the python swung its tail about.
Liu Yan had only come to her senses at this point, as she finally turned to her body, madly escaping, while the body of Qin Wentian was brutally smashed onto the trunk of a huge tree, causing his whole body to tremble in pain. However, the strength of his fleshy body currently was at an extremely high level. The strike earlier, though it was capable of making him feel pain, could not injure his inner organs.
A fearsome hiss, capable of piercing one's ear drums, echoed out, as an arrow of Fan Le pierced it's other eye, before it decided to slither away, not giving in to mindless rage, signifying that it was capable of logic and reasoning.
"How painful." Qin Wentian didn't chase after it, instead casting a glance at Fan Le, "Fatty, nice one."
"Hehe." Fan Le grinned, as he walked over. His 2nd Astral Soul granted him the ability 'thought and intention'. He could impose his will on the arrow, and cause it to change direction in mid flight, as well as see the cultivation base of others just by looking at them. Although this type of Astral Souls wouldn't be able to boost the user a great increment in attack or defence, it belonged to the control-type Astral Souls, which possessed a terrifying potential for growth.
Currently, Fan Le could only apply his power of thought onto arrows, causing them to change direction at the critical moment, enabling him to catch opponents unawares. After his powers grew, it could even evolve into telekinesis, enabling him to control other objects with the power of his mind.
"Are you okay?" Qin Wentian walked beside Liu Yan, as he extended his hand to her.
After seeing that the python had slithered away, Liu Yan finally heaved a sigh of relief as she slumped onto the ground. Her dreaded expression soon broke into a smile as she saw the grinning youth in front of her. She accepted the extended hand of Qin Wentian, allowing him to help her up.
"Thank you." Liu Yan softly whispered. She was at the edge of desperation earlier, before Qin Wentian had appeared and saved her from certain death.
"It's fine now, just be careful in the future." Qin Wentian smiled.
"Right." Liu Yan nodded her head and smiled, but soon after, her expression turned to hurt as she recalled that Zufan was dead.
Above the trees, a black-colored crow was attracted by the commotion of the battle earlier. As it flew over, it let out a cry.
"A black crow?" Fan Le cursed, before saying in a low voice, "they're really persistent"
Qin Wentian furrowed his brows, as he instantly deduced what was happening. In the previous battles with Orfon, he didn't forget that the youth to the side of Orfon was capable of controlling demonic beasts.
"Liu Yan, don't reveal the fact that you know me." Qin Wentian said to Liu Yan before glancing to Fan Le. Both of them instantly departed, dashing deeper into the Dark Forest.
This situation caused Liu Yan to be stunned. As she attempted to chase after Qin Wentian, abruptly, the sounds of wings flapping rang out as numerous flying beasts began to pursue the direction that Qin Wentian had gone. Not only that, she could see a number of cultivators standing on top of the flying beasts.
Upon seeing that, Liu Yue caught hold of Liu Yan as he stated, "Don't chase after him, they're about to face an extremely powerful opponent."
"Brother." Liu Yan gazed at Liu Yue, only to hear Liu Yue saying, "That Qin Wentian would rather suffer an attack from the python in order to save you, which means that he has taken a liking to you. However, these pursuers on top of the flying beasts are all extremely powerful. Remember the words of Qin Wentian - he's a complete stranger to us."
Just as the sound of his voice faded, a cultivator who was riding atop a 3rd-level demonic beast curved into a turn as he revealed himself. This person was none other than Ye Zhan.
Ye Zhan was full of smiles as he jumped down from his mount, walking towards Liu Yan and Liu Yue, "I'm Ye Zhan from the Royal Academy, and you guys are?"
"My name is Liu Yue, and this is my sister Liu Yan." Liu Yue cautiously replied. Although Ye Zhan was courteous as he spoke, Liu Yue didn't dare to be careless.
"That guy from earlier is named Qin Wentian, and is one of the applicants for the Emperor Star Academy. I'm afraid that he won't be able to leave this Dark Forest alive. How long have you known him?" Ye Zhan nonchalantly asked.
"Not long at all." Liu Yue smiled as he replied. He didn't dare to lie in front of Ye Zhan.
"There's no need to be nervous, we're only against him, and have no malicious intentions towards the both of you." Ye Zhan reassured. Only then did Liu Yue heave a sigh of relief, while Liu Yan began to worry for Qin Wentian.
Qin Wentian and Fan Le were madly sprinting, however, how could they hope to outdistance the flying beasts? The distance between the prey and the predators was getting shorter.
"Little Rascal, transform." Qin Wentian shouted, and abruptly, the body of the snowy puppy flickered as it expanded in size, while Qin Wentian and Fan Le both jumped onto it's back, albeit a little squished.
"Sit tight. How many are pursuing us, and what's their cultivation level?" Qin Wentian asked.
"Three people. Orfon and the youth clad in beast skin aren't a problem, but the last one seems somewhat problematic. My power of thought is unable to see through his cultivation base, therefore I'm afraid that his cultivation level is at least at the 3rd level of the Arterial Circulation Realm, or even higher." Fan Le's back was against Qin Wentian's, and his legs tightened around the body of Little Rascal, as he wielded a bow in his hands, firing three arrows into the air.
The speed of evasion for the flying beasts was extremely quick. In addition to their rapid acceleration, the arrows fired by Fan Le were unable to hit them in spite of him imbuing the power of his will into his arrows.
"How troublesome." Fan Le sighed depressedly, "luckily, the speed of this Little Rascal is quick enough - on par with the flying beasts. If not for the two of us, this snowy puppy would have no need to use its transformation ability, and could easily evade the pursuit of the flying beasts."
"Carrying on like this isn't a solution. Let's prepare to battle them. As long as we can kill the beast tamer, we will have more methods to control the flying beasts." Qin Wentian stated.
"Right, let's wait for a chance." The two of them began their discussion. Fan Le, to preserve his Astral Energy, stopped the firing of his arrows as the three of them ventured deeper and deeper inside of the Dark Forest.
Haku was somewhat irritated, he hadn't thought that it would consume so much energy just for them. Not only that, that white dog ran around randomly, as if it had no clear sense of direction in mind. Now even he himself didn't know where he was, and there was a high probability of encountering dangerous demonic beasts in this part of the Dark Forest.
Suddenly, the presence of sunlight could be seen. There were no more canopies of trees, only a vast, spacious acre of land, and the possibility of moving forward. There was also an entrance into a valley filled with mist and fog.
"Mirage City." Haku exclaimed, as his pupils narrowed. They'd actually arrived at the boundary of the Mirage City within the Dark Forest.
Qin Wentian and co also halted their steps. Inside of the misty valley, there was a city that was glimmering; it was partially visible one second, and was disappearing the next.
"It's as though they're very afraid of this place." Fatty squinted his eyes, as he looked towards three of their pursuers, who had stopped and were slowly inching their way forward. It seemed like now, Qin Wentian would be unable to escape, even if he'd grown wings.
The two of them dismounted from the back of Little Rascal, as the snowy puppy transformed back into it's original size.
Qin Wentian locked gazes with Fan Le, and as if they intuitively understood each other's intentions, as soon as Fan Le took out his bow, he fired nine Astral Arrows into the skies, aiming for Makino.
"Little Rascal." Qin Wentian hollered, only to see Little Rascal spring into the hands of Qin Wentian, as Qin Wentian flung Little Rascal up into the skies, towards Makino who was inching slowly forward in the air.
Makino's countenance underwent a drastic change after he saw the nine Astral Arrows aiming for him. Abruptly, the space in which he could dodge, was all sealed off. Makino gathered his strength, as he lunged towards the astral arrows in front of him, attempting to use brute strength to break free.
But in that same instance, a snowy white puppy appeared in front of him, transforming a few sizes bigger, as it's sharp claws swiped towards his head.
Makino's expression grew unsightly, as he controlled the black eagle he was on to rise in altitude. His actions caused the sharp claws of Little Rascal, that were originally aimed at him, to slice through the brains of black eagle, in turn causing it to plummet down from the skies. Makino too, lost his balance, and followed the black eagle down.
All of this happened in an instant. The nine Astral Arrows fired earlier were merely meant to be a bait to keep Makino in that position. The real attack was the claw swipe from Little Rascal. And in the instant that he'd paused to break apart the arrows, Makino had already fallen into the trap..
On the boundary of the misty valley, Fatty nocked an arrow and aimed towards Makino, who was falling in mid air, while grinning.