Chapter 9 - Killing the Corpse
As Shi Mu was stunned by the unexpected appearance of the zombie, it had already pounced on him after a howl, its body giving off a rancid odor of rotten fish. Taking a deep breath while clearing his thoughts, Shi Mu immediately brandished his saber. His wrists moved nimbly as he wielded the saber, creating a strong, cold light that flew forward.
Peng! Shi Mu slashed the monster's chest five times in quick succession. But the cuts were dull as if they fell onto a dead tree and only left a few shallow wounds on the surface. Trickles of green blood seeped out of the wounds, but seemed ineffective. The corpse stretched its arms and pushed Shi Mu down forcibly.
Shi Mu was struck dumb with astonishment; until now he had been fully convinced of his strength gained from his previous exercise of running wildly in the rain with the heavy black armour. Without any previous knowledge of martial arts he was still able to slither out of the monster's thick arms then quickly moved around to its back.
"Hah!" Shi shouted as he once again struck out with his saber cutting five times at the monster's waist before it could react.
The monster howled in anger at the superficial wounds. It wrenched its body backward and surprised the three by turning its upper body 180 degrees around as it pounced viciously on Shi Mu's head.
"Boom!" This attack was completely unanticipated and was impossible to dodge. Shi Mu frantically smashed back with his knife but encountered an irresistible force that sent his whole body flying. A broken stone column stopped his flight forcefully. As Shi Mu began to rise, he coughed out blood as he found himself quite lightheaded.
The corpse rushed forward showing no signs of letting Shi My off; it rushed forward with second attack that stuck low to the ground. This time Shi Mu did not try to dodge but only let out a shout, striking out with saber in six different cuts; a dull sound rang out at the successive fierce cuts. The youth used so much strength that at the collision the knife flew out, darting upwards before finally inserting itself into a crossbeam; as to Shi Mu himself, he was pressed backward at collision.
The monster let out a shrill shout when forced back by the violent attack, its arms now carrying another four scars and its face a two long ones, sprouting large amounts of green blood.
"Young brother, its head is the weak point!" Upon the middle-aged old man remembering this he shouted to Shi Mu anxiously, but his shout attracted the monster's attention unexpectedly. It turned about swiftly to vent its anger on the annoying helper by the bonfire, knowing that Shi Mu was not an easy prey.
"No!" The middle-aged man was scared out of his wits, but with his daughter behind him, he bravely stood his ground and casted the dagger at the monster before he turned around and tightly held the girl to his chest to become the girl's armour.
The monster brushed the dagger away as if sweeping off some dust. It used its other hand to rip open the middle-aged man's chest, its sharp fingers halfway into his body.
"Ah!" The man shouted in pain as his blood gushed out. His daughter blanched seeing her father in pain and screamed in despair.
Then something strange happened.
The monster open its rottened mouth and was lowering it head, but as soon as it heard the girl's scream it trembled with a corresponding shout. Taking back its arms, it staggered back from the man, as if suffering from some untold agonies.
Seizing the chance, Shi Mu rushed to the monster's back, his movement stirring a sudden puff of wind and dust. He jumped to the height of three meters and began to pound mercilessly at the monster's head. Boom! His two fists were like iron hammers at the forge hitting the monster's weak point, his superhuman strength enough to stir an exploding sound with each hit. The monster's head was split open like a melon while countless drops of green blood began to splatter in all directions. Shi Mu pushed himself back as not to get hit by the ominous, green-blood rain.
The corpse fell heavily onto the ground after twitching twice.
Shi Mu steadied his body by clenching his fists as his face paled a little. The mortal wound was done only in an instant, but had not the monster been disturbed by the girl's sudden scream, he would not have been able to kill it. But undoubtedly the success was due to his superhuman strength too, which was gained by his nearly accomplished Stone-Breaking Fist. If not, the monster's head - even though it was the weakest point - would not have been injured bare-handed by an ordinary Practitioner.
"Father!" Then came the girl's grievous call.
Shi Mu turned to see the mortally wounded man, his daughter leaning on his body trying desperately to stop the blood from leaving out of the large holes in his chest, only to be reminded of her hopeless efforts by the continual flow of blood.
"Young boy, young boy..."
The middle-aged man's face was pale, but he ignored his daughter and only called desperately to Shi Mu.
"Stop talking father. Save your energy while I find you a doctor..." The girl cried.
"It's too late, Xiu Er, even I know some medical knowledge. My heart has no strength now, and only have a few moments left. I've had good times in my life, but only have one regret dying now. The only regret is you." The man smiled in response bitterly, casting an anxious look at Shi Mu.
The girl's heart was broken at such words.
"Uncle Zhong, do you have any last wishes?" Shi Mu sighed in despair and finally walked up to him, lowering his body. He was not slow to notice some coming trouble, but it was impossible to sweep it off now.
"Little brother, it must be my lot to meet you here, and now that my life's ending, I can't bear seeing my Xiu Er all alone in this world, unprotected, so please look after her..." The man began to gasp for breath.
"There's no need for me to look after your daughter. Is she not engaged to the Wu family? Although, I can promise to escort her there." Shi Mu was surprised at the entreaty.
"The Wu? hehe...he...If only I could live I would find a way to get her married into the family, but now... They definitely will not acknowledge the engagement any more. My daughter will only be......."
"Then I could take her to your other relatives." Shi Mu frowned and interrupted.
"We have no relatives ever since our family became poor. Xiu Er, listen, your engagement with the Wus is canceled now. Little brother, it's obvious you are no average person...I won't ask you to make my daughter your wife, but please take her at least as a concubine, let her live a life safely, then I can rest in peace. Since you must be a warrior, this family heirloom won't be useless to you, I'll give it to you as my daughter's betrothal gift. If you ever harm her I will become a vengeful spirit to curse you! " The middle-aged man spoke this quickly in his last moments, then he produced a wooden case from his shirt and thrust it forcibly into Shi Mu's hands. After a loud cry he was breathless.
"Father!" Hearing her father's words she was too surprised to cry, but at her father's death now she could not help but cry her eyes out, leaning on his body.
Shi Mu was speechless with the case in hand, not knowing what to do.
"Young master, my father was quite delirious in his last moments, so don't take his words seriously. Please escort me to the Wu Clan in Feng City." The girl stopped crying after some unknown time, her eyes swollen but her back now straight and firm.
"Miss Zhong, I do think it would be too rude of me to do as Uncle Zhong asked. Also, please take back this case." The girl's words made him relax a little. He said so with a sigh and passed the case to her, quite embarrassed.
"I've never seen this case myself. But since my father has given it to you in person so I won't take it back. Besides my life would be forfeit if it were not for you." The girl shook off the offer.
"All right then, Miss Zhong, but don't call me young master anymore, just call me by name Shi Mu. Well, the rain has stopped; Let's bury your father now, or the body may lead animals here." Hesitating for a moment, Shi Mu said so, taking back the case.
"Then I'll rely on your help. Brother Shi may call me Zhong Xiu from now on." The girl, though she looked fragile, grew stronger after crying out.
On the hill behind the temple, a girl knelt beside a tomb and made three loud kowtows to her father with suppressed anguish. Afterwards she left with Shi Mu, turning back to see the tomb.
The two returned to the temple, only to find that the monster's body had began to rot at an alarming speed and a large amount of green fluids had seeped out, stinking up the hall.
Zhong Xiu was frightened to approach a single step at the sight, while Shi Mu said with a frown,
"It's unsafe to leave the strange thing here. Miss Zhong, please wait here for a moment while I deal with it." The girl nodded her agreement. Shi Mu then walked out of the hall and turned back after a while, some thick huge leaves in hand. He then walked up to the body with the leaves, and after having covered it briefly, he lifted the corpse out of the hall.
*Pa* A thing fell from the leaves.