Chapter 159 - The Tide of Beasts
"What bad luck! A tide of beasts!" Shi Mu was started as he quickly scanned the environment. At his left side was a high mountain sloping sharply into the sky. His eyes turned gold again, shining briefly, before he turned decidedly to seek shelter in the mountain.
The beasts would not let go of their prey easily, of course. They followed Shi Mu in the new direction like torrential waves rolling to sabotage a solitary boat in the sea.
Something swished through the air and ear-splitting noises reverberated. Twenty to thirty grey foxes pounced upon Shi Mu like sharp arrows from all directions; their claws thrusted out at Shi Mu, glinting coldly. Without slowing down his pace, Shi Mu brandished his black blade and among the glow of red flames the blade, spiralled like a giant red viper. For a period of time, anguished cries were heard from all around, and mutilated bodies piled all over the place.
Therefore, in the face of danger, Shi Mu took his courage in both hands and carved a way out, leaving blood all the way as he rushed to the mountain. With the extra help of the Body-Lifting Charm, he soon outran the foxes and dropped them far behind.
However, though disadvantaged in speed, the foxes kept increasing in number. By the time Shi Mu reached the foot of the mountain, at least five hundred foxes had gathered behind him like a mighty torrent in hot pursuit.
While being enveloped by the green light of the charm, Shi Mu found his body being supremely lightweight and supple, enabling him to move up the cliff and arrived at a terrace near the top in a short time. Standing there, he caught sight of a dim cave a short distance ahead, giving him a reason to relax a bit. The narrow opening of the cave - at most three meters in width - would at best, allow two or three people to come through at one time.
Within the time of a few breaths, Shi Mu had reached the cave. Without the slightest hesitation, he flashed into it, not being surprised when he saw that the interior view conformed exactly to what he had already seen on the foot of the mountain with his outstanding eyesight.
The cave turned out to have a sealed space, about thirty meters in length, and was much wider inside. Aside from a boulder that was slightly taller than himself at the entrance, there was nothing more except for some rubble scattered freely on the floor in the cave. The whole place felt cold and empty.
Without a warning, Shi Mu turned around to face the entrance. In the next second, he put his hands on the boulder and gave it a full-strength push with his real qi surging torrentially in his body.
Boom! A huge noise resounded in the cave as the boulder half-closed the entrance, now allowing only one person in. Whiz! Suddenly, a grey shape flitted up, and Shi Mu swung his black blade unhesitatingly to hack the coming fox into halves as it leaped into midair. Before its blood and insides scattered down, three more grey shapes sprang up and made their attack, baring fangs and brandishing claws.
Shi Mu his real qi once more and caused thirteen black shadows emerged in the air, blocking the narrow opening completely. Next, the three grey shapes were chopped to pieces amid the glint and flash of the black blade.
However, these creatures took up the positions of the fallen and rose to fight one after another, quite undaunted; their blood-thirsty eyes glowed red. Fortunately, the narrowness of the opening kept most of the beasts howling outside of the cave, and each time at most, three or four foxes could force their way in, greatly relieving Shi Mu's burden.
Inside the cave, Shi Mu dared not to relax his vigilance for a single moment and constantly adjusted and guided his real qi. Meanwhile, he had found a stable tempo of fighting the beasts, wielding his blade methodically. According to shaman Yanya's teaching, this tide of beasts must have been caused by the blood fog, and would usually last from several hours to a day, a period of when one had to do everything he could to come through.
Suddenly, sounds of fierce fighting were heard not far outside the cave. Shi Mu looked in the direction of the sounds with much interest and curiosity and found two figures in a fierce battle with the foxes, fighting their way to the cave. One of them was the black-amoured sea guy with fishtail and scales whereas the other was the blue-dressed holy girl. In her hand was a piece of coral about thirty centimeter in length. Both of them were covered by a sheen of blue light.
Among the foxes that they were fighting with were over ten powerful porcupines, of which the strongest had obviously reached the late stage of Houtian level. The porcupines paused now and then during their pursuit of the two sea dwellers to shake their body to shoot a storm of countless quills towards the two.
Nevertheless, every time the bombardment of quills came, it was easily repelled by the black-armoured sea guy whose blue trident wheeled like a windmill amid dazzling shadows that overlaid each other. Thus the blue-dressed girl was perfectly protected. Even though some quills escaped from the net of trident shadows, the blue light screen around the sea guy's armour would always defend against them. After a regular interval, the sheen of the screen would fade and then the blue-dressed girl would raise her left hand gently to release a blue water bubble from the coral, immediately being absorbed by the sea guy's armour. Hence, the sheen would be renewed. In observing this process, Shi Mu also found that this blue sheen could also magically keep the blood fog out.
Just as the two sea dwellers were within a hundred meters from the cave, all of the porcupines suddenly stopped in unison and began to shake their bodies. Countless quills shot up towards the two like heavy raindrops.
The black-armoured guy let out an angry shout, and then the trident in his hand suddenly glared. The next moment, myriad trident shadows formed a blue screen as a shield against the quills which clashed as they hit the screen. The quills then evidently lost their momentum, falling down to the ground as the black-armoured guy also slackened his movement.
As it turned out, the large number of foxes had seized the moment to launch a raid, springing up and pouncing down upon the two onto their backs. Though the trident, a superb weapon, could manage to ward off the foxes, its wielder was certainly approaching his limits. His face was furrowed with anxiety, and the physical exertion had made him pant for breath.
At this critical moment, the coral in the girl's hand suddenly shone brightly and glowing rays shined in all directions. Gradually, the colorful rays joined into a ribbon. In a flash, the rays reached the biggest one of the porcupines.
The big one had just ended its first round of shooting, and was ready for the second. Some seven or eight quills erected from its back, itching for their turn. However, this wish would not be granted; the ribbon, after a twist in the air, quickly wound around the beast's body and bound it up. As a result, the porcupine was unable to budge an inch.
Soon after, an ear-splitting sound echoed in the air, and a blue ice spear whizzed through the air, piercing one of the beast's eye and eventually nailing it to the ground. In the same manner, the blue-dressed girl dispatched over ten porcupines in a blink of an eye with the coral's colorful rays that merged with the blue light of the ice spears.
Shi Mu could not even turn his eyes from this thrilling scene as he continued wielding his black blade to kill his share. The holy girl's young face seemed rather out of proportion with her great attainments in magic art; she was already a powerful Adept of water element at this young age! Judging from her ice spear art, she must have reached the Spirit Level in magic art.
Obviously, the two sea dwellers aim was the cave where he himself was in at the moment. After the holy girl's help, the black-armoured sea guy accelerated his pace towards the cave. After all, the beasts had the absolute advantage in number. A prolonged battle would only consume their energies and tire them to death.
Soon, the two came to the opening of the cave, and after a round of ice spear attack, the ten-odd foxes around the entrance were killed in a minute.
"Sir, you seem to know what's happening, and the tide of beasts may not end in a short time. Could you please share this haven with us?" The blue-dressed girl was delightedly surprised at seeing Shi Mu being in this cave, a trace of excitement crossing her shining eyes. She asked in a clear and melodious voice.
Shi Mu raised his brow in doubt, and after a brief moment, he had his resolution. Stepping aside swiftly, he let the two into the cave, who happily obeyed. Once inside, the holy girl riveted her eyes towards Shi Mu with an animated smile. Save for the unexpected uproar outside the cave, she was hearding overtures.
A great number of quills interrupted the friendly atmosphere in the cave without warning, and another tide of foxes had also forced their way into the cave one by one. Shi Mu and the sea guy rushed to the entrance simultaneously, and in tacit agreement, each guarded one side of the opening. The blue screen of the sea guy's trident and the red flames of Shi Mu's black blade worked in perfect coordination to defend the entrance.
With his Gale-Force Blade Art, Shi Mu managed to repel the foxes pouring in. However, with the long-distance attack of the porcupines', he began to feel strained; the quills would always stick in from every angle possible. You cater for this, and will lose that. A typical example would be this: in midair the red flames spiraled, and down cascaded the burned bodies of three foxes, amidst a rain of blood. However, just then, some seven or eight quills would penetrate the blood rain and shoot towards Shi Mu from three different heights. Shi Mu would then have to swing his black blade in several turns and ward off at least four quills at one time. Simultaneously, he would twist his body to dodge another three quills. This would invariably produce a weak point: by no means could he duck the third blow of quills.
However, this time when he was rendered defenceless, a coldness soothed his tense body. At the same time, he found himself tenderly wrapped in by a blue screen. The screen then rippled like water, and the third wave of quills bounced away as if hitting on a wall. Quite surprised, he felt cold sweat trickling down his forehead, and only after a moment did he come back to reality and take out a Golden Light Charm. He activated the charm and instantly, another screen of golden light added to the blue screen.
Without delay, Shi Mu once again threw out a succession of black shadows, protecting the entrance with the sea guy. The blue-dressed girl, after helping Shi Mu with the blue screen, pointed the coral at the entrance, causing colorful rays to immediately roll out of the cave to bind up the next porcupine. In the same fashion, the porcupine was killed by an ice spear without the least bit of strength to struggle.
The joined force of the three soon eradicated the strong porcupines outside of the cave. Shi Mu sighed a sigh of relief, and felt more confident in concentrating on the foxes. However, the next moment caused his pupils to contract. Just adjacent to the cave, a warrior was mired in the tide of beasts, her cloak tainted by blood, and her white sword dancing like a lotus in a river. She was exactly the princess!
Clearly, however skillful her sword art was, her strength was failing her in the face of such an overwhelming number of enemies.
"Please, you deal with the foxes, I'm gonna save her!" Shi Mu claimed resolutely in a strained voice.
Without waiting for an answer, Shi Mu drew back her sword and retreated into the cave. The black-armoured guy snorted, which resulted in a cold stare from the blue-dressed girl. The guy did not speak any more, but was rather discontented. His trident moved even quicker, sealing the entrance with more shadows.
Inside the cave, Shi Mu put away his black blade and untied his Air-Splitting Bow from his back. Taking out a black arrow, he set it on the string and pulled the bow widely open like a full moon.
With a smooth sound, a black light whizzed out of the cave. After a second, a fox that had just sprang up to dive on the princess was shot through its head, and the giant force threw it backwards for a long distance before it thudded down onto the ground.
The princess was startled for a moment, and then looked in the direction where the arrow had come. She was confounded when first discovering the black-armoured guy at the entrance of the cave, but then immediately became exhilarated when saw Shi Mu inside the cave. Greatly encouraged, she moved towards the cave in great haste.
With black arrows finding their way one after another to their targets, the princess found the foxes around her shot dead one by one, which proved to be a great relief. With enhanced confidence, her sword grew sharper and quicker until it soon brought her to the opening of the cave.