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Chapter 164 - The Spider's Thread
In midair the princess looked down at the shambles, a lingering fear in her thumping heart. Then as if called back to reality, she found her waist clamped by a strong, iron arm. Lifting her head, she caught sight of Shi Mu's face in the profile, and a scent of virility from him made her blush.
"Jin Huang's in trouble." Shi Mu frowned.
"Eh...What's up?" The princess was startled, and hurriedly looked in Jin Huang's direction. The young barbarian had made almost to the entrance of the cave, but confusingly, the ice scorpion was not in pursue of him; instead, the scorpion remained staying still on the same spot all the time.
However, just as Jin Huang was to approach the opening, a colossal ice boulder near him exploded without warning! Amid the ice fog that blurred their view, the ice scorpion bolted to the entrance and blocked it with its own body. The cold air surrounding it felt deadened a little, but its body had frozen again to the form of an ice sculpture.
"!" The princess exclaimed in horror.
Shi Mu's face clouded, and he subconsciously fastened his grasp of his black blade.
The next second, the ice scorpion leaped up abruptly, its two rows of legs supporting its weight by pressing onto the ground, while one pair of its huge pincers raised to midair with great force. In an instant, a translucent ice claw gripped at Jin Huang rapidly, bringing with it a draught of cold air. At that time Jin Huang was still flying in a cloud of golden light, and the incoming attack made him force an emergency stop. His face was full of anger, and snorting, he flung his round golden dagger to the claw.
The dagger clanged with the claw, making a deafening noise. For a time blinding golden light shone in all directions, with ice crumbs showering down in the air, hissing. However, after a few moments the light faded, and would die down completely in a moment.
Jin Huang's eyes sharpened, and in response the magical characters on the round dagger came to life, all dancing like small insects. After a few seconds, the dagger cracked into myriad pieces, and as a result, the scorpion's claw turned into a cloud of spray, evaporated like snow under the sun.
However, a flurry of hissing noises echoed in the air at once. On second look, Jin Huang found himself threatened imminently by large ice flames spurted from the scorpion's mouth! He quickened his pace in an attempt to run away, but the ice flame overtook him at an even higher speed, and caught his two feet. In an blink of an eye, his feet was totally frozen!
Unable to advance, his body fell from midair and thudded onto the ground. With a loud clunk he was petrified to find that the part below his knees had all crashed into bits of frozen ice!
"Ah!!!!!!!"Jin Huang collapsed onto the ground with a bitter cry, watching the approaching monster in despair.
In midair, the princess's eyes were riveted on the scene. For a second her face puckered in hesitation, but presently she bit her lips with a determined glitter in her eyes. Fishing out two silver charms that shimmered in the snowy wind, she slipped one of them into Shi Mu's sleeve and said hurriedly, "This is the last trump card I've got. My teacher gave it to me. The Charm of Telesport. Can carry you a distance of more than 5 kilometers in an instant. I used one when attacked by the fox monsters, so here're the last two ones. Cannot be sure if it might transport you to another monster's lair, mind you."
Before Shi Mu answered, the Fire Dancing princess stuck the charm to her forehead, and immediately was enveloped by silver light. The next moment, Shi Mu was stunned by the sudden glare of the silver light, into which the princess' figure disappeared.
Thus Shi Mu was left with the charm given to him in his hand. A fragrant scent still lingered on it. He clutched the charm and without activating it, he urged the black wings behind him and suddenly turned around. The wings gained in brightness and carried Shi Mu at a faster speed back to the fruit tree.
The ice scorpion at once discerned Shi Mu's intention, and hissed thunderously in great rage. Having a look at Jin Huang in a short distance, the beast moved on to him speedily with its stinger swaying menacingly.
At the same time, Shi Mu's body was surrounded by a thin film of golden light, and was aiming at the fruit tree with ever quickening speed. The interval was being diminished. Simultaneously, he did not forget to always look back and keep an eye on the scorpion.
Less than three meters to reach the tree. A heart-rending cry from behind made his ear strain uncomfortably. Then followed the rancorous sound of an ice boulder splitting. Without delay, the the ice scorpion was dashing at Shi Mu in a powerful gale!
Soon, the translucent claw of it arrived, diving for Shi Mu like a final judge. Shi Mu gritted his teeth and chose to ignore the claw temporarily, at least before he got the fruit. At one grasp he had had three Dark Force fruits in his hand, and with a nimble twist of his body he thrust his black blade to resist the claw close at his head. The black blade was glowing with red flames, and in a blink of an eye thirteen red shadows was thrown out. The shadows gathered in the air in the shape of a prodigious fiery snake that met the claw undauntedly.
The claw crackled loudly, and the first strike brought the ice scorpion's claw down. Shi Mu seized the chance to grab at the last Dark Force fruit on the tree, and not daring to lose a single second started the charm.
Splaaaaash!!! The ice scorpion fell down on the ice floor after a failed attack the second time in a total consternation. Its target had vanished into thin air under its very eyes!
Somewhere in the Middle Area, a silver light popped up, followed by Shi Mu staggering out. A few steps later he lost his balance and tumbled to the ground, rolling down a hillside and then struggled to his feet with painful expressions. Once back to his full height, the dizziness left him and he felt as cool as usual.
The lost strike from the ice scorpion still had its lingering sensation on Shi Mu's body. Luckily he had resisted it with his Gale-Force Blade Art, and the attack was further cushioned by the Golden Armour Charm. On top of these, the yin qi inside his body also responded immediately to cancel out the cold air from the ice scorpion, and as a result protected Shi Mu well from the cold.
Safe and sound, he stood still for a moment watching the four glistening fruits in his arms, and never had he felt more relieved and fulfilled. After a full immersion in happiness, he looked around for an inspection of the environment. It seemed that he had landed on a peaceful side of the territory which was barely visited by large-size animals. No trace of them could be found. Shi Mu began to wonder where the princess was at the moment. He sighed softly and took out a Rejuvenation Charm, stuck it to the wound on his back.
A quarter of an hour later, Shi Mu was standing on the top of a high mountain nearby with the map made of hide in hand. This map was distinctly different from the shabbier one he got from Minh Tu, an updated one he had made by adding new marks to the original one with information he learned from Molang's map. It all owed to his powerful memory - a by-product in the process of practising the Moon-Swallowing Art - that he had memorized most the details of Molang's map in a glimpse. And to be precise, very near to an extraordinary retentive memory.
Shi Mu consulted the map and quickly found out his current location - about thirty miles to the northwest of the Snow Mountain, and not far from a likely den for the multiple-headed vipers.
After storing the map carefully he went down the mountain, and headed for the spot with a guarded mind.
In a dense forest about twenty miles further in the direction of the vipers.
Whiz! Whiz! Whiz!
About tens of black nut fruits were shooting through the trees toward a running girl, who was none other than the Fire Dancing princess. Her face was full of anger, and her body was wrapped in faint green lights. She was moving nimble her way through the bushes and trees, as fast as a bird. Whenever a nut hits on a tree, a piece of bark would be bruised, whereas those weaker saplings could snap in two. The black nuts shot out like little stones, carrying with them a great force, and came in many numbers. But none of them had so far hit the princess, whose figure was supple like a floating willow catkin among the trees. The close and numerous nuts could not find their routes to her.
Behind the princess, about twenty grey apes were jumping over treetops in hot pursuit of her. Each ape was at least above the middle stage of Houtian level, and in their hands were black nuts that they would shot from time to time. The two sides, one chasing and the other running, soon made about three hundred meters.
Without warning, a hairy one of the apes suddenly let out a shrill cry which brought his fellow companions to an abrupt halt, though some reluctantly, fizzing viciously to the princess in a display of their wrath. But still, led by their hairy leader, the apes retreated by the route they had come.
The princess continued running forward for some distance and stopped for a break when convinced that the apes would not come back. She stood panting, and found many bruises on her body which had smudged her clothes red.
It appeared that the princess was not as lucky as Shi Mu, having been transported to a den of strong grey apes. She had intuited the danger at once, and deployed a Body-Lifting Charm to help her escape the converging attacks of the apes. Still, she had some minor injuries in need of treatment. The princess thus brought out a green charm and stuck it to her body. The charm soon emitted some healing green lights, and some wounds healing rapidly were visible to the naked eye.
After some minutes, the princess had a deep breath. Once again, her figure leaped up and floated away like a bird.
In a vale in the Middle Area. A limpid rivulet trickled out of the gorge. The mountains stood high and verdant, while the air tasted sweet and cool. Among the bushes several incomplete, lofty statues protruded conspicuously. By their looks the statues appeared like half-human and half-animal. If Shi Mu had been here he would recognize them instantly, for these statues resembled the ones he had seen earlier very much.
Two figures were flying this way from the stream, and then stopped near the statues. They were exactly the Holy Girl and her guard Su Gu, the sea guy with a fishtail.
"It should be here..." Pearl looked at a blue crystal ball in her hand, and the pointer inside the crystal ball was pointing to the depths of the vale, shivering slightly. Pearl stored the ball carefully away, and then cast her glittering eyes to those giant statues. She thrilled with excitement, and stepped towards the silent stone works.
Just then a thick, white shadow bolted out of the vale without warning, pouncing down upon the holy girl at lightning speed.
"Careful, Holy Girl!" Su Gu's countenance changed. A few steps behind her, he knew it would be impossible for him to protect her for the high speed of the moving thing, so he could only shout as loud as he could to remind her of the pressing danger.
Pearl did not expect this either. But she reacted rather speedily, and one foot of hers pointed on the ground to throw her body sideways, escaping the white shadow narrowly. However, the thing also took its way back abruptly to chase after Pearl, as if it was alive and could see clearly.
Boom! Su Gu finally caught up with the white shadow, and the trident in his hand shone with blue light that collided with the whitish thing. The white light had a mighty power that forced Su Gu a step back, his face pale and sweaty. He still clamped the trident, but his hand felt numb due to the impact.
Su Gu needed a brief respite, but was shocked to find his trident fastened to the white shadow closely. His face turned ghastly pale. On second look, he found out what the whitish thing was exactly: an arm-thick spider's thread.