Chapter 256: Someone disappeared
In the wake of the giant boulder appeared a large black rat, its size twice as big as normal rats. It fell to the ground with its four legs in the air, struggling to get up.
"Is that it?" Han Yunxi asked from a distance, doubt written on her face. The poison beast in her mind was something with bare fangs and claws, violent, ferocious, and huge.
"This isn't the Gu Shu. The Gu Shu's trapped inside, so it wouldn't be able to get out so easily," Gu Qishao explained.
Han Yunxi exhaled. She really thought the Gu Shu had appeared. Since the poison beast was called a Gu Shu (), maybe it was just a really big rat (). Long Feiye and Tang Li were completely focused on the scene beyond the Xuan gold where Jun Yixie and Duanmu Yao stood, and didn't pay the giant rat any mind. Snakes and rats alike had dens. If the labyrinth had dens of snakes, it wasn't surprising that it had dens of rats as well. Han Yunxi hadn't made any sound when she melted the Xuan gold. The secret room itself was very big too, while Jun Yixie and Duanmu Yao were both far away. For now, they hadn't discovered the situation here.
"What better time to kill them than now?" Tang Li was about to take out the Pear Blossom Rain Needles and shoot them when the white-robed man suddenly spoke up in a low voice.
"I'm afraid that a rat this big must have eaten human flesh to grow to this size."
Everyone's faces shifted at the news! Flesh-eating rats? Weren't these the predatory rats that only existed in the stuff of legends? Judging by its build, this rat was nothing like a so-called 'predator,' but their attack potential wasn't something that could be described with such a word. Like man-eating ants, they never attacked alone, but in giant swarms. A single swarm of flesh-eating rats would include at least 100 members, while larger swarms had upwards of 1,000. In other words, if there was one flesh-eating rat, then that meant there was a swarm of them nearby.
Who knew that the long-lost flesh eating rats would show up here!?
Long Feiye and Tang Li whirled back to take a look. The appearance of the flesh-eating rat forced them to set aside the issue of Jun Yixie for now, because there was nobody in this world that could avoid their swarms! This particular rat had a head twice as big as normal rats. Its eyes were glowing red, while its sharp, protruding teeth and claws were extremely obvious. There was no way to imagine how terrifying it'd be to be swarmed by a mob of such creatures and torn apart. Everyone stared silently at the single flesh-eating rat without speaking for a long time. Gradually, the atmosphere grew tense.
Finally, Gu Qishao spoke up. "There's no humans to eat here. Are you sure you haven't gotten things wrong?"
"There's no mistake. The Poison Sect's raised flesh-eating rats before. I'm guessing that the Gu Shu called them over," the white-robed man said seriously.
"You know quite a bit!" Gu Qishao said meaningfully. The Gu Shu actually had the ability to summon the creatures of the Sky Pit as soon as it felt threatened, using a signal to attract the closest poison animals around. This was another secret of the Poison Sect along with its Sky Pit Death Trap, and also a secret of the medical academy. Gu Qishao had stealthily overheard the information, but how did the white-robed man know? Even Gu Qishao had no idea that the Poison Sect had raised flesh-eating rats, so why did this guy know? How could a member of the Shadow Clan be privy to so much about the Poison Sect?
Could it be that the Shadow Clan was involved with the Poison Sect somehow?
Gu Qishao's suspicions stacked up one after the other, but he had no way to question the suspect under such dangerous circumstances. The white-robed man ignored Gu Qishao's doubts and even gave up on probing Han Yunxi. Instead he said, "Miss Yunxi, how long will it take you to melt the Xuan gold wall?" Unless the wall melted, they had no place to retreat.
But just as he finished speaking, a succession of skittering noises sounded from above them. Soon after that, a large mob of rats fell down in an unbroken stream from the hole above, cascading upon them like a flood. It was enough to make one nauseous!
"Ahhh...!" Mu Linger was so frightened that her entire figure shrank back. She retreated a few steps, her scream shrill enough to slice through the ceiling.
Long Feiye's first move was to rush to Han Yunxi's side. "Be careful."
The giant rats kept dropping down. Unlike the first one that fell, these rolled on the ground before immediately turning over to run their way. They didn't attack instantly, but soon hundreds of them had fell down to completely surround Han Yunxi and the rest in four or five rings, trapping them directly in front of the Xuan gold door. Although their numbers were far fewer and less poisonous than the king cobras, they were much harder to deal with than snakes. This swarm of flesh-eating rats was very crafty. They'd only lock in on one target and work together to crazily kill them! Right now, each and every one of their scarlet eyes were staring at Han Yunxi and the rest, searching for their first victim.
Tang Li couldn't help but gulp. "What do we do?"
Ten flesh-eating rats were more than enough to devour a person in under a minute. If hundreds of these rats targeted a single person and ate them until only the bones were left, then it'd be the work of seconds. No matter whether the others were martial arts or poison experts, they wouldn't be able to kill all the flesh-eating rats in time. This was a pure contest of speed and quantity!
"Take a guess, who will they pick first?" Gu Qishao asked playfully, but his face was ashen white. He'd definitely die if they ate him to his bones, but dying like that was really a little too tragic.
"It doesn't matter who's first or last," the white-robed man spoke a frightening truth. After the flesh-eating rats finished off one person, they'd definitely target the second. Legend said that during the Great Qin Empire, a swarm of flesh-eating rats actually annihilated the main contingent of an army.
"Then all we can do is escape." Before the flesh-eating rats made their move, run! Long Feiye turned back to look at Han Yunxi. Without his reminder, Han Yunxi had already retrieved yet another giant bottle of hyper strength aqua regia and increased the melting speed of the Xuan gold wall. If possible, she'd like to toss the water at the rats instead, but she didn't have enough. Even if she did, it was still impossible to kill such a large swarm in a short amount of time. If she couldn't kill them all at once, then she'd provoke their ire and be the first one to die instead. Actually, Han Yunxi had plenty of other poisons capable of killing the flesh-eating rats, but the same reason stood with them. These animals were superior in their numbers, speed, and the fact that they acted as one swarm. Han Yunxi took out all of the hyper strength aqua regia from her detox system and used it all at once. The Xuan gold door melted away very quickly, its liquified metal streaming down its sides. More and more of the material flowed down as the hole grew bigger and bigger. But at the same time, the rats seemed to have settled on their target. All of them were perched on the floor, stupidly making their way forward as they prepared to pounce at any instant.
"Han Yunxi, go in first when the time comes," Long Feiye said in a low voice. He was standing right in front of her. Letting her go in first was another way of saying she should escape first.
"It's almost done. If we're escaping, everyone escapes together!" Han Yunxi used all her strength to melt the door, conveniently passing the last bottle to Mu Linger. "Quick, help out!"
Mu Linger was still shaking with fear even now, but she suddenly stilled after getting the aqua regia in her hands. Her deep gaze focused on Han Yunxi, who was fixated on the Xuan gold door. Right now the hole was just about big enough to allow a person passage through. Mu Linger clenched the aqua regia tightly as if hesitating about something, but it was then that all of the rats on the ground arched their backs!
"Not good!" the white-robed man cried out. This was their signal to attack. Mu Linger was so frightened that her hands lost their strength, causing the aqua regia to slip past her legs. Seeing this, Han Yunxi suddenly pushed her out of the way. With a bang, the aqua regia smashed onto the ground at the same time Mu Linger hit the floor. At this moment, the flesh-eating rats suddenly broke out with a shrill squeak! Under such circumstances, anyone could see that Mu Linger was their chosen target!
"Mu Linger!" Alarmed, Han Yunxi pulled Mu Linger towards her without a second thought.
"Han Yunxi, let go of her right now!" Long Feiye ordered coldly. Han Yunxi was simply seeking her own death. If the flesh-eating rats wanted to attack Mu Linger, then she'd be targeted as well since she was holding onto her! Han Yunxi really hadn't considered the consequences. Her first reaction was to save the person instead.
She unconsciously turned towards Long Feiye, but it was already too late. In a flash, the flesh-eating rats swarmed towards both of them with frenzied killing intent.
Long Feiye and Gu Qishao chorused in unison. Right now, they didn't care whether she could be saved, much less whether they'd suffer along with her. Both of them wanted to pull Han Yunxi free. But there was someone who was faster than either of them. A flash of white darted past, its speed so quick that they couldn't even react. The white-robed man threw caution to the winds as he ferociously pulled Han Yunxi to the wall on one side, dragging her hand across its surface!
His speed was terrifying, leaving even Han Yunxi muddleheaded. She had no idea what was going on beyond a sudden, intense pain pricking her five fingers.
There was a loud roar as the Xuan gold door promptly toppled over!
"Run!" the white-robed man shouted. The skills of everyone present was enough to ensure their escape. Fortunately, their reactions were quick. Gu Qishao carried Mu Linger while the white-robed man brought along Han Yunxi as the group fled through the entrance. Unexpectedly, the frenzied mob of flesh-eating rats suddenly grew still, stopping just outside the Xuan gold door. They chittered with extremely shrill squeaks, but it wasn't clear whether they were unsatisfied or fearful. In any case, none of them dared to tread forward a single step. When the fleeing people saw this, they finally stopped to heave a breath in relief. Just then, they'd all been hanging on the edge of life and death, too dangerous!
Beyond the door was the secret chamber that imprisoned the poison beast. Since the poison beast had summoned them here, why weren't they going inside? And what had happened just then? Why did the door topple forward?
Now that they had a chance to breathe, they began to harbor doubts. Long Feiye only asked coldly, "Han Yunxi, where's that white-robed man?"
As soon as they'd escaped, his first reaction was to look for Han Yunxi, only to discover that she was standing by herself. The white-robed man had disappeared to who knows where. Han Yunxi stared woodenly at Long Feiye before extending her five fingers, only to see them all cut up and bleeding.
Where was the white-robed man?
She didn't know, because what had happened just then had passed by too quickly. By the time she recovered her senses, she was standing here. The Xuan gold door had fallen, the flesh-eating rats had stopped, and the white-robed man had disappeared...