Phoenix’s Requiem - Chapter 184
Chapter 184: Preparing For The Hunt
“Brother Wang, what did you talk to them about just now?” Pei Ziao hadn’t followed Wang Meng over to talk with Yun Ruoyao and Yi Qianying, so he was curious as to what they had discussed.
“I invited Yun Ruoyao and Yi Qianying to form a group with us.” While Wang Meng didn’t hide anything from Pei Ziao, the fact that he’d advanced such an invitation without discussing it with Pei Ziao beforehand made him very uncomfortable.
Furthermore, Pei Ziao didn’t want to interact with Yi Qianying more than was necessary. “Why can’t it just be the two of us? What’s the point of inviting them, too?”
This seemingly innocuous question stumped Wang Meng. The advantage of forming a team was to benefit from everyone’s diverse skills, cooperatively take down higher-rank foes, and adventure together in more dangerous locales.
On the other hand, forming a group was a serious investment of trust: everyone had to be confident that their team members would be there for them in time of need, and that there would be an equitable partition of the spoils.
Yun Ruoyao’s own cultivation wasn’t too bad—she was a peak fifth-rank blademaster—but Yi Qianying’s cultivation was considerably lower in comparison. Bringing her into the team wouldn’t increase the team’s fighting capabilities, and Pei Ziao couldn’t bring himself to trust Yi Qianying at all.
Wang Meng’s hesitation left Pei Ziao more and more concerned that there was something his newfound ally was keeping from him. Eventually, Wang Meng laughed somewhat embarrassedly. “To tell you the truth, Brother Pei, I’ve been interested in Miss Yun ever since I first met her. I’m trying to take this opportunity to get closer to her.”
Wang Meng’s words were rather surprising to Pei Ziao, but it did serve as a reasonable explanation for his actions. Although Wang Meng and Yun Ruoyao hadn’t interacted with each other in the past, they were a good fit in terms of both appearance and status.
“Originally, I only wanted to bring Miss Yun along, but Concubine Yi was already paired up with her. I had no other choice but to invite her as well,” Wang Meng volunteered, clearly having noticed Pei Ziao’s distaste for Yi Qianying.
“I hadn’t expected you to be interested in women, Brother Wang.” Pei Ziao had messed around with Wang Kuang in the past, but had had relatively few interactions with Wang Meng.
This time, when Pei Yingxiong found out that Wang Meng would be participating in the trial with Pei Ziao, he had prepared a hefty gift and asked for Wang Meng to take good care of his son. To Pei Ziao, Wang Meng seemed like a studious cultivator who was wholeheartedly focused on pillmaking, so it came as a surprise that he had developed feelings for Yun Ruoyao.
“Quite honestly, I’m not fond of women in general, but I feel particularly attracted to this Miss Yun,” Wang Meng replied, quite politely.
It was indeed a high honor for someone lauded as a genius like Wang Meng, whom even Pei Ziao’s father himself addressed as ‘Brother’, to call Pei Ziao ‘Brother Pei’. Faced with this treatment, Pei Ziao naturally found it difficult to refuse Wang Meng.
Although Yun Ruoyao and Yi Qianying hadn’t yet accepted his invitation, Wang Meng was quite certain that they would do so. After all, Yun Ruoyao was determined and ambitious, and the group she was currently with was full of useless nobodies. Wang Meng was certain that, by the next day, he would find Yun Ruoyao and Yi Qianying outside his camp.
Zhuo Yifeng woke Yun Ruoyan up seemingly not long after she fell asleep.
“Wake up, wake up,” he hissed, his voice low but anxious. “The water demons are trying to launch a sneak attack on us.”
Yun Ruoyan sat up immediately. Following Zhuo Yifeng’s gaze, Yun Ruoyan could see a few tentacles extending out of the surface of the water. Those tentacles were slowly extending toward their bedrolls, as though they were trying to sneak up on them.
Yun Ruoyan immediately jostled Lin Qingchen and Lin Qingxue awake. By the time they woke up, those feelers were almost by their face. When Lin Qingxue opened her eyes blearily and saw those thick, black, and sticky tentacles waving right in front of her face, she almost screamed out loud. Yun Ruoyan clutched her mouth and motioned for her to be silent.
The four of them took out their weapons and stooped where they were, trying to hold their breath and making as little commotion as possible.
The surface of the lake was smooth and clear, and there was no sign of the eight-legged evil spirit’s body. However, as if those tentacles had eyes, they honed in on the location of the four youths without hesitation.
“Chop!” Yun Ruoyan shouted loudly as the tentacles finally reached them. Following her orders, Yun Ruoyan’s group immediately waved the weapons in their hands, chopping off the tentacles in front of them.
The thick tentacles spasmed as they fell to the sandy ground. At the same time, a frenzy of bubbles emerged from the bottom of the lake, as if the lake were boiling. With her steel sword, Yun Ruoyan chopped at the tentacles once more. Clearly enraged, the eight-legged evil spirit’s other tentacles rushed toward Yun Ruoyan like whips.
Yun Ruoyan immediately stepped back, and Lin Qingchen and Lin Qingxue stepped forward to help defend her from the onslaught.
On the other hand, Zhuo Yifeng retreated to the back and cocked his bow, prepared to shoot at the eight-legged evil spirit’s head as soon as it was revealed. However, it never did so. Instead, it kept waving around the same few tentacles around Yun Ruoyan, Lin Qingchen, and Lin Qingxue.
Its tentacles were so numerous and long that the paltry amount that Yun Ruoyan’s group had chopped off was insignificant, and only hurt the beast a little.
Yun Ruoyan’s group hadn’t expected how wily the eight-legged evil spirit was: clearly, it had overheard them underwater as they made plans to defeat it.
That was why it had tried to sneak up on them in the night, but Yun Ruoyan’s group was evidently far more prepared than those youths in the afternoon. Not only did the eight-legged evil spirit fail, it had even been counter-attacked in turn.
Because of how cautious it was, it never revealed its head. In the end, Yun Ruoyan’s group managed to drive it all the way back into the lake.
“Qingxue, don’t keep chasing it!” Yun Ruoyan immediately shouted, noticing that Lin Qingxue had been chasing a tentacle almost all the way into the lake.
The evil spirit, being an underwater creature, surely didn’t have night vision. Yun Ruoyan suspected that its tentacles possessed some sort of olfactory organ that could track its prey based on breath and smell.
As a result, it didn’t have to reveal its body to pinpoint their location.
If they were to dive into the lake at night, the difference in their limited senses compared to the beast’s would prove far too disadvantageous. As a result, Yun Ruoyan’s group decided to wait for sunrise.
As the group stowed their weapons once more, Zhuo Yifeng glanced at the still-spasming tentacles on the ground. “Well, we’ll have food for tomorrow, at least.”
“What, this?!” Lin Qingxue glared at the tentacles on the ground. “No, no way! I’m not eating this even if I starve!”
That night, none of them had dared to hunt in the forest because they were unfamiliar with the region, so all of them were still somewhat hungry.
After the recent fight, Yun Ruoyan became even hungrier, so hungry she couldn’t sleep. As a result, she decided to simply take over Zhuo Yifeng’s shift then, preparing to stand guard for the rest of the night.
At sunrise, Zhuo Yifeng woke up. He sliced the thick appendages up and skewered them with sharp wooden sticks, slathered them with seasoning and spices, and began roasting them over a flame. Not long later, the fragrant smell of food began to spread.
“It’s so fragrant!” Lin Qingxue woke up and sat up straight in her bedroll. Even before she opened her eyes, she began sniffing the air with gusto.
By the time Lin Qingchen woke up, she saw Lin Qingxue with a skewer in each hand, grinning broadly as she scarfed down the tentacles. “Didn’t you say you wouldn’t eat the tentacles even if you were starving?”
“Luckily, I didn’t see Brother Zhuo preparing the tentacles for consumption, or I wouldn’t have been able to eat them. Now that they’re just food, however, I can force myself to eat a little.”
After breakfast, the group planned out how to kill the eight-legged evil spirit once more. The beast was clearly sly and wily. After last night’s failed sneak attack, and after Zhuo Yifeng made a show of preparing the tentacles by the lake, it was likely very scared of them.
“I’ll head underwater to lure it out,” Yun Ruoyan suggested, “and then Zhuo Yifeng will try to kill it.”
Back in the imperial territory, Yun Ruoyan had even dared to face the high-rank saber-toothed tiger as a fourth-rank blademaster. Now that she was seventh-rank, she naturally didn’t fear the eight-legged evil spirit.
Even if she weren’t able to kill it on her own, it couldn’t threaten her safety.
“Sister Ruoyan!” the Lin siblings immediately called out in consternation.
“Although the eight-legged evil spirit isn’t a high-rank magical beast, its main body is underwater. No matter how comfortable you are in the water, you still need to breathe. It’ll be really dangerous if you just go down without any preparation…” Lin Qingxue brought up everyone’s concerns.
Lin Qingchen and Zhuo Yifeng frowned as they nodded.
“Don’t worry, I have a plan.” Yun Ruoyan smiled. Her smile was unexpectedly persuasive to the other members of the group—after all, even in the imperial territory and afterwards, no matter what they encountered, Yun Ruoyan had been able to deal with it with seeming ease.
Even when they were at their wit’s end, Yun Ruoyan still seemed to make the impossible possible.
Faced with her air of self-confidence, the remaining three members felt increasingly convinced by her plan.
“Just wait for me to lure it up!” Yun Ruoyan smiled once more before diving into the water. As she did so, she immediately put the serpent-core necklace into her mouth, allowing her to breathe normally even underwater.
She pulled out the dagger that Li Mo had sent her and also held it in her mouth, then dove down into the depths of the lake. After descending about ten meters, Yun Ruoyan began to see the eight-legged evil spirit’s real body, a black mass almost as large as a small mountain. Its eight tentacles waved and floated around its body like massive fronds.