The snow and winds might have stopped but the layer of snow taller than a house was a huge obstacle to the three tribes. Everyone suffered.
In the end, the three chiefs decided to take a risk-- travelling along the king beast’s tracks.
Yesterday, the beast had appeared nearby and the snow had stopped this morning. These tracks did not have much snow and the existing layer of snow had been compressed. There was a long path shaped like a ‘U’.
Walking on this path was a lot easier. Other than the knee-high layer of snow, there had been no obstacles. They just had to be alert of the king beast’s appearance.
After confirming the direction, they walked on king beast tracks whenever they could. If there were no tracks, they had to brave through the snow. The Flaming Horns were still fine since they were strong and have high endurance but everyone else suffered.
“More tracks in front,” said Zheng Luo as he stared ahead. “Not recent though, the snow layer is knee-high, it’s been here for some time.”
If there was snow, that meant the king beast hadn’t been here in awhile. This was good news.
“Hurry up, don’t stop!” said Zheng Luo to the crowd behind him. “It would take at least three days to exit this salt flat. Too many things could happen within a three-day period.
In the past, they only travelled for two days plus nightly rest. Right now, they still had to travel at night and it’d take more than 2 days.
Taking the risk to travel on where the king beast had travelled before had two benefits- one, the snow wasn’t thick, second, there was no poisonous salt.
The Mountain Wind people finally could be useful. Since the snow layer was too tall, it completely blocked their vision. They could not see if there was danger in front. The Mountain Wind people had ‘wings’, so although they could not fly high nor long distances, it was enough for them to check the coast above the snow layer.
“Safe! Proceed!” The Mountain Wind chief, Lanmu, spoke with a lot more confidence and majesty now. Since the beginning, their tribe had struggled to prove themselves useful. They had to rely on Flaming Horn a lot too. Now, they could finally puff up their chests again.
After hearing that there was no beast, many heaved a sigh of relief. Footsteps became lighter. They would rather suffer walking through snow than meeting the beast.
As they hurried along, Shao Xuan felt his heart skip a beat. He stopped walking, cocking his head to listen.
Shao Xuan waited for a while and finally heard the thumps. They went by 2 consecutive beats, one high and one low-pitched. It sounded so far and faint, yet so near and loud.
Is it the beast?!
Didn’t they say the coast was clear?!
The tracks they walked on had a knee-high layer of snow, it was not fresh. There were no tracks around too.
“I’m hearing the sound again,” said Shao Xuan.
Like a boulder, it fell on the shoulders on all three chiefs. They could suffocate under the pressure now.
“That’s impossible, I just flew up to check! I did not see the beast!” said the Mountain Wind chief.
The beats quickened, like how the beats sounded like when the beast woke up in the mines.
Shao Xuan looked to the side at the tall wall of white snow.
Everyone looked too.
The sound of cracking ice and falling rocks.
The ground beneath them shook. The tall wall of snow shook and collapsed.
The giant, white head of the king beast burst out of the ground, forcing its head through the snow. It shook off the snow on its head, revealing a face covered in icicle-like spikes.
It’s the beast! It had burrowed underground!
That’s why they didn’t see it, it was underground!!
At this moment, should they scatter and run for their lives? Or act dead?
No one was familiar with its behaviour, no one knew what to do.
Including the three chiefs, everyone felt hopeless.
Previously, they had been watching it from afar, the terror they felt was not as strong as right now. Even if the beast had crawled above their heads, it was now like this.
Most of its torso was still underground. The front part of its body and head lifted, looking at everyone.
White mist shot from its enormous nostrils. The air suddenly grew cold. And it was merely breathing normally. If it decided to rage----
The consequences would be unimaginable.
Its gaze swept from the front of the line to the end. As if the frost had already spread, everyone stood unmoving, as if they had already been frozen. No one breathed.
They turned their heads stiffly, waiting for the chief’s orders. If he said to run, they’d run for their lives. If he said to fight, they would fight and then let a team carrying the fire crystals and salt leave without them.
It was a difficult decision for the chiefs. One wrong decision could result in many deaths.
Would it provoke the beast? Many predators loved chasing after moving targets. Maybe it’d ignore them if they didn’t move?
But what if it cries again? Will we all freeze to death?
At this moment, their gaze fell subconsciously on Shao Xuan once again.
Not just the three chiefs. After the beast regarded the entire entourage, it looked at Shao Xuan and even leaned nearer.
Shao Xuan’s limbs were ice cold. It was his first time so close to a king beast. No one knew if the beast would rage and kill them all.
When the beast leaned closer, everyone retreated back but Shao Xuan stood his ground. To him, retreating was useless plus the beast’s target seemed to be him.
It looked down, leaning over until it was less than ten meters away from Shao Xuan. The difference in size made Shao Xuan suspect that he might not be large enough to block one of the beast’s nostrils.
Within its ice eyes, Shao Xuan saw lines like snowflake patterns on its eyeball. Its pupils constricted into a dagger-like glare like a master thinking over a decision. There was no strong emotion.
The beast exhaled again.
A cloud of white mist blasted into his face. Shao Xuan’s face stung from the cold as a layer of ice formed. This was just one breath, yet Shao Xuan looked like he’d been tossed into the freezer.
Zheng Luo was alarmed and about to come over when he saw blazing totemic patterns appearing on his body.
Shao Xuan focused on his totemic power, weathering the frost with all his might.
The fight between ice and fire was obvious on his body. Red flames broke off pieces of ice and the totemic patterns seemed to chase away the frost.
He forced all chills out of his body with totemic power.
Shao Xuan only hoped the beat would not unleash its cry on them. He could withstand one breath but not a roar. If it were easy, the entire cave of Fox tribesmen would not have died.
He focused on leveling the energy in his body, radiating a neutral energy to avoid provoking the beast. He stared into its eyes. Although it was cold and seemed emotionless, there were still traces of feelings that would help Shao Xuan decide what to do next.
Immediately, the beast’s pupils constricted even more. It backed its head away and stood taller, still glaring at Shao Xuan.
The narrow scales on its head perked up slightly as it moved, bristling its icicle-like spikes. It looked as if it was wearing an icicle scarf now. A sign that it was about to attack.
“RUN!” roared Shao Xuan.
The temperature around them fell quickly, the knee-high layer of snow was as troublesome as mud and threatened to trap them all. It severely limited their movement. Even if they wanted to run for their lives, they could not run out of its range of attack.
They were slow! Too slow! Barely one-tenth of their normal speed!
As Zheng Luo ran, he saw Shao Xuan still standing there in his peripheral vision. He was about to pull Shao Xuan away but before he could approach, the beast had already opened its jaws.
A current stronger than a tornado, paired with extreme cold, was blasted right at Shao Xuan.
He’s done for.
That was what Zheng Luo thought. At this moment, Zheng Luo was filled with regret. If he acted sooner, could he have yanked Shao Xuan out of the way in time?
No one could stand against this beast in that cave. Images of the frozen bodies in the Fox cave flashed across Zheng Luo’s mine. All the frozen bodies, the shattered pieces…
A huge explosion sent Zheng Luo flying backwards. Everyone nearby was also thrown out in a second.
The two tall walls of snow flew into the air in huge chunks, snow was tossed about everywhere. Some pieces broke into crumbs and fell as snowflakes, spreading everywhere.
On the white, snowy piece of land, the icy beast looked down on the tiny humans as if it was the king of all beings on this piece of icy lands.
In front of it, a fireball blasted into the air. Flames roared and twisted, scattering in the icy winds but were focused back again to form a shape. It faintly resembled a human silhouetted.
Between the grey skies and the white lands, in this snowy world, a force of fiery red stood before the white beast.