The tranquil, snowy lands exploded in an instant. The collision between two forces sent powerful ripples of energy, even the icy ground let out weak squeaks under the brutal impact.
Shao Xuan held his bone ornament in one hand, the other clenched in a lowered fist. There was a fire crystal inside.
Based on his capabilities, he was already one of the strongest in his tribe merely as an advanced totemic warrior. However, that was nothing to a king beast. One breath and he’d be dead. No one wanted to face the beast, but whether they met it or not was not up to them. At this point, he could only bite down and face his fate.
All Shao Xuan could do was borrow power from his ancestors. Only this could keep him alive. And that was not guaranteed. If even this wasn’t enough, forget about Shao Xuan-- almost three thousand warriors here consisting of three tribes would be annihilated.
His muscles swelled, totemic patterns flowed down them like lava. His entire body was covered now, even his fingertips had totemic patterns. At this point, you couldn’t recognise his face, merely the two eyes glaring diagonally upwards.
The blast of frost came directly at his face. Loud booms of impact could be heard.
The white mist exhaled from the beast’s gaping jaws brought frost and ice, completely engulfing Shao Xuan. Without the flames coming from the bone ornament, Shao Xuan would have been a block of frozen meat, shattering upon touch. Just like the broken pieces of humans in the Fox cave. All their intestines and blood were frozen solid without a single drop of blood. They did not feel pain.
Here, Shao Xuan could only see a faint, enormous silhouette through the miss. Cold winds roared in his ears like hundreds of thousands of knives whistling past, destroying everything it touched. There was no time to breathe.
The totemic power and power of inheritance in his body screamed, blue and red energy unleashed from his body. A flood of blue gushed out of the totemic flames, out of the totemic outer shell, then flowed to concentrate within the bone ornament at his chest. There was now a vortex of energy at his chest, sucking the flood of blue within and then passing the energy to all four ornaments.
The red totemic power flowed through his blood vessels, bones, muscles and every fibre of his being. It stood against the frost, which was trying its best to pierce through the body. Borrowing this source of power, Shao Xuan survived.
Outside, there was a standoff between two powerful forces. Within his body, fresh, roaring blood surged, fighting its own battle too.
The king beast had targeted only Shao Xuan. It ignored everyone else. That was why Shao Xuan bore the brunt of the attack. Some residual air current spread out and blasted the crowds in the air. The lands seemed to shiver, as if the ground could not withstand this any longer.
Amidst the icy storm, while the fiery giant might flicker out every now and then, it would quickly merge to face the beast once again. A shower of ice fell on the ground around Shao Xuan, giving off a sharp crackling.
Shao Xuan was already drenched in sweat.
He did not know how long he could fight this but the fact that he was still alive was already a lucky thing. Just that this attack was too sudden. He wondered if the rest escaped in time. Anyone within the range of attack might suffer.
Shao Xuan had no time to care about the rest. All he had to do was block this beast’s attacks. If he couldn’t, the other option was collapsing dead.
The blizzard stopped abruptly. The white winds blocking his vision disappeared. The fiery giant, flickering in the wind, suddenly burned clear and bright.
The king beast closed its jaws slightly, its frosty eyes bright with confusion. Its pupils dilated slightly, looking around slowly. It must not have guessed that this person could survive this.
The thick layer of snow on the ground had disappeared. Shao Xuan panicked when he couldn’t see anyone around him but he could not falter in a critical moment like this. Suppressing his emotions, he glared at the beast. Was it going to unleash another blast? Or would the beast decide to sweep him away with its tail, settling this once and for all? If that happened, Shao Xuan would be helpless. Although he was a lot more familiar with controlling the bone ornament’s powers, it was not agile enough after bearing such an attack. It would be useless.
What gave Shao Xuan some comfort was that the beast’s previous attacks were not truly in anger. They were out of curiosity, to warn them.
Compared to the attack at the cave, this time, it was more peaceful.
The white beast closed its mouth, exhaling white mist from its nostrils. It lifted its head and leaned back slightly. It extended more of its torso out of the ground. It was a lot taller now.
The flames around Shao Xuan slowly calmed as the fiery giant vanished. There were embers on the surface of his skin. That move had used up a lot of his energy due to its explosiveness that required a powerful surge in a moment’s notice. He could not maintain it for long. For now, all he could do was observe the beast’s response.
It stared intently at Shao Xuan. Then, it forced its tail, initially underground, through the layer of ice, to above ground.
Shao Xuan’s heart fell. Had the beast decided to fight for real now?
The tail landed heavily on the ground. The lands shook hard as the deafening thump echoed across the white lands.
At the Fox’s cave, the Fox chief had been listening outside his car after receiving reports. He had heard the beast attack just now. It was very, very faint but that was definitely a sign of attack. He was delighted. The three tribes had travelled in that direction, this meant they had met the beast!
They deserved it! I hope the beast eats them all!
When he heard more sounds, he grew more excited. He turned back into the cave. “Take over Flaming Horn’s cave. They can’t come back. If they do, kick them out. There must be very few of them left after meeting the beast.”
On the other side, Shao Xuan watched as the beast thumped its tail on the ground several times. Then it roared. This time, not so close to Shao Xuan’s face.
He successfully survived the second icy blast. Shao Xuan was exhausted. He would not survive a third blast of the same scale. But what was this beast trying to do?
The glare in its eyes was not murderous, more like a threat.
Was it chasing them away?
“Don’t worry. We will leave immediately.” After a pause, Shao Xuan said again, “We won’t return again.”
Shao Xuan wasn’t sure if the beast understood him but when he finished, the beast stopped thumping its tail.
Faint sounds could be heard around them, some distance from the radius of the beast’s attack. Although a layer of snow had disappeared, there was still a half-meter-thick layer on the ground.
A red crystal pillar broke out of the snow, splitting into several branches like coral.
The salt flowers were blooming.
Not sure because of the weather or layer of snow, salt flowers were blooming, branching more and more. They didn’t look like blooming flowers now, more like salt trees growing on the salt flats.
When the salt flowers burst through the snow, the beast ignored Shao Xuan and crawled towards the salt flowers. It lowered its head to bite on one, pulling it out of the ground, then lifted its head to swallow it whole.
Crinkles that sounded like both breaking glass and ice sounded. Crunch. Crunch. Crackle. The sound of chewed up glass was very clear.
Some of the pieces fell on the ground. After the beast swallowed the salt flowers, it ate up the crumbs on the ground too.
Shao Xuan’s eyes widened.
This beast was a herbivore! More specifically, it ate salt. This salt was poisonous to humans, to the beast, it was a delicious meal.
So that was why this beast was not extremely furious at them taking the salt in the salt caves. To it, the salt mines were not attractive. Shao Xuan had not seen it eating any salt in the mines. However, the deathly salt here was its meal. As for the rest, it probably didn’t care much. It ignored everything else, just like the king stone worm. As long as the beings in its hole did not directly harm it, it would just ignore them all. Just puny beings.
After chewing up the salt flowers, and then all the crumbs, the beast turned to leave. Occasionally, it nudged the thick layer of snow with its snout like it was smelling for food.
Before it left, the beast roared at Shao Xuan once again and thumped its tail several times again. Shao Xuan used the last of his strength to stay alive. He only survived because the beast had roared from far away. If it were any closer, Shao Xuan would have died.
“We leave immediately!!” shouted Shao Xuan.
When the beast left, he moved his stiff muscles. His bones felt rusty, creaking in his joints. Every movement was difficult.
White powder flowed from his fist. He had absorbed all the energy from the fire crystal.
There was no strength in his legs. He wanted to take a step but lost his balance and fell.
“Chief! Where are you all?!” yelled Shao Xuan. “Is anyone there?!”
He did not hear an answer. After some time, as Shao Xuan struggled to pull himself up, he heard a muffled voice.
It was Duo Kang.
Duo Kang scrambled out of the snow, still shaken. He did not shake off the snow on him and looked at Shao Xuan in shock.
“Shao Xuan?” Duo Kang said in disbelief.
“It’s me.” Shao Xuan was still sitting on the cold ground.
“You’re still alive?”
“Yeah, still alive.”
“The king… beast?”
“Gone? That’s good, that’s good!” Duo Kang trip and fell. He lied on his back on the ground and took several rugged breaths. It was the euphoria of surviving a disaster. He did not ask any more questions. Flipping himself over, he got up to search for other people.