Cecilia and the others were fully focused on dealing with the magical beasts attacking them. Only high-level creatures remained. Rushing forward, they released poisonous fluids and magical spells unceasingly, skills that they are undoubtedly born with.
It had initially been somewhat of a challenge to Cecilia and her party defeating the beasts. However, after Han Shuo’s Boundary of Weakness came down, the magical beasts slowed down tremendously in an instant. Cecilia and her team managed to then catch their breaths, regather their mental strength and take advantage of the situation to deploy some magical spells, enveloping the remaining magical beasts in an abyss of suffering.
The meatshields at the frontlines who had been standing upright all the while, dedicated to guarding the area, withdrew their javelins and darted them straight at the beasts, who were yet crawling into range, bodies and souls exhausted by the Boundary of Weakness, impaling them.
“Thank you!” Cecilia shouted to Han Shuo, who was a distance away.
“No problem! That was nothing,” Han Shuo replied with a faint smile.
Even without the help of Han Shuo’s Boundary of Weakness, Cecilia and her party would have managed to fend off the flock of magical beasts, but it would not have been nearly as simple. There was simply no way the knights and five swordsmen could have come out unscathed as they did had it not been for Han Shuo.
A swordmaster wielded his imposing weapon of choice as he marched into the field of corpses. He stripped the magical cores off several high-ranking magical creatures one by one. Delighted, he exclaimed, “What a harvest we have here!”
“Don’t bother with cores under rank three, they aren’t worth nearly enough gold coins. Besides, we better hurry out!” Cecilia instructed from a distance.
“Yes my Lady, I won’t be long,” a second swordmaster named Karey replied, raising his voice as he strode away towards several magical beasts that had earlier been met with rather violent deaths.
Han Shuo furrowed his brows, sensing someone lurking in the shadows. It was zooming nearer by the second, headed straight for the swordmaster furthest away from everyone else. The figure emitted a queer but powerful aura. Han Shuo was certain that once the figure got close enough to the swordmaster, the outcome would be certain death.
A sudden thought struck Han Shuo. With a tighter consciousness, he became transfixed on the being hiding in the lush undergrowth. Han Shuo was standing beside Cecilia when he was reduced into a lump of black radiance, then simply disappeared without a trace.
Cecilia noticed that someone beside her was missing and abruptly turned around confused. “What? Where’s Bryan?”
Meanwhile, swordmaster Karey, who was unwittingly collecting magical core of medusa, suddenly heard a faint rustle, setting him on edge. Without a second to spare, an orb of green smoke had rolled over to him. The green smoke engulfed him before he could react, like being swallowed whole.
In an instant, Karey felt as though his body was being clasped firmly in an enormous hand, from which there was no escape. With such tight pressure against his chest, he hadn’t even the breath to call for help, and could only watch as they receded deep into the shrubbery through the cloud of green smoke, farther and farther away from Cecilia and the others. Karey was brimming with fear without a clue what was going on. He dreaded unknown, but there was nothing he could do. He would not budge and could not speak. Karey grew sullen, his heart gradually sinking.
“Don’t worry, I’m right beside you. We have to find out where this thing is taking you!” chimed a familiar voice.
Karey beamed. It was Han Shuo. Through Cecilia, Karey had heard of the frightening power he possessed. And now, having witnessed Han Shuo trail them undetected, Karey was reassured. Han Shuo was everything Cecelia described and more.
The tremendous orb of green smoke rolled along carrying Karey with it. Only after nearly half a dozen li further into Tarrag Canyon did the smoke begin to slow down as they approached a muddy ground. All of a sudden, the once static sludge began to generate an immense pulling force, drawing Karey into it.
Han Shuo, who had been trailing along, extended his five right-hand fingers, and out of them stretched five infinitely fine strobes of green light. With his eagle-like claws, he slashed at the sludge like a beast.
The mass of soggy ground blew up. Bit by bit, sludge skewered the sky above it as the ground began to tremble.
Karey was startled by all the rumbling, all the while knowing he was done for, there was no escaping this. But at that moment, the restraints on his body loosened. Han Shuo stood grimly before him, green lights still shooting from his fingertips. Karey regained mobility and attempted to break away from the smoke surrounding him. The lump of green which had held him so tightly seemed to have lost its grip completely.
As a swordmaster, Karey wasn’t too weak himself. He crept out in a flurry, hopping off the protruding sludge, which now resembled pillars, and escaping to the shore.
“Show yourself!” Han Shuo yelled towards the sludgy ground as he stood imposingly above it. The lights from his fingertips faded away.
Just after Han Shuo reclaimed his explosive energy, the ground settled. The sludge stakes plunged back into the ground, revealing a human figure glazed head to toe with mud.
“Who are you?” asked the figure, her weak voice creaking, almost like a rusted hinge.
Han Shuo was in disbelief. The voice he was hearing, it was undoubtedly that of an elderly woman. The figure was burrowed deep within the shrubbery, her face all the while obscured from Han Shuo as he approached the sludge.
“Who are you? Why did you attack me?” Karey retorted before Han Shuo could reply.
In a swish, the figure flew off high into the sky, and dove downwards at Han Shuo like a bird of prey ready to scoop up its next meal. She did not answer, and instead cursed, “How dare you meddle with my business! You mischievous child! I will slaughter you!”
Streams of green smoke poured from the old woman through seven apertures, who looked simply menacing. Her appearance was very much like that of the foulest of spirits imaginable.
The green smoke in the air seemed to waft through the air randomly, but it was in fact drifting rapidly at Han Shuo. It began to move several times as fast just as it approached Han Shuo, effortlessly trapping him. The green smoke bore through Han Shuo’s body by the pores of his skin.
The old woman followed several steps behind the smoke flowing from her eyes and nostrils. As soon as the wisps of green smoke had attached themselves to Han Shuo, she began to let out the most repulsive laugh. A wave of strange energy burst out from her palm, and with it she cursed Han Shuo.
Strands of green smoke entered Han Shuo’s body, a sensation of millions of ants devouring his flesh and blood from the inside. Han Shuo’s consciousness could render clearly every last abnormality on his body. When he saw that the old woman was covering him with her palm, Han Shuo snorted coldly, and the demon infant within his body began its suction.
The energy that entered Han Shuo’s body, like a whale taking in water, flowed straight through him into the demon infant. After two rotations, a strange substance, apparently nutrition for the demon infant, formed. Only now did the old woman’s palm reach the top of Han Shuo’s head.
Her eyes filled with shock and bewilderment. The old woman seemed to have felt the unusual movements of the energy through Han Shuo’s body, and cried out in terror. She attempted to flee as quickly as she could.
Han Shuo was right beneath the old woman and began to smile. He looked up at her within arms reach, and threw a fist. In a flash, the knife-like demonic yuan poured into the old woman through the center of her palm. It destroyed the strange energy that had been brewing on her palm like a massive, earth-shattering dragon, and continued straight through her guts.
A stream of blood gushed from the woman’s mouth. She had been struck flying up to the sky. Her face was in pain, her heart filled with regret. Damnit, why did I provoke this guy? After evading the Church of Light all these years, in spite of everything, because of a single moment of foolishness I’m just going to die at the hands of some stupid demon? And all for nothing, she thought, sighing.
Before the old woman’s body even landed, Han Shuo flew over at lightning speed, and firmly grabbed her by her sludgy, tangled hair. A whiff of demonic yuan flew into her body, and subdued her. He then carried her, descending to the ground.
They had only dealt blows face-to-face once, but already was she heavily injured and captured alive. Unable to resist, the old woman’s heart filled with dejection and sorrow. She had no idea what the hell was wrong with the world. This young man could actually be more frightening than those of the Church of Light, who had been hunting her for many years. This was unacceptable.
For this ferocious old woman, Han Shuo could show no mercy. He dragged her by the hair towards less muddy waters, and shoved her head into it. A few scrubs later, the sludge which had coated her face was mostly gone.
“Speak. Why are you attacking us? Who are you?” Han Shuo demanded coldly, tossing her aside to pull out a clean handkerchief for all the scum on his hands.