Lying just ahead of Junior Leopard was a White-scaled Python over 100 feet long. His greasy scales concealed a dim light which shone out ever so slightly. His hideous head had already been sliced open by Junior Leopard's sword, and looked even more terrifying with the blood pouring out from its wound.
"Hiss… !" The snake's head had been severely wounded by Junior Leopard's blade. This was clear that it was not the outcome the White-scale Python had been expecting. The force of the impact of Junior Leopard's sword on his upper body sent shockwaves reverberating all the way down to the tip of its tail. This was Junior Leopard's chance.
After quickly assessing the situation, he inhaled sharply and forced his Yanfu Inner Strength into a reverse flow. He succeeded in ceasing advancing. "Argh… !"
Although Junior Leopard's tendons and vessels had been strengthened by practicing Tai Chi Quan, reversing his Internal Qi produced a reaction which made them flare up with incredible pain. It felt like millions of ants were all biting at his insides at the same time. Fortunately, this pain went as quickly as it came. After this sudden burst of agony, he opened his mouth, coughed out a thin cloud of blood, and flipped his body through the air. He landed on the ground and hopped back a few steps, stopping just a few feet away from the White-scale Python.
Noticing he landed unsteadily, the python arched its body back before pouncing forwards viciously like an arrow fired from a bow. Its body twisted, and the air was thick with the chilling scent of blood and murderous intent.
Junior Leopard's forehead and back had broken out in a cold sweat. He longed to turn and run, but he knew he could not run, or even turn around. In this deep forest, there would be no chance of outrunning the python. If he turned to run, it was a one-way ticket to the grave.
Trying to keep his surging blood levels under control, Junior Leopard struggled with the snake as it coiled around him. Though the white python was very agile, it was not able to stretch out completely within this dense forest. Junior Leopard took advantage of his own nimbler frame to hide in a small space, now and again jumping out to stab at the snake with his coal dagger.
The coal dagger was extremely sharp, and each time he slashed at the white python, another bloody gash would appear on its body. The white scales which densely covered it seemed not to make any difference.
After suffering several of these blows, the white python soon became totally terrified of the dagger in Junior Leopard's hands, and every time he lashed out with it, the python instinctively shrank back, buying Junior Leopard a bit of time.
After several rounds of this battle between man and snake in the dense forest, the victor had yet to be determined when suddenly, the white python looked at Junior Leopard with an expression of abject helplessness. Suddenly, the scar on the head of the white python, strained by all of this fierce motion, split asunder. Blood oozed horrifyingly out of the wound, and the snake felt an urge to retreat. Before disappearing without a trace into the shadows, it sneezed out a puff of white mist towards Junior Leopard and shrank back into the forest.
When seeing this strange white mist that the python had sneezed, Junior Leopard backed away, not daring to let any of it touch his body. Sure enough, everything that the mist touched, all the surrounding tendrils and trees, emitted a sizzling noise as though they had been doused with strong sulfuric acid. The vegetation shriveled and decayed, and when the white mist had cleared, the White-scale Python was nowhere to be seen.
Even so, Junior Leopard did not dare to let his guard down, and slowly activated his mysterious eyes. He scanned the area with the faint and flickering eyes and made sure that there were only him and the sleeping wild pig ahead in the surrounding area. After he had made sure it was safe, he finally relaxed.
"The wild beasts in these Misty Mountains really are strange… Cunning and wicked demons. Whenever things go wrong, they turn their heads and run, much more cowardly than the animals around our village!" Junior Leopard furrowed his brow and went around the area that had just been enshrouded in the white mist, walking towards the unconscious wild pig.
"You damned thing, I've finally caught you!"
Said Junior Leopard angrily, while looking at the pig. In one swift motion, he cut down some vines and then used them to bind the pig's four limbs.
The wild pig began to stir and awoke from its slumber. It snorted a little but Junior Leopard ignored it. The sky was already beginning to get dark, and he did not have the courage to stay in the forest for much longer. After tying up the wild pig, he traced back the route he had come in by, dragging the pig all the way until he was out of the forest, standing by a crystal clear stream. He put his dagger back in its sheath and used the water of the stream to wash his body clean of blood stains. After resting for a few moments, he looked at the sky, and saw it was already completely dark, and then looked again at the snorting pig lying by his side. He suddenly felt irritated.
"Curses, this is only the first, there are still nine more to go!" He did not dare to rest for much longer, for he feared being delayed. After this very short rest, he pulled the two Kunai down from the tree, and grasping them in his hand followed the boundary of the forest, searching.
This time, he did not dare to risk trying any new techniques with the Kunai, and instead earnestly set out to use the Kunai according to the techniques that he had already practiced. Everything was going smoothly and before two hours passed, he had caught four deer, two river deer, a mountain goat, and two beasts that he did not know the name of. He tied them all up and put them on the pig.
By the time everything was ready, it was already midnight. Junior Leopard didn't dare to delay and dragged these live animals one by one to the entrance of the steep valley. Just as he was about to enter, the sound of cursing reached his ears.
Junior Leopard was shocked, and listened carefully... that was Xue Wuya's voice! He wondered to himself if the legendary White Blademaster Lu Shaoyou had caught up to him. He quickly dropped the animals he was carrying and crept quietly into the valley. He peered ahead and was startled by what he saw.
Beneath the moonlight, Xue Wuya appeared like a crimson ribbon, whizzing around the caves of this valley locked in battle with a huge and grotesque toad-like creature.
This grotesque toad was wrapped in a layer of bronze scales and had six feet. Each foot had sharp claws, and each claw was barbed. A faint blue light flashed, and with a glance, you could see that this toad was highly toxic. The terrifying thing was countless warts protruding from its back that every now and then would shoot out a turbid and highly corrosive milky white liquid. Junior Leopard watched as this white liquid sprayed onto a pile of rocks and burned a bowl-sized hole into them.
But the most terrible object was its tongue which was lightning, fast and very sharp. Each time it sprung out, Xue Wuya was forced to step backward. It seemed that he was terrified of the toad's tongue.
"Oh, what on earth is this monster?!"
Seeing the man and the monster embroiled in battle, Junior Leopard felt cautious. Suddenly, he heard a hissing sound and saw the figure of Xue Wuya leaping up, seemingly as if he wanted to escape. But the toad showed no sign of giving up, and with its two sturdy back legs, it also leaped upwards while warts on its back fired out that turbid white liquid like a vast net heading towards Xue Wuyu.
Xue Wuya's voice bellowed out, and his body's blood level suddenly surged and as it surged. It absorbed the toxic liquid fired by the toad. Then, a clear ray of blood blasted its way downwards at the toad, crashing into its tongue.
Although the toad's tongue was as formidable and tight as King Kong, it was made up only of flesh and blood. What Xue Wuya had cast down at it was a sharp weapon, and as soon as it made contact, dark black blood immediately started spraying out from the toad's mouth. The toad let out a pitiful groan as its body tumbled down from mid-air, falling within the caves of the valley, never to re-emerge.
Xue Wuya hit the ground and staggered a little, and peered into the cave. With a single motion of his hand, he beckoned towards his strange shaped sword and it flew back into his sleeve.
"What are you doing hiding over there? Come out at once!"