The fight between Wang Lu and this unknown monster had been going on for quite some time. The Sun was about to set in the West, and the curtain of the night would soon arrive.
Wang Lu was indeed worthy of being one of the Successor Disciple of the Spirit Sword Sect. His defense was flawless, and his endurance was astonishing. With just his Winding Steps and Soft Cloud Sword, he could block all of the little fox's charges which was lighting fast. The little fox initially had its jaws open in excitement, however, after several hundred rounds of battle, it became worn out and its speed had gradually decreased.
Noticing that his opponent was becoming weaker and weaker, Wang Lu burst out a long laugh and launched a counter attack. Although he had never learned any offensive martial art, against a dead tired little fox, he didn't have to. A simple kick on the head would suffice! Just like when he dealt with that bear!
However, when he had just taken a single step forward, someone had already stopped him.
Wang Lu looked up and saw it was the team leader Yue Yun. This Senior Inner Court Disciple looked embarrassed as he hesitantly said, "Em, Senior Brother Wang Lu, I think it's better if you just let it go."
"Didn't you just say that this experiential learning is not a vacation trip? How come you've now become sentimental? Although this little fellow looks cute, it could still be dangerous. We must resolutely overcome this feeling of compassion whenever we see something cute. This is something that needs to be done. The world has never been benevolent; it treats all living things as worthless as hays…"
Yue Yun didn't know how to counter that argument and could only smile ruefully. The two young girls of the Carefree Peak, who was about to argue, suddenly stopped and became hesitant. A certain black and white disciple, who always didn't get along with Wang Lu, very much wanted to scold, "You're the one who's heartless here! That little fox is a friendly pet, yet you fight it more than a hundred round! You idiot!"
However, if he rashly sent out this provocation to a Successor Disciple while in the presence of many outsiders, in particular, Yue Yun and Huo Ying, a Senior Brother and Sister, even if he had the moral high ground here and won the argument, he would inevitably still be punished by that retarded Disciplinary Elder… In the many secret showdowns between him and Wang Lu in these two years, he had never shown any outward disrespect towards Wang Lu!
Thus, he had to endure! Even if he could humiliate him this time, the consequence for him would not be worth it…
Facing the illustrious military exploit of Wang Lu, people was at a loss of words, and the atmosphere became really awkward. Finally, Yue Yun braced himself and tried to persuade Wang Lu. Showing a strained smile like he was suffering from constipation, he reluctantly gave him a praise.
"Hehe, Senior Brother, em, your academic attainment is amazing, you must be really proud."
"Ai, being a top student is really not easy. Senior Brother, you have sacrificed so much for this cultural education… You're already a model student for us all!"
Wang Lu laughed. "You flatter me. This little episode is nothing."
Yue Yun coughed and said, "Since the risk… has been removed, we can all use this time to rest. Starting tomorrow, this trip is going to be more difficult, so we must be ready."
Early the next morning, Yue Yun and Huo Ying woke up the newcomers. The team then embarked on their trip once again. Just like what Yue Yun said, the difficulty of the trip increased a lot.
First, Yue Yun relentlessly picked up his speed. Moreover, as they went deeper into the Full Moon Valley, the path became more treacherous.
Second, as they thrust deep into the Full Moon Valley, monsters began to gradually appear. Although most of them were non-threatening like the Full Moon Fox, there were also many formidable ones that, after Yue Yun's consideration, needed to be carefully bypassed. The main theme for this experiential learning was to survive, not to engage in a head-on battle. Plus, after watching Wang Lu's "peerless martial art", Yue Yun carefully weighed and decided that it would be better for them not to engage in a real battle.
However, in such a tortuous path, the team persisted! After the first day of the trip, it stood to reason that the newcomers should be exhausted; their muscles sore and their bones softened. However, towards these newcomers who had passed the Body Refining Stage and currently in the initial level of the Qi Cultivating Stage, yesterday's experience actually induced out their dormant potential.
Even the stupidest amongst them, Wen Bao, seemed to have gained several IQ points. As far as Yue Xinyao, who possessed the Aqueous Spirit Root, she became more proficient in the Amazing Step Method, so much that she easily pulled her Martial Sister Wen Yin along with her and journeyed this treacherous path as if it was a flat land.
As a result, Wang Lu, who originally had the advantage, was now somewhat struggling. Although he possessed endless stream of stamina and two years of long distance running experience, ultimately, he was only on the second level of the Body Refining Stage. His Winding Step may give him an edge in a fight, but it couldn't really enhance his traveling speed. In a group mainly consisted of cultivators in the Early Qi Cultivating Stage, the pressure to keep up was naturally bigger.
Thus, in the evening, when Yue Yun found a place to rest in the Full Moon Valley and called it a day, he became a bit worried.
According to the five days travel plan, their travel speed should steadily increase with each passing day; from the entrance of the Small Clear Sky Peak to the Azure Dragon Gorge in three days and back in two days. Of course, on the final day, they must make an all-out effort to do a forced march. Even he, as a senior black and white disciple, must brace himself, much less the other team members. Even eating while walking in order not to fall behind was proper!
However… looking at Wang Lu's situation, even if he did that, he still wouldn't be able to keep up! This trial was, after all, not designed for disciples who hadn't completed the Body Refining Stage. If not for Wang Lu's Successor Disciple's identity, he wouldn't have the qualification to join this team!
Thus, Yue Yun was in a dilemma. He didn't know what he was supposed to do. If he strictly enforced the rules, then he naturally had to let Wang Lu fend for himself, leaving him behind. In any case, Wang Lu was the one who insisted on joining the team on this trip, so he should bear the consequence himself.
… But, Yue Yun didn't want to be this unfeeling. Although he and Wang Lu had many disagreements, they were, after all, disciples of the same sect, a fellow brother. As long as he could, he still wanted to take care of him. This was also a test for his team leader ability. If he did it right, perhaps when they get back, he would get additional extra sect credits.
While he was considering this trade-off, he saw Wang Lu stand up and take the initiative to approach him.
Yue Yun smiled. "Senior Brother Wang Lu, what can I do for you?"
Wang Lu said, "Little Yue, considering today's traveling speed, I feel like I simply can't keep up with the team."
Yue Yun hurriedly shook his head. "No, no. Senior Brother, you're too modest, it's just…"
Speaking to this, his next words stuck in his throat. "It's just what? It's just that you're still on the second level of the Body Refining Stage, that's why you can't keep up with the rest…"
Yue Yun was an honest man, so his skill in lying was insufficient. In the end, he could only laugh foolishly to cover his embarrassment.
Wang Lu came up with a solution. "That's why I thought that I should take this time to start my journey early to compensate for my slow speed."
Yue Yun was stunned. "You want to start early to compensate for your speed?"
"While you guys are resting here, I will depart on my way in advance. You can catch up with me when you start your journey tomorrow morning. We'll meet again at the entrance to the Azure Dragon Gorge. I can use a simple mathematical model to explain the details of the 'catch up' to you. Bob's speed when he departs from home is A. Three hours later, Joe departs from home with speed B. If we assume that each of their speed is constant…"
Yue Yun was not in the mood to listen to Wang Lu's mathematical model; he immediately interrupted. "You can't do this! Senior Brother, don't indulge in fantasy! The road to the Azure Dragon Gorge is treacherous and full of danger. Even I do not dare to walk alone; I need to have Martial Sister Huo Ying to back me up. Senior Brother, if you walk on the road alone, you will die!"
Wang Lu explained. "No, I won't. Junior Brother, you think too much. I have a foolproof safety net, that's why I put forward such a proposal."
"Foolproof safety net...? Do explain!"
Wang Lu said, "It's like this. Just now, I borrowed Junior Sister Wen Yin's Nine Regions Monsters Record. After I read it once, I am more or less well aware of what kind of monsters we'll probably meet at this Full Moon Valley. Thus, I am certain that my journey would be safe."
Yue Yun was speechless. He thought, "Yeah, yeah, you're a nerd. You must have focused your body refining on perfecting your eidetic memory so that you can remember all the monsters in this Small Clear Sky with one look… But what's the use? Do you really think knowledge is power?"
Wang Lu spread out his arms. "Why don't you say anything? Or do you want to carry me on your back?"
If the rules permitted it, Yue Yun certainly would want to carry him! The problem was that, unless it was necessary, the team leader absolutely must not provide any help!
"Em, what about Yue Xinyao? She is quite proficient with the Amazing Steps…"
Wang Lu waved his hand. "Knock it off, her magical power is so pitiful. Pulling Wen Yin with her is already her limit. If she pulls me with her, she might collapse in the middle of the journey."
Yue Yun had to smile wryly. Indeed, her magical power was limited, so the Amazing Steps Method was not practical. If it did, he wouldn't have to fret!
"So, me leaving early is the only feasible solution; why are you still hesitant?"
"..." Yue Yue indeed had nothing to argue back, but he didn't intend to give up his stand just like that. "I'm sorry, Senior Brother, but I still can't agree."
"What the! Don't you understand what I just said!?"
While the two were still in dispute, they suddenly heard Huo Ying's yell. "Everyone be careful! Something is approaching us!"
Everyone was startled and, one by one, immediately stood up. Some laid out the array, and some prepared their spells. Though rattled, they were quite methodical; this progress was gratifying to see for Yue Yun.
However, Yue Yun didn't show his feeling; he still showed a solemn face. The sword in his hand slightly shook, which showed the high tension from its owner.
For safety's sake, Huo Ying would intentionally spread her Cloud Thread around as movement sensor and connect it with Yue Yun's finger. Thus, Huo Ying and Yue Yun detected the intruder almost at the same time.
Most of the monsters in the Small Clear Sky Peak didn't have strong attack power, and unless the team members strayed deep into their territory, there wouldn't be a fight. Moreover, usually, the monsters wouldn't dare to take the initiative to find trouble with the cultivators. However, this time's intruder obviously came prepared!
In this Full Moon Valley, there was only one species of monster with such an aggressiveness that Yue Yun knew… When he noticed the leaves in the distance quiver followed by a flash of a hazy green shadow, he instantly recognized who the intruder was!
"Watch out, it's the Ghost Monkey!"
As soon as his voice fell, Huo Ying immediately lifted her golden sword, and then golden light burst out from its tip. The shadow in the woods uttered a high-pitched sound; the hazy green figure contorted in pain and burst forward, showing its true appearance.
It was a dark green monster with bark-like skin and monkey-like features. Its two huge eyeballs revealed a deep-seated hatred and killing intent towards living beings. It was exactly what Yue Yun said, the Ghost Monkey!
This Ghost Monkey of the Small Clear Sky Peak was a forest creature who absorbed the spiritual energy from the trees and the resentment from the dying creatures; it was ranked as one of the most dangerous monsters. Although small in stature, not only did it have numerous venomous techniques, but it was also capable of whistling to call and command the other monsters. Every time someone encountered a Ghost Monkey, it meant there were at least four or five of other monsters in the vicinity!
In the past experiential learning to the Small Clear Sky Peak, seventy percent of the casualties were related to this Ghost Monkey. Thus, when they saw the Ghost Monkey, the two senior brother and sister immediately on high alert.
After the golden sword light from Huo Ying's golden sword broke the Ghost Monkey's escaping technique, she immediately retracted back all of her invisible Cloud Thread hidden all around them, which revealed the tightly wrapped Ghost Monkey like a pale blue cocoon.
Yue Yun sent out his sword light attack toward that blue cocoon, which exploded upon impact and sent that blue cocoon away.
The Ghost Monkey was a four or five rank category two monster. Not only it has many body protection techniques, but its bark-like green skin was also as tough as iron or stone, so it wouldn't be easy to kill it. In a moment of panic, the two Senior Brother and Sister couldn't possibly cast the thunderbolt spell. However, with great coordination, they could use the simple sword light spell to banish the Ghost Monkey away from them.
After successfully banishing the Ghost Monkey, Yue Yun and Huo Ying slightly breathed easier. Their combo moves just now were the strategy derived from the experience of the previous senior disciples. They were advised to immediately banish the Ghost Monkey as soon as they encountered it, and then deal with its puppet monsters, such as fox demon or king spider. Otherwise, the cunning Ghost Monkey could command its puppet monsters and made things very difficult for them.
However, at this time, Yue Yun and his team were really unlucky. Even though the Ghost Monkey had been expelled, its puppet monsters were still in the vicinity! Moreover, this time, the strength of these puppet monsters were far beyond what they anticipated!
After taking back the remaining Cloud Thread, Huo Ying's countenance turned pale. "Two Stone Wood Apes… Both are category two third rank monsters. We're really out of luck, Senior Brother Yue Yun!"
The strength of a category two third rank monster was greater than that of a cultivator who was in the sixth level of the Qi Cultivating Stage. Although Yue Yun and Huo Ying could make up for their strength deficiency if they used their power in conjuction, but their chance of success was only sixty to seventy percent. If they rashly went into the fight, the variables were too many; they could not afford to take the risk!
Yue Yun said with a sinking voice, "Don't force the enemy… I'll stay here to block them. You lead the others to withdraw. We have to suspend this trip."
Huo Ying was equally decisive. "Senior Brother, take care." She then turned around and addressed the team, "Everyone use your Amazing Step Method and retreat with me! As long as we leave the Full Moon Valley, there will be restriction spells to stop them!"
None of them argued back. In times of emergency like this, they knew they had to strictly comply with the team leader's instructions. If they spout nonsense, their sect credit would be deducted!
On the other side, facing the two monsters, Yue Yun graciously smiled, pulled out his sword and inserted it into the ground.
"This time, I am really glad to have a gold and earth compound spirit root. At least, I have quite a solid defense…" Yue Yun smiled, reached out for a small bottle from his waist, smeared its content on his lips, and then blew as hard as he could.
The two Stone Wood Apes turned their heads at the same time, focusing all their attention on Yue Yun. These giant apes have enormous strength, but they didn't have too much in the brain department. Thus, their attention could easily be disrupted. Just now, what Yue Yun applied to himself was meat seasoning, and that was enough to make them think that he was a delicious meat.
The two giant apes roared as they charged at him. When they were about ten steps away from him, Yue Yun loudly shouted and clasped the sword handle with both of his hands; his magical power dramatically surged up!
The next moment, a circle-shaped wall made of metal and stone suddenly rose up from the ground and completely trapped the two beasts inside along with him!
While Yue Yun was dealing with these two Stone Wood Apes, Huo Ying, on the other side, was exerting her magical power to launch the Amazing Steps Method for all the team members. Suddenly, they all felt as if their body was light as a swallow and their legs were filled with incredible strength.
"Don't waste Senior Brother Yue Yun's effort to create time for us. Follow me and don't fall behind."
Although she said that with a firm voice, Huo Ying didn't dare to look at that circle-shaped wall where the two Stone Wood Apes were trapped.
Although Yue Yun handled the situation with equanimity, he was, after all, facing two monsters with strength more powerful than him—his life was certainly at stake. She hated that her spirit root's property was the wind, which was not good at containment defense.
At this time, the Cloud Thread in her hand suddenly shook! Huo Ying looked back and saw a huge shadow slowly walking out from the woods. It has an ox head, lion body and leopard tail, with a size similar to a young elephant; the ground trembled a bit every time it took a step.
"Fu-Full Moon Roar…?"
Huo Ying's mind suddenly went blank! She knew that this fierce beast used to be called the most powerful monster in the Azure Dragon Gorge. How could it suddenly appear here when its habitat was in the Azure Dragon Gorge!? A mere Ghost Monkey couldn't possibly call it here!
Now, what should she do? This "chimera-like" beast was a category two first rank monster; even a fourth level Qi Cultivating Stage cultivator wouldn't have too much of a chance against it… If she were alone, she could use her speed advantage to fight it. But now, there were five younger disciples who relied on her for their safety. Once she walked away, it was tantamount to leaving them as sacrifices for the beasts!