"No, no, I was forced into coming," the little white bunny responded in a hurry, blinking its large red eyes innocently. It was afraid of suffering the same fate as the rest.
Ling Xian nodded. He believed the bunny. From the beginning to the end of the battle, he hadn't spotted the bunny once. Not to mention the bunny's tiny breaths couldn't even compare with those of cultivators who had just entered the first realm. This creature wouldn't dare come after Ling Xian. There were much better ways to die.
The little bunny was covered in a layer of the whitest, fluffiest and softest fur imaginable, and had a pair of bright misty eyes that would not look away from Ling Xian. It was a nervous little creature. It bowed with its paws and asked in a weak, trembling voice, "Can…can you spare my life?"
"Since you hadn't come to kill me, and you didn't try just then, I can spare your life this time." Ling Xian gave it a warm smile. The bunny was adorable. He bent down and gently petted its little head. This gesture frightened the creature. It tried to back off but, sensing that this would displease the killer, it stopped trying to move and kept its head still.
"You are afraid of me?" Ling Xian petted the bunny gently on the forehead. It was indeed silky smooth.
The little bunny nodded, then quickly shook its head from side to side. Fear exuded from its big bright eyes. It lowered its gaze onto its tiny paws.
Ling Xian smiled again. The murderous aura that saturated the battleground vanished in an instant. Eyeing this hapless, adorable little creature, he assured it, "Don't worry, I won't hurt you."
The bunny was a naïve little creature. Hearing Ling Xian's promise, it believed him in a heartbeat. Suddenly, the fear that moments ago paralyzed it had all but disappeared. The bunny let out an adoring smile, pulled out a carrot-shaped elixir and handed it to Ling Xian.
"An elixir of the eighth realm?"
Ling Xian was taken aback by this surprise. This little thing, not too shabby! Despite the weak Qi, it possessed an elixir of such quality! Perhaps it was very lucky, or perhaps it was hiding the true magnitude of its power. However, he quickly shook that thought out of his mind and let out an involuntary laughter. That would be ridiculous. You are way too suspicious.
The little bunny in front of him breathed the tiniest of breaths; crawling in fear. Its ruby eyes reeked of terror. This gentle creature could barely be considered a beast. Not a chance in heaven this thing could fight a real battle.
Ling Xian did not accept the elixir. Instead, he patted the bunny's head again and said, "Ok, you may go back and tell the Bare Winged Crane, if it wants to kill me, it needs to come to me itself so we can settle this."
Upon finishing his last word, Ling Xian stood up, flapped his wings, and flew away.
This bloody battle had lasted too long. The Thousand Mile Crane had long vanished. But luckily for him, he had planted a magical scent on the Crane before it flew away. Now, he could easily track down the Crane by following that magical scent.
Ling Xian established the connection following a short pause. Then, with another flap of his wings, he morphed into a flash of light and sped towards the west.
Even though the little snow-white bunny had a sharp pair of eyes, it couldn't pick up more than a faint, broken trail where Ling Xian had vanished. However, eyeing his departure, the bunny became puzzled. This killer was not as cruel and scary as everyone claimed. He was rather gentle.
The bunny pulled out the elixir that moments ago it tried to offer to Ling Xian and swallow it after a few crunchy bites. With a satisfied smile on its face, it happily hopped away.
It was headed to see the Bare Winged Crane to deliver Ling Xian's message.
This was an ancient fortress inhabited by trees that touched the heavens.
This was a heavily wooded area where life prospered. Peeking through the branches of giant trees were the warm rays of the falling blood moon.
This once peaceful forest was now the scene of yet another bloody battle.
The belligerents of this battle were the Clans of the Fang and the Ling.
The previous agreement, as set by the Headmasters of each Clan, called for the battle to begin only after every member of each Clan had arrived. However, after a long wait, Fang Yun was not found. The most powerful member of the Fang Clan, the gifted cultivator of the seventh realm, Fang Han, decided that he had waited long enough. Thus, roughly an hour ago, the Fangs began their attack on the rival Ling Clan.
In Fang Han's mind, the most powerful member of the Lings present was only a sixth realm cultivator. For the Fangs, behind him, there were two cultivators of the sixth realm and six of the fifth realm. The outcome of the battle had been all but decided.
And the outcome was nearly just as he had expected
After a gruesome battle that lasted no longer than an hour, most of the Lings had already been heavily injured. With a few Lings still holding on, the battle had temporarily stalled.
Unfortunately, none of the Lings had yet suffered a fatal injury.
Ling Fei was deadlocked in a crucial battle with one member of the Fang Clan. The two were evenly matched, from spells to fighting techniques. There was no clear winner.
And there was Ling Feng, the other gifted student who had reached the sixth realm of alchemy. He was slightly at a disadvantage with his spells, but he was holding on just fine.
As for Ling Tian Xiang and Ling Zhan, they had paired up to confront the gifted Fang Han.
However, they were clearly struggling. Their clothes had been ripped, and their blood spattered everywhere. Even together, they were on the verge of defeat.
This was not unexpected. They were facing a seventh realm cultivator, not a small gap.
Simply put, without using any spells, the strength of a sixth realm cultivator was six. Likewise, it was seven for a cultivator of the seventh realm. Seven will always defeat six in a direct confrontation.
But this scenario only refers to when spells aren't a factor.
If the complexities of spells were incorporated into a battle, adding in different techniques, it was not impossible for a lower leveled cultivator to defeat a higher leveled rival.
During the battle of the Ling Clan, Ling Xian, then a cultivator of the fifth realm, defeated a fellow pupil of the sixth realm by unleashing the powerful Heaven Shadowing Palm Technique.
Fang Han's spells and techniques were unrivaled inside the Fang Clan. Moreover, he was not a delicate flower trapped inside a cozy greenhouse. Since he was a child, he had been fighting and slaughtering beasts. Fang Han was an experienced killer.
Expectedly, even working together, Ling Tian Xiang and Ling Zhan were no match for Fang Han. They did not stand a chance.
"Aunty, we're no match for him, what do we do?" Ling Zhan was growing anxious. Spinning his two-meter long metal spear, Ling Zhan was pulling out all stops.
Ling Tian Xiang fared no better. Her breaths became increasingly heavier with each attacking stroke. Swinging her sword almost blindly and without much thought, her antics resulted in no physical harm to Fang Han.
"There's nothing we can do. Just hold on a moment longer. Perhaps Ling Xian will come."
This thought gave Ling Tian Xiang a renewed sense of empowerment. She bit down on her lip, recalling Ling Xian's bravery, and fought on.
Ling Tian Xiang's face remained ice cold as she launched another round of merciless attacks.
"Don't know where you find this much confidence in him. From the beginning of this battle until now, you've mentioned his name 13 times, not counting the ones before the battle." Ling Zhan let out a bitter laugh. Admittedly, he knew Ling Xian was the strongest amongst all the students. He also knew he was nowhere near as gifted. But at this moment, Ling Xian was completely oblivious to what's happening here!
Leaving our fate to him? How foolish!
But Ling Zhan had no other ideas against this genius of the Fang Clan. He was praying that Ling Xian would somehow learn about this battle and come swiftly to their rescue.
"You two dare to have a little chat amongst yourselves when you're fighting a genius like me? You have no respect for me, and no respect for your own lives," Fang Han sneered coldly. Shaking his arms, Fang Han let out a pair of dragon claws. His left claw snatched the opposite end of Ling Zhan's metal spear, while the right one seized the tip of Ling Tian Xiang's sword. Unleashing a powerful spell, the two were instantly knocked backward.
"Tunnn, tunnn, tunnn..."
The two challengers each took seven steps backward and smashed into a giant tree. Blood seeped through their teeth and down the sides of their mouths.
Immediately, a wave of panic swept through the Ling Clan. Their resistance had been driven by their faith that together, Ling Tian Xiang and Ling Zhan could defeat Fang Han.
What they just witnessed sent shivers down the spine of every Ling fighter. The brief moment of shock that paralyzed them gave their opponents the perfect opportunity to end the battle. Suddenly, massive trees came crashing down under the powerful spells unleashed by the Fangs.
The same happened to Ling Fei and Ling Feng, defeated by a moment of hesitation.
"I'm very curious about this Ling Xian you all speak of. A genius you say. Is he a real genius, or simply lucky." Fang Han approached Ling Tian Xiang, who was desperately searching for her breath. "Even if he is a real genius, he's no match for me. A lucky fellow, only you people would consider him a genius and think highly of him."
"On the contrary, you're no match for him," Ling Tian Xian responded coldly. "Don't even think about it. He can flick a finger, punch out all your teeth, and make you swallow them."
"Oh? You have such confidence in him." Fang Han was not angry. He was confident, rather, unjustifiably confident. He was an arrogant youth, disrespectful even towards the Clan Leader himself.
As for Ling Xian, he was no more than an ant in his shoe.
"What a shame. You were waiting for the ant that would come and save your colony, but he never showed. If he had come, I would have finished you all together." Fang Han sighed regretfully, albeit without an ounce of real sympathy. Glancing across the scattered, defenseless crowd, Fang Han let out a cold smile and said, "Let's kill these ants and move on to other colonies."
"Yes, brother!" At Fang Han's command, the victorious fighters of the Fang Clan closed in on their defeated rivals, getting ready to finish the job.
The last flash of hope faded from each member of the Ling Clan. Everyone shows weakness in the face of imminent death. Desperate cries could be heard from miles away.
A sense of hopelessness descended on the Ling Clan.
"Fang Han, you may kill us here today. One day, we'll be avenged!" Ling Tian Xiang cursed through her teeth. Hope against hope, Ling Xian would come and save her once more.
Still riding in the clouds, Fang Han eyed Ling Tian Xiang with much amusement. He let out a hideous laugh. "Ha ha, I'm amongst the candidates for the next generation Clan Leader. I reached the seventh realm of alchemy when I was merely 18. Who would dare kill me? Who would dare kill me?"
One question asked consecutively. Pure arrogance. Pure conceit.
However, no one could argue with what he had just said. Everything he spoke of was true. It wasn't about who he was, but what and when he managed to achieve what he has achieved. Only a genius could reach the seventh realm at the tender age of 18.
Fang Han continued to advance on his defeated opponents, who were now holding their tongues in silence. Enjoying what he perceived as a twisted display of admiration, Fang Han demanded one more time.
"Who would dare kill me?"
But this time, a voice sounded without warning. A deep, thunderous voice that awakened the fighting will within every member of the Ling Clan.
"I DARE KILL YOU!"