"The King Snake, eh? Only a few days, and it appears that you've outgrown your own arrogance."
The crisp, cold voice floated gently from a distance and exploded next to the ears of the Xuan Ming Snake. The beast froze in mid-act.
It didn't have to guess whose voice this belonged to.
A lightning flash pierced through the air and landed firmly in front of the beauty and the beast. A figure appeared with fully extended, majestic wings that sent dust and rocks across the air with a gentle flap.
Ling Xian landed in between Lin Qing Yi and the Snake, shielding her tattered body with extended arms. He blocked the incoming tail with one hand, snatched it up and smashed it against the ground.
A loud BANG! The hands of steel yanked the tail with such force the entire body of the Snake lost its grip on the tree branch and landed painfully on the cold hard ground.
The Xuan Ming Snake screamed in agony, a feeling of being shattered into a million pieces. However, the creature didn't have time to mind the pain. It opened its eyes as wide as it could and stared at the dark cloaked figure with disbelief.
"It can't be. But I know his voice, I know his shadow… is it really him?" Lin Qing Yi opened her mouth in awe, not shifting her gaze away from the approaching figure even for a moment. Her mind had already wandered away to picture a perfect reunion of two people slowly merging and eventually becoming one.
"Is it really him…"
Lin Qing Yi raised her hand to cover her mouth, her eyes rekindling the spark that was lost.
"Are you surprised to see me?" Ling Xian greeted the terrified Snake with a cold and murderous smile the creature knew all too well.
Damn, how can it be him!
The color drained from the face of the Xuan Ming Snake as fear emerged from the depth of its soul. It had remembered every act it had ever seen this man commit, and they terrified it now more than ever before.
Since Ling Xian's departure a few days ago, the Snake had adjusted quickly to this newfound freedom. After several rounds of back and forth, it decided to not catch up to Ling Xian. Instead, after it finished feasting on Fang Yun, it decided to round up a few weaker creatures and declare itself their King.
For a beast of its caliber, if it had stayed clear of the Almighty Rulers, there was nothing else to fear inside the Hidden Territory. As a result, the Snake had been very active in pampering itself amongst the sea of praises its subjects were forced to bestow upon it.
Until now, the Snake had been very pleased with its decision to leave the human. But unfortunately, here he was again.
Ling Xian's sudden and unexpected appearance had wiped all rational thoughts from the Snake's mind. At this moment, there was nothing to be done but stare blankly at the human.
When it was still in a state of shock, a monkey emerged from behind a tree, pointed its finger at Ling Xian and began cursing, "Who in heaven's name are you, you dare to speak to the King Snake like that, you must be tired of living!"
The Xuan Ming Snake snapped out of its staleness and began shaking from head to toe. [That…that killing machine had just been cursed…by…by one of my subjects!
No! Shut it!
You want to bury me under three feet of fire?]
The Xuan Ming Snake jumped with fury, but before it could speak, another monkey jumped out and continued cursing,
"An ant, a human ant, how dare you? Let's skin him, drink his blood and make soup out of him!" The other monkey was quick to join the spit battle. It had secretly hated the fact that the other monkey had been the first to start cursing.
The monkeys were beginning to annoy Ling Xian. His eyebrows scrunched together.
The Snake instantly picked up on this tiny change of emotion and, in a volcanic display of rage, yanked his tail backward and unleashed it onto the first monkey, hitting it square in the chest.
"Shut your stupid mouth! If you want to die so badly, don't you dare take me with you!"
The monkey was flung a mile out by the sheer force of the enormous tail. Bleeding from its mouth, the monkey felt its skeleton crushed under gravity, snapping its veins in half. Before the creature took its last breath, it opened its eyes wide and stared desperately at the Snake, looking for any hint of what just happened to it.
The creature will never know how this human terrifies the Snake.
"And you, how dare you speak to my Master in such a disrespectful tone. I think you are the one who's tired of living!" The Xuan Ming Snake looked at the second monkey, stretched his tail and smashed the monkey squared in the face.
A pile of raw meat appeared in the same spot where the monkey had been moments ago.
The Snake was furious at those two. Their untimely disrespect could have cost it its life. Hope against hope, Ling Xian would see how faithful it had remained to his service and spared its life.
The Xuan Ming Snake let out a huge sigh of relief after killing those idiotic creatures. Still trembling uncontrollably, it bowed its head as low as it could and begged, "Master… I…I've killed those useless idiots, I didn't teach them well, please forgive me."
A wave of shock swept through the surrounding forest. The Snake had been clear in its apology, full of regret and fear. Connecting the dots with the senseless death of the monkeys a moment ago, the rest of the beastly creatures suddenly understood.
The King Snake addressed the human as its Master?
Most beasts would never refer to a human as their Master. From the sound of the Snake's voice, the creatures could tell it had not done it willingly. The Snake was forced into it.
Who is this human? How could he frighten the King Snake so?
The creatures witnessing this scene could not make sense of any of it. But mostly they were secretly celebrating their wise choice of not jumping out as the monkeys had done.
No one was more shocked than Lin Qing Yi. Her eyes must be deceiving her. She knew too well of the Snake's powers. However, this man, this godlike man, had sent this terrifying beast trembling like a child and referred to him as its Master. Who had such power to do that?
But she didn't have the capacity to make sense of this now. The only question consuming her thoughts was whether or not this man was her cultivator. She desperately waited for him to turn around, but her body had already begun to turn cold. The world around her fell into a blur. She felt as though at any moment, she would leave this world and never return.
"Good, you did well." Ling Xian was satisfied with how the Snake had handled the situation, but it wasn't going to be over just yet. He continued in his icy tone of voice, "I can spare you for this, but how will you be punished for causing her such injuries?"
The Snake felt a cold, empty air rush through his body. Remembering Ling Xian's past glory on the battlefield, it suddenly became unnaturally decisive. Summoning its powers, it unleashed an incredible force from within.
The Snake let out another scream of agony. Shaking uncontrollably, its long, slippery body suddenly split in two, revealing a bowl-sized cut.
Blood rushed out instantly, the part that detached went into a septic shock. Through the pain, the Snake forced out a hideous laugh. "Master, I've segmented my own body, my powers have been reduced by half, please spare my life, I know I've done wrong."
Another wave of gasps filled the air. How terrifying must this human be? He hadn't said or done a thing, yet the King Snake voluntarily blew itself up as a form of apology!
What a frightening power!
For the Snake, this type of self-harm would not kill it but would kill half of its powers. This was incredibly painful for the Snake. It was also an incredibly painful decision. However, it had no other choice.
Death at the hands of Ling Xian would be a thousand times worse. This was the thought that motivated its decision.
The harmless looking youth in front of it was a terrifying creature, one that it was no match for. This act of self-pity was perhaps enough to convince him to spare its worthless life.
The Xuan Ming Snake mourned for itself in silence. But upon seeing that Ling Xian was equally silent, it could no longer contain itself. Its scream echoed throughout the forest, "Master, I know I've done wrong. Please, think of the days I have served you, let me live!"
"You indeed have a few good senses left." Ling Xian was genuinely surprised by his act of remorse. Having spent a few days with the Snake, Ling Xian had always thought of the creature as a spineless, useless follower, a cold-blooded beast. This act had indeed had some remedial effect on his perception of the creature.
"You flatter me, Master. This is nothing. I'll do anything to ease your rage." Seeing that Ling Xian had softened his tone, the Snake felt a glimmer of hope and continued, shamelessly, "Please, Master, reward me for my loyalty, I won't ever hurt another soul."
Ling Xian muttered with a sense of amusement. "I didn't see any loyalty from you. Perhaps you could show me loyalty by killing yourself."
"No, please no," The Snake begged, flustered and trembling, it began to cry, "Master, I beg you, let me off this one time. I'll follow you wherever you go. I'll never desert you again. If you are confronted with danger, I'll always go first, just please, don't let me die!"
Ling Xian pondered a moment. The Xuan Ming Snake could be of value to him. He did not yet know the location of the treasure. Remembering this, he waved his hand and said, "Fine, I'll let this go. But remember, next time this happens, you are dead."
"Yes yes, thank you, Master. You are kind, you are generous, it's an honor to serve you, there's no higher honor!" The Snake was ecstatic and relieved at the same time. Its life was safe, for now.
Letting out a giggle, Ling Xian turned around to examine Lin Qing Yi. Her face was as white as a ghost, eyes shut, a dark mark glowed around her temple. She had evidently been poisoned, and the poison had spread into her vitals. Without injecting the antidote immediately, she would die in no time.
"Already fainted, that makes it easier." Ling Xian squatted. Pointing his finger at her forehead, he unleashed the healing flame, which spread throughout her body, expelling the dark poison that had consumed her.
"Take me to a quiet spot." Ling Xian lifted her body, turned to the Snake and shot a silvery light into its body.
"Don't even think about telling anyone where I am. Or I'll make you implode."
"Yes, yes, don't joke, Master, I would never do such a thing. I'm the most loyal." The Xuan Ming Snake was consumed by fear. It turned around and yelled at the rest of its subjects, "Everyone, kneel, this is your Master, pay your respects!
"Yes, please accept our respect, Master!" Creatures emerged from all over the vicinity and bowed down to Ling Xian. Fear was a mutual feeling.
This was indeed an epic scene.
Carrying Lin Qing Yi in his arms, Ling Xian followed the Snake. With each step, he would hear respects being shouted at him.
One shout per step, One bow per step.
A treatment even Gods would envy.